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  1. #1
    Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Does it make a difference? Is one better than the other? I would think 4wd would be better since its sharing the load with all 4's instead of just the rear.
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  2. #2
    Cadet A.R.K.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    You should always tow in 2wd. Switch to 4x4 at the ramp if you think you are going to get stuck. Most traditional 4x4's (not AWD) aren't meant to be driven on dry pavement in 4wd - you'll wear out your tires and put lots of unneeded strain on the drive line. And burn a lot of extra gas. The rear diff, axles, etc. should be more than strong enough to tow what ever the rated capacity of the vehicle is without using 4wd.

    I have yet to need to use 4wd at the ramps I go to. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Truck 4wd systems are not designed to work on hard paved roads. You will have a hard time making tighter turns in 4wd on paved roads (i've done it before accidentelly ) It's fine to put the truck in 4wd on the ramp if you need extra traction, but you shouldn't drive miles down the road in 4wd, eventually it will tear up the truck.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    agreed 2w to tow 4w on the ramp

  5. #5

    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Some trucks would be ok depending on the type of 4x4 system, as far as turning and such, but you are adding alot of wear and tear to the front drive train unnecessarily. I usually put my truck in 4x4 for when i am backing down the ramp just to make sure i don't spin out truying to come back up the ramp.
    2008 Mariah SX 20, 5.0 260hp, Fully loaded

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    oh yeah, i forgot about about how much it sucks trying to turn. lol
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  7. #7
    Petty Officer 1st Class BoatingCop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Don't ever use 4wd while doing just casual driving. Use it only when you need it, such as on the ramp, in mud, ect. Unless you have a vehicle with an AWD system, don't use 4x4 on pavement, especially when turning, unless you like broken axles.
    Eric

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Quote Originally Posted by BoatingCop View Post
    Don't ever use 4wd while doing just casual driving. Use it only when you need it, such as on the ramp, in mud, ect. Unless you have a vehicle with an AWD system, don't use 4x4 on pavement, especially when turning, unless you like broken axles.
    Yup! Also will wreck your transfer case.$$$$$$$$

  9. #9
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    BTW, 4WD trucks actually have lower tow ratings because the added weight must be considered. There is no load carrying benefit to 4WD. Only a traction deal . . . In heavy trucks they try and limit "driven" wheels to one axle if payload is the main concern. Rare here in the US, but 6x2 tractors are very common in Europe.

    The most efficient vehicle would be a 1x1 (unicycle) arrangement. Less stuff to turn

  10. #10
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    use 4 low on the ramp.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    As has been stated never use 4WD on dry pavement. A transfer case is NOT a differential. You will break u-joints or axles with enough of that abuse. more likely with common NP208 and BW135x transfer cases is to stretch the chain drive or break it. With a gear driven case like a NP205 the case will be fine but it's your front driveline that'll likely pop first. So unless you have a differentiating transfer case like a NP203 don't do it. Even then, no benefit to it, just worse MPG.

    I will say that it's fine to leave your front hubs locked on hard pavement with the transfer case in 2WD, assuming you don't have a locker in the front. No point to it though unless you got a short drive before needing 4WD again. Just more wear on the front axle bearings and worse MPG.

  12. #12
    Commander zach103's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    good thing you asked .. i have had no problem with 2 wheel drive yet.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    The system is not dsigned for just driving around. All sorts of issues, transfer case, torque converters, transmissions and differentials. Just to name a few of the problems you can have with this. Just use at the ramp.
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  14. #14
    Petty Officer 1st Class BoatingCop's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    I rarley need 4wd at the ramp, but nice to have if putting in on a sand surface. The only acceptable use for 4wd on pavement is on the ramp. As stated before, DO NOT turn on pavement while in 4wd.
    Eric

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Quote Originally Posted by NSBCraig View Post
    use 4 low on the ramp.
    do not use 4 low on pavement. That will really wreck things.

