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4 wheel drive/stick vs. push button??

patriot41patriot41 Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Ford
I'm Buying a 2002 F-150 4x4.Can anyone comment on floor(stick) vs. Pushbutton (dash) 4WD.Pros/ Cons????????
thanks bob


  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    I've always been a fan of the manual shifter myself. I just like to have more control. Plus, many older vehicles with the push-button systems seem to have problems. Less to go wrong with the manual system IMHO. If you only plan to keep it a few years, it probably wouldn't matter.

    I've had a couple rental explorers with push-button but never needed it. Anyone comment on push-button low-range? I've never tried that either, but it seems like it would be difficult for the electronics to get right on an automatic transmission.
  • eagle63eagle63 Posts: 599
    I personally like stick shifters vs. pushbutton. A pushbutton 4wd usually uses some type of electric engaging system - which is just one more thing that could break. Whereas a stick shifter is generally a direct connection to the transfer case. Besides, a stick shifter seems more "manly" if you need a little ego boost. :)
  • Thanks for your advice.I'll go with the Manual shifter.I plan on keeping the truck for a while. I've had a 4x2 for 11+ years & 200k+ miles.
  • On almost all newer trucks push button or shifter style they both use the same electrical engagement selanoid to engage the 4x4 so by pushing the shifter it's still pushing a button under the truck.
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    MY 90 Gmc had the lever on the floor.
    MY 94 Yukon had the button
    My 97 Chevy x cab had the button
    My 01 chevy has Auto 4x4 gizmo
    Loved them all but that button thing is
    great !!!!!

    BTW: I snow plowed with them all !!!!!!!!
    Run hard and put away wet !!!
    Toyota.......HA HA !!!! (and i owned 2)
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    The GMs (and others) have (most) that bulletproof
    NPG transfer case too !!!!!!
    Also made in Syracuse NY USA
  • Everhart has a point that some of the new trucks just use a lever to push the button but in most cases this is not true. The biggest draw back of the push button systems is they can not be towed. They must be flat bedded. I can put my truck in park with the tcase in neutral and tow it anywhere. None of the push button tcases have neutral. My advise, if you lease get a push button. They are neat while they last. If you are going to keep the vehicle or do any serious off roading, stick with the basics. I had to order my new truck from the factory to get the manual setup. All the high dollar trucks on the lot come with that automatic JUNK! By the way, I have had all of them. Even the chevys with half and half. My blazer has a manual tcase with a vaccume activated front axel. Guess what? The tcase works great, the front axel doesn't!
  • In newer trucks it's the norm, manual shift linkage is now few. I to have had them all, (in 26-yrs of driving) over a doz. 4x4's. My 2000 Tahoe 4x4 You can push a combination of buttons & it's transfer case is in neutral & can be towed. So not all but many.
  • My mistake. Great to see some manufacturers comming around to practicality. The top two reasons I wouldn't have push button is the the lack of a neutral position in the tcase and the other is longevity. Seems the tahoe has eliminated one of them. Another reason to get the manual is towing. I have a 10,400lb trailer and it is nice to use low range without locking the hubs to position it in tight quarters. Easier on the tranny to. By the way my blazer was an 84.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    Locking hubs seem to be a thing of the past. All the new 4wd's I've looked at have an automatic actuator for the front axles.

    Shift into 4wd HI or 4wd LO on my new Silverado (manual t-case; special ordered) and the fronts are engaged. You have to pull the 4wd fuse to get 2wd LO range.

    I still don't like the pushbutton; with the manual lever, you engage the gears for Hi Range or Lo Range; the front axles automatically engage. With the pushbutton, you select the range, and the truck engages the t-case. It is at least one more thing to fail.

    It is difficult to find manual t-cases for the same reason it is difficult to find manual transmissions: The dealers stock up on them because they make more money on each one!! If the factory limits how many trucks the dealer can order (the infamous allocation system), then the dealers stock up on the high profit trucks.

    Mike L
    '00 Silverado 2500LS 4x4 Reg Cab Longbed 6.0L 5spd
  • Yes, they seem to be going away sadly. I ordered mine through the factory on my Ford F350. I was looking at the Chevys to but you cant get manual hubs on them. If I remember right they do not have hubs but instead a center disconnect front axel due to the IFS fron end.(another thing I would never have on my truck) Ford took a step in the righ direction with dual mode hubs. They work automatically but if there is a failure you can get out and manually lock them.(The perfect compromise) Too bad they only come in the push button (knob) configuration. You can always get your hubs locked but the tcase may not engage. Oh well, they are halfway there. My blazer is like you silverado, a manual tcase but instead of an electrical actuator mine was vaccume. I have been in some pretty hairy situations and lost 4WD. If yours ever fails they sell a kit that runs a cable to the cab to physically engauge the axel.
  • tomh12tomh12 Posts: 240
    Posts. I've had 4WD since '73 Super Jeep in '73. Next Toyota Landcruiser. Both manual tranny/manual transfer. Both were in situations with deep snow where you could not shift transfer case due to ice build-up. Next came Chevy suburbans with auto tranny/manual transfer case, followed by '94 GMC 1/2 ton shorty auto/manual. All were in spots where engaging 4WD was tough, but accomplished. Currently, I have '01 GMC 3/4ld, auto/push button. Love it! I would not go back to the manual system and give up auto-trac 4WD. Mixed surface is the most tricky to me, and I love the auto system in this situation. Would not want a C3/Denali without true high/low range, but based on my 28 years of 4WD use, give me push buttons!
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    You trying to spoil the party? It's a lot more fun when we all agree and support each other's ideas.


    To each his own. It would be a boring world if we all thought and acted alike.

