4x4 - how to use it

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by kckndrgn, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I just bought my first 4x4 truck. Yeah!! I know nothing about 4x4's other than they get a little less gas mileage and there's more to go wrong.

    I have read, just recently, to not turn on 4x4 on dry pavement, ok glad I haven't done that yet, if that can be a problem.

    So, tell me, do's (of course I'm planning on finding some place to go an turn on 4x4 and have a little fun ;)) and the do not's of 4x4's

  2. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I'm not sure about that dry pavement thing, I have never heard that. You need to read the owners manual to determine when and how you can turn on 4x4. Such as on my 4x4 on my old Z-71 I could shift on the fly and did many times (only on 4-Hi, not 4-low). Know what your vehicle is made to do and how it is made to operate. With 4-low you need to stop, put the transmission in neutral, then shift into 4-low. What is the year, make , and model? Does it have manual locking hubs? Locking diff? Your best bet is talking to Colt, I just drive them where he has worked on a bunch.
  3. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I've had several 4x4's and all of the manuals warned against dry pavement. Mine have all been auto locking hubs and 2 have been on the fly to 4-hi. Yes, less mileage but in our corner of the world, an acceptable compromise during the New England storms. Of course this year, everyone is getting New England snow!
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    First rule: If you think you might get stuck, do it in two wheel drive.
    Second rule: If you think you are going to get stuck in two wheel drive, engage the hubs first (if they are manual.)
    Third rule: If you think you might get stuck in 4wd, bring a buddy with another vehicle and a winch.

    Like the man said, don't drive on hard surface with 4wd engage; straight is bad, turning is damage impending. It is best to engage the transfer case while driving straight (if all wheels are turning at the same speed) or stopped, and ditto for disengagement. I had one rig that refused to disengage unless I backed up about 10 feet after shifting the t'case out. A couple light clunks are normal.

    If you leave your transfer case in neutral, you better remember to set the parking brake. (Don't ask.)

    If you have automatic hubs, plan on replacing them with manual hubs when they fail.

    Watch where you go play. Rocks make a beeline for oil pans, transfer cases, and differentials. Love 'em to pieces.

    Go by the book on tire pressure, no matter the surface. If you soften them up to go on (say) sand, it just means you'll go further before you sink in and can't back up.

    Lots more WILL be added by guys with a lot more miles in 4wd than I have.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    The reason for not driving on hard pavement in 4wd is that tires have a pretty good grip on pavements. With 4wd, the wheels have to slip on the surface, or the torque in the axles will wind the shafts up until either one of the front tires slips on the pavement or a part breaks. You'll notice the wheel slip, it'll chirp and bounce. You'll notice the part break by the loud, metallic, expensive sound.
  6. Sherman

    Sherman Dog Eat Dog

    dry pavement can cause driveline binding. The surface needs to have a little give, wet, ice, mud because there is minor rotational differences front to back, the front and rear tires are not exactly synchronized.

    If the vehicle is not equipped with locking differentials you really have 2 wheel drive, one in front and 1 in back. If your diffs are open or limited slip it will only drive when both wheels are on the ground ie if you have 1 tire in the air that is the tire that will be turning. Unless you have a full locker like a detroit, these will engage both tires regardless as soon as you put power to the axle.

    Get a hi-lift jack, strap and shovel. You can get out of almost any trouble with these tools.

    You have less turning radius w/ 4x4 engaged so if you need to make a tight turn switch to 2 wheel. Tight turns in 4x4 put alot of stress on components and can break axles, ujoints, knuckles, birfs etc.

    General rules:
    Engage 4x4 before you need it, if your stuck its too late.

    Go as slow as you need to hand as fast as you have to.

    Momentum is dangerous, you want SLOW control, use low gears, no sudden shifts in weight distribution. Take ups and downs as perpendicular as possible, sidehilling is to be avoided. Don't spin your tires, if your spinning you dont have traction. Loss of traction occurs when your tire speed doesnt match the ground speed, traction can be regained by more or less throttle until tire matches ground speed. When going downhill don't touch the brakes, use low gears and stay off the clutch. if your backend starts to come around or go over your head goose the throttle.

    Use the buddy system and wear your seatbelt. Keep gear stowed securely, you dont need tools flying around in your cab.

    Do not hesitate to get out and inspect the trail ahead on foot, never cross water without knowing how deep it is.

    Your gonna get stuck, if your not getting stuck your not wheelin.
    You need to figure out your recovery points. Do not pull from a bumper unless it is designed for it. Your axle tube is a great place to pull from unlees your IFS, do not attach a strap or chain to your tie rod, drag link etc.