  16. #16
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    My second tow vehicle was an '85 Bronco II 2.8 with 4WD and a manual. I had around a 2500 lb 17 footer, no brakes But . . . 4WD low was awesome on the ramp. The wife pulled me out with that truck all the time. Just let go of the clutch at idle in 1st low and that weak sister would just idle up the ramp. Clutch lasted over 130,000 miles and then somebody flipped it . . . No, not me actually a Dairy farmer that bought it from my brother. I think he only had it a week or so.

    Sorry to slightly hijack, I was getting choked up over that truck, sniff, sniff.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Quote Originally Posted by freddyray21 View Post
    do not use 4 low on pavement. That will really wreck things.
    Only if you try to turn on pavement. If it's a straight shot up the ramp or the pavement ends before you have to turn you'll be fine.

  18. #18
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    If you have automatic hubs on the 4WD that is being turned on dry pavement, they will usually be the first thing to break.

    The outside wheels of a vehicle in a turn must travel a greater distance than the inside wheels. Because of this, the outside wheels have to rotate faster than the inside wheels, in order to "keep up." On dry pavement, where tires will have no ability to slip, having an axle with a limited slip differential engaged, is a recipe for disaster .... as in disaster of the wallet.

  19. #19
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    What don't use 4 low?

    Sorry dude but you don't know what your talking about.

    If you have anything but a tinny and you have low range use it, using 4 hi on the ramp is just silly.

    I'm guessing you haven't spent enough time using a four wheel drive to say something like that.

    It's a gear man nothing else.

    By putting it in low you can haul any size boat the tow vehicle is capable of towing up any ramp WITHOUT ABUSING your truck.

    Don't mean to be harsh but your way wrong.
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  20. #20
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Quote Originally Posted by QC View Post
    I was getting choked up over that truck, sniff, sniff.
    I hear ya man.

    I so miss my 76' Blazer it would even do 2 Low man I wish they still did that.
    1982 Baja 16ss

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    each can have an opinion. I just know 4 low is tough on all moving parts when on pavement.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    unless you are referring to low gear on the transmission? Not the same as 4 low at least in my vernacular.

  23. #23
    Lieutenant Commander NSBCraig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    No I'm talking about low in the transfer case, and no it's not harder on any moving parts unless you turn.

    In fact it is easier on the whole truck because of the fact you don't need to put your foot in it.

    You have eliminated all chance of tire slip by smoothly applying torque to them.

    You are operating your motor at the correct rpms, so there is no need to stress it and apply more throttle then you really need.

    That is what the gear is there for- going up steep grades, towing heavy loads...

    It's no different then using an old school granny gear and it's the way your truck is designed ( to give the best on road performance in high gear and offroad/ work time performance in low gear )
    1982 Baja 16ss

  24. #24
    Moderator QC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    The only way that going straight in 4WD low (or high) stresses the vehicle is if you have different size tires somewhere in the combination. In fact, it could be argued that it is good for all of those components to get some use once in a while if you don't otherwise use 4WD . . .

  25. #25
    Vice Admiral jay_merrill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better to tow in 2wd or 4wd

    Using 4WD - high or low - isn't going to hurt anything as long as the vehicle is driven properly and is driven in a straight line. In fact, and has been pointed out, there can be some advantages in doing so.

    It's the matter of the outside wheels and axles having to rotate at different rates when the vehicle is turned, that causes the problem. The front axles of a 4WD have limited slip differentials in them - the entire purpose of those differentials is to deliver as much power to both axles as possible, meaning that they will try to rotate nearly in unison. That is not a desirable situation when the outside front tire (and axle) is being forced to rotate faster by the pavement over which it is traveling.

    One way to get around this problem, if you have manual hubs on the front axle, is to leave them disengaged and shift into 4WD low. By doing this, the front tires are not going to try to force the axles to rotate together. While you lose the benefit of 4WD, you will put less stress on the engine on a steep ramp, and may be able to make a smoother start.

    If you need the 4WD, or have automatic hubs, go to 4WD (either low or high) and drive straight up the ramp, until you reach a point where you can disengage the transfer case and hubs. If you have automatic hubs, you are going to have to go far enough to back up a little to get them unlocked.

    For those that have "air lockers" and such, you already know what I am talking about and know what you need to do.

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