Is It Worth Getting A 2WD Truck?


Are you looking to buy a new or used truck? There are so many factors to consider when shopping for a truck that the process might challenge you. Everyone needs a truck that meets their needs on and off the road. 

This is where the debate on whether to go for a 2WD or a 4WD drive comes in. There is an assumption that all trucks have a 4×4 drivetrain, but this is not true as some feature a 2WD drivetrain. Even if you know trucks are different, there is no need to go for a 4×4 that you will never need.

Is It Worth Getting A 2WD Truck?

It is worth getting a 2WD if you do not go off the road often. If you drive on the road most days and the ground is seldom slippery where you live, then a 2WD truck will meet your needs. However, this doesn’t mean that a 2WD truck will not get you off mud and ice. 

The trucks also offer so much power and traction, and you can use them for light off-roading and in areas where winters are mild. The traction is not as much as you’d get from an AWD or 4WD, but it is enough to get you off a little mud. 

So, are 2WD trucks good? That will depend on your driving conditions and needs. Below, I explain why a 2WD truck is a good choice and instances where an AWD or 4WD would come in handy

What is a 2WD Truck?

A 2WD truck’s engine sends power to either the front or the rear axle and not both. This means that only the front or rear wheels will have traction to steer the car. As the driven wheels steer the car, the other two wheels only roll from that momentum. 

If the truck sends power to the front axle, then the truck is a front-wheel drive. If power goes to the rear axle, then the truck is a rear-wheel drive. 

So, are 2WD trucks front wheel drive? Most trucks and SUVs today are FWD, thanks to the mechanical advantage that the configuration provides. Rear-wheel drive trucks were popular before the 1970s, but the demand for lighter and more fuel-efficient trucks dwindled their popularity. 

Front-wheel drive trucks are better when you need a more efficient truck, better traction when climbing a hill, and more climbing power. Better still, these trucks provide more cabin space as the configuration takes less space. If you carry cargo on your truck’s bed, however, a rear-wheel drive is better as you place the cargo where the power is. 

What Advantages Does a 2WD Truck Offer?

A 2WD truck offers several advantages over a 4WD truck. For starters, the truck is lighter than AWDs and 4WDs, seeing that these other trucks need more components to deliver the needed torque. All these additional parts in 4X4s make trucks heavy. 

Low curb weight translates to better fuel economy. Further, a 4X4 sends power to four wheels while a 2WD sends power to only two wheels. This means that the 4X4 truck needs more power, and that means it burns more fuel. 

Does a 2wd truck tow more than a 4wd truck? Because 2WD trucks are lighter, they offer better payload and towing capacity than 4WD trucks. RWD trucks are even better at towing and hauling. 

On average, you will tow 200 pounds more in a 2WD than you would in a 4WD. You can also haul 70 pounds more in a 2WD than you would in a 4WD. These trucks allow better handling, especially when they are empty, thanks to their low curb weight. 

If you are looking to save money on the initial cost and on maintenance, a 2WD truck is your best bet. These trucks will cost between $1,500 and $4,000 more than a 4WD of the same model. Down the line, you will spend less on routine maintenance. 

4WD trucks have several components, including differentials, transfer cases, and self-leveling systems among others. Each additional component means more money spent on maintenance. 

How Can You Make Your 2WD Truck Perform Better?

A 2WD truck will never match a 4WD’s performance. However, the truck can go off-road and even handle some slippery ground amicably. If you need more performance, you can modify your 2WD so that it performs better in different conditions. 

Can a 2wd truck go off road? Yes, with a few modifications, you can drive your truck on rugged terrain. Below are a few ways to make the truck perform better:

Add Weight

A 4WD truck has more weight and this increases the pressure on the road and, consequently, the traction. This means that the truck can drive well on slippery ground. 

When you have a FWD drive, there is enough weight on the front axle and front wheels. This gives you enough traction when you drive uphill, but there is less traction on the rear wheels. You can add between 150 and 250 pounds of weight on the truck’s bed just above the rear wheels to add traction. 

The weights will increase the rear traction and make the truck drive better. 

Install Lift Kits

If you need to drive off the road, you need enough ground clearance. A raised truck will less likely damage components under the truck. A lifted truck will also allow you to drive over rocks, through deeper waters, and also helps avoid high-centering. 

Can you lift a 2wd truck? Yes, and this will give you the space you need to put bigger tires for more ground clearance. 

There are two types of lift kits – body and suspension lift kits. Body lift kits are cheaper and easy to install; these will only lift the body as their name suggests. However, they will leave the frame and attached parts hanging low. 

Suspension lift kits are more expensive, but they offer a better lift. These kits will move all parts attached to the frame up. Better still, they are available in larger sizes, allowing more lift and, consequently, bigger tires. 

