How to Turn on 4WD In Ford Escape (2024)

The Ford Escape is a versatile SUV that offers advanced drive systems to tackle various road conditions. One such feature is the Intelligent 4WD (Four-Wheel Drive) system, which enhances traction and improves vehicle handling. Unlike traditional 4WD setups that require manual engagement, the Ford Escape’s Intelligent 4WD system automatically activates when it detects the need for more grip. Models from 2020 and beyond come with this system, ensuring that driving over challenging surfaces or inclement weather is safer and more secure.

Ford Escape AWD 4WD

For those driving earlier models equipped with 4WD, understanding how to engage the system is essential. While the Ford Escape does not have a manual switch for all-wheel drive, versions equipped with 4WD can reassure drivers that the technology will engage automatically when the vehicle senses a loss in traction.

It’s crucial to know that Ford’s Intelligent 4WD is designed to provide seamless transitions between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive without driver input, promoting a focus on the road rather than on the drive mode.

Key Takeaways

  • The Ford Escape offers Intelligent 4WD that activates automatically for improved traction.
  • Earlier models with 4WD automatically engage the system when necessary.
  • Understanding your vehicle’s 4WD or AWD system enhances safety and performance.

Related Post: How Do You Tell If a Ford Escape is 4WD?

Understanding 4WD and AWD Systems

When you drive a Ford Escape with 4WD or AWD, you have a vehicle equipped to enhance traction in varied driving conditions through sophisticated drivetrain technology.

Basics of 4WD and AWD

4WD (4-wheel drive), also referred to as true 4WD, is a system that directs power to all four wheels of your vehicle simultaneously. This can prove invaluable when traversing difficult terrain or during low-traction conditions where wheel slippage is likely.

Normally, 4WD systems are associated with transfer cases, which are special gearboxes that split power between the front and rear axles as needed.

  • Intelligent 4WD: Automatically adjusts power distribution as traction changes.
  • Transfer Case: Allows for the switching between 2WD and 4WD modes, sometimes manually or electronically.

AWD (All-wheel drive), by contrast, ensures power is available to each wheel, but to varying degrees. An AWD system uses a clutch pack to manage the distribution of power to individual wheels without driver intervention.

This setup helps maintain stability and grip across a variety of road surfaces and is typically found in vehicles meant for on-road use.

Comparison of 4WD and AWD

Feature4WD SystemAWD System
Primary UseOff-road, demanding conditionsOn-road, improved handling
TractionHigh traction in off-road conditionsConsistent traction on variable road surfaces
OperationDriver-selected (high and low ranges)Automatic, computer-controlled
ComplexityMechanical linkages, typically heavierMore sophisticated with electronic components
Vehicle TypesTrucks, heavy-duty vehiclesCrossovers, some sedans and SUVs

While 4WD is renowned for its off-road capabilities and typically offers a choice between high and low range gearing for severe conditions, AWD systems are designed for ease of use, with the vehicle’s computer determining the optimal power distribution to maintain consistent traction. Essentially, 4WD is about raw power and control, whereas AWD is about seamless traction management.

Remember, whether your Ford Escape has Intelligent 4WD or AWD, both systems are designed to help you maintain stability and control, regardless of the condition of the road you’re traveling on.

Preparation Before Turning on 4WD

Before engaging the 4WD system on your Ford Escape, it’s important to take specific preparatory steps. Ensuring vehicle readiness and having a clear understanding of your vehicle’s features are essential to a smooth experience.

Checking Vehicle Readiness

  • Inspect the tires: Ensure that they are properly inflated and have sufficient tread for optimal traction.
  • Look at the dashboard: Check for any warning lights that might indicate an issue with your Ford Escape or the 4WD system.
  • Consider the surroundings: Make sure that engaging 4WD is suitable for the current driving conditions.

Understanding Your Ford Escape’s Features

  • Read the manual: Familiarize yourself with your Ford Escape’s particular model year and its 4WD capabilities.
  • Learn about the Intelligent 4WD system: Recognize that this system uses sensors to automatically distribute power between the front and rear wheels when needed.

By taking these steps, you can feel confident that your vehicle is prepared, and you’re knowledgeable about engaging and utilizing the 4WD system effectively.

