Is it Bad to Drive in Auto 4WD? (Yes or No)

Is it Bad to Drive in Auto 4WD

Auto 4WD may be the best option if you’re traveling on slick and treacherous slopes as there will be no need to manually switch from 2WD to 4WD.

It is mostly found in large vehicles used in hauling and off-road. It may seem good to drive in auto 4WD, but is it bad to drive in auto 4WD?

It is not bad to drive in auto 4WD but in the long run with constant use in that mode, it can be bad for the vehicle.

What is the Auto 4WD?

Auto 4WD is a mode that is set in a 4-wheel vehicle. When a vehicle is in auto 4-wheel drive, It means it will automatically switch from 2WD to 4WD when required.

In this mode, you do not have to manually switch 2WD and 4WD. Also, the vehicle is able to detect road conditions and adjust accordingly.

It changes power to match the driving condition, when in 2WD mode, power is sent to either of the wheels (front or rear) and when in 4WD power goes to all four wheels to match the driving terrain.

Auto mode saves a lot of drivers from damaging their vehicles as it is possible for one to forget to change drive to suit different driving conditions.

Can You Drive in Auto 4WD?

Yes, you can drive a vehicle in auto 4WD. The whole idea of having the auto 4WD is for the vehicle to be able to switch between drive when needed and this is possible when the vehicle is been driven.

Auto 4WD can be used on any road situation without the fear of damaging the vehicle, however, it is not best for efficiency and can make the vehicle’s driveline weary.

You may need to stop driving to change between driving if you drive an older vehicle and your type of 4-wheel coupled with other factors.

Although one can drive in auto 4WD It is not advisable to do so all the time because of the accompanying effects.

Is it Bad to Drive in Auto 4WD?

It is not bad to drive in auto 4WD. However, it can be bad if you do it frequently.

Driving in auto 4WD itself isn’t bad if done once in a while but it is entirely different and can be bad when you do it all the time. Like the saying, ‘Too much of everything is not good.

You will be risking damage to your vehicle when you drive all the time in auto 4WD. Moderation is key when driving in auto 4WD.

The 4WD system will deteriorate if you don’t use it at all and it can also damage your vehicle if you use it too much, hence the need for moderation.

If you’re still confused as to how and when to drive in auto 4WD, you may want to consult your owner’s manual.

What Happens When You Drive in 4WD?

It has been established that you can drive a vehicle in 4WD and under certain conditions but it is also important that you know what may likely happen when you drive in 4WD.

Usually, all a vehicle needs are 2WD for smoothness, but in certain situations where more traction and power are required, you can switch to 4WD.

When driving in 4WD, the following may happen;


Being overconfident when your vehicle is in 4WD may be good or bad. Good in that you are sure the vehicle in that mode will get you out of a hard-driving situation.

It could also be bad in the sense that the vehicle gets stuck because you’re using the 4WD wrongly or overconfidence leads to accidents.

Increase in the Cost of Fuel and Maintenance

You can’t run away from using more fuel when the vehicle is in 4WD, in fact, this is considered one disadvantage of driving in 4WD.

There is also an increase in the cost of maintenance because there is extra equipment in play like the; transfer case, differential, etc. With constant use, you will need to maintain and repair as required.

Increase in the Braking Distance

Driving in 4WD means there is an added weight in order to improve traction and control. What this increase in weight also does is increase the braking distance.

Getting the vehicle to stop in time to avoid a collision may be quite difficult when it is in 4WD mode.

Due to the aforementioned, it is safe to say using 4WD all the time is not a wise decision. Hence, the need to only use it when and where the situation requires it.

When Should You Drive in Auto 4WD?

Driving in auto 4WD means the vehicle has been set in hybrid mode i.e. it can switch from 2WD to 4WD when and where required. So, when should a vehicle be driven in auto 4WD?

There is really no one answer to this question, as the answer is influenced by a lot of factors

One factor that affects when to drive in auto 4WD is the Car Owner or Driver. The driver can decide to put the vehicle in the auto 4WD mode because he may not remember to switch from 2WD to 4WD when needed.

If you also know what your driving path for the day will look like, you know that you will be driving on terrains not suitable for 2WD. You can decide to put the vehicle in auto 4WD ahead of the day’s journey.

It is important that you use your vehicle’s 4 wheel drive system, it is either you use it or lose it. If the 4WD system is not used, it will deteriorate over time.

All seals, and gears will dry out and get sticky. In order to prevent this from happening engage the 4WD at least every month.

Can You Switch to Auto 4WD While Driving?

Yes, you can switch to auto 4WD while driving. However, in order to safely switch without causing any damage to your vehicle, it should be done when going at a slow and steady speed, a speed below 60mph.

Before switching to auto 4WD while driving, it is important to know your vehicle and its requirement for switching. Some vehicles require that the hubs be locked while others require two sequences of switches before switching while driving.

Although it is possible to switch to auto 4WD while driving, some vehicles still require that you completely stop the car before making the switch.


You should bear in mind that different vehicles have different requirements for switching to auto 4WD. Therefore, you might want to check and be sure what category your vehicle falls in to prevent causing damage to your vehicle.