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Old 06-28-2022, 06:59 PM   #1
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Towing in 4 wheel drive vs. 2

Hi all,

Had our trailer out and usually I am towing in 2 wheel drive mode (Toyota Sequoia, 2010); but had put it in 4 wheel "high" mode to go up a steep incline into our storage yard a day before as it is gravel and it tends to spin out if not. Then I forgot to take it back out of "4-high" when we left. I noticed it after a while but then it seemed to me to be working just fine.

The Sequoia manual does not say anything about towing in 4 wheel vs. 2 wheel drive. Anyone know if this is not a best practice or does it matter?

Thanks.
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Old 06-28-2022, 07:21 PM   #2
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I wouldn’t do it on pavement. 4WD should only be used at lower speeds or when there is loose or slippery conditions allowing the wheels to rotate without binding. Driving in 4WD on dry pavement can damage/break either your diff, axles, gears or all. I wouldn’t loose any sleep over it, your not the first or last guy to do this. Just get it out of 4WD the second you notice it.
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Old 06-28-2022, 07:45 PM   #3
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Towing in 4 wheel drive vs. 2

It works fine until your transfer case gears or chain implode.

Front axle rotation rate is different than the rear axle rotation rate when you are not driving in an exact straight line. 4wd transfer case locks the ratio forcing both axles to turn at the same rate.

On wide turns on wet pavement or snow the tires will be forced to loose grip and will slip to accommodate the transfer case forcing the front/rear axles to turn at the same speed.

Under load with tighter turns on dry pavement tires have more friction and it’s your transfer case gears that will pay the price - something needs to give, mechanically - tires will loose grip, you will break a drive shaft or the transfer case gears will fail. The energy needs to go somewhere.

Transfer case gears are about the size of your fist. That’s not much surface area to deal will the tremendous resistance of different axle speeds with high friction coefficient of dry tires on dry pavement.

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Old 06-28-2022, 10:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amgostick View Post
The Sequoia manual does not say anything about towing in 4 wheel vs. 2 wheel drive. Anyone know if this is not a best practice or does it matter?

Thanks.
The second gen Sequoia 4WD had a center locking differential, so unless you locked the diff when you put it in 4WD, you would not put unreasonable strain on the driveline. Check your owners manual.
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Old 06-29-2022, 02:37 AM   #5
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To be clear, I consider there is a big difference between 4x4 and “all wheel” drive, and with 4x4 I would not do it, for me the only reason to tow in 4-wheel drive mode is when road traction is so poor you need that option. In those cases, “wheel slip” is a given, which naturally reduces/eliminates tension that might develop between the front and rear drive line components. It is also rare that all 4 wheels constantly apply force, usually only highly modified drivelines can produce that result. Even if the owners manual says it’s ok to tow in 4x4 I don’t like the idea of all the extra stress that can develop, not to mention that your fuel mileage suffers more severely, for no real benefit (you don’t need that extra traction on dry paved roads). Premature wear on the driveline is another consequence of over using 4x4. Every 4x4 that I have driven has produced mechanical forces that you can feel in the steering wheel when in 4x4 mode, especially so in turns, just think about how much wear that can create on the various mechanical parts in the system.
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Old 06-29-2022, 04:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amgostick View Post
Hi all,

Had our trailer out and usually I am towing in 2 wheel drive mode (Toyota Sequoia, 2010); but had put it in 4 wheel "high" mode to go up a steep incline into our storage yard a day before as it is gravel and it tends to spin out if not. Then I forgot to take it back out of "4-high" when we left. I noticed it after a while but then it seemed to me to be working just fine.

The Sequoia manual does not say anything about towing in 4 wheel vs. 2 wheel drive. Anyone know if this is not a best practice or does it matter?

Thanks.

Brief 4x4 use for an off-road area you know will be a problem is fine while towing.
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Old 06-29-2022, 05:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 1StreamDream View Post
To be clear, I consider there is a big difference between 4x4 and “all wheel” drive,.
True. I don't know what the Sequoia has. In my Expedition it is all wheel and I use it at highway speeds and would tow with it if conditions required it.

