If you live in a state where “four-wheel low” vehicles are a common feature, you have probably heard people talking about driving in 4 low. Using 4 Low allows you to drive at a slow cruise, stop or turn without stalling the car. It is also helpful to get out of trouble if stuck in the snow. However, how fast can you drive in 4 low? It depends on the terrain you are driving through.
On average, you should not exceed 40 mph when driving in 4 Low, but on roads with low traction, please maintain 10 mph. Maintaining this driving mode is an essential skill as it allows you to tackle the most treacherous terrain and weather conditions.
In this post, we’ll comprehensively discuss whether you can drive in 4 low on the highway how fast you can drive on highways.
Can You Drive in 4 Low on the Highway?
Yes, you can. But, it is not advisable unless you’re in a situation where your life depends on it.
What are some of the situations you might find yourself driving in a low gear mode? Well, if you’re stuck in mud or sand, for example, there’s no other choice.
We can agree that 4 Low is best for use when you’re navigating rough, slippery, or hilly terrain. Engaging 4 Low multiplies your engine’s torque by 2.72:1 and reduces your wheel speed by the same amount, which gives you more low-speed control.
Also, you can engage the driving mode when you need extra power to go up a steep slope when it is snowing. The 4 low driving mode also helps slow your vehicle down while driving downhill.
What Happens If You Drive Fast in 4 Low on the Highway?
Suppose you drive fast on the highway while in 4 low mode, your engine may redline and overheat within a matter of minutes.
This happens because you engage the gear at a pretty low ratio, and they work harder than usual to keep the vehicle moving when you force it to go at high speed. The result may be engine wear and tear.
How Fast Can You Go in Low Range on the Highway?
The answer to this question depends on what type of vehicle you have. If your car has an automatic transmission system, it will limit the speed you can attain in the 4 low mode. On the other hand, using 4WD at 60 MPH (or higher) should be fine if your vehicle has a manual transmission system. Besides, the features of different driving modes will vary depending on the car brand and model.
How Do You Drive in 4 Low?
So, if you’re about to go up a very steep hill, you may experience a situation where your rear tires are just spinning, and your front tires are not getting any traction. That’s when you need to engage the 4 low gear mode.
If you’re going through deep snow and don’t have chains on your tires, you can also use 4 low to navigate through snow easily. You may also use it when trying to tow someone’s car out of the mud.
What 4 low does is it locks the front and back of the differential by locking gears together, spinning at the same speed. However, you can only engage in 4 low mode when you’re moving at speed below 20 mph. You must note this detail because as soon as you go above 20 mph, it’s going to pop out of 4 low anyway or put unnecessary strain on your engine.
It’s pretty simple to engage 4 low:
- Turn off your vehicle
- Press on the brake pedal
- Shift into neutral
- Shift into 4 low
- Then put it back into drive
When you’re in that mode, you don’t want to turn off your vehicle engine until you finish the task, climbing uphill or driving through snow.
How Fast Can You Drive 4 High?
So how fast can you drive in 4 high gear mode? Well, the answer depends on the terrain and weather conditions but generally speaking, 4 high will give you better traction than two-wheel drive (which is why it’s often used during bad weather). Most pickup trucks have a switch that allows them to engage the entire four-wheel-drive system, which means they’re always functioning with power from their transmission through the front and rear axles.
Therefore, the 4WD can handle rugged terrains such as snow, mud, or sand, although many models still have low range gearing, which helps even further.
Most 4×4 trucks can safely drive in 4 high at any speed. But you can’t say the same for 4 low. In 4 high, your vehicle won’t have any trouble reaching the permitted highway speeds as long as you have enough room to accelerate.
If you don’t have enough space to accelerate, it is possible that pushing the vehicle may damage the transfer case. If you are driving on a highway or freeway and need to engage 4 low, you will need to slow down before engaging the transfer case. Once you do that and shift into 4 low, you will only be able to travel between 3 and 5 miles per hour.
Is 4×4 Good to Drive in Snow?
If you drive through deep snow all the time, a 4×4 can help. Having four wheels instead of two increases your chances of traction because the wheels have better contact with the ground. Generally, a 4×4 vehicle may reach where a 2WD vehicle cannot reach because of the terrain. But 4×4 isn’t the only factor giving you an advantage on the roads.
If you live in a region where snow rarely falls, or when it does come, it’s light and clears within hours, then a 2WD vehicle may be adequate for you. But if you always have to drive through deep snow or slippery roads, then it’s time to consider getting yourself a 4×4 with more traction.
In particular, we recommend driving a 4×4 if you need to pass through unplowed roads or hills that aren’t plowed regularly during winter (or at all).
Many people assume that 4WD will get them out of any situation — and technically it may — but there are times when even 4×4 vehicles get stuck. Having another set of tires that can gain traction becomes very helpful in those cases.
