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'00 Tracker 4x4 - if u don't use it, do you lose it?

I have acquired a 2000 chevy tracker 4x4 AT, the 4wd has not been used in at least 2 years, maybe as long as 3 or 4 years, i am wondering if not using the 4x4 for a long time causes it to deteriorate, kinda like not using the eBrake (or so I’ve heard) or leaving a car sitting for a while? Could it be bad for the trans or the chassis parts or something else if the 4x4 is suddenly turned on for the 1st time in a while?

I would really like this car to last as long as possible and if turning on the 4x4 for the 1st time in a while could be detrimental to that goal, then i will just leave it alone, but the 4x4 could come in handy with the winter coming so i would like to know if its okay to use it if needed. Thanks!

The components of your Tracker AWD system continue to be lubricated even if the system isn’r engaged. Engage it whenever you desire.

I depends on the system … check it now before winter. If you don’t have a hoist , use a gravel road or lot so the 4x4 has the ‘‘give’’ that won’t harm it.

Some systems are vacuum. actuators and valves can dry out and not work.
On Ford pickups there are actuators at the wheels, valve and tubes.

some electrical connections can corrode and not switch on . ( relay, switch, plugs, connections, actuator )

I found the Achilles’ heel in my own 92 Explorer, then advised customers and saved them hundreds.
This system was electric and although a few switches may have gone bad over the years, that was almost always the wrong first guess. Next they’d replace the shift motor and all was well…
( I discovered this by experimenting disassembling my own )
inside the shift motor…something mechanics will not do…is three little brass contacts that corrode from lack of use, for me two or more years between uses ( the right tires and driving practices easily delay the need for 4x4 ).
On this shift motor there is a cover held on by three bolts that the wires go in through. I took off that cover for a little lookie-see.
guess what ?
When I saw those little contacts in there I gave them a little emery sanding and re-assembled …just on a hunch.

I agree with @‌kenGreen.
It depends on the system. If it is truck based, it hasn’t been running. If it’s AWD, it has. It appears to be truck based with auto hubs so it has not been running.
These things should be used regularly. It it is all electric with a dial, you have two functions that have had no use. If the hubs are automatic, they maybe frozen . Regardless, Ken’s advice is good. Personally, I would have it put on a lift at a competent garage, activate the 4 wd and have them determine which is engaged. If you are lucky and everything works, drive it in 4wd at least ten miles a month. It is useless to have a 4wd system that doesn’t work. Get it working and use it regularly.

Personally, I’d use the gravel road/lot test. The system was designed to have some loading with some give. A test on a lift would be an unloaded, free-wheeling condition that may hide an issue.

I would use the 4WD from time to time just to see if it still operated but that’s just me. I rarely use the 4WD mode in any vehicle and currently we have none at the moment. It’s just not a very good selling point for me when buying a vehicle. A brother of mine would own nothing but a 4WD or AWD vehicle.

Not knowing how some systems are made, I personally would be a less inclined to “throw it into” 4wd out in the willie wags on a dirt road and have something snap and break that you could have avoided upon detection on a lift with a little precautionary exam and lubrication.

. If the car is in decent shape other wise, it’s worth doing it carefully to avoid damage The car was made or sold by Suzuki to. GM whose parts are very hard to get. Their automotive division NO LONGER MAKES CARS for GM or anyone in the USA. You could compromise the use of the car for good.

You can take it out on the road after an exam on a lift. Heck, you can do it in a parking lot at low speeds after the lift next to the garage driving straight ahead. It can be done in stages.

Part time 4wd’s are like air conditioners. You have more problems with them if left unused then using them regularly.

I know how your brother feels. If you have a life style that occasionally means you travel on back roads or in severe weather, the inconvenience of getting stuck is not worth it. It’s like going hiking without a first aid kit or going sailing when the sun is out on the ocean without bringing rain gear. There is stuff depending upon your life style, that you use and have, just for the security of it.

Heck, I like the ground clearance 4wd drive affords while in the city. Curbs are no longer and an obstacle. These old 4wd Suzuki made vehicles make great city cars…short and high.