The slight reduction in MPG might be a consideration.
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Old 06-29-2022, 06:19 AM   #8
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A lot of presumptive/incorrect info is being produced in this thread.

Firstly, read your owners manual. Some vehicles tow in 4WD full time just fine.

VERY FEW will “explode” any drivelines….mostly OLD MODELS are injured by full-time, high-speed 4WD use on dry pavement….not modern vehicles.

Many modern vehicles have differentials and transfer cases which accommodate dry pavement just fine…. READ YOUR OWNERS’ MANUAL.

HOwever, your tires will wear at a faster rate if 4WD is used on dry pavement.

Also, the advice to shift OUT of 4WD as soon as you notice it …can cause failure if done improperly.
For the Sequoia models:
Older 4WD systems must be manually shifted between 2WD and 4WD and from 4HI to 4LO while the vehicle is stopped. Newer s 4 wheel drive systems have electronic push button 'on the fly' features that let you shift while driving.
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Old 06-29-2022, 07:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Boxite View Post
VERY FEW will “explode” any drivelines….mostly OLD MODELS are injured by full-time, high-speed 4WD use on dry pavement….not modern vehicles.
The main issue is often the confusion between 4WD (most trucks) and AWD (any modern SUV or car). AWD is OK to drive anywhere but there are often limits with 4WD.

I would be very careful about using 4WD on a dry surface.

This is a quote from my 2022 F250 owner's manual:
Quote:
Note: Do not use four-wheel drive high or four-wheel drive low mode on dry, hard surfaced roads. Doing so can produce excessive noise, increase tire wear and can damage drive components.
And a quote from a 2020 Sequoia manual in the 4WD section:
Quote:
Use this for driving only on tracks that permit the tires slide, like off-road, icy or snow-covered roads.
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Old 06-29-2022, 08:24 AM   #10
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4x2, 4x4 low, 4x4 high manually

We manage to use our 4x4 F350 Diesel to tow in many situations.

We manually switch IN and OUT of what I need, when needed and switch OUT when out of a 4x4 situation.

NEVER on Asphalt or Concrete dry surfaces for a manual 4x4. The All time 4x4 is designed to limited slip and not create stress on U Joints, if any on limited slip.

If you make a Sharp Turn in 4x4, the front end will HOP. Because one wheel is turning less than the other wheel. This is when you take notice and get out of 4x4, straighten out the front wheels and get them aligned. This is when you can damage your front end... if you do not believe me... stop at a repair shop.

This is 100% experience using or not using 4x4 manual options. The vehicle's manual... gives you the caveats... but experience is where you learn. Some members towing Off Paved Roads may have no clue... but will learn. The manual is not intended to explain how. A video on the internet would help and watch.

There are also times... you stop... check out the obstacle and... turn around. The muddy ruts should have a dug drain by the NFS... but... not this one. We carry two shovels... but there could have been more ruts like this, if we managed this. Just THINK. Some are obvious NO GOES. That is one for a trailer in tow.

A Neanderthal knows what is possible and what is not. You will learn by trial and error. The error is where you learn, while digging out.

Rarely do we ever see trailers being towed where we go. Not because we are stupid or ignorant to do so, but many have no idea how to travel and SEE the road ahead. We walk some roads... to decide if it is passable. Some towing will never figure it out.

There are NO Passing Lanes in the mountains. Look for dust way ahead and plan ahead. Pull over as far as you can to the 'inside'. Pulling over to the steep side is not advised, as the oncoming dust may be a Jeep or most likely a 4x4 who can squeeze past you. This you may have to figure out on your own. The 'pucker factory' as Helicopter Pilots would call it.

The Utah families towing ATV's behind a Motor Home into the mountains... are really good at it. But they know where to stop, park and take the ATV's further.

Travel with someone with experience to learn. Wet Grass is an example of 4x4 High options until you are out of it and onto the road.