Activating 4WD on Your Ford Escape

Understanding how to engage the Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) on your Ford Escape can improve traction in challenging driving conditions such as ice, snow, and mud. Your 2013 Escape is equipped with an “Intelligent 4WD” system that automatically adjusts traction as needed.

Step-by-Step Guide to Turn on 4WD

  1. Start Your Escape: Ensure your vehicle is running.
  2. 4WD System: The 4WD system in your Ford Escape is automatic, meaning there is no button or switch you need to press. It intelligently activates itself when needed.
  • Automatic Activation: Your Escape’s system constantly monitors traction conditions. When it detects one of the wheels is slipping, it automatically transfers torque to the rear wheels to regain grip.
  • Manual Override: While there’s no traditional 4WD engage button, you can press the “Traction Control” button briefly if you feel the need to adjust traction control settings. This can be useful in especially slippery conditions where you want the system to be more proactive.

When to Use 4WD on Your Escape

  • Snow and Ice: The system is designed to provide additional grip during instances of snow or ice accumulation on the roads.
  • Mud and Rough Terrains: Similarly, if you encounter muddy roads or other rugged terrains, the 4WD engages to enhance stability and control.
  • Normal Conditions: In typical driving scenarios, the 2013 Escape operates primarily in front-wheel drive to conserve fuel. 4WD is activated automatically when slip is detected.

Always remember that while 4WD can assist in slippery conditions, it does not replace the need for safe driving practices.

Maintain a proper speed, and allow for longer stopping distances on roads that present challenging driving conditions.

Handling Specific Terrains

When your Ford Escape encounters challenging terrains, it is equipped to adjust traction and torque distribution to enhance stability and minimize wheel spin.

Understanding how to leverage your vehicle’s capabilities will help you manage these conditions effectively.

Managing Icy Conditions

Navigating icy roads requires your vehicle to maintain adequate traction to prevent slipping. In such conditions:

  • The Intelligent 4WD System automatically senses reduced traction.
  • It then applies torque to the wheels with the most grip to mitigate wheel spin.
  • Drive slowly and cautiously; rapid acceleration can lead to loss of control.

For more detailed instructions, you can visit How to Turn on 4WD on a Ford Escape?.

Tackling Mud and Snow

When encountering mud and snow, the Intelligent 4WD System in your Ford Escape actively controls torque distribution:

  • Ensure your vehicle is in an appropriate drive mode for the surface.
  • The system prevents excessive wheel spin by directing power to the wheels with more traction.
  • Maintain steady acceleration to help your Escape gain and preserve momentum.

For the specifics on how the AWD system in the Escape functions, the Ford Escape Automobiles Forum may provide further insight.

Driving in Deep Snow

In deep snow, your Ford Escape’s 4WD capability becomes critical:

  • Use the highest ground clearance setting if your model has adjustable suspension.
  • The AWD system adjusts power across all four wheels to enhance stability.
  • Keep a steady pace and avoid sudden maneuvers to prevent becoming stuck.

For additional information on the Ford Escape’s 4WD system, you can refer to Ford Escape: Four Wheel Drive (4WD) System.

Safety and Maintenance Tips

Maintaining your Ford Escape’s 4WD system is crucial for ensuring performance and safety. By addressing regular maintenance, driving safely, and troubleshooting common issues, you can confidently take advantage of your vehicle’s capabilities.

Regular Maintenance for 4WD

Your Ford Escape’s 4WD system requires consistent care to remain functional. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, including:

  • Oil Changes: Replace the 4WD transfer case fluid as recommended.
  • Tire Inspection: Ensure your rear wheels and front wheels maintain even wear to prevent slippage.

Driving Safety with 4WD

While using the 4WD feature enhances traction, it’s essential to practice safe driving behaviors:

  • Braking: Becoming familiar with your vehicle’s braking and stability control capabilities is vital.
  • Handling: Recognize how the 4WD impacts your vehicle’s handling in adverse conditions.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you notice any irregularities with your 4WD system, consider the following:

  • Slippage: If there’s unexpected slippage, the system could require service.
  • Stability: Should you experience reduced stability, visit a dealership for a diagnostic check.

Regular maintenance and a considerate driving style are integral to the uninterrupted operation of your Ford Escape’s 4WD system. Prompt action and professional assistance are key to resolving issues if complications arise.

Buying Guide for Used Ford Escapes with 4WD

When considering a used Ford Escape with 4WD, it’s crucial to research the market, inspect the vehicle thoroughly, and understand what 4WD brings to the table. Here’s how you can navigate the process confidently.

