1988 Civic Wagovan 4 Wheel Drive Question


Hi guys, I have an 88 Wagovan with 133,000 on it. It has realtime four wheel drive, and there is no transfer case or hubs to switch on or off, it is just on all the time. I have not driven it in the snow yet (always had an SUV before), and I’m curious to know whether the 4WD system actually works, and whether there is a way to test it to make sure it works. The car has some creaks and groans so I don’t want to beat it up, just find out whether I can rely on it to work well once winter comes.

Thanks in advance,



Assuming the vehicle has been properly maintained, there is no reason to think the system won’t work. Your vehicle operates normally in FWD mode, and the rear drive only engages when wheel spin is detected in the front wheels. Many other AWD vehicles work this way.

It takes VERY LITTLE wheel spin to lock in the rear drive, probably less than 1/2 of a revolution, so don’t expect to notice the front wheels spinning.

I suggest you not worry about this. Drive and enjoy the car. Odds are it will get you through the snow with little or no drama. As always, winter tires are a good idea if there is lots of snow where you live. Put them on ALL FOUR corners.


If you really need to know, you could lift the thing up on four jackstands and see if there’s power going to the front and back. Or, if you feel you need snow tires, you could try to get the tire shop to do it for you while they have it on a lift.

But, like the other poster said, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the system won’t work.