It is easy to fit body lift kits, but suspension lift kits need more professional input. 

Fit Bigger Tires

Can you put all terrain tires on a 2wd truck? You can, and this is what makes your 2WD truck ideal for off-roading. All-terrain tires allow you to handle different driving conditions on and off the road. 

To get the best performance, you need larger-than-stock tires as they offer you more ground clearance to drive on rocks. The clearance you get is equal to the additional size of the new tires divided by two. For instance, if you upgrade to 35-inch tires from 30-inch tires, you will have an additional ground clearance of 2.5 inches. 

New tires will also give you better traction, thanks to their tread patterns. Can you put mud terrain tires on a 2wd truck? You can fit any tires you need, depending on your driving conditions. 

Re-Gear Your Rear Axle

Re-gearing your rear axle is an easy way to achieve a low gear ratio so that the gear crawls better. Not all drives need a crawling gear, but when you have a low gear ratio, you can apply more power to your truck’s rear wheels as the truck drives slowly. This gives you better traction when you drive on slippery grounds. 

If you need to change your tires and change other components of your truck, you have to re-gear to maintain the power of your truck. The process of re-gearing will depend on the factory gear ratio.

Add a Locking Differential

A locking rear differential can give you better traction when you are driving on slippery ground. The differential ensures that your tires spin at the same time and speed, so you will have better traction when you need it. Almost every 2WD sports an open differential where the two tires spin together until one is stuck. 

If one wheel is stuck in the mud, it will transfer power to the free wheel. This can be a good feature if the free tire is on dry ground as it will get you off the mud. However, if the free wheel is off the ground, it will only rotate vigorously and not help with traction. 

If the two wheels have power, the stuck wheel will have the traction it needs to free itself. 

Locking differentials are available in different varieties. The first is a limited slip differential that comes in handy for daily driving. The limited slip differential stays unlocked until the truck is in need of traction where it will lock to distribute power. 

This differential is not 100 percent effective in locking when the truck is under load. You can go for manual locking, which gives you the control on when to lock your axle. This works the same as a limited slip differential, but you will have a button or lever through which you will lock your axle. 

The manual locking is effective under extreme load. If you do not need the control, you can pick an automatic differential, which works the same way as a manual differential, but you do not need to engage it to lock. This option comes with a sensor that decides when to lock and unlock. 

Your last option is a spool, which locks the rear permanently. I do not recommend this if you drive on-road most of the time, or you drive on roads with sharp corners. When you take a sharp turn, the pressure can result in breaking of the rear differential. 

You should talk to your mechanic before you install a rear locking differential.

How Do You Know That a 2WD Will Meet Your Needs?

It is not easy to choose between a 2WD and a 4WD. That choice is yours alone, and there are several factors that will dictate the truck you go for. 

For starters, consider how and where you will use your truck. If you only need a truck to use on-road every day, a 2WD truck will suffice. However, if you spend most of your days driving on rugged terrain, on rocks, in deep waters, and on deep snow, then a 4×4 is a better choice.

If you need a work truck that hauls and tows, a 2WD truck will meet your needs succinctly. Go for a rear-wheel model as it offers better balance and handling. However, if you need to tow on steep inclines, say on boat ramps, a 4X4 will come in handy. 

The conditions you encounter in your everyday drive will determine the truck that best fits your needs. A 2WD truck will drive well in moderate snow, ice, and rain. If the truck has modifications such as locking differential, it handles these conditions even better. 

If you will be handing heavy winter snow, heavy rain, huge rocks, and deep waters, you need a 4WD. With a 4WD, you have better traction so that the truck doesn’t slip. But if heavy snow only comes once a year in your area, you are better off with a 2WD. 

Does your budget allow you to get a 4WD truck? If you can meet the initial cost and the routine maintenance costs, then a 4X4 is your best buy. The advantage of 4x4s is that they are your go-anywhere do-anything trucks.

If your budget doesn’t allow, a 2WD truck will still meet most of your needs. 

Closing Thoughts

A 2WD truck will meet most of your needs. If it doesn’t, you can modify it to ensure it handles most of the tasks you throw at it. Modifications will ensure your truck performs almost as good as stock 4X4s.

Are you wondering how to know if your truck is 2WD or 4WD? You can check the shafts or tubular bars that go from the differential in the middle of the truck to the center of your wheels. If you have these tubes on both ends of your truck’s belly, then you have either a 4WD or AWD, but if you only have it at the front or rear end, then you have a 2WD. 

You can have the best of both worlds if you pick a part-time 4WD. This is a truck that operates as a 2WD on default and only engages 4WD when you need more traction. 

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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