4WD Low in town?

I have an 88 ford ranger with a 2.9L V6 with a 5 speed manual. I find that when I’m hauling a big load and am forced to stop on a big hill and I go to start again I either stall (not slipping the clutch enough) or burn up the clutch trying (slipping too much) to start on this big hill without rolling back into the guy behind me.

Seems to me the easy solution to this problem would be to put the truck into 4wd low and leave the front hubs disengaged. This would allow for the gear reduction so I don’t have to slip the clutch so much and will now have enough power get a clean start on a steep hill. I have heard its a bad idea to have 4wd with the front hubs engaged on pavement because there is not enough slip - but leaving the front hubs not engaged means i should have that problem.

I haven’t tried it yet because i don’t know the mechanics of exactly what I’m doing. By going into low gear I will be developing tons of torque, because the front hubs are not engaged and the front axle’s will be spinning freely does this mean all this torque is going to the back wheels? or is it still split evenly (or somewhat evenly) between front and rear? I fear that if all the torque goes to the back wheels I will be putting a lot more torque to the rear differential, drive shaft and axles then they were ever designed for and break something!

So is it safe to do what I’m suggesting? or is wearing out the clutch cheaper then breaking some other part of the drivetrain?

You’re fine, people use that technique for backing up large trailers. You don’t want to do it for very far because 4 low is quite a bit lower than 2/4 high, but you can absolutely do it.

You WILL be putting a lot more torque through the rear end and the drive shaft. How much of a load are you hauling with this thing?

You can do what you suggest without harm. However, as soon as you get away from the steep uphill stop sign, stop, disengage 4WD low, and return to 2WD.

You don’t want to stay in 4WD on a dry road any longer than absolutely necessary.

well its a ranger - last time i had it loaded and went to the dump the scales said about 800 lbs.

cool - that was the plan, just use it long enough to get to a flat spot where I can take off normally in 2wd.

i just recently got my clutch replaced - i have had it burning (its gooey and starts to smell) a few times trying to take off with large loads. Suppose i have don’t any permanent damage? or have i just worn down the clutch material faster then normal?

My guess is you’ve reduced the life of the clutch “slightly.” Unless this happens on a regular basis, I suggest you not worry about it.

Explain the term “gooey.”

The fact that this only became a problem AFTER the clutch was replaced is potentially problematic.

Im sure its just becasue im slipping it too much. Usually there is a solid feeling when its in gear. But when im forced to slip it a lot on a hill with a big load it gets soft (and you smell burning clutch material) and it seems like theres a lot more revs happening then needed to go the speed im going (because i have overheated and softened the clutch material). Once it cools 15 min later its back to normal.

Well when you slip the clutch, you’re putting a lot of heat in to that area, and the throwout bearing and clutch fluid absorb that heat, and that can make the clutch pedal soft. You’re good to go, just make sure the hubs are unlocked before you take off in 4, especially 4-low.

Mr Josh, please explain how the clutch fluid can absorb heat from the clutch. The fluid is contained in the clutch’s master and slave cylinders. It doesn’t circulate through any cooling device and is not in direct contact with the clutch plate itself.