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AWD vs. 4-wheel HI Driving on the sand

I’m taking our 2001 Grand Cherokee AWD to the outer banks of North Carolina and plan to drive on the sand. I only want to engage the 4-wheel HI if it is better on the vehicle.

Thank You and your show is Great!

A rule I learned many years ago…Leave it in 2wd until you get stuck…Then use 4wd to get unstuck. Driving in deep beach sand will require tire pressure be reduced and 4wd must be engaged all the time. Beach driving is hard on a vehicle period…Sand and salt are NOT harmless to motor vehicles…

And I learned on the hard rock of AZ to put it in 4wd before you get stuck (stuck may be over the cliff)So I guess it depends on the surface.In no way could a transfer case engagement position make driving in sand better on the vehicle. Driving in sand is hard on a vehicle no matter what range you are in.Do you want your vehicle totaly degraded or just a little bit degraded? it still will be degraded. Think about all that abrasive sand getting in all those places and I am sure you will not exceed 15mph.

When driving out to remote oil wells in eastern Colorado in the wintertime, over unimproved dirt tracks, we would leave our Chevy 1-ton service trucks in 2wd… If we got stuck, we would use the 4wd to get unstuck and turned around. We would service that well another day…If you got stuck in 4wd, you were REALLY stuck, 20-30 miles from help and no way to get help. You only did that ONCE…

I haven’t driven on sand, but wondering why not use 4WD in Low range? You are not going to go 50 mph, or are you? Low range gives the transmission a break by using lower gearing. Driving in loose sand is like walking in loose sand your tires get kind of stuck in the stuff. This puts a lot of resistance to rolling which puts stress on the drive train. If you were to try to put the car in nuetral would it coast along or stop quickly? If it stops quickly then I’d want to use the 4WD low range.

Let about half the air out of your tires before driving on deep sand. With low pressure in the tires, the bottom of your tires flatten out to make a big footprint that doesn’t sink down so deeply into the sand, resulting in lower rolling resistance and a lower likelyhood of getting stuck.
Don’t forget to reinflate them before hitting the pavement. A portable air compressor is good to have along.

I like all the previous advice. I’ve done lots of “mud work” and would treat sand in much the same way. Minimize your weight carrying when you venture out into deep sand traveling as light as possible. Be prepared to ask people to walk when the going gets tough. Keep your speed up but never “fast”.

Use tires with as much flotation as possible. Stop in solid area only. I’m sure, like mud, their are varying degrees of consistency and I would not stop unless I was confident in that area. Going with someone else is always a plus.

NEVER use AWD if you have the option. AWD is extremely stressed in deep snow, mud and deep sand, is not made for off road and the last thing you want to do is break something while traveling. 4wd high range locked at speed in mild conditions but 4 low locked and in higher gears will take you at appropriate travel speeds in deeper mud and sand.

It does not have to be hard on a vehicle if you prepare, drive and maintain the vehicle appropriately after. I would adjust tire pressures as indicated only if I had a compressor handy. Remember, on firm ground with full load, low pressure at higher speeds can be a big problem …

Thank you dagosa for your detailed advice, you hit the nail on the head. Thanks B.L.E for telling me to reduce the tire pressure, great advise and I’ll do it. Turbo, low range sounds like a good idea:) and old schools right, I won’t be going over 15 mph;)
And caddyman, I hope you continue on your excursions, that sounds like more fun than most people could handle! Thank you everyone for you good advise to my question, this means a lot to me and many others. Thanks:)

This is an annoying situation caused by the lack of standard terminology.

I’d read your owner’s manual. If all 4-wheels are constantly powered in “awd” mode, I’d put it in “4-high” (which I presume just means it locks the center differential). If this is actually an automatic 4wd where it senses the slippery conditions and automatically engages the 4wd, I think you should be fine in that mode.