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No sharp turns in 4 Wheel Drive

I have a 2009 Jeep Liberty with 1900 miles on it and have a problem with the 4 Wheel Drive. When backing out of my driveway or pulling into a parking space at very slow speeds the car just stops as though i have applied the brake. If i give it more gas it feels like the brake and the gears are fighting each other. The dealer said this is normal… huh

A service tech test drove the car with me and although there is no snow now he did have it in 4 Wheel Drive and when he made the slow sharp turns the car sort of bucked along but did not stop completely like it did for me in the snow. He insists that there is nothing wrong with the car. I told him that i did not believe that and that when a recall is issued, i will be first in line.

Does anyone have any expereience like this or any suggestions.

If you have a true 4 wheel drive system with a transfer case you can’t use the 4 wheel drive on dry surfaces. It binds up the transfer case and front and rear axles and that’s why it won’t go anywhere.

If you had All Wheel drive it would have a center differential, not a transfer case, and you could drive on dry surfaces with no problem.


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They are right. The front and rear wheels are fighting with each other in 4WD or AWD. You notice it more on tight turns on dry pavement. I suggest taking it out of 4WD (unless it’s full time only) whenever it’s not needed. You’ll get better mileage too.

The info on the car indicates that may have two wheel drive and auto 4wd, which seems to operate like awd or a true part time 4wd. I’m not familiar with the system, but if it behaves as you say, they indicate it’s normal, it’s a poor system. I would ask/demand to drive several on their lot, and compare the performance to yours. If they are all like yours and the same; you’ll have to live with it.
What does the manual say about when you can or can’t use it ?
I have a multimode 4Runner that shifts in and out of awd, and you’d never know it was in one or the other on dry pavement under your conditions. It has a separate lock that does make it behave like yours. So some people can make them.

Here is how 4wd works. You leave the vehicle in 2wd, always, until you are STUCK. Then you shift into 4wd to get UNSTUCK. Then you immediately shift back into 2wd. Only when driving off-road in muck and mire can you leave it 4wd all the time. Just because there is a little snow on the pavement does not mean you need to put it in 4wd…You have discovered the results when you do so… If you feel you NEED 4wd all the time, trade in your Jeep for an AWD vehicle, which has a set of complex gearing to accommodate going around corners…

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In reading the info, they have two types of 4wd; “select trac” and “command trac”; it’s best for OP to read the manual and the capabilities and restrictions for each before we can really comment on the performance of each. One might have an awd mode.

Do they really sell SUV’s without a AWD or full-time 4wd mode in 2009???

1940’s tech.

Yes, The “command trac” is part time, the “select trac” is suppose to be full time. We don’t know which OP has. It suppose to be excellent off road with either, unlike CRVs and RAVs which are only, always AWD
If OP did not intend using it off road, it may not have been the best buy.

When driving in a circle, the tracks that the rear wheels make in the dirt will always be closer to the center of the circle than the tracks the front wheels make. That means the front wheels have to take a longer path than the rear wheels and thus they need to turn slightly faster. The smaller the turn radius, the greater the speed difference between the front and rear wheels.
That’s why what you experienced happens on dry pavement.

Full time all wheel drive uses a differential between the front and rear wheels to take care of this speed difference during a turn.

Yes,and they are wonderful OFF ROAD !. Jeep sells 3 different transmissions and he bought the one meant for off road. The other transmissions cost more and the salespeople don’t want to tell a customer about them if the think the customer is shopping by price alone. Jeep isn’t alone in this, most truck based suvs can be had with this type of transmission for offroad or plowing.

Here is how 4wd works. You leave the vehicle in 2wd, always, until you are STUCK. Then you shift into 4wd to get UNSTUCK. Then you immediately shift back into 2wd.

You are right for LIGHT snow…but in heavy snow when they haven’t plowed yet…keep it in 4wd to keep the vehicle on the road…or on ice.

What you are experiencing is a rather dramtic case of something common to all AWD and 4WD systems. I had an full time AWD Volvo wagon and you could feel a slight pulsing when you made a turn with the front wheels at full range, either left or right.

On a 4WD truck I have now I feel the same thing only more pronounced. If you have to make tight manuevers you are best doing it in 2WD mode. You should be able to make a 3/4 to lock turn in 4WD without having the feeling you are locking up your wheels.

This is just a characteristic of these systems and some cars and trucks show it much more dramatically than others.

I think this should be a common sense type of thing but what do I know?

Doesn’t matter, after 8 years Mr. Mellow may not even have the vehicle anymore.


I have a 1999 Toyota 4Runner and have noticed this same problem in my truck when I reverse or going forward when I take a sharp turn, u turn or pulling into/backing out of a parking spot. It starts stopping on me. Never noticed it in the past. I thought brakes were bad but found out I brakes were fine. Topped off power steering. So trying to diagnose the issue here

Driving while in 4wd on dry pavement causes transfer-case lockup because the front wheels are turning at a different speed from the rear wheels. Worse case scenario - you’ll blow your transfer case.

Pull out your owners manual and read the proper way to operate vehicle in 4wd.


I’ve heard of something called axle tramp
It is caused by turning the same direction too much on a true 4 wheel drive. The difference in tire rotation would put pressure on the axles like a spring. The remedy is to lift the vehicle off its wheels to releif the tension. And of course not driving on dry conditions in 4WD.

I’m driving on wet pavement or half and half with snow or ice.

That is not a condition for using 4 wheel drive.

What you’re experiencing is normal. If you’re getting driveline binding, that’s a sign that you’re using 4 wheel drive when you shouldn’t be using 4 wheel drive.