    The simplest way to unstick is a gentle pull from another vehicle with a strap. Do not use accelerated yanks! Vehicel pulls gently, stuck vehicle gives a little throttle.
    if alone you can put the strap on your tire and a fixed object. use the tire to roll up the strap and winch yourself out.
    OR use the highlift, strap and chain. Chain the hi-lift to fixed object, one end of the strap on hilift the other to your vehicle and use the jack to winch yourself out.

    Hilift can be used to jack up a spinning tire, then fill in hole w/ whatever is at hand rocks, sand, wood, then lower tire down and drive out.
    Strips of old carpet, astroturf etc are also handed for getting unstuck especially in dry loose material, just throw em under the tire.

    Let us know how it goes and if you have any problems.

    I am an avid jeeper, worked in a custom jeep shop and have performed many recoveries as a tow truck driver, I am a professional offroad driver in a mining operation.
  7. Sherman

    Sherman Dog Eat Dog

    ghrit good call on the tire pressure, I completely overlooked it. I air down to about 6 1/2 lbs on my TSL 35x12.5's
  8. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    Congratulations!!! What did ya' get?

    It's the most secure feeling you'll ever have on the road and the most fun you'll ever have off road, if you're so inclined.

    I got the jeep stuck so deep once that I had to be pulled out with a backhoe.:D BIG fun!!
  9. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Thanks all,

    I picked up an '09 F150 SuperCab. See the "What did you put away this week" thread for a picture. I know, not a "real" off road vehicle, but for what I want it will suffice.

    Differential is a limited slip. Figures, I had to move to the south to get a 4x4. I grew up in MN and only ever drove 2wd trucks & cars and only ever got stuck once (that was in a Saturn car)

    Once I get the funds, I was planning on putting in a leveling kit, I just like the looks better. A friend of mine said to do the leveling kit then put in a set of 33" tires.

    Yes the hubs are auto locking.

    *SIGH*, I guess I have another truck to start sinking money into LOL

    Thanks again!
  10. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    This is pretty common knowledge for experienced 4X4 owners.
    Plan on replacing all four tires as a set, you don't want to be running a different size tire on the front axles than what is on the rear axles.
  11. UGRev

    UGRev Get on with it!

  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Recent observations I have made:
    1) do not pay $4,000.00 to buy an older (1988) Ford Bronco 4 x4, and have it repaired. (If you do, keep it locked up!)
    2) do not allow some moron to take it out on the highway at 80 mph, and let go of the steering wheel, (wanted to make sure it was nice and tight!) ???
    3) do not allow same moron (see #2) to operate the vehicle in any weather, on any surface, for any reason. ( no cure for stupidity) Wow! it really jumps when you put it into 4wd and punch the accelerator to the floor!
    4) if said moron calls and tells you the windshield shattered from the rough road, you can rest assured he was doing a high rate of speed over extremely rough, unmaintained rocky roads. OR, he is a bald faced liar and wants money to pay for a windshield he broke on someone elses vehicle, showing off by spinning those 33 x 12.5 tires in the gravel!
    5) when same moron gets ticket by local sheriff, call them and verify the fact, and then (and only then) pay to have said windshiled replaced!
    6) when moron puts said vehicle into his name, explain to the moron that the insurance lapses upon that transfer!
    7) when moron claims "it's mine, mine, all mine"! Suck it up, eat the money you "lost" and be thankful you have learned a very expensive, yet well earned lesson in life! (I should have had a lien put on it at motor vehicle)

    Some 48 year old people just never seem to grow up, and take advantage of others good nature.....
    Then those they abuse, get really, really, angry!
  13. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Congratulations on the purchase [beer]

    I'm assuming by the year of truck, that it is still under factory warranty. If so, you might consider holding off on most modifications until the factory warranty has expired. There is a Warning sticker about modifications to the vehicle inside the engine compartment.

    Trust me Ford has been known to turn down factory warranty repairs due to modifications. One of my friends that owns a diesel/automotive repair shop has told me quite a few instances of guys being turned down for it and ended up eating the cost of repairs. He has received a few customers because of it.

    Once you are turned down, Ford will enter this into their computer and you won't get that repair fixed at any Ford dealership. When in doubt, ask the dealership if your pickup will be covered if you install such and such modification.

    When I purchased my new (used) '06 F350 Crew Cab last spring, I removed quite a few modifications from my pickup for this very reason. As much as I like working on vehicles, I wasn't willing to trust my luck. Just a thought unless you have deep pockets.

