How to use 4-Wheel Drive System on Ford F-150

Which 4×4 mode should I use when I’m towing my boat? When should I use 4-wheel drive? Your 4×4 vehicle will have either available electronic shift on the fly, or ESOF system, or an available 2-speed automatic 4-wheel drive system. That allows you to select different 4×4 modes depending on your driving conditions.

Ford F-150 4×4 control switch

ESOF gives you 2H mode, which is good for normal on road driving, enhanced efficiency and a smooth drive. 4H mode, which should only be used in off road or slippery winter conditions like snow, ice, and shallow sand. And 4L mode, which gives you extra power at reduced speed for climbing hills, driving in or going through deep sand, rock crawling, or pulling a boat out of water.


The two-speed automatic four-wheel drive system gives you 2H, 4H and 4L modes, as well as, 4A (automatic) mode – which automatically determines the driving conditions and provides power to the front and rear tires as needed, to not only control wheel slip if it occurs, but to help prevent it in the first place. It’s good for everyday driving and is especially useful on wet surfaces, snow, or gravel.

Regardless of which system you have, you can change 4X4 modes using the switch on your center console to the right of your steering wheel.

Let’s talk about how to shift between modes, and what you’ll see in each of them. With either 4×4 system you can shift between 2H, 4H, or 4A at a stand still, or at any speed. When you do you may see a 4X4 Shift in Progress, in your message center. If you’ve shifted into 4H you’ll see 4×4 High illuminated in your cluster. If you’ve shifted into 4A you’ll see 4×4 Auto illuminated. And if you’ve shifted into 2H, 4×2 will be temporarily illuminated.

And remember when shifting to and from 4L mode, slow down to three miles an hour or less and shift in to neutral. You’ll get a Shift in Progress message when you do.

If at any time you see a “Shift Delayed – Pull Forward” message during your shift, it means that there’s a block in your 4×4 system. If this happens, shift in to a forward gear like Drive, move your vehicle forward a few feet to alleviate the block, then put your vehicle into Neutral.

On occasion you may also hear noises when you shift into one of the 4X4 modes. And while these noises do not mean you’re doing damage to your vehicle, you can get a smoother shift between modes by easing off the gas pedal while the shift in progress message is displayed in the instrument cluster.


Electronic Locking Rear Differential

Keep in mind, your vehicle may have something called electronic locking rear differential. It locks the rear differential, forcing both rear wheels to spin at the same speed for improved traction. And it’s designed to use in off road situations. Like when you’re going to be driving in mud, snow, or rocks for an extended period of time.

To use electronic locking rear differential, just select the mode you want to be in, then pull the knob out or rotate on four by two systems to set it. An icon will appear in your cluster letting you know that your rear differential is locked. You’ll need to be driving below 20 miles an hour for the system to engage unless you’re in 4L mode. And once you exceed 25 miles an hour, the system will automatically disengage.

Contact the author: tomasharper@wheelsjoint.com


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