4×4 Lockers – 4WD Explained

In this video presentation you will see what a 4×4 system is and how it helps with your off-roading.
2H – 2 High
Lets say we are driving our 4×4 and heading off road. We are in 2 high mode and the front axle spins freely while full power is sent to the rear wheels. This is what we use for the city or highway and gives better fuel economy.
Driving in 4WD on DRY PAVEMENT is usually not recommended. In many 4×4 vehicles the transmission box is locked when engaged and this causes friction between front and rear since the rear tires travel less distance than the front tires do.

4H – 4 High
Now the road surface turns into gravel. So — we engage the 4 high mode.
Shifting into 4 high while driving is usually possible but you should keep a low constant speed and not engage it while the driveline is under strain. Check this out with your particular vehicle manual — so you don’t break anything.

What happens under the body is of course more interesting.
Now the front and rear axles spin at equal speed and power is distributed between the axels.
Using 4 high mode gives your truck the awesome traction needed for the off road.

Standard 4WD sends power to the wheel that has the least traction. So — lets say that one wheel is on ice and the others are on sturdy ground, the one on the ice will be the wheel rotated!
Because — now it will start spinning and you will not move at all!

This is when you can lock the transfer case — sometimes called diff lock.
Now the other axle starts working also and the front wheels – in this case – start moving.
Since the front wheels have traction you get out of the stuck.
Lets say the conditions are getting worse and you engage the 4 low. In 4 low mode the 4×4 is ready for extreme off-road situations, like mud, rockcrawling and heavy snow or sand. The lower transfer case gear ratio gives greatly increased power at the slow speed needed. The role of 4 low is to lessen the strain on the engine and driveline and make control more accurate in low speeds and difficult terrain.

But what happens when one wheel on each axle looses traction?
Then they both start spinning and you are stuck AGAIN!

Now having lockers is a must.
Engaging lockers on the differentials makes each pair of wheels turn at the same speed and gets you out.
Lockers are the secret ingredient to successful off-roading.
For most 4x4s – lockers are an aftermarket add-on. And they are really only for the most extreme off-road situations.

When you have active lockers in your front drive, normal steering is highly affected. In fact for a 100% locked front drive turning on hard surface is almost impossible since all wheels are forced to turn at the same speed.
So — in conclusion.
Get to know your 4×4 and the way the controls work. Test these things before you go on your next off-road adventure.

Head Off Road with your 4×4 and visit us at:

4×4 Lockers – 4WD Explained

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4×4 Lockers – 4WD Explained

20 Comments on “4×4 Lockers – 4WD Explained”

  1. AWD usually uses viscous coupling differential in the center. full-time 4WD uses center diff with H and L range capability

  2. never driven a 4WD vehicle before. Do you have to shift to neutral when switching for 2H to 4H?
    And the speed must be 55mph or below right otherwise it will not be good for the transfer case?

  3. I avoid the full locking center differentials …LSD or limited slip differentials are my choice…meaning if just one of your wheels starts spinning, the LSD will turn the other wheel for you to get you going again. Essential for me…an LSD

  4. hey, i have a shift stick for my 4×4 and low rage. I needed to use it today and now that am unstuck I cant put the shift stick back to 2wd its stuck and wont move foward. what should i do ?

  5. I would like to obtain this video in spanish, it´s very interesting of course, how can i do? thanks from Chile.

  6. is it true that when shifting into 4H it’s better to be 55mph and below? You don’t have to shift it into neutral right? And when shifting into 4L it’s recommended to be 1-2mph?

  7. I just got an old land cruiser 95 all time 4 wheel drive’. And if I turn left or right “sharply” it begins to make a click click click sound. Is that normal?

  8. A diff lock has nothing to do with the transfer case you fool. A diff lock locks the differential. This means that power is sent to the wheel next to it. If right rear is sliding and your diffs lock, your left rear will start to move. Not axles. That’s simply engaging 4×4

  9. i have a ssangyong musso 1997 petrol version with full time 4×4, however only the rear wheels have power, the front wheels are not trying to spin at all, its as if it is only rwd. this is a 4×4 full time system but i have no idea what is going wrong, will installing front hub lockers help?

  10. I have a question regarding my 2012 selverado, in the 4*4 knob (yes U can laugh because its not a lever Sigh) I can see these numbers in the fallowing order: 2H, 4H, N, 4L what does the N stand for? is it the same as the one in the gear box were U put it in Neutral to wait for the traffic light or what?  

  11. I’m a beginner in offroading and i did it in a 4wd lamborghini murc’ielago sv why does it keep on getting stuck? Need serious help

  12. I’m a new user on the 4×4 world, and I have some questions about the rear and front lockers. Can I use those. running on a high climbing dune using the low mode (of course)?……or those are just for rocks? Thanks and upload more videos

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