    FWIW, I took the leveling kit out of my truck not just because of the factory warranty issue. Reason being, is it that I knew I would be hauling heavy loads and tow with my truck. From looking at the truck with the leveling kit installed I could tell that once I put a load on it, I would have reverse rake (headlights pointing to the sky). I won't be re-installing mine.

    Lots of good info posted above, not much else to add at the moment it's late.

    Your truck will handle, steer and react differently when engaged in 4WD. You will feel the front axles power in the steering wheel. Take it out on a loose (not hard packed) gravel road, muddy field/road or snow covered road. Get used to how your truck drives and take it easy, don't drive it like you stole it the 1st time out.

    Do not succumb to peer pressure, some folks get a rise out of watching others tear up their equipment.

    Make sure you watch those RPM's while in 4WD, especially in 4 LOW. Your top speed is probably around 20-25 MPH in 4 LOW. What gear ratio are you running?

    Whatever you do, if the front end ever starts to hop you better back off the throttle, unless you like broken axles.

    Just because you didn't buy an off-road racer doesn't mean you didn't buy a REAL 4x4, for pity's sake it's not like you purchased a BMW SUV.
  14. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

  15. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    When approaching a roadwide water hole in the woods, DO NOT enter until you find out HOW DEEP it is, and if it has a drop off or hidden objects.
    Don't ask..... I'm still having nightmares about SWIMMING out of my half sunk Ramcharger....... :rolleyes:
    csaws likes this.
  16. Byte

    Byte Monkey+++

    If you plan to use the vehicle for any trail use find a tool box that you like and mount it securely. I prefer the type that are down in the bed and still allow for a tonno cover to be used. A box that spans the bed and rests on the rails is fine too but make sure you pad appropriately. Also, these types also might require holes to be drilled through the rails for a really secure mounting. Some people hate to drill holes in their purty truck! Weirdos...

    Anyway where this is all going...tools! You'll need some tools depending on your definition of 'trail' use. I keep:

    Decent set of leather work gloves
    few sets of cloth work gloves (tool users generally know which type is appropriate for the job)
    Rubbers! (no not those! the boots silly! a decent set of knee or waist high heavy gauge rubber boots.)
    Hi-Lift jack (may have to be bolted on outside the box depending on box size and placement)
    Set of tire chains specific to the tires on the truck (none of those namby pamby cables either)
    Oil, transmission fluid, coolant (stuff for my 4-wheeler too)
    2 ton come-a-long
    4x clevises that screw closed & 4x clevis hook w/ latch
    snatchblock (oh this is for use with winch cable usually but can be used with come-a-longs with long enough cables)
    tow strap with leather reinforced loops ( no hooks, use the clevises & hooks)
    Hooked tow rope (beefier the better with any 1/2 ton or heavier truck)
    double bit felling axe
    8lb sledge & wedge
    30" bow saw (few spare blades)
    D handle 3ft digging spade
    D handle aluminum snow shovel (the scoop type)
    med-large bag generic kitty litter!
    decent weight large blanket (old .mil style wool is prob best)

    This stuff all fits in the box spanning the rails of the bed of my '98 Toyo Tacoma. May seem like a lot of stuff but trust me there's nothing in mine that hasn't seen extensive use. The rock dents in my Taco are testament to the fact that my definition of trail is pretty tough. ;) You'll never regret having these items on hand on the trail.

    Oh and one final thing, as has already been mentioned, the best tool in any off-roader's tool box is a friend with a second vehicle! Besides, you'll be able to carry more beer! J/K! Beer on the trail is bad!


    EDIT: I knew I'd forget some things. Add a few 'tree savers'. You definately don't want to be running winch cable around trees. It tears the trees to shreds.
  17. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    When rock climbing in a brand new 4x4 make sure your spotter actually gets out of the truck to help you avoid body damage even when you know you are clear. Taking it slow and sure usually wins the day.
  18. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    Another thing is, to test and use the various gadgets, tools and equipment, to get familiar with them and how they operate. A couple weeks back, my hunting buddy and I were reconning his hunting lease, and some other forest land - we come upon a guy with a truck using a wench and extended tow strap. We stopped to offer him a hand. Turned out, he was trying out and testing his brand new wench! Good for him! He's a step above those who buy the goody and stash it away, never used. [applaud]
  19. Andy the Aussie

    Andy the Aussie Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Somebody has to say this....




    A couple of my 80 series TLC are attached... [stirpot]
    Snow Truck. Tojo.
    Prime8 likes this.
  20. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Nice Andy, I see you are ready for the high water.
survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary