Skip to Content

How To Put A Jeep Cherokee In 4 Wheel Drive

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The Jeep Cherokee has several 4-wheel systems that provides one of the most remarkable off-road driving experience. But how do you use the Cherokee's 4-wheel-drive systems?? We consulted with the Jeep experts to give you the following answers.

The 4-wheel drive systems available for the Jeep Cherokee are all full-time systems. This means you don't need to take any steps to turn on 4-wheel drive!

However, some of the 4-wheel-drive systems available for the Cherokee do allow the driver to change settings to suit road and off-road conditions.

The following four 4-wheel systems are available for the Jeep Cherokee:

  • Jeep Quadra-Trac I 4 x 4 wheel system
  • Jeep Quadra-Trac II 4 x 4 wheel system
  • Jeep Quadra-Trac SRT 4 x 4 wheel system
  • Jeep Quadra-Drive II 4 x 4 wheel system

Keep reading to unravel the four types of 4-wheel systems in a Jeep Cherokee and how they work. Also, get to know the common reasons why any of these systems might not engage. 

View of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, a popular SUV in the United States, How To Put A Jeep Cherokee In 4 Wheel Drive

How Does Jeep Cherokee's 4-Wheel-Drive System Work?

Metallic Silver Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x2 2014 SUV parked outside in a suburban grass field in the afternoon.

The Jeep Cherokee offers you great 4x4 systems that will give you the confidence to enjoy off-road excursions and security when the roads are slippery or wet.

Let’s find out what each system has to offer:

 Jeep Quadra-Trac I 4 x 4 Wheel Systems

If your Jeep is equipped with this system, you can easily drive on rough roads. This is because the system works on a full-time basis.

In other words, 4-wheel drive is active at all times. You, as the driver, do not have to switch 4-wheel drive on and off as the situation demands it.

With this system, the center differential distributes power to the front and rear axles.

This system is excellent when driving on slippery roads, gravel, light snow, and loose mud.

There are two main features in this system: the single-speed transfer case and brake lock differential. Let's look at both in more detail.

Single-Speed Transfer Case

Single-speeds are similar to two-speeds. Each has a 4-Hi, but the single-speed transfer case lacks a 4-Low mode.

The transfer case has a mechanism that does not lock the rear driveshafts and differential together. 

Brake Lock Differential (BLD)

With the brake lock differential or BLD, the speed of the wheels does not really matter, though the wheels have to move at the same speed.

Controlling the speed when using this system is not required as driving on mud or snow does not necessarily need your car to move very fast.

Check out the video that explains how the Quadra-Track I 4-wheel system works:

Jeep Quadra-Trac II 4 x 4 Wheel Systems

This system delivers additional traction when required. It works partly with the brake lock differential and the 4-wheel brake-traction control systems.

As with the Quadra-Trac I, the brake lock differential ensures the wheels move at the same speed, but does not determine the speed.

Brake Traction Control (BTC), on the other hand, allows both wheels on a single axle to turn at different speeds when engaging a corner on a normal road. However, the BTC comes in handy when your Jeep goes off-road.  

Picture your Jeep maneuvering around a rocky area, only to find one wheel on a rock and the other wheel up in the air. In this case, the BTC will detect the wheel spinning in the air and sends a braking force to only that wheel. 

It subsequently leads to more power being applied to the wheel on the rock to boost it to move forward. 

The features included in this system are:

Two-Speed Transfer Case

This works similar to a single-speed transfer case by transferring power to the front and back axles.

Low Mode Locks

The low mode lowers the speed on the front and rear driveshafts. It is turned on when your vehicle is slowly moving over rocks, and when it is being towed.

Selec-Terrain Management System

The Selec-Terrain has a dial with four modes: auto, snow, sport, and sand or mud. When you put it on auto, your car will adjust to the terrain you are driving on, and when you put on sport, it will increase its speed. 

If you are driving on mud, change the mode to mud, and likewise, when driving on snow, change it to snow. In both situations, your vehicle will receive more thrust to move on snow or mud. 

