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Toyota 4WD systems explained



  • brianbmbrianbm Posts: 55
    Cliffy1, it was a darn good set of posts you wrote at the start of this thread. Now I just gotta look around for the right LC.
  • gutiguti Posts: 10
    For those of you with experience in off-roading,a couple of questions:

    Do you consider the 03/04 4Runner's skid plates heavy duty? Are they comparable to the Jeep Wrangler's, for example?

    Secondly, a Lexus mechanic told me last week that the reason why the GX470 has a manual lever for Hi/Lo shifting is because the transfer's case is extremely "beefy". He didn't know for sure, but speculated that the 4Runner's transfer case is not a tough and, therefore, is operated my motors activated by the in-dash electric switch. I am not sure if that makes sense,although I have noticed that Jeeps and Land Rovers have manual Hi/Lo levers.

    What has been your experience in being able to switch from Hi to Lo in the 4Runner? Do you need to be in P or N, or can you do it in gear at low speeds?

    Does anyone know if there is a difference between the quality/durability of the GX470's transfer case vs. the 4Runner's?

  • steenh1steenh1 Posts: 28
    Vodgut and Steelcruiser... thanks for the posts. Clears it up for me. My understanding is that the front locker option went away with IFS. Made the leap that IFS was the reason but maybe that's not the case.

  • Steeh1--that's true WRT factory front locker on IFS LC. I believe though that ARB makes a front air locker for the 100 series.
  • Help! I am trying to decide btw a 4X4 4Runner Sport and a 4X2 4 Runner Sport. Here in the state of Texas there are like 4 4X4 v8 Sports editions so my options are limited. Will I know a big diffence between 4X4 and 4X2. It does not really snow down here, it just rains. I tend to drive fast in the rain, but my current vehicle (Jeep Grand Cherokee v8 4X4) I get a sense of security.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    4WD will not help you corner any better or stop any better than 4x2. Both are more a function of your tires. 4WD will help you accelerate faster in the rain. I have a 2003 4x4 V8. I have not yet seen the traction control light come on while driving in the rain. YMMV.

    Since I live in New England, I did not consider the 4x2.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    A few years ago I drove our AWD Chrysler T&C to Tampa and return (Memphis). On the return trip along the coast it literally rained cats and dogs for mile upon mile. I stopped counting the number of vehicles spun out (hydro-planning??) in the median or borrow pit there were so many.

    I can't really tell you that the AWD system in the T&C was really any help but I can tell you that I was able to maintain travel at or above the speed limit without even the slightest "wiggle".

    And I firmly believe the new 4runner AWD system is amongst the best there is.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
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  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    is really a function of tires, not four wheel drive. True hydroplaning occurs at higher speeds when the tire tread is unable to evacuate the water from under the tire. The water builds up and the tire rises up off the pavement, thus reducing grip. Four wheel drive, front wheel drive, or rear wheel drive makes absolutely no difference in such a circumstance.

    About the only thing that four wheel drive does better than rear wheel drive in rain is prevent you from getting power-oversteer if you hit the gas too hard in a corner. Of course, if you did hit the gas too hard in a rear wheel drive vehicle and had the back step out, you should be competent enough to counter-steer and gather it up -- a couple hours doing donuts in a snow-covered parking lot does wonders for teaching that skill.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    there are exceptions. You are less likely to have all four wheels lose traction simultaneously due to hydroplanning than 1, 2, or 3.

    And don't forget, with (true) AWD the engine torque is being delivered, divided amongst, four contact patches, not just two. Requiring a more serious level of hydroplanning before spinning out of control.
  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    Here are links to some videos showing the new model 4Runner off road under varying conditions and showing off some functions, such as DAC.

    Enjoy. unner/ %20Falls_Anderson%20Creek%203_03/
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    sorry, but I can't agree with you. Hydroplaning is a function of three things: 1) tires, 2) speed, and 3) depth of water. If you drive too fast for your tires and the depth of water, a wedge of water builds up between the tires and ground and you thus lose contact between the ground and your tires. Therefore, you lose control. Hydroplaning occurs at steady speed and steering inputs while on the highway.

    Losing traction while accelerating isn't hydroplaning. Yes, 4WD gives better traction while accelerating. Any decent traction control system and stability control system will reduce the chances of losing control while accelerating and cornering. Neither is likely to do anything much of anything about hydroplaning.

    Up here in the Northeast, during snowstorms it seems the most common vehicles to have spun out and lost control are, in fact, SUVs. I suspect it is because the excellent traction during acceleration has prevented the drivers from realizing just how slippery it is. So they just drive too fast for conditions. 4WD can't change the coefficient of friction. If the snow covered road will only support 0.4g sideways acceleration around a corner, 4WD isn't going to let you corner at 0.5g -- you'll still end up off the road. And that is just as true for a rain-slick road as it is for a snow-covered road. 4WD won't let you drive faster around the corner nor will it let you brake faster.

