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Just wondering when 4WD can be enabled, iv heard not to do it on a surface where 1 wheel cant slip? Just wanted to know why this is and the harm that it will cause and severity. Thanks all!
 

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When a four wheeled vehicle drives in a straight line, all four wheels travel the same distance in the same time and turn at the same speed - but if the vehicle goes around a corner, each wheel travels a different distance, in the same time, and therefore must travel at a different speed.

Outside wheels travel further, faster, and front wheels travel further, faster - so the inside rear wheel travels the shortest distance at the slowest speed, and the outside front travels furthest and fastest.

When 4WD can be enabled depends on the vehicle and the type of 4WD mechanism it uses - some 4WD vehicles are part time 4WD - these are 2WD until you engage the 4WD by moving a lever, turning a knob, or pushing a button. There is usually a special gearbox, known as a transfer case, that connect the front wheels to the back wheels and to the transmission.

The problem that occurs with this type of 4WD is that the front & rear wheels are coupled together directly and must turn at the same speed - which as I explained above does not happen unless the vehicle is travelling in a straight line.

Other types of 4WD have drive to all four wheels all of the time - this is sometimes known as AWD (all wheel drive) and sometimes full time 4WD - these will have a center differential that allows the front & rear wheels to turn at different speeds.

The golden rule is this - if you have selectable 4WD, use it ONLY when you need to, which will be when you are in a situation where you need the additional traction that 4WD will provide.

What happens if you disobey this rule? Typically you break stuff - expensive stuff.
 

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No - don't use it unless there is wheel slip - if there is no wheel slip, you don't need it.
 
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