Electronic 4WD Activation

4WD Tips      October 17, 2014      David Wilson

Over the 20 years we’ve been in business it’s been fascinating to see the evolution of the modern 4WD, some of it’s good, some on the face of it not so. Despite what the hard-core fraternity might think, the loss of live axles on a fourbie isn’t the end of the world. On a ute for example, the combination of independent coil-over suspension in the front and a live axle with leaf springs in the rear, might not have the stretch you want, but electronics will give you the traction you’re lacking.

To address that loss of grip with even more finesse, many a 4WD maker have returned to the old ways with the addition of a rear-axle diff-lock operated by… you guessed it, electronics.

And so it is now with 4WD engagement. Plenty (read most) use electronics to move the power around the driveline and it can be a reliable system, provided you are patient. For example HIGH range 4WD can be engaged on the move at speeds up to 100kph (our preferred maximum dirt road speed however is 80kph) and with the right technique, hooks up seamlessly (see pics #2, #3 & #4). LOW range though has a procedure that requires a bit of attention on your part.

As plenty of 4WDs now run an automatic transmission you’ll need to get this right, so follow these simple steps:

  1. Bring the vehicle to a halt (we’re assuming you’re already on a loose surface).
  2. Analyse the track surface and determine that LOW range will be beneficial (usually if there’s steep or boggy conditions, LOW range will be hugely useful).
  3. Keeping your foot on the footbrake, shift the transmission lever into N (neutral)
  4. Grab your range selector dial and rotate it into the 4L position and then watch the dash display (see pics #1 & #5).
  5. You’ll observe a couple of things, firstly the display will change reflecting the movement from HIGH range to LOW and most will indicate “4L”. That confirms the selection has been successful (keep an ear out for an audible clunk too as the gears engage).
  6. With the confidence of LOW now ready to go , grab the gear selector and shift to D (drive), foot off the brake and onto the accelerator and you’re once more in motion! (see pic #6)
  7. If for some reason the display is flashing, something’s amiss! It might be that you’ve grabbed your D (drive) gear too early before the sequence was complete? Perhaps the vehicle was parked awkwardly and the wheels are mid-way through a change in direction? Ideally you should have everything lined up nice and straight, and with the engine running, 99.9% of the time changing into LOW should be a snap!
  8. You know how it is… if all else fails get the owners-manual out and have a read!!!

One other little note and that is it doesn’t matter whether your 4WD is a part-timer or a full-timer, if you’ve done with the rough and tumble and the bitumen is in sight, you need to get your vehicle back into either 2WD or its constant 4WD mode necessary for hard surfaces. If you don’t… ouch! You run the risk of some serious transmission damage = $$$

1.Isuzu Range Selector
1.Isuzu Range Selector
2.Display 2WD
2.Display 2WD
3.Display HIGH Range Selected
3.Display HIGH Range Selected
4.Display HIGH Range Engaged
4.Display HIGH Range Engaged
5.Display LOW Range Selected in Neutral
5.Display LOW Range Selected in Neutral
6. Display LOW Range Engaged
6. Display LOW Range Engaged

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