Crawl Ratio To Move Over Rocks And Off-Road Obstacles

For your jeep to move over the obstacles, the tires transmit force to the rock, which subsequently produces a force, pushing the car over the obstacle. 

Neutral Mode

If your vehicle becomes disabled and cannot move, it can be flat-towed but in neutral mode. 

The video below starts by eplaining how to put your jeep on Quadra-Trac 1 and moves on to show you how to put your jeep on Quadra-Trac II 4-wheel mode:

How to use the Selec-Terrain of a Quadra-Trac II 4-wheel system in your Jeep Cherokee is explained in the video below:

Jeep Quadra-Trac SRT 4 x 4 Wheel System

This system has a wet clutch mechanism, which is suitable for situations where high power is needed on the wheels to increase traction.

Click here to see this clutch on Amazon.

It also has a rear electronic limited-slip differential that increases traction when driving on wet or icy roads. It can transfer up to 100% torque to the rear wheel.

This system also includes the single-speed transfer case and brake differential described earlier.

The Selec-Track in this system has up to five, or sometimes six modes, including auto, sport, snow, tow, and track modes.

Check out how this system works by watching the video below:

Jeep Quadra-Drive II 4 x 4 Wheel System

The Cherokee's most advanced 4-wheel system, Quadra-Drive II is continuously active and therefore can help in all kinds of weather and road conditions.

It includes the rear electronic limited-slip differential found in the Quadra-Trac SRT system.

This system can transfer up to 100% of power to the rear wheel when needed and has an additional Quadra-lift air suspension system that can raise your jeep for better off-road driving.

Check out the following video that explains more about Quadra-Drive 4-wheel system:

Reasons Jeep's 4WD might not work

American Car Beauty Show Jeep Cherokee SRT 8 at the dragrace

Sometimes the 4-wheel-drive system may refuse to engage. A red 4 x 4 light will flash several times on your dash indicating there is a problem.

Depending on the type of system in your car, it may shut down until the problem is fixed. And this can happen at a very crucial moment when you need to go somewhere. 

The reasons are explained below, which in most cases will require you to call a professional:

Faulty Actuator

If the actuator is faulty, it may delay engaging your Jeep into 4WD. It may end up getting stuck in the snow, mud, or any other tough terrain.

You will need to have it checked for repairs or, in some cases, replacement.

Click here to see this actuator on Amazon.

Contaminated, Old, Or Low Fluid Levels

Auto mechanic working under the car

Differentials need oil to operate smoothly. If the oil has not been replaced in a long time and has expired, is contaminated, or the oil levels are low, it may not lubricate the differential efficiently. This will cause your car not to engage in a 4-wheel drive. 

The symptoms of such a problem include weird noises, a bad smell coming from the gearbox, or your car is vibrating. 

In other situations, if the oil grade is low, it will be difficult for your vehicle to engage 4-wheel drive. In this case, try switching to a higher-grade oil.

Faulty Electrical Wiring

If the wiring in your car has a problem, it might not be able to send signals to the 4-wheel system. Thus it will not engage the 4WD modes when you press the button.

The wires could get damaged due to corrosion. You can have them inspected and replaced if necessary.

Faulty Switch

The 4-wheel knob may not function when pressed, which can be fixed by pressing it several times. But, if this does not work, take your car to a professional.

In Closing

View of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, a popular SUV in the United States.

A 4-wheel system can give you a great driving experience on challenging terrain. In this article, you've learned more about the different 4-wheel drive systems for the Jeep Cherokee and how they work.

You've also seen reasons why 4-wheel drive might stop working. Because causes can vary, it may be best to call a qualified Jeep professional to know what the specific problem you have could be.

With your Jeep Cherokee's 4-wheel drive in working order, you'll be ready to tackle your next adventure, on or off the road. Safe driving and happy adventuring!

If you found this post helpful, check out these other Jeep related posts right here on VEHQ:

Jeep Grand Cherokee Humming Noise When Accelerating

Jeep Cherokee Won’t Start