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405 • Beach Blvd. South

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When do you use 4×4 High vs. Low?

The popularity of 4×4, also known as All-Wheel Drive, vehicles becomes apparent when you step onto any of the dealer lots associated with Beach Boulevard of Cars. SUVs, trucks, and crossovers often offer that advance as a standard or optional feature. And even sedans and compacts sometimes include it to increase sportiness.

A 4×4 is useful in Southern California when you head for the mountains on a ski trip or go off-roading in the desert. It increases your vehicle’s grip on the road during low-traction scenarios, such as when you’re making quick lane changes on rain-slicked freeways. They also give you firmer footing over gravel or mud, or when you’re trying to go down a steep incline over a dirt road.

You typically get three settings with an all-wheel drive.

  • Sticking with Auto: This default setting offers convenience by automatically switching from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive when one of the wheels starts to slip, such as on a hill or slippery areas. This is most useful when generally smooth and dry surfaces have variable sections, such as when a dry highway includes patches of water or snow, or a paved trail has gravel sections.
  • When to use High: Choose high-range 4×4 when you want to drive at normal speeds over roads that are wet or snowy, such as when enduring your 405 commutes in a summer storm or beating the ski traffic to Big Bear during winter. You can also engage this setting when you’re stuck in sand or snow so you can get out more easily. Limit your speeds to 55 MPH or less or you may damage the transfer case.
  • When to use Low: To maximize both power and traction, you can rely on low-range 4×4 for crawling over rocks, fording creeks, plowing through deep sand, or negotiating steep off-road trails. At this setting, the wheels turn more slowly than on High, so use Low only at speeds of 40 MPH or less. You would rarely use this setting except when you go on rough terrain.

One caveat is that you do not engage four-wheel drive on smooth and dry roads or you could damage your vehicle’s drivetrain. Because four-wheel drive engages all wheels, stopping becomes less efficient in such situations, particularly at high speeds. Instead, depend on a two-wheel drive for everyday driving, which will also pump up your gas mileage.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the advantages of 4×4 High or Low, pay a visit to any of our dealers at Beach Blvd of Cars. Our sales consultant will be thrilled to answer your questions and take you on a test drive.

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