Researching the Market

Begin by exploring nationwide Escape listings on reputable sites like Cargurus to get a sense of the price range and available features. Consider the following aspects while researching:

  • Model year
  • Trim level
  • Mileage
  • 4WD system type

Create a comparison chart to evaluate the market effectively:

Model YearTrim LevelMileagePrice4WD Type
2017SE60,000$XIntelligent 4WD
2018Titanium50,000$YIntelligent 4WD

Inspecting a Used 4WD Escape

When inspecting a used 4WD Escape, focus on these critical areas:

  • Exterior and Interior Condition: Look for signs of wear that could indicate off-road use.
  • Service History: Ensure the 4WD system has been maintained according to Ford’s specifications.
  • Test Drive: Engage the 4WD to confirm it operates smoothly.

Remember to ask about the vehicle’s history, including any accidents or major repairs.

Understanding the Value of 4WD

The 4WD system in your used Escape can be essential for driving in adverse conditions. Intelligent 4WD systems automatically adjust the torque balance between the front and rear wheels for optimal traction.

Knowing how the 4WD system benefits your driving experience helps you assess its value in a used Escape.

  • Enhanced Traction: Better grip in snow, mud, or rain.
  • Resale Value: 4WD models often retain higher value over time.

Keep in mind that owning a 4WD also means being prepared for slightly higher maintenance costs due to the added complexity of the system.

Advanced Features and Technologies

The Ford Escape incorporates a number of high-tech features designed to enhance your driving experience, particularly when it comes to all-wheel drive capabilities.

Exploring Intelligent 4WD

Intelligent 4WD is one of the cornerstones of the Ford Escape’s performance technology. Unlike traditional 4WD systems that require manual engagement, the Intelligent 4WD in the Escape automatically adjusts the torque distribution between the front and rear wheels. Here’s how it works:

  • Sensing Slip: When your front wheels lose grip, the system seamlessly transfers power to the rear wheels.
  • Constant Monitoring: Approximately every 16 milliseconds, the system evaluates wheel speed, throttle position, and other sensory information to determine the necessary traction.

4WD and Stability Enhancements

The 4WD system in the Ford Escape works in tandem with Advancetrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC) to ensure maximum traction and stability:

  • Advancetrac: Helps maintain control during slippery conditions by reducing engine power and applying the brakes to individual wheels.
  • RSC: Utilizes gyroscopic sensors to measure vehicle roll motion and rate, applying additional counter-measures when needed.

Here’s a brief overview of the stability enhancements:

Intelligent 4WDAutomatically adjusts torque distribution for optimal traction.
Traction Control SystemPrevents wheel slip during acceleration by reducing throttle or applying brake force to individual wheels.
Advancetrac with RSCEnhances vehicle control by reducing power and applying precise brake force in turns and slippery conditions.

Remember, your Ford Escape is equipped to handle a variety of road conditions with ease, offering you a confident and secure driving experience.

Customization and Upgrades

Enhancing your Ford Escape’s 4WD system can lead to a more robust driving experience. Whether you decide to modify existing components or add aftermarket parts, each change should align with your vehicle’s specifications to maintain performance and safety.

Aftermarket Additions

When you consider upgrading your Ford Escape’s 4WD system, the aftermarket offers a variety of components.

A custom cold air intake system may increase efficiency and performance. Additionally, owners often upgrade tires to models designed for better traction, like Toyo Open Country A/Ts, which can complement the 4WD capabilities.

  • Aftermarket Tires: Increases traction and performance.
  • Cold Air Intake: Potentially improves engine efficiency.
Jeep Tires: Goodyear Duratrac or Toyo Open Country AT2 For A Jeep Wrangler?

Enhancing 4WD Performance

To enhance the performance of your 4WD system, you may want to:

  • Add a Lift Kit: Raises vehicle clearance for rough terrain.
  • Install Skid Plates: Provides undercarriage protection.

Be cautious with modifications like disabling or removing 4WD systems, as they can affect the vehicle’s handling and stability. Always consult with a professional before making such adjustments.

Legal and Environmental Considerations

When engaging 4WD on your Ford Escape or any SUV, be mindful of legal frameworks regulating its use and the environmental impacts.

Regulations on 4WD Use

Legislation varies by region, but you should be aware of possible restrictions that govern the use of 4WD vehicles:

  • Road Restrictions: Certain roads may prohibit the use of 4WD to prevent road damage or due to safety concerns.
  • Off-road regulations: Protected areas may have specific rules to mitigate the ecological impact of off-roading.

Impact of 4WD on Environment

Using 4WD in your SUV can affect the environment in multiple ways:

  • Fuel Consumption: 4WD can increase your vehicle’s fuel usage, leading to more emissions.
  • Terrain Impact:
    • Soil Compaction: Driving a heavy vehicle like an SUV in 4WD mode can compact soil, affecting its health.
    • Vegetation Damage: Off-road use, particularly, can disrupt plant life and lead to habitat degradation.

Remember to always check local regulations regarding 4WD use and be conscious of your vehicle’s environmental footprint.

Future of 4WD in Ford Escapes

As technologies evolve, your Ford Escape’s 4WD capabilities are set to improve with advancements designed to enhance both performance and safety.

Innovations in the Pipeline

Forward-thinking innovations for the Ford Escape are likely to build upon the existing Intelligent 4WD system.

  • Expect incorporation of AI-driven technologies to optimally distribute power across wheels for different terrains and conditions.
  • Upgrades may include real-time adaptive systems that can adjust 4WD settings automatically, making your driving experience both smoother and more responsive.

Predicting Market Trends

Understanding the shifts in the automotive industry can give you a glimpse into how 4WD in Ford Escapes will adapt:

  • The trend towards hybrid and electric vehicles suggests a future where 4WD systems are integrated with eco-friendly powertrains for enhanced efficiency.
  • Market demands for greater fuel economy and reduced emissions will drive Ford to refine AWD systems, balancing performance with sustainability.

Market trends indicate a continuous move towards more intuitive and adaptive AWD systems that align with environmental considerations and user demands for convenience and safety.

FAQs on Ford Escape’s 4WD System

The Ford Escape’s 4WD system is designed to enhance traction and handling in various driving conditions. Understand how to engage this feature and clear up common misunderstandings with the following frequently asked questions.

Common Questions Answered

How do I activate the 4WD on my Ford Escape?
For most modern Ford Escapes, the 4WD system is “Intelligent 4WD,” meaning it automatically activates when your front or rear tires lose traction. There isn’t a switch or button you need to press; the car will adjust for you as needed.

What does ‘Intelligent 4WD’ really mean?
Intelligent 4WD is a system designed to continuously monitor your vehicle’s traction. It uses sensors to determine when to allocate power to the wheels, improving grip and stability without manual input.

Is there a low range option for off-roading?
The Ford Escape doesn’t come equipped with a true low range gear used in more rigorous off-road conditions. It is more suited for on-road and light off-road situations.

Myths and Misconceptions

Myth: You need to turn on 4WD manually in the snow.

Fact: The Ford Escape’s 4WD system automatically detects slip and engages as necessary.

Myth: Ford Escape’s 4WD is only for off-road purposes.

Fact: The 4WD system enhances traction in various conditions, not just off-road scenarios. It’s particularly helpful on slippery or wet roads.

By understanding the Intelligent 4WD system equipped in your Ford Escape and addressing common myths, you can confidently manage your vehicle’s capabilities and enjoy safer driving experiences.


Activating 4WD on your Ford Escape is typically an automatic process due to the Intelligent 4WD system. This system is designed to engage 4WD as needed based on the conditions encountered during your drive.

However, if your vehicle has a manual 4WD button, ensure you are familiar with its location and functionality before you require its use.

Key Points:

  • Your Ford Escape’s Intelligent 4WD system automatically adjusts to driving conditions.
  • The 4WD system’s operation is often seamless and does not require driver intervention.
  • If a manual 4WD button is present:
    • Locate the 4WD button on the dashboard, often near the center console.
    • Press the button to engage 4WD if it is not already active, as indicated by the dashboard light.

Remember that regular maintenance can ensure your 4WD system operates correctly when you need it most. If you ever doubt the functionality of your Ford Escape’s 4WD system, consult your owner’s manual or seek assistance from a professional technician.

Your confidence in the 4WD system will be bolstered by knowing the mechanics of its operation and the peace of mind that comes with understanding your vehicle’s capabilities and limitations. Stay informed and prepared as you navigate different driving terrains.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *