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Old 01-13-2011, 08:52 AM   #1
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Default Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

Car guys...need some advice. I have a 2007 Dogde Dakota with shift on the fly 4x4. I live in Ohio and while we don't get alot of snow, some days we get enough for 4x4 to be necessary. Yesterday was one of those days, and it was also the first time I was able to use my 4 wheel drive. I was on an hour long road trip and ran into several different driving conditions and it raised questions about if I'm using it properly. Any advice on if I made the right choices? I don't want to end up ruining my transmission...LOL.

1. Unplowed, snow covered road: we had 3-4 inches of snowfall overnight and the back roads were completely snow covered. In this condition I know I'm able to use my 4 wheel drive and not worry about it.

2. Along the way I came to several main roads that intersected the back road I was driving on. These main roads were plowed and clear of all snow. Is it fine to cross these roads with the 4 wheel drive on?

3. Partially cleared road: Several spots along the way looked as if they had been plowed, leaving a very thin layer of compacted snow or had some de-icer spayed on them the night before, causing most of the snow to melt away. I wasn't sure what to do on these areas of the road. I turned the 4 wheel drive off and I was able to drive on them fine. The snow is not deep enough to need the 4 wheel drive, but I didn't know if it was necessary to turn it off, because I'd end up turning it back on again in a mile or so when the road become unplowed again.

4. Road that is partially cleared with tracks down each side. Anyone who's lived in a snowy area will know what I mean. The roads develop tire tracks where all the cars have driven. These spots are mostly down to the pavement, but if you get out of the tracks, the road is snow covered. This was the condition on my way home. I didn't use my 4 wheel drive for most of it since it was clear pavement.

5. The last bit of road I ran into was on my way home. It was much later in the afternoon and most of the roads were plowed and clear. However as I was driving I would run into sections of road (less than 1/2 mile long) that had drifted. They were drifted bad enough that you couldn't tell where the sides of the roads ended and the fields started. I used my 4 wheel drive until I was through them, but my question about this is can the shift on the fly be switched on/off/on/off/on/off/on/off... like I had to do to get through the drifted parts?


Don't think I'm an idiot though. I've never had 4 wheel drive on a vehicle and am not really a 'car guy'. The salesman gave me some general advice, but it sounded almost more like a scare tatic to keep me from using it and now I'm concered I'm going to do something wrong.

Thanks!
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

Well, if there is snow on the roads, it's safe to use. But if there is clear road, you want to turn it off. Often the front and rear diffs are slightly different which would cause you to wind up your drive train if driving too long on clear pavement.

What you want to do is throw 300 pounds of sand in your bed so you will be OK in 2wd most of the time. This will get you through the partially cleared roads fine.
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

I have 6 40lb salt bags in the bed, spread evenly over the axle. And it does seem to work most of the time. I feel like I did everything right (and only used it when I absolutely needed it) so I should be fine I think.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

Throw some sand in there too. One reason to carry sand is you can dump a bag out to aid in traction when you do get stuck. You can do the same with salt... I just don't like spinning my tires on salt since it throws it on the under body of my truck.
Also, put it at the very back of your bed. It's puts more of the weight on the rear wheels instead of some on the front. Make sure your tires are full of air, 35psi or so. Some people have the misconception that lower PSI is better in the winter since it covers more surface area, but that's not true, you want high psi hard tires that can cut through the snow to the road.

I live in the 3rd snowiest city in the country(Yes, that includes Alaska) and drive a 2wd truck. I got all the techniques! lol
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

The basic rule is that it is safe to use 4 wheel drive if the surface you are driving on is loose enough/slippery enough to let your tires spin.Front and rear wheels spin at minutely different speeds as you turn corners etc.. If the surfaces you were driving up did not provide enough slip between the front and rear wheels, then you may get wind up in the driveline which will place extra pressure on the transmission.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by superman22x View Post
Throw some sand in there too. One reason to carry sand is you can dump a bag out to aid in traction when you do get stuck. You can do the same with salt... I just don't like spinning my tires on salt since it throws it on the under body of my truck.
Also, put it at the very back of your bed. It's puts more of the weight on the rear wheels instead of some on the front. Make sure your tires are full of air, 35psi or so. Some people have the misconception that lower PSI is better in the winter since it covers more surface area, but that's not true, you want high psi hard tires that can cut through the snow to the road.

I live in the 3rd snowiest city in the country(Yes, that includes Alaska) and drive a 2wd truck. I got all the techniques! lol
Ok. Well we don't have enough snow to get stuck unless I run completely off the road - but then off course I'd get to try out the 4 wheel drive 'low'...LOL. It's salt because it's actually for my water softner. I've was too lazy to carry it in and now I'm using the excuse of needing it for weight...LOL.
Yes, my tires are full. Part of my monthly maintenance plan.

PS: On Yahoo this morning: LINK


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowndsey View Post
The basic rule is that it is safe to use 4 wheel drive if the surface you are driving on is loose enough/slippery enough to let your tires spin.Front and rear wheels spin at minutely different speeds as you turn corners etc.. If the surfaces you were driving up did not provide enough slip between the front and rear wheels, then you may get wind up in the driveline which will place extra pressure on the transmission.
I'm afraid of winding up the driveline/tranny. But I feel confident now that I know what I'm doing. I kind of went with that idea (if I could spin my tires then I can use 4 wheel drive).
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lowndsey View Post
The basic rule is that it is safe to use 4 wheel drive if the surface you are driving on is loose enough/slippery enough to let your tires spin.Front and rear wheels spin at minutely different speeds as you turn corners etc.. If the surfaces you were driving up did not provide enough slip between the front and rear wheels, then you may get wind up in the driveline which will place extra pressure on the transmission.
Especially when you have a Dodge tranny... haha

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmacavali View Post

PS: On Yahoo this morning: LINK

lol, those are just big cities I guess. We average 207" here.
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

I've had 4 wheel drives all my life, and living up here in Canada, it gets used alot in the winter months.
But what everyone is saying is true, if the road is wet, your ok. But in the city I would advise against it on just wet roads. Turning corners put alot of strain on the differentials.
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmacavali View Post
Ok. Well we don't have enough snow to get stuck unless I run completely off the road - but then off course I'd get to try out the 4 wheel drive 'low'...LOL. It's salt because it's actually for my water softner. I've was too lazy to carry it in and now I'm using the excuse of needing it for weight...LOL.
Yes, my tires are full. Part of my monthly maintenance plan.

PS: On Yahoo this morning: LINK




I'm afraid of winding up the driveline/tranny. But I feel confident now that I know what I'm doing. I kind of went with that idea (if I could spin my tires then I can use 4 wheel drive).
If you do get wind up...just reverse in a straight line until you can disengage 4wd
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Teach me to use my 4 wheel drive

As a rule of thumb there is no reason why you can't always be in 4-wheel but you do need to be careful with turning and stuff. After-all, they do make full-time 4-wheel drive cars out there. When I had my old jeep with the manual shift I still used it sparingly because it did suck my gas down as well. Once you are going, i'd turn it off simply because momentum will usually keep you strait.
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