Four-wheel drive vehicles are excellent for driving on rough roads and under tough weather conditions such as snow, rain, or ice. If you also want to go on a camping trip in the woods, then your best ride would be a 4WD.
But when driving a 4WD, drivers need to be cautious about their speed for their own sake. Your car could end up flipping if you drive beyond the speed limit in certain low-traction conditions.
Because the engine works a lot more when 4WD is engaged, it is safer to stay within the speed limit to protect the mechanical system of your vehicle.
So how fast can you drive in 4 wheel drive? The answer depends on a number of factors such as the vehicle modes.
Let’s get into the details.
How Fast Can You Drive in 4WD? Vehicle Modes and Their Speed Limits
Four-wheel drive vehicles are better for off-roading and they come in handy for hauling and heavy-duty towing. They come in three different modes, namely 4H, 4L, and auto, and the recommended speed limit varies depending on the mode.
How Fast Can You Go in 4WD High?
When a 4 wheel drive system is placed on 4H, the vehicle can move fast but not too fast. Ideally, the speed for this mode is 55 MPH tops as automakers suggest. Engaging the 4H mode will offer more traction on snowy, icy, rocky, and muddy roads.
The 4H mode is used more often than other modes. This is because you may need to switch to 4H if you are on a snow-covered road.
How Fast Can You Go in 4WD Lo?
In this mode, drivers are advised to slow down rather than speed up. Drivers switch to 4L when they need to take the car out of a tight spot like driving through water, over a muddy creek bed, through heavy sand, or rock formations. Ideally, you shouldn’t go faster than 10 MPH. The reason is not far-fetched. When you need power and traction, you need to slow down. So, in this mode, drivers should not speed up at all.
Driving in Auto
Auto mode offers a hybrid of two-wheel and four-wheel drive. If the vehicle is set to 4 wheel drive, it switches from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel drive automatically, depending on the condition. It can be quite convenient because in this case, the driver doesn’t have to make the decision to switch from 2-wheel to 4-wheel drive and vice versa.
When the system determines that the road needs to go to 4-wheel drive, it shifts automatically. Power is then sent to the four wheels and alternate between the rear and front axles based on the driving condition.
Different 4WD Vehicles and Their Limits
After learning the general speed limits on 4 wheel drive settings, it is also important to know the limits for various vehicles. This guide will highlight the limits for Silverado, Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Liberty, and 4runner.
How Fast Can You Drive in a Silverado in 4WD?
With a 4WD Silverado, it is ideal to max out at 40 or 50 MPH. This speed limit works because you don’t need to use the setting on dry roads. Driving at speed of 50 MPH will help you to get to where you need to be in harsh weather conditions. Also, it helps the vehicle’s wheels stay steady on the surface whether it is on ice or snow.
How Fast Can You Drive in a Toyota Tacoma in 4WD?
This truck can go a bit faster than others but it depends on different factors. One is the weather condition. It is not ideal to engage the 4H mode in Toyota Tacoma when traveling on the highway or on a sunny day. Even when you initiate the setting, it should stay under 55 MPH. Only use it for ice or snowy conditions.
If you use the 4H setting above 55MPH, your vehicle will be at risk of overheating. This overheating under the hood can damage the drivetrain system. It is better to stay under the speed limit.
How Fast Can You Drive in a Jeep Liberty in 4WD?
Jeep Liberty has a lower speed limit on 4WD. It is not recommended to surpass 45 MPH. automakers recommend that you engage the 4 high mode only in harsh weather conditions. It is ill-advised to go faster than 45 MPH in such bad weather conditions as well.
Having 4WD does not guarantee that the vehicle has good traction. This is why some 4WDs still get wrecked during storms. So take note of the driving conditions to ensure that it is safe to move.
How Fast Can You Drive in a 4Runner 4WD?
With a 4Runner on 4WD, you should not surpass 50 MPH. The fastest you can go is 55 MPH. If you drive faster, you may risk damaging the truck. Also, if you travel faster than 55 MPH, you may not be able to stop the vehicle with ease even though it has more traction.
It is not ideal to speed up too much because you may need to watch the road and adapt to other drivers. Slowing down also keeps you and other road users safe.
How Fast Can You Drive in an F150 4WD?
The max speed for this Ford truck in 4WD is 60 MPH. This speed is suitable for any inclement weather, and you can still move fast enough. The exact model doesn’t matter, but the safe speed for the F150 is 55 to 60 MPH.
How Long Should a Vehicle Stay in 4 Wheel Drive Mode?
Many people wonder how long the truck should stay in 4 wheel drive mode. It is also important to know how long this setting should be on for. The simple answer to the question is as long as the condition of the road requires it.
If you are off-road or on a snowy or muddy path, you can use the 4H mode. When you’re back to the highway, it is necessary to switch back.
Also, be sure to check the manufacturer’s manual to be sure of the duration a vehicle can stay in 4-wheel drive.
Safety Rules for Four Wheel Drive
The most important rule for using 4WD on the road is to ensure that you engage the system or you could lose it. The 4 wheel drive system deteriorates if it is not engaged for long periods of time. The seals first dry out and then the gears become sticky. Be sure to use the mode once every few months so it can remain in pristine condition.
It is not ideal to use 4 wheel drive on dry pavement. Do not engage the system when driving on dry, flat surfaces on the highway. This can affect your drivetrain and fuel efficiency as well. Also, 4 wheel drive doesn’t help you brake, so be careful. The mode does not offer stability or braking ability and this could lead to accidents. This is why staying under 60 MPH is ideal.
The manufacturer’s manual for the vehicle should be followed while using 4 wheel drive mode. Failure to use the manual could put the vehicle at risk of damaging the front axles, differential case, and differential gears.
Also, the manual contains specific instructions for each car and model such as the process of engaging and disengaging the system. This particular feature differs in most models.
Also find out: Can You Switch to 4 Wheel Drive While Driving?
Safety Tips for Driving a 4 Wheel Drive in Bad Weather
The first tip is to follow recommendations from the authorities. Ensure that you drive only as fast as the weather conditions allow. Also, know the limitations of the truck as this helps you to drive safely within the right limits. Always be mindful of other drivers to avoid accidents.
While driving in harsh weather conditions like snow, 4 wheel drive may be ideal. It can help you move but it doesn’t help you to stop. So slow down. Slick surfaces require more stopping distance no matter what vehicle you’re driving.
It could help to practice how to maneuver on slick surfaces before driving in snow. If you curve too fast in such weather conditions, the front wheels of the truck can corkscrew and this will push the vehicle straight rather than a curve. Letting up on the gas will correct the problem.
Also, turn off traction control because it can come in handy while trying to swerve in snow. The system helps bring the vehicle to a halt if the tires begin to spin while going up a snowy hill. If possible, turn off the traction control, but if the vehicle model does not have it, then increase the speed for more momentum. Still, you should not go too fast so you don’t lose control.
If the vehicle starts to spin while going up a steep driveway, brake pulsing may be helpful in slowing you down. It could also stop the vehicle entirely if it does not have a traction control system engaged.