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Truck Stuck In 4WD Low—What To Do?

Four-wheel drive low can be a lifesaver in bad conditions, mainly off-road. However, what do you do if your truck is stuck in 4wd low? We have done the research to help you with this situation.

If your truck is stuck in 4wd low, follow these steps:

  1. First, put your truck into neutral and wait ten seconds or longer.
  2. Next, shift your truck gear into 4wd high and wait another ten seconds or longer.
  3. Now, shift your truck into 2wd.

If this doesn't work, then follow these steps:

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  1. First, shift your truck into neutral and wait ten seconds.
  2. Next, shift your truck into a 4wd high drive and reverse for at least 60 feet.
  3. Now put your truck back into neutral and then into 2wd.

While 4wd low is a great thing to have in demanding driving situations, driving in it at higher speeds can cause damage to your vehicle. This article will take a close look at the causes of your truck being stuck in 4wd low and how to get out of it. In addition, we will discuss the potential risks of leaving your truck in 4wd, so read on!

Dodge RAM 1500 on the road leading through the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, Truck Stuck In 4WD Low—What To Do?

Truck Stuck In 4WD Low—What To Do?

4wd low is a feature on many trucks that allows the driver to have more control over the vehicle in difficult driving situations. When in 4wd low, the truck drives more slowly and with more power, which can be helpful when driving through sand, mud, or snow.

However, trucks can have their 4WD malfunction from time to time. The problem is that it can leave you stuck in 4WD low, which isn't an ideal situation to be in. 

Most of the time, you need to take a moment before shifting into either neutral or four high and then back into 2wd to fix this issue. If that doesn't work, try reversing for at least 60 feet and then shifting back into neutral and 2wd.

If these steps don't work, you might need to bring your truck to a mechanic to repair or replace parts that may be damaged or broken due to this issue. Keep in mind that leaving your truck in 4 low can cause damage to the vehicle as well.

What causes your truck to be stuck in 4wd?

There are several potential causes of your truck being stuck in 4wd low, from mechanical malfunction to user error.

This is not an exhaustive list of causes, but some common ones that many different drivers may experience.

Mechanical Malfunction

Malfunctions in the truck's brake or other parts can cause it to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if the brakes do not work correctly, this will cause your truck to stick in 4 low when you try shifting into 2wd.

Improper lubrication

The transfer case can also cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. Typically, this problem occurs when lubricant is not added to the transfer case when it should be.

User Error

Most of the time, user error is at fault for your truck being stuck in 4wd low. For example, if you are driving on sand or mud and you shift your truck into four low before shifting it back into 2wd, this can cause your truck to be stuck in the lower gear.

Excessive tire wear

Excessive tire wear can also cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if tires are balding or cracking, this can cause you to drive in 4 low because the tires do not have enough traction to allow you to shift into a higher gear.

In addition, when four-wheel driving in dirt and gravel at high speeds, it is possible to lose traction. If this happens many times, you may need to replace your tires with better traction ones.

Excessive fuel consumption

If your truck is running poorly, this can also cause it to be stuck in 4 low. For example, suppose the engine has been modified from its original state and no longer operates as intended, or a problem with fuel consumption prevents it from going into a higher gear. In that case, this could result in your being stuck in 4 low.

Lack of power

Additionally, low power can cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if the engine has insufficient power and is working harder than usual, this can prevent it from shifting into a higher gear and thus cause your vehicle to be stuck in 4 low.

Electrical fault

Professional mechanic checks the airflow operation of the air filter system

An electrical fault can also cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if one of the wires necessary for shifting into a higher gear is broken or corroded, this could prevent your truck from allowing you to shift out of 4 low.

Faulty transfer case control module

The transfer case control module can also cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if the transfer case's computer is faulty or not working normally when it should be, this could prevent your truck from allowing you to shift out of 4 low.

Improper manual transmission fluid level

Another potential cause of your truck being stuck in 4wd low is an incorrect manual transmission fluid level. For example, if the owner's manual states that the proper manual transmission fluid level should be between two marks on your dipstick, but the fluid is too high or too low, this could cause your truck to be stuck in 4 wheel drive.

Improper transfer case fluid level

Similarly, the transfer case's fluid level can also cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if you have just changed the oil and not put enough of it into the transfer case or have the incorrect lubricant inside your transfer case, this could cause your truck to be stuck in 4 wheel drive.

Bad actuator

Engine compartment with V6 motor of black Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4x4 SUV under the raised hood

A defective actuator can also make your truck stuck in 4 low. For example, if your front or rear differential's actuator no longer works correctly and prevents it from engaging a higher gear when you shift into 2wd/4high/4low, this could cause your vehicle to be stuck in 4 wheel drive.

Seized differential

Finally, a seized differential can cause your truck to be stuck in 4 low. For example, if the oil seal has dried up or become too corroded to allow proper lubrication of the gears necessary for shifting into 2wd, this could lead you to be stuck in 4 low while driving on an incline.

What happens if you leave your truck in 4 wheel drive?

If you drive your truck in 4 wheel drive, this can cause irreversible engine or transmission damage, as well as the destruction of other parts within your vehicle. In addition, the drivetrain can cause issues to the drivetrain.

Also, driving your truck in 4wd low over ten mph is not recommended. Doing so will put your truck at high RPMs and isn't good on the engine or the transmission.

For example, the drivetrain may bind up, and then you will not be able to shift into a higher gear without removing your truck from 4 wheel drive.

Can 4WD ruin transmission?

The only time 4WD can ruin your transmission is when you drive at high speeds and on dry pavement. As mentioned above, this can cause your transmission to bind up.

The high torque can cause internal damage to the transfer case and the transmission. The reason being is that excessive heat causes stress to the engine and can cause mechanical components to break.

How long does it take to disengage 4WD?

Most Extreme Production Truck On The Planet while driving in extreme off-road

Engaging your vehicle into 4WD is almost instant for newer models. However, disengaging 4WD can take 30 to 60 seconds to engage completely.

For older models, disengaging can take 1 to 3 minutes. Again, the mechanical engagement system takes time before it shifts out of 4 low.

Can you disengage 4WD while moving?

You should never disengage 4WD while moving. You should not disengage your truck if it is moving is that this can cause damage to the drivetrain and make it extremely difficult to shift into a higher gear.

Final Thoughts

Cars running on the beautiful road along the mountain, Rear view of pickup truck on wavy road, Truck Stuck In 4WD Low—What To Do?

If your vehicle is stuck in 4wd low, act fast. The longer you drive this way, the more damage it will do to the gears and other components within your truck. If you tried the steps in this article, but your truck still won't shift out of 4WD low, you will need to call a certified mechanic.

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Ronnie Hawkins

Tuesday 25th of October 2022

Great advise on disengaging stuck 4WD, thank you