How to use 4WD gears & when to use them.

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G'day, Dan here from Epic Drives Western Australia, welcome to our second video on

four wheel driving tips for beginners and

today I want to talk to you about

four wheel drive gear selection

It's a fairly

important lesson to learn in how to use

four wheel drive gears simply because if you do get it wrong or you don't understand how to use them

when your head off-road things can go south

pretty quickly. Now

when we talk about gear selection, it's really a two-part subject.

The first is something that you should already have well and truly under control and if you don't then I suggest you go and learn how

to drive your four-wheel drive in the standard five-speed manual on-road type scenario before you even dream about

engaging four-wheel drive and going off-road. Now if you have an auto,

hopefully you're already an expert at putting it into drive mode. Now most manual four-wheel drives,

they have the standard 5-speed gearbox and one of the first things that people who've never driven a four wheel drive notice is you've got one

regular gear stick and then you have another smaller gear stick usually to the left

it's commonly referred to as a stumpy gear shift and that's what this episode is primarily focusing on. So you could have

settings indicated on the gear stick itself or somewhere in the display

indicating two H

four H four L and these stand for high two

high four and low four now. You may also have graphics displayed somewhere to help select a particular terrain,

it might be snow, sand, gravel

tarmac some vehicles also offer hill descent control

and that's where your vehicle will actually take over control of its throttle, brakes and

gearing to safely manoeuvre down steep descents.

Now when you're on the road, it might be the blacktop or gravel. Normally your standard 2h is fine

You don't need to go into four-wheel drive at all. However, there are

situations, namely when your wheels start to spin and you notice that you're no longer in perfect control of your car

you'll need to engage either

four high or

four low, now the best option is to plan ahead so that you're in the right gear before you reach the point of losing control

and in fact some four-wheel drives

they will allow you to switch modes whilst you're driving which is commonly referred to as


But some four-wheel drives require you to come to a stop put the car in neutral before he can actually engage four-wheel drive.

So it goes without saying it is important that you understand how your own four-wheel drive

operates before you head out. The best way of doing that is

find your user manual in your glovebox or wherever you keep it and have a look at how you engage

four-wheel drive on your particular vehicle. Now 4h or

High four allows the gearbox to use all the gears.

It's generally the go-to mode for most off-road tracks

However, your fourby is armed to tackle some gnarly terrain. And so this is where

4L or low range four wheel drive comes into play and this is basically

your vehicle's beast mode. What it's doing is it's changing the final drive to the wheels allowing the vehicle to crawl over

Obstacles at a slower speed. It's used for powering up steep hills,

rocky obstacles, thick mud and also for descending down steep hills. Both front and rear wheels are driven in low range

which uses a lower gear ratio, the wheels, then turn much more slowly per

revolution than they would in your high range four-wheel drive, resulting in a slower road speed but a higher torque,

which assists with traction. The lower gearing gives your four-wheel drive better engine braking as well.

Now one thing that I want to make sure that you're very clear on. Never drive in four wheel drive on bitumen,

your turning circle is greatly increased and sharp turns can seriously damage the drive line and it also

prematurely wears out tyres due to the increased traction.

And another important point is when you're in low four you don't actually have to start driving

in first gear, you can start driving in second gear

and the reason for that is you do have a lot more torque. Your engine is much more unlikely to stall and

first gear low is extremely slow.

So if you are bogged particularly in sand

you're gonna have to change gears rather quickly and when you're stuck in sand you need to get your momentum up as quickly as possible.

So starting in second gear you'll get a bit more speed and changing from second gear

third gear is gonna give you that extra speed that you need to get out of the sand or mud or whatever it is that

you're stuck in. Another reason to try

starting to drive off in second gear low is if you're rock crawling because you'll have maximum control over your car

but at an extremely slow speed. Now if your four-wheel drive has manual locking hubs

you'll need to engage them when you're using four high or four low.

These are located in the centre hub of the front two wheels

and what they're doing is they're locking the hub and the wheel to the front differential output shafts.

Even with four H or four low engage, the front axles won't drive unless the hubs are locked into position.

Automatic locking hubs though, you don't have to do anything and if you don't know if you've got automatic or manual hubs

you've got automatic hubs. Now one small issue you may encounter with automatic hubs is

transitioning from four-wheel drive back to two-wheel drive what you may find is occasionally you stick it into two-wheel drive and

the four wheel drive light stays on and it's still in four-wheel drive. The simple solution to this

is put it in reverse, reverse back five-ten metres the light should turn off and away you go.

So as a rough guide first and second gear low are best used for hill climbs and steep descents as

well as snatch strap recoveries and max tracks


Second and fourth gear low are good for when you're ascending sand dunes. So when you're going back down and descending a sand dune

go with second gear low. What that will do is that will keep the car moving at roughly the same speed as the sand is

falling down the hill, what can happen if you're going too slow is the sand

continues downhill and the back end of your car can actually start to

turn left or right. If you're going too fast you end up going over the small

mound of sand that's in front of you and that's essentially an avalanche down the hill

you're just going to go wherever that avalanche decides to take you. Now an important thing to always remember

is fifth gear low in your four-wheel drive is


your car's weakest link, avoid using it in situations that require

you to put stress on your drive line of your vehicles such as

soft sand, mud or towing uphill. If you're wanting to go that fast move into

high four and you're not putting as much stress on your car and lastly water crossings, when it comes to water

crossings the best bet is second gear low.

You'll have good traction and speed which are both required when you're driving through water.

The idea when you're doing a water crossing is to be just behind the wall of water

that's called the bow wake. It's created as your vehicle runs through the water,

now if you go too fast that wall of water in front of you ends up over your bonnet

and it's important to keep a steady speed through the crossing to avoid changing gears.

Anything that's going to allow water into your car should always be avoided, second gear low,

constant speed, just behind the bow wake

Sweet as! So that's pretty much it for this episode of Epic Drives Western Australia,

Hope you enjoyed it.

If you did chuck us a like and I will hopefully see you guys again very soon on the next Epic Drives Western

Australia. Catch ya!