Four-Wheel Drive

March 18, 2013

Hazards, Advantages, and Considerations for Safety


If your vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive, you may think of yourself as having a distinct advantage on the road, especially in inclement weather conditions. You may even think of yourself as safer and better suited to handle what Mother Nature can muster against an unsuspecting driver. The truth is, four-wheel drive is a functionality that can only be truly exploited by a driver experienced with its particular hazards and advantages. For an inexperienced driver, or a driver unfamiliar with the mechanics of four-wheel drive, this functionality can prove to be more of a hazard than standard front-wheel or two-wheel driving modes.

Four wheel, or all-wheel drive is a mode of driving that is typically enabled by the operator in low-traction conditions where snow, water, dirt, or other traction restrictions occur. Increasing available traction by enabling all wheels to spin optimizes the torque of the engine which in turn, enables the vehicle to evade or maneuver over low traction areas, or simply power through an icy ditch, snow bank, patch of mud, or slippery hilltop. Too much torque, however, can overwhelm the unfamiliar driver, and propel them into further danger.

Ultimately, the advantages of all-wheel or four-wheel drive can only be properly realized by a driver with adequate training, experience and education on the mechanics of the operation. At West shore Driving School, our team of ICBC-certified instructors will cultivate valuable skills and techniques for safe deployment of four-wheel or all wheel drive; We can teach you how to:

  • Safely engage or disengage 2-wheel, All-wheel, 4-wheel high and 4-wheel low range
  • Avoid locking transfer cases and axles
  • Maintain vehicle stability and manage roll-over risk
  • Drive on rough or unmaintained roads
  • Negotiate hills, rocky, dusty or muddy terrain
  • Climb or safely descend slippery hills, ravines or ditches
  • Water crossing