    Mike L
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    some of the early push-buttons had problems but so did my 65 jeep J200.(stuck IN 4lo repeatedly)The Sierra 2500HD is my first auto trans auto 4x4 and it hasn't let me down(YET)
  • For anyone who has had trouble locking manual hubs do to freezing conditions or poor maintinance, there is an easy solution. Go to your local hardware store and buy a $.39 1" PVC irrigation "T". Notch the bottom to the same size as your hub dial and you have a tool that will turn even the toughest hub.
  • Give them time and all will fail. Don't get me wrong, they autos definately have their virtues. If I lived somwhere that it got cold or wet and I was not going to keep a vehicle longer than 4-5 years I would have one. Lets face it though, most of the people who buy 4X4 vehicles don't need them anyway which makes my argument moot. To each his/her own. Besides, I am outranked here as I only have 16 years experience in 5 different rigs.
  • kg11kg11 Posts: 530
    I didn't say I had confidence in them,and for mud lakes or rubicon I use the Taco with manual hubs 5spd 4" lift and BFG 33s.I like the auto and I've heard they've gotten alot better in the last few years.The sierra is not an off road vehicle.
  • I would say the bigger problem with the manufactures is the scarcity of future 2 speed tcases. All the cute ute demand is pushing them away from true 4X4's
  • minikinminikin Posts: 389
    4X4 was a 1975 K-5 Blazer with the NP-203 (full time) transfer case and an auto tranny. Loved both (Like Tom said; mixed surface driving) and I used it off-road pretty hard; but back then those two options were damn near enough to make me an outcast in the serious off-road community. I never did figure out whether I was ahead of my time or just a very lucky idiot.
    -- Don
  • I almost bought a plymouth trailduster with the NP203. Its a stout case. The only draw back to full time back then was it used more fuel and wore tires and drive components faster. Most full timers today do not have low range but your K5 did. As far as Auto trannys go, that is a matter of taste. Both have drawbacks and advantages over each other. Auto trannys are more popular now than ever but purists refute them.
  • minikinminikin Posts: 389
    I think I'd rather have a manual for trail work in a stock truck. I always liked automatics for foot on the brake/foot on the gas/don't worry about the clutch basic crawling but I'm not too sure today's (stock) transmissions would like that too much. For sure, they ain't got no compression braking!
    -- Don
  • You definately gain more speed with an auto than most serious descents will tolerate. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to manually lock up the torque converter on an auto with a toggle switch? Or if they made it lock up any time you are in low range and take your foot off the gas.
  • tomh12tomh12 Posts: 240
    Now you are on to something! I'll also agree that for a vehicle used purely off road, I'd probably go with the manual transfer case shifter. Easier to crawl under and wiggle a linkage than try to activate a selenoid.
  • mledtjemledtje Posts: 1,123
    The pushbutton is only available with an automatic transmission. A manual trans requires a manual t-case.

    When we were at an off-road park, my friend (has a similar truck, except his is automatic) was following me down some steep grades. In the middle of the day he asked if my brake lights were working. After he found out they were working, he asked why I never use my brakes going downhill.

    Love that lo-range and 5.61 1st gear.

    Mike L
    '00 Silverado 2500 4x4 Reg Cab Longbed 6.0L 5spd
  • minikinminikin Posts: 389
    steep downhill, especially slickrock, new trucks; don't forget to pull the ABS fuse.
    -- Don
  • downhill than an auto and that is ABS. The manufactures of 4X4's with ABS should follow suit with an ABS lockout switch like the airbag overide in most vehicles.

    Mledtje, I disagree about pushbuttons only being available with autos. My buddy had a late 80's early 90's ranger with a 5 speed and a push button 4X4 system(that failed of course). He could not aquire low range, gathered to much speed for an uphill tight corner and ended up high centered in a deep rain rut on a 2 to 1 slope.
    I think another good thing for an auto tranny 4X4 would be 11/2 times more low range gearing than a standard to help compensate for the lack of compression braking and a gear selector that actually selects the gear you put it in. 1st means 1st, 2nd means 2nd and so on...
  • xyz71xyz71 Posts: 179
    When I orderd my truck I wanted the manual Tcase shift - no girly push buttons for me. But then I found out that the LT I wanted only came one way. I wanted the LT more than the manual shift.

    Now I am glad I got the push button. The autotrac in the Chevy is the only way to go. I use it whenever it rains. Also works great when road is part snow/ice and part dry. I would not want a 4x4 without this feature.
  • When it fails you will wish you had orderd a manual from the factory. They are great while they work but they all eventually fail. Usually sooner than later. If you do not keep your vehicle more than 5 years/ 100k miles then you will be all right but I keep my equipment for life and then mantain it to last.
  • xyz71xyz71 Posts: 179
    when they first put A/C in cars, same with automatic tranny, power windows, locks, mirrors. I can't even imagine buying a new truck without these features. Is a hand crank window more reliable than a power one? My guess is yes, but do I want manual crank windows - no. I will take the small risk that someday my switch will fail and leave me stranded out in the sticks.

    Also if the system does fail it just stays in the last mode you were in - so it is no like it can't be driven.
  • ak4x4ak4x4 Posts: 126
    If I am not mistaken almost 90% of all 250's and 350's have a manual locking hub. It would be a waste to get an electric or button shifter. I was told that Ford did not offer automatic locking hubs when I was looking for a new truck. I was looking at the 250's and 350's before I bought my Rado. Ford was the same price point, but no EXT cab. I have a 01'base EXT cab 4x4. Yes the 4x4 is stick and has auto hubs. But in Alaska where I live would you want to get out and lock your hubs in -2 degree weather???
This discussion has been closed.