The 2016 Wyoming Adventure spent two weeks in good 4x2 and 4x4 travel into the National Forests and Deserts of Wyoming. Not everyone was thrilled to discover that dust is part of the equation. But when the road gets wet... park and let it dry out, if you can find a good camping spot.

Experience. One step at a time. Build confidence. Travel with someone who has experience. If a 4x4 can travel the road... one with a trailer can also.

Once committed... not to the Insane... but have Loppers and Clippers to remove branches that could damage your Tow Vehicle and Airstream's finish. We carry a His and Hers Loppers.

There are some on the Forum with a lot of experience. I have not met any... where we go.

When you arrive... Ahhhhhh. All by yourself and enjoy the warm days and cool nights. Maybe a August Snow... that melts by noon. Wyoming... has it all.
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Old 06-29-2022, 09:25 AM   #11
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You should never tow in 4 wheel drive unless you're on soft or loose ground. Otherwise you can damage your tires. A heavy rain might be the exception. When I pull into my grass yard to park my trailer, I have to put it in 4 wheel drive to prevent my tires from tearing up my yard.
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Old 06-29-2022, 09:43 AM   #12
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Only use true 4wd for slippery conditions (i.e. steep hill with gravel, dirt road, snow/ice). Otherwise you are causing wear on front end gears, transfer case, and axle components...also will get worse mileage. I will admit though, I love 'low range' for backing up slowly...just not on asphalt or cement.
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Old 06-29-2022, 09:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxite View Post
A lot of presumptive/incorrect info is being produced in this thread.

Firstly, read your owners manual. Some vehicles tow in 4WD full time just fine.

VERY FEW will “explode” any drivelines….mostly OLD MODELS are injured by full-time, high-speed 4WD use on dry pavement….not modern vehicles.

Many modern vehicles have differentials and transfer cases which accommodate dry pavement just fine…. READ YOUR OWNERS’ MANUAL.

HOwever, your tires will wear at a faster rate if 4WD is used on dry pavement.

Also, the advice to shift OUT of 4WD as soon as you notice it …can cause failure if done improperly.
For the Sequoia models:
Older 4WD systems must be manually shifted between 2WD and 4WD and from 4HI to 4LO while the vehicle is stopped. Newer s 4 wheel drive systems have electronic push button 'on the fly' features that let you shift while driving.
How true. I didn't see a need to respond to the OP even though I have owned several 4x4s because none of them are Toyotas.
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Old 06-29-2022, 11:10 AM   #14
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How true. I didn't see a need to respond to the OP even though I have owned several 4x4s because none of them are Toyotas.
My tow vehicle is a 2013 Tundra. It is "4x4" where there is NO center differential, and the owners manual (rightly) gives all the usual warnings about not driving on hard surfaces with 4x4 engaged. Moreover, it will not let you engage 4x4 at all if you are traveling over 100 km/h (60 mph).

The 2010 Sequoia that the OP has, HAS a center differential, with an electronic lock feature that can be engaged or disengaged at will. Further to this, the center diff is a Torsen unit, which means it will provide a limited slip functionality even when it is not locked, *as long as sufficient torque is being applied to the drivetrain*. If the vehicle is driven in a way that neither axle is slipping, then it will maintain open differential action, and the only negative effect is a slight increase in overall drivetrain drag. So, unless the OP also engaged the electronic lock with the separate control button, there is no likelyhood of damage from operating the Sequoia in 4WD mode on the highway.

PS:
Since it's somewhat pertinent to this discussion, I also own a Sunbeam Tiger, which is equipped with a (not factory standard) Torsen rear diff. Under low torque loads or coasting, it is 'open' to the extent that if you jack up the car and rotate one rear wheel forwards, the other will spin backwards, as an open diff would. However, the worm gears in the Torsen diff will lock tightly when large engine input is applied and it will certainly spin both rear tires, at the driver's discretion.
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Old 06-29-2022, 11:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxite View Post
A lot of presumptive/incorrect info is being produced in this thread.

