4WD Lock (Beginners Guide)

There are several drive systems for cars, and the Four-wheel drive A.K.A 4WD is one of them.

A car is referred to as a 4WD if it has certain innovative features lacking in the two-wheeled drive.

Consequently, you’ll find out the features that differentiate one from another.

The four-wheel-drive cars have two types; the high range or Lock and the low range.

But, in this article, I will expose the very secrets of the 4WD Lock and everything you should know about it.

4WD Lock can be automatically or manually set when navigating through off-track roads. Usually, all four-wheel drive ranges are conditioned for unfavorable and difficult dirt roads. Therefore, they are automobiles equipped with solid wheels that allow the extra rotational force or torque to be evenly distributed to the four wheels.

What Is a 4WD Lock?

4WD Lock is a feature in every 4WD vehicle to distribute torque evenly; a rotational force in a linear motion to the four wheels.

Most trucks, jeeps, and off-road vehicles are 4WD; they’re more suitable for the not-so-smooth roads.

For 2WD, torque is delivered only to the one axle and not the both.

So, when a 2WD is stuck in the mud, the unstuck wheels go into the spin mode to release the vehicle from its temporary bondage.

The inadequacy of the 2WD is upgraded in four-wheeled drives as all four wheels are active while driving.

Equal force is delivered to all wheels for an AWD, but the ratio differs from the 4WD.

 Now, let’s understand what it means for a 4WD to be in Lock.

 The 4WD can be set in the Lock or high and low modes manually or automatically.

A control panel with a knob and labels indicates the different modes you can switch between for the automatic. A 4WD vehicle has the options of 2WD, 4WD low, and 4WD Lock.

 An example of an automobile with a rotary control panel is the 2014 Ram 1500 ST Express and the Hyundai Tucson.

When you turn the knob to a 4WD Lock, you enable force through the car’s four wheels, increasing traction.

This option is best when driving through loose and slippery road surfaces. It gives you a level of control over your steering and some more confidence from the feeling of being in control.

 On the other hand, when you switch to 4WD low, you have extra pulling power alongside traction.

Therefore, the 4WD low is best for non-gravel terrains, while the 4WD Lock is for paved roads covered in a level of snow.

It would help if you knew that aside from the automatic control, there are exceptional cases where a lever is in place of the knob.

So, instead of turning a knob, you pull the lever from one level to the other with the same indications.

The result following the action is the 2WD, 4WD Lock, and 4WD low options, respectively.

How Does 4WD Lock?

The process of shifting the 4X4 vehicle to lock is similar in trucks and SUVs, but you must take note of certain things. 

  • Do not step on the gas when the truck is in motion and you want to switch to a 4WD lock. You can even press on the brakes while you switch. 
  • Also, do not switch to a 4WD Lock when running above 40km/h.

So, as I stated earlier, you can change to 4WD by rotating the knob on the control panel or pulling the lever to the 4WD option. Once this action is completed, you have a 4X4 vehicle in a 4WD Lock.

Furthermore, you must note that the 4X4 car is produced for a reason; dirt roads, unfavorable terrain, and rocky grounds.

Therefore, it’s best to switch to the 4WD lock option only when necessary. When driving on dry pavement, maintain the default mode, 2WD, even for 4X4 vehicles.

In a flat tire, due to all the dirt road driving, always have a spare tire in the trunk.

You can take your spare tire kit and get to work right there when you notice the puncture.

If you have no previous knowledge of fixing tires, you can contact a mechanic.

Should I Use 4WD Lock Or Low?

The options of 4WD Lock or low are for different case scenarios

  • You can switch to 4WD Lock when maneuvering slippery and wet roads from rainwater or snow. On the other hand, you must only use 4WD low when you seem stuck in the mud and it’s impossible to move.
  • While the 4WD Lock is for a good application of traction through the four wheels, the 4WD low is for an additional pull. 

So, if you ever think of going fishing, hiking, or even hunting, the 4X4 jeep or truck is your best option.

When To Use 4WD Lock?

You can use the 4WD Lock when you encounter snow-covered roads, the traction that 4X4 wheels provide keeps you grounded.

Consequently, you are less likely to be involved in an accident on a snowy day. So, it is advisable to switch to a 4WD lock once you start your car during winter or spring.

For countries that experience extreme weather conditions, it is necessary to have at least one 4X4 truck.

Even if you don’t live in such countries, if you drive a lot more, they might be expensive, but they’re worth every dime!

How Fast Can You Drive In 4WD?

When driving a 4WD automobile, you must not exceed the speed limit of 40km/h or 25m/h.

Within this range, you’re sure to be safe from drifting and crashing into an electric pole, tree, or nearby pavement.

The rear and front wheels are working to provide sufficient traction, especially when it’s snowing or raining.

 Since the 4WD is not left out of road accidents, it’s essential to avoid overspending.

Speed limits are on the road for you to observe your surroundings and take note of things like road repairs or zebra crossing.

Do not think it is harder to crash because the 4WD has excellent traction control and can maneuver rocky terrain.

However, it’s even more susceptible if you go above the specific speed limit of 40km/h.

Of course, you can attest that driving at full speed is more thrilling than crawling, but you must be careful in this case.

When it’s snowing or raining heavily, do not step out unless it’s an emergency. But even if it’s an emergency, do not go beyond the speed limit.

You may not reach the hospital because you have a higher chance of crashing your car.

No matter how well the torque goes to the vehicle’s axles and how much traction it has, you must not exceed the speed limit.

After all, I don’t believe that the goal of the manufacturers of the automobile’s drive systems was to cause harm.

On the contrary, additional traction in the car’s wheels is a solution to enhance the driver’s experience and should never become a problem.


A 4WD Lock is an automatic or manual setting that involves the active involvement of the four wheels.

Unlike other 2WD, this type of wheel system is more efficient. In general, it consumes more gas than a 2WD.

However, a little extra gas shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the benefits of driving a gigantic-wheeled, super control automobile.

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