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What You Need to Know About Getting Your Jeep or Toyota Ready for 4 Wheel Driving

4-Wheel Driving

At Independent Motors we specialize in Jeep repair and  Toyota repair services, amongst many other popular brands. We don’t just focus on repairs, though. Ongoing maintenance is an important part of owning a vehicle. Not only does it help prolong the number of years you can keep your vehicle, it also helps save you money over time by preventing situations where serious repairs would be necessary. Of course, your safety is another concern that can be addressed with regular maintenance.


One of the things you’ll think about if you’re the owner of a Jeep or Toyota SUV is the 4 wheel drive capabilities. It can come in very handy in a few different situations. In the summer, it would most likely be off-roading or driving through difficult terrain, like a muddy area. In the winter, it’s almost required if you live somewhere with a lot of snow. So, preparing your car for 4 wheel driving is of the utmost importance so you can take advantage of this feature safely.


If you haven’t taken your Jeep or Toyota in yet for the season in order to get it prepared for 4 wheel driving, you should. There are some routine repairs that need to be done and things to look for in order to be ready. We’ll look at what you need to know about 4 wheel drive and how to get your vehicle ready to engage 4 wheel drive.


First, let’s address what 4 wheel drive actually is and how it differs from all wheel drive which is something that people sometimes use interchangeably. They are quite different from one another.


What is 4 Wheel Drive?


Vehicles typically come with 2 wheel drive, 4 wheel drive, and all wheel drive. The last two are often confused, so we’ll address that in a bit. Most vehicles have 2 wheel drive, with the vehicle either having front wheel drive or rear wheel drive. If you’re someone that lives in a pretty moderate climate without significant snow accumulation, extreme weather, or demanding driving conditions, then two wheel drive is probably fine. As far as the difference between rear wheel drive or front wheel drive, front wheel will generally handle better in demanding conditions and is often less demanding fuel wise. Performance will take a hit, however. Then again, you probably don’t really need any kind of performance if this is the family sedan. Rear-wheel drive offers better handling but isn’t good in the snow.


4 wheel drive, however, is the best choice for difficult driving conditions including snow or mud. In fact, 4 wheel drive was designed with off-roading in mind. Basically, if your vehicle is listed as 4×4, all 4 wheels will turn when the steering wheel is engaged, instead of just the 2. But, isn’t that what all wheel drive does? There is a difference, actually.


How Does 4 Wheel Drive Differ from All Wheel Drive?


The two types have different use cases, though they are pretty similar. Essentially, 4 wheel drive is disengaged on your vehicle by default. You have to turn it on when you feel like it’s necessary. So, if you find yourself in a blizzard all of a sudden, hitting the switch or pulling the lever that engages 4 wheel drive is something you’re going to want to do.


All wheel drive, on the other hand, is an automatic process that your vehicle handles for you. It’s always “on” basically, but your car does all the thinking. It does this through the use of sensors. The sensors will alert the car’s computer that your wheels are having difficulty getting traction, so power will be redirected to the appropriate tire.


All-wheel drive is convenient if you don’t deal with heavy snowfall and you don’t intend to go off-roading. However, the sensors tend to not be able to keep up in harsh conditions, so you have a higher chance of getting stuck. That’s why 4 wheel drive is the best choice when you need all the power you can get to control your vehicle. Sure, you’ll need to manually engage, but it’s simple enough and you’ll be able to better navigate the conditions you’re in.


Your vehicle having 4×4 capability is one thing. Safely engaging is another. Your vehicle has to be properly tuned up for it. Here is what you need to know regarding proper maintenance and why you should bring your vehicle in to be seen by a mechanic.


Tune-Ups and Maintenance


There are a few things you want to be sure of in order to make sure your vehicle can handle the demands of something like off roading.


The first thing you’ll want to ensure that your Jeep or Toyota has is the proper ground clearance. You’ll need a fair amount of space between the underside of your vehicle and the ground below. If you don’t raise your undercarriage far enough from the ground, you’re risking serious damage if you drive over something like a large rock or impacted ice.


You’ll also want to get your wheel travel looked at. Traction and stability are key when it comes to dangerous conditions, whether you’re driving through them for fun or necessity. Getting your axles inspected along with your suspension is highly recommended.


Low-end torque is also useful when intending to drive over difficult terrain. Unless you’re a gearhead who enjoys fiddling with the engine, you’ll need a mechanic to optimize the engine for this. A combination of improving flowing exhausts and intake systems, replacing spark plugs, and more all goes into this. Basically, low-end torque allows you to better get over obstacles with a touch of the pedal compared to having to floor it.


You’ll also want to protect the underside of your vehicle with skid plates. Skid plates can protect vital parts of your vehicle like the gas tank. Different skid plates cover different parts of the undercarriage where a sudden jolt can break things.


Finally, there are your tires. It’s so important to make sure your tires are in good working condition. It’s always recommended you get your tires checked once a year, regardless of 4 wheel driving or anticipating extreme driving conditions. Checking tire pressure, tread, and alignment are all important. Additionally, you want the right tires for the right weather conditions. Having snow tires is a must if you live somewhere where you need 4 wheel drive to get through the snow accumulation.



If you have a Jeep or Toyota vehicle that has 4 wheel drive as a feature, you have to make sure that it’s in good condition to take advantage of the capability. Driving in tough conditions, whether it be serious snow accumulations or muddy off-roading, can be both dangerous and damaging to your car if it isn’t in the proper condition to handle it. Just knowing you have 4 wheel drive isn’t enough. If you haven’t had your vehicle inspected recently, contact us today to schedule an appointment. The team of experts at Independent Motors is here to provide you with the tune-ups you need at a fair price so you can enjoy your vehicle to the fullest.