Is It Bad to Drive in 4 Wheel Drive Low?
Most manufacturers will tell you that you should not drive in 4WD Low for a long time as it may cause transmission issues in the long term. However, some cars can handle the stress, but some won’t.
The reason why it’s not a good idea is that it puts too much strain on the transmission and other related parts. The only thing designed to handle a high amount of torque is the transmission, which is why you shouldn’t drive in 4WD Low unless you need an unavoidable situation.
If a vehicle has 4WD High, you should use that gear mode instead of 4WD Low if you drive on paved roads. Remember that you still engage 4WD High even if you are going faster than 25mph, but at speeds higher than around 40-45mph, most vehicles will switch back into 2WD automatically.
It’s also important to remember that if your vehicle has 4WD with a low range transfer case (one that has a lever or knob that says “Low” on it), then while it may have a separate lever or button for 4WD High as well, there’s no such thing as “2WD Low”. It’s either in 2WD or in 4WD Low.
Learn More: How To Test Transfer Case Motor?
Can You Shift into 4 Low While Driving?
You can shift into this gear while driving at a slow speed (under 25 MPH), but it is not essential except in cases of emergency or when dealing with rugged terrain.
If you shift into 4 low while the vehicle moves at high speeds, you could damage the transmission and drivetrain. Typically, you can use the low range at slower speeds for rock crawling and off-road driving.
The transmission and transfer case gears can not handle the stress when you engage 4 low while traveling at high speeds. Therefore, it can cause severe damage.
Unless you are in an emergency or are navigating rocky trails, stick to using 4 High. Some vehicles have locking differentials, which allow you to engage low range without coming to a complete stop. These systems require you to move below 10 mph to shift into the low range smoothly. An excellent way to remember this is if you’re going over 10 mph or if the vehicle is traveling over 15 mph, don’t shift into low range.
Why Is 4WD Bad for Dry Pavement?
The short answer is: it’s not suitable for your vehicle. The long answer is a little more complicated. Four-wheel drive, commonly known as 4WD, was initially developed to help vehicles travel over rough terrain. It works by sending power from the engine to all four wheels of a car, truck, or SUV instead of just two.
The boost in traction helps vehicles with 4WD get more grip on loose ground like mud, snow, and sand. But there’s a downside to this increased traction. Since all four wheels receive a boost from the engine, they tend to spin at the same speed.
On pavement, this leads to a jerky ride in which you feel every bump and imperfection in the road. While it doesn’t cause any immediate damage to your vehicle, you won’t enjoy the ride.
Also, driving in that gear mode for long will eventually cause certain parts of your vehicle’s drivetrain to wear out faster. Therefore, it is best to use 4WD when driving off the pavement or in rough conditions like snow or mud. Or if you just really hate smooth rides.
Is It Better to Drive in 4 High or 4 Low?
It might seem like a trick question, but there are circumstances where one or the other is the best choice. Driving in 4 High is the standard setting for your truck. Moreover, it’s the highest gear, allowing you to go at average speeds. It lets you take full advantage of your engine’s power and gives you the most torque and horsepower on level ground. Thus, making it easier to maintain speed without burning excess gas or causing engine strain.
Also, 4 high is usually the best choice when towing a trailer, depending on its size and weight. Using 4 high gives you more stability. Always use 4 high when driving over 35-40 mph on normal roads. It doesn’t require more gas than any other gear, so don’t be afraid to use it.
On the other hand, you can use 4 low for off-roading, rock crawling, or very steep hills where you need extra torque. It has a lower gear ratio than 4 high. This means your engine transfers its power to the wheels using fewer driveshaft rotations to turn each wheel once.
It also means that you get the maximum torque at slower speeds. Keep in mind that you need 4 low when going up steep hills.
Is It Ok to Drive in 4 Wheel Drive All the Time?
The quick answer is no. You should only use 4WD when necessary. It’s better to wait until you need it and then engage the system than to use it all the time. The 4WD system works best when you’re driving on a slippery surface, such as mud, gravel, sand, or snow. However, 4WD won’t necessarily help you stop any faster than 2WD will. It can only help you get going forward again after you’ve stopped.
If you’re driving too fast on a slippery path and the wheels start to lose traction, engaging 4WD will make your car even more unstable. However, it is useful when you need more power to launch forward from a stationary position. For instance, moving through a spot where other cars got stuck. It can also help improve traction during steep climbs. But if misused, your vehicle could become damaged or unsafe to drive.
If you were wondering how fast you can drive in 4 Low, always maintain low speed between 10 to 40 mph, depending on the situation. Remember that the dangers of driving in 4 Low are no different than driving any other vehicle.
Consider familiarizing yourself with your car’s transmission system and how it performs when towing heavy loads. When you are ready, hit the road or trail and have fun exploring what your 4WD vehicle can do.