Can You Shift Into 4 Wheel Drive While Driving F150?

Some vehicles allow you to switch the system from 2H to 4WD for better performance. However, you can easily forget to engage the 4WD, and you may wonder whether it is okay to do so while driving.

It is possible to shift into 4WD while driving an F150. You will notice your information display indicating that the switch is in progress and then the current system mode once the shift is complete. However, the switch is best done under particular circumstances. For instance, you should be going at a slow speed and straight line. 

For more on how to switch to 4WD correctly without damaging your car, read on. 

Can You Shift to 4WD While Driving F150?

Knowing when to engage the 4WD is important. If it is not done correctly or at the right time, you are likely to damage your vehicle, among other risks involved. The proper procedure is to be followed. 

While it is possible to shift to 4WD, it should be done at slow speeds—preferably below 60mph. If you intend to switch between H and Lo, the vehicle needs to be slowed down to 5mph without depressing the gas pedal and maintaining the transmission in a neutral position.

However, there are some older models without automatic locking hubs. These forced the driver to completely stop the car, manually engage the front hubs, and then engage the 4H. 

When Is It Safe to Switch From 2H to 4WD?

As earlier mentioned, there are some risks involved when you shift to 4WD incorrectly. Below we outline the road conditions that you can safely do so. 

Slippery Wet Roads

If you reside in a region that often receives heavy rainfall or wet winters, it is advisable to have a full-time 4WD. These vehicles offer numerous advantages such as allowing drivers to engage 4H whenever the road surfaces are treacherous and their traction reduced due to wet conditions. 

Many drivers understand the danger that wet roads pose. They are responsible for many accidents that take place annually. Often, wet roads have shallow pools that make the vehicles aquaplane especially if located on a bend or sharp corner. When driving at 2H at a high speed and come across a puddle on a bend, you are likely to lose control of the vehicle. 

Thankfully, when driving in 4WD, all four wheels work to propel the vehicle forward and significantly improve traction and stability. Therefore, it would be best to engage the 4WD when you find yourself on a wet road and it is still raining. The switch should only be performed if the traction is considerably low.

However, if it is light rains and the traction is relatively good, you do not have to make the shift. Doing so poses a risk of drive-shaft binding and drive-train windup. It is up to the driver to gauge the road conditions and make the right call. 

Snowy Icy Roads 

Shifting to 4WD when driving on a snowy road with low traction is also a good idea. The 4H functionality will allow you to lock the front and rear driveshafts which in turn enhances stability and handling. Unlike wet roads with slippery sections, snowy and icy roads have consistent slippage. It is therefore safe to switch to 4WD. 

Once the 4WD is engaged, you need to take caution not to increase your speed on the slippery road. Also, some people believe the misconception that engaging 4WD improves braking capabilities. This is not the case and so you need to increase your following distance for enough stopping distance in case of anything. 

Beach Driving 

Driving on the beach is a lot like driving on sand tracks. Therefore, the same rules apply. However, you need to exercise more caution since beaches tend to have high traffic, especially during the holiday season. Moreover, ensure to always keep an eye out for marine animals, swimmers, and beach campers. 

Sand Tracks 

Sand tracks also offer the perfect environment to engage to 4WD mode. It is important that you do so when in such conditions, otherwise you are not likely to go far. The loose sand tends to require maximum traction from your vehicle. Also, ensure you apply adequate momentum for propulsion through the soft and deep sand. 

When Is It Unsafe to Shift to 4WD?

From the above, it is clear that shifting to 4WD should only be done when the traction is very low. Therefore, the shift should not be done on any high traction surface such as tarmac, cement, and concrete. Shifting to 4WD on these surfaces is likely to cause drivetrain binding. Drivers are advised to read their driving surfaces well. 


What Is the Beauty of Permanent 4WD?

Full-time 4WD is often preferred as you get to enjoy all the benefits of 4WD regardless of the driving surface. All four wheels work to propel you forward at all times. Whether the surface is dry, wet, of good traction, or slippery, there is no major threat that they pose. 

What Happens When You Lock the Center Differential With a Permanent 4WD?

Locking the center diff when driving on permanent 4WD has the same consequences as engaging 4H on a non-permanent 4WD. If the surface has high traction, you risk causing major damage to the gearbox and drivetrain components. Ensure that you consult the owner’s manual for further instructions on when to engage 4WD while driving.

What Happens When You Switch From 4HI to 4LO While Driving?

Here, it is best that you first refer to the owner’s manual. Still, it is not advisable to attempt this. 4Lo is basically designed for low speeds and should therefore not be engaged when driving at higher than 10mph. The switch is likely to cause a violent reaction that could injure vehicle occupants and damage the vehicle.

Final Words 

Having a 4WD F150 has many advantages and offers the driver some freedom to change from 2H to 4WD when situations demand. This freedom should not be abused as it could mean serious damage on major components. Therefore, drivers should take it in their stride to know when to shift to 4WD. 

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