    4WD will help you accelerate faster in slippery conditions.
  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    Umm, I think you have me confused with someone else's post. I only made mention of the video links to show off some of the 4Runner's attributes. I never made reference to hydroplaning.


    However, I agree with your post. Many SUV drivers seem to be over confident in snowy conditions are just are not able to control their vehicles very well. Having a 4wd will almost certainly get an SUV through most snow conditions, but the laws of physics don't change. So, even with 4wd, it may still not be safe to drive in the snow because you have to be on the lookout for other SUV owners who are not experienced in drving in snowy conditions.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    sorry alfster1, you are correct, I was responding to wwest.
  • Edmuns gives different prices for 2004 Highlanders v6 w/3rd seat 4WD v. 2004 Highlanders v6 w/3rd seat AWD (the latter is $1000 more). However, when I look on all Toyota sites they only differentiate between 2WD and 4WD, but not the subsets of 4WD (assuming there are any). Are there really 4WD and AWD 2004 Highlanders? If yes, what is the difference? I always thought 4WD was better than AWD, but it does not seem to be the case with Highlander becuase you pay more for AWD than 4WD. I am totally confused!?
  • You are totally confused. Look again at what you think is 4WD. It is actually "FWD", which stands for Front Wheel Drive. Highlander comes with AWD or FWD not 4WD.
  • I noticed a grinding sound when I turn off my 4WD while making a U-turn. If anyone knows why and should I be engaging or turning the 4wd off when making turns?
  • gkatz1gkatz1 Posts: 296
    My thought is that engaging or disengaging the 4WD should be done while driving straight ahead. It seems that inbetween the time you push the button and the time it takes to fully engage, the center diff is effectively locked and it will bind.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Implies that you had/have the 4WD engaged on a high traction surface. You should NEVER do that.

    And yes, you should be driving straight ahead when you engage or disengage. You should ALWAYS disengage 4WD immediately upon driving onto a high traction surface.

    Unless the diff'l locking doesn't use a "dog-clutch", splined shaft, and absent knowing which always refer to rule #1 above.
  • pschreckpschreck Posts: 524
    gkatz is right. Don't engage or disengage the system unless you are driving in a straight line. Once it is engaged however, you may do all the U-turns you want on any type of suface. It's a Full-Time system so you don't have to be concerned with the surface that you are driving on.
  • gkatz1gkatz1 Posts: 296
    I guess we should have asked what kind of vehicle your talking about. I figured you have a 4runner or Sequoia.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    First of all, it was a "grinding" sound...

    That certainly implies, at least to me, that we're talking about a true 4WD system (locked center diff'l), not an AWD system (my term for a full time 4WD system, meaning no "locked" center diff'l).
  • gkatz1gkatz1 Posts: 296
    Before 4wd on the Sequoia fully engages it will bind like regular 4WD. Once the center diff is engaged its all set, but you have to be careful.
  • ddw5ddw5 Posts: 23
    4runner manual specifically warns against engaging 4wd while turning.
  • Could someone clarify the difference between going to 4Lo in TLC or for that matter any 4WD Toyota and locking the differentials ? I imagine the lockes lock the two wheels on the same axle together so they turn with the same motion but then what does the 4Lo do ?
  • hank14hank14 Posts: 133
    In my 99 LC, 4LO locks the center differential, distributing power to the front vs rear 50/50, and engages the low gear range. This can also be done in full time 4WD (Hi) by pushing the center diff. lock button, but you stay in high gear. Some TLC's also have a rear and/or front differential lock switch, which solidly locks the left and right axles together. Exactly how this works in other Toyotas depends on the year model and setup. A factory 80 series LC with front, center, and rear differential locks could effectively have 4 or 5 different options for 4 WD, depending on the traveling requirements.
    As stated many times, do not lock the differentials unless you are on a low traction surface.
  • hank14hank14 Posts: 133
    Has anyone installed an on board ARB compressor on their 100 series TLC? I am thinking about getting one, with the hopes of later adding a front ARB locker. I emailed Man-a-fre to see if the front ARB locker was available for the 99 TLC, but haven't heard back from them yet. Their web site doesn't specify front or rear.
  • Thanks for the info. Is there any site that explains the 4WD setup in the 80 and 100 series LCs ? I will be looking to get into one in a few months and I am trying to establish as to what type of differential do I really want to get ? Is it true that differentials were optional on all the models or did some have them as standard ? Which year had which option ?
  • Pre 93 80 series - no F/R lockers
    93-97 80 series - optional F/R lockers
    98 100 series - optional rear locker only
    Can't recall when this rear locker option disappeared in favor of a traction control system.

    More info on 80 series -

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