A generation or so ago, four wheel drive was considered be a luxury, or something that you only really considered if you lived out there "in the bush." However, today these vehicles are becoming very popular, and while they're known for their handling characteristics and stability, they will also require a lot of additional maintenance as compared to their two-wheel-drive counterparts. If you've just bought one of these vehicles, what do you need to bear in mind for the year ahead?
Complication Means Attention
Four wheel drive does, of course, provide incredible stability in wet and slippery conditions, as both axles are effectively working to keep the vehicle under control. This requires a lot more equipment and some more complicated gadgetry and, therefore, requires additional attention.
This vehicle will be fitted with two separate differentials, one at the front and one at the rear. You need to check the fluid in each one of these regularly and more often than you would for a two-wheel-drive car. Engineers recommended you change the fluid in each differential to a set schedule and sometimes as often as once per year.
In between the front and the rear differentials is something known as the transfer case. This allows power to be distributed selectively to the front or rear wheels in standard driving situations, or to all of the wheels if needed. Within this box is a different type of fluid and you need to be careful to make sure that it does not mix with the transmission fluid that is fitted into the front or rear differentials. This can sometimes happen if the seal in between these units "goes bad," but it will need to be fixed promptly, as otherwise damage will ensue. You may also find that there is a separate motor next to the transfer case that helps to control its operation. As it is particularly out of the way, it does need to be checked from time to time to make sure that all of the electrical connectors are in good shape and not corroding.
Most modern four-wheel-drive systems are designed to be as cost-effective as possible and to disengage certain components if not needed. This is called a "locking hub" mechanism and it relies on a series of gears to disconnect one axle (typically the front) in normal city driving. You need to schedule a service to look at these components as well, as they can sometimes fail without this regular maintenance.
Make a note in your diary right now to book your four-wheel-drive vehicle in for a service at a company that specialises in 4-wheel-drive transmissions so that you do not forget to do this and suffer a breakdown as a consequence.Share