Should I drive in 4WD AUTO or 2WD?


I’ve been driving for a little over a year now, and I’m finally getting the hang of all these new terms like “4WD AUTO” and “2WD.” 

Should I be driving in 4WD AUTO or 2WD? What’s the difference? 

It can get pretty confusing, so this blog post will break down what two different drive modes are.

Should I drive in 4WD AUTO or 2WD?

Drive in 2WD if you are in the city streets on dry pavement when you have complete control of the vehicle. Drive in 4WD AUTO on dirt roads or in sand and snowstorms. 4WD AUTO is best used when you are likely to need an extra bit of power to get you through rugged terrain. 

What’s The Difference Between 4WD AUTO and 2WD?

Driving in 4WD AUTO means automatically switching between 2WD and 4WD whenever the vehicle determines it needs to.

The vehicle will automatically switch between 4WD and 2WD depending on the road conditions.

For example, if you’re driving on asphalt but hit a patch of gravel, your car will automatically switch into 4WD, allowing additional traction. 

The same goes for mud or snow; you can continue driving safely on these surfaces by leaving your car in 4WD AUTO.

Driving in 2WD means that you are locked into the two-wheel-drive of the vehicle, which has almost no grip whatsoever. 

If you’re trying to drive up a snowy mountain, you’ll need to have your car switched into 4WD AUTO mode. 

Otherwise, you’ll find it challenging to get up the hill.

Some say that driving in 4WD AUTO is better for your vehicle because it allows you to have complete control over how much traction you want from your Jeep. 

However, going in 2WD is also perfectly fine if you know when and where not to drive it.

Driving in 4WD is also more expensive than going in 2WD. 

2WD cars are almost half the price of their 4WD counterparts because they lack that added mechanism that automatically switches between gears.

4WD Auto is a feature that allows you to switch between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. 

Driving in 2WD means your car is only sending power to the rear wheels, giving you a greater possibility of losing traction when you’re in wet weather or on a slippery surface.

What is 4WD Auto?

4WD AUTO is a feature that allows you to automatically switch between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive.

This system works by sending power to the rear axle when too much stress is put on the front axle, which could cause a lot of damage to your vehicle if it wasn’t for this system.

If you’re driving on sand or slippery surfaces like wet roads, the system will automatically turn into an all-wheel-drive to give you that extra boost of power that is needed to get you through city streets or snowy city streets.

When in 4WD AUTO mode, the front axle is automatically engaged when necessary to supplement the rear axle that most likely has more weight on it, like when driving up a hill or accelerating from a stop on slippery surfaces. 

Driving in 4WD AUTO means automatically switching between 2WD and 4WD whenever the vehicle determines it needs to.

For this system to work, your car’s transfer case must have a differential between the front and the rear, which allows the front and rear axle to rotate at different speeds when going around a corner. 

4WD Auto mode engages this differential in both four-wheel drives and high and low range.

The only time when it would be suitable for you to drive in 2WD is if your four-wheel drive vehicle is having a lot of trouble going up an incline. 

In this case, you would be better off turning it into 2WD because the four-wheel-drive system would be causing more damage to your 4WD as opposed to helping it.

When to Use 4WD Auto?

If you’re driving on the road in dry, wet, snowy or icy conditions, your car will automatically switch to four-wheel drive when it detects loss of traction. 

This means that you can enjoy the added grip that comes with four-wheel drive without having to switch between high and low range manually.

The system knows when there isn’t enough grip available on the road, and it will engage four-wheel drive for you. 

If you want to, you can override this function by switching your car into low range manually whenever you need extra traction.

When in 4WD AUTO mode, keep your foot on the gas pedal and try not to turn or brake too hard; let your vehicle do the work for you. 

As soon as your front wheels start to slip, four-wheel drive will be engaged and start sending power to the rear axle too.

What is 2WD?

When in 2WD, you’re limited to only using the rear axle; it disengages the front axle. 

This is ideal for driving on the street because the rear axle isn’t pushing the front axle.

2WD is a drive setting that locks your front and rear axles together, meaning you’re stuck with a two-wheel-drive—driving in 2WD means that you are locked into the two-wheel-drive of the vehicle, which has almost no grip whatsoever. 

If you’re trying to drive up a snowy mountain, you’ll need to have your car switched into low range when in 2WD.

2WD is also great for saving fuel which is why it’s advisable to use 2WD on your daily commute. 

When in 4WD AUTO, you can still switch to 2WD if this functionality has been enabled in your vehicle’s electronic systems.

When you’re in 2WD, your transfer case uses a single-speed gear which will limit the speed of your vehicle. 

Make sure you only drive in this mode on flat roads because it can be dangerous to operate at high speeds when there’s no traction to help out if something goes wrong, like hitting the ice or an oil spill. 

Driving in 2WD gives you the most traction but also limits your speed.

When to Use 2WD

Switch to 2WD when you’re in a hurry and need to gain access to the full power of your engine. 

Driving in this mode is great for quick acceleration, and if your road is clear, you won’t have any problems using it.

2WD lets you make steeper hills because you can rely on a two-wheel drive to get you up that steep hill or accelerate faster than in 4WD. 

If your road is clear, switch to 2WD and enjoy the maximum amount of power your engine can produce.

When in 2WD mode, the front axle will disengage, which means it won’t send any power to the front wheels; all it does is make sure the rear axle isn’t spinning too fast. 

This is great for saving fuel because your engine isn’t working as hard to move both axles simultaneously.

You can switch between 2WD and 4WD manually by using a button or dial in your car’s cockpit; it’s usually placed close to the gear shifter. 

Make sure you switch to 4WD Auto when the road conditions are right because it allows you to take advantage of both axles.

What Happens When I Switch to 4WD?

When you’re driving in 4WD AUTO, your vehicle uses a transfer case with multiple gears for increased control. 

Depending on the type of transfer case used, switching into four can result in clunky gear changes that take a moment to get used to.

If you don’t want this clunky movement, then you’re better off with the 2WD mode found in most vehicles today because it gives you increased fuel economy without having any of these cumbersome gear changes.

It’s important to know that not all vehicles in this class come equipped with a four-wheel-drive transfer case; some of them will only have a two-wheel-drive transfer case. 

Make sure you check the specifications when you’re choosing your new car to avoid any problems.

2WD vs 4WD Auto

You may have noticed that many cars come with a special button that allows you to switch between two and four-wheel drive. 

2WD is easier to use because it separates the front and rear axles; both are not connected.

4WD Auto, on the other hand, can be more difficult to control because power goes through the transfer case, which means that you’ll experience clunky gear changes when switching back and forth between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.

If you’re having difficulty deciding which one to use, go with 2WD because it’s easier to control when driving on the street. 

4WD Auto is great for off-roading because it has more power available through the transfer case, but using special functions can be tricky until you experience driving in all conditions.

In a nutshell, 2WD is the best option if fuel economy and silence are your number one priorities. 

You can also switch to 2WD manually anytime you want. 

4WD will cost more fuel, but it’s great for when you need extra grip on slippery roads because it uses all four wheels to get traction.

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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