Firstly, read your owners manual. Some vehicles tow in 4WD full time just fine.

VERY FEW will “explode” any drivelines….mostly OLD MODELS are injured by full-time, high-speed 4WD use on dry pavement….not modern vehicles.

Many modern vehicles have differentials and transfer cases which accommodate dry pavement just fine…. READ YOUR OWNERS’ MANUAL.

...

I don't know the Toyota product line so "read the manual" is good advice, however both my 2010 F-150 and my 2013 Ran 2500 manuals said to not use 4WD on pavement. When turning sharply on gravel in either vehicle I got wheel hop which indicates to me that there was no differential in the transfer case.


Another time I was trying to get into a space in a campground that was on a higher level and was being directed there by an employee. Halfway up the hill he stopped me. I could not get started again in 2 high or 4 high. I went to 4 low and made it but the transfer case did not like the turn at the top. I had to stop again and put it back in 2 high.
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Old 06-29-2022, 12:14 PM   #16
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I was watching this KYD YouTube video and at about 22:09 there is an experince of driving with 4WD in a Ford HD.



FWIW!
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Old 06-29-2022, 12:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alumineer View Post
My tow vehicle is a 2013 Tundra. It is "4x4" where there is NO center differential, and the owners manual (rightly) gives all the usual warnings about not driving on hard surfaces with 4x4 engaged. Moreover, it will not let you engage 4x4 at all if you are traveling over 100 km/h (60 mph).

The 2010 Sequoia that the OP has, HAS a center differential, with an electronic lock feature that can be engaged or disengaged at will. Further to this, the center diff is a Torsen unit, which means it will provide a limited slip functionality even when it is not locked, *as long as sufficient torque is being applied to the drivetrain*. If the vehicle is driven in a way that neither axle is slipping, then it will maintain open differential action, and the only negative effect is a slight increase in overall drivetrain drag. So, unless the OP also engaged the electronic lock with the separate control button, there is no likelyhood of damage from operating the Sequoia in 4WD mode on the highway.

PS:
Since it's somewhat pertinent to this discussion, I also own a Sunbeam Tiger, which is equipped with a (not factory standard) Torsen rear diff. Under low torque loads or coasting, it is 'open' to the extent that if you jack up the car and rotate one rear wheel forwards, the other will spin backwards, as an open diff would. However, the worm gears in the Torsen diff will lock tightly when large engine input is applied and it will certainly spin both rear tires, at the driver's discretion.
That's what I mean, the OP needed to hear from someone who has the same TV that he has.
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Old 06-29-2022, 04:30 PM   #18
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The OP should seek the advice of the manufacturer on this matter. BTY. I don't consider an AS trailer to be an off-road trailer because it's a low center. There are off-road quality trailers that would do better.
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Old 06-29-2022, 06:54 PM   #19
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17ram 4x4…..I always go to 4 week drive on gravel roads although we are going very slow. It divides the power
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Old 06-29-2022, 08:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1StreamDream View Post
To be clear, I consider there is a big difference between 4x4 and “all wheel” drive, and with 4x4 I would not do it, for me the only reason to tow in 4-wheel drive mode is when road traction is so poor you need that option. In those cases, “wheel slip” is a given, which naturally reduces/eliminates tension that might develop between the front and rear drive line components. It is also rare that all 4 wheels constantly apply force, usually only highly modified drivelines can produce that result. Even if the owners manual says it’s ok to tow in 4x4 I don’t like the idea of all the extra stress that can develop, not to mention that your fuel mileage suffers more severely, for no real benefit (you don’t need that extra traction on dry paved roads). Premature wear on the driveline is another consequence of over using 4x4. Every 4x4 that I have driven has produced mechanical forces that you can feel in the steering wheel when in 4x4 mode, especially so in turns, just think about how much wear that can create on the various mechanical parts in the system.
Great Explanation! Totally agree!
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