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4 wheel drive/stick vs. push button??
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I get the pleasure of driving from Seattle WA to Helena MT this next Christmas with my wife, a 6 year old son, a 3 year old daughter, and 4 mountain passes to go over too. In Idaho and Montana there are lots of shadows on the road from the mountains next to the road which creates intermittent clears spots and slick spots about every mile or so, and the speed limit posted as 75 (which I will do only if the conditions are good). So I was just wondering if leaving Autotrac "on" during those conditions, which will last 300 miles and speeds that can vary from 40 mph to 75 mph, will this cause any harm to my truck?
My resume includes about 30 years of winter driving. I will avoid using autotrac when and wherever possible, except the worst conditions, unless the alternative means possibly getting stuck or not making the hill. Under those conditions, autotrac relieves you of the need to alternately engage and disengage the (otherwise) part time 4Hi system as conditions change.
I believe you need to experience what the road conditions truly are in 2WD, to avoid being duped into possible over-confidence or reliance on a 4x4 system. Remember, you don't STOP any faster in a 4x4. Climbing slippery hills, turn it on. On the flats, especially above 40 mph, leave it off. In the stop and go, ice, drifts, and slower going, leave it on.
As for harm to your truck...well there's of course no harm to using autotrac or 4Hi in the short term. The issue becomes the cumulative effect of wear and tear over the long term. If you are in doubt, feel secure to engage autotrac. But when you do, the front propeller shaft is turning, and the transfer case is operational. So SOME wear is taking place, but not nearly what would occur in 4Hi, where the front axles are also locked. When autotrac is engaged, you can feel a slight vibration underfoot, towards the front of the transmission tunnel. This is the motion of the propeller shaft and transfer case, rotating, when autotrac is engaged, even when autotrac has NOT locked the front axles, putting you into 4Hi. Didn't mean to write so much. Hope this helps.
Hillhound:I hear you. But the most people I know leave the autotrac on auto all the time. Not saying that at is good around town, but GM or any other truck company will not tell you that's you should not drive above(I want to say 55) while the 4x4 is engaged. And yes if for a second yo lose traction on say an ice road, those rear wheels will begin to slip and put you in a slide/spin faster then you can say What!. As I found out 3 weeks ago!!
And the Blazer I own is an '84 4x4 and the 4x4 is stuck in high all the time due to a bad insert of the tranny from my other '84 which blew a rear main seal and the engine seized. At least they were under a grand!!!
Sounds like if conditions get slippery going up the passes I'll turn on Autotrac, otherwise I'll probably leave it off and in 2wd.
Having lived 22 years in Montana, I know how to drive in winter conditions. But my vehicles were simpler back then. I had a 2wd 1967 Impala, and a 4wd 1978 GMC. I used the Impala 95% of the time (summer or winter) and the GMC 5% of the time (mostly in 4wd for plowing snow on my 1 mile long driveway down to the highway).
Have a great weekend.
It would be like not turning on your windshield wippers when it is rainnibg to save wear and tear on your wipper motor.
The reason you pay extra for something is so you can use it.
So driving with Autotrac on is basically like driving with the hubs locked on an old 4-wheel drive with the transfer case in 2wd under good conditions, but the transfer case will engage 4 Hi when needed. This prevents binding. Since the hubs are locked all the time fuel economy will be reduced slightly because the front half shafts and drive shaft will be rotating. Wear increase is negligible. The front axel disconnect only disengages one front wheel even in 2 Hi and incidentally does not stop either front half shaft from rotating. This system is just plain cheap for them to build. Ford was on the right track with their automatic hubs; these disengaged both axels and wheels. Hope this helps.
As someone pointed out, it is better to drive with autotrac on, then do a 180. The system works great when the unexpected is encountered, such as an icy overpass.
What is commonly known as automatic hubs, at least on Chevies, but probably on other brands as well, is simly a one-piece solid hub assembly that is always turning the axles, and therefore interacting in some way with the front differential. If any of you would like to get manual hubs on a newer rig, try WARN Industries, because if they have hubs for a less popular vehicle that I have, a 1999 Chev Tracker, then they have them for all of the high selling trucks.
The benefits with manual hubs are that you can unlock your axles, thus creating less drag, and achieving greater efficiency. Also the hubs are very strong and can be left locked without getting damaged.
Another thing, it does not damage a 4X4 if you run at freeway speeds in bad weather conditions. Maybe it will cause you to have to replace parts sooner than normal, but not by much and that can be attributed simply to the fact that the system is being used, as oppossed to not being used. Also, lever action is still mechnical, not a sensor. I got underneath my rig and checked it out. There is a small shaft that actually switcheds settings on the transfer case, not a sensor activated like all pushbutton. In fact it seems like response time is much quicker on lever activated systems, and you don't have to worry about the sensor going out, because there is no sensor even.
My mechanic says the auto locking hubs are shot and suggests a manual hub replacement, mostly due to the cost of the replacement auto hubs. Is this a common problem and are manual hubs a good choice. I would appreciate any input on this.
I'm curious; What are the repair prices for your options (manual vs auto)?
I had another guy tell me you have to change something in the transfer case also when you go to manual hubs with a 5 speed trany. Can anyone confirm that? Hate for this to become a bigger deal than it is already.
What's this talk of using low range to tow? Without locking the hubs. So essentially you're using 2-wheel low! Isn't that really hard on the tranny and the rest of the drive line?? Fill me in.
I only use my low range for off road purposes or pulling out shrubbery:)
The final drive would see more torque, that is true. And that is the reason for using low range. That, and more choice of gears at low speed.
I pull my 4wd fuse and use 2wd low range when I want more low speed control or power, but not the binding of 4wd on dry pavement. I use it when backing under my pickup camper - nice and slow without riding the clutch or brake. And the extra power when pulling shrubs or trailers is very handy.
It doesn't take a lot of throttle to move a heavy load, because of the low range. Low range and a light throttle means no more load on the drivetrain than high range and full throttle, and a lot more control.
I notice in Edmunds the new 4WD F-150's list automatic hubs standard, while the F-250's and F-350's list manual hubs standard. Can the F-150 still be bought with manual hubs?
The F-250 and F-350 still have a solid front axle (i.e. manual hubs). The F-150 now has independent front suspension (I think started with the '97 remodel) and thus auto lockouts are the only option (unless you can find someone that offers an aftermarket manual lockout kit for IFS trucks).