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All time 4wd vs. locked differential 2wd?

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Old 02-17-2013, 03:16 PM   #1
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All time 4wd vs. locked differential 2wd?

Why would you use the rear wheel drive locked differential (middle switch position)? From my understanding the 4wd locks the rear differential but engages the front wheels if traction is lost. The rear wheel locked differential mode just locks the 2 rear wheels and won't engage the front. Why would anyone use the rear locking diff vs. the 4wd option. I can't think of a scenario where the just locking the rear would be better than the 4wd option. If I'm missing something here please let me know. Also, is there a light or display showing when just in rear 2wd. My control panel shows when I am in turf mode and when I am in 4wd mode but not when just in locked rear diff mode. The switch also lights up in turf and 4wd mode but not in 2wd locked diff mode? I'm new at this so pardon my ignorance if I am missing the boat on something. Thanks guys!
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:00 PM   #2
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In a lot of cases you really don't need 4WD but the turf mode doesn't give enough traction so locking the rear differential giving true 2WD mode will get you through some pretty nasty conditions without really needing 4WD.

I had a 2011 Yamaha Rhino 700 4x4, and found that I hardly ever used 4WD, the locked rear differential got me into most of the places I ever went, only time I ever used 4WD was when I had the rhino overloaded with 2 other passengers and hunting gear during a hunting trip a couple years ago where I was severely overloaded, and between the large rocks being overloaded, and all of the mud, I didn't want to chance spinning out going up some of the hills where if I would have spun out it would have been a pretty dangerous time to get going after engaging 4WD.

The 4WD system in the Ranger's from what I understand doesn't really work until the rear wheels spin like 1/8 of a revolution faster than the front wheels then the 4WD engages. So really unless you truly need 4WD I'd just use the locked rear differential option for most work where more traction is needed than what the turf mode provides, I'd only engage 4WD when I know I absolutely need it. Then again I grew up and learned how to drive in a 2WD truck so I didn't have the luxury of engaging 4WD if I needed, so my experiences using 2WD mode are quite good. People over-exaggerate needed 4WD often times.
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:15 PM   #3
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Thanks Bill. I usually just use turf mode too unless I think I need more. I guess what I was really asking was if the 4wd only kicks in when needed and runs with just the 2 rear wheels locked why wouldn't you just leave it in 4wd mode instead of just locking the rear? Seems like a wasted mode to me if the 4wd mode does the same as locking the rear and kicks in if needed.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:02 PM   #4
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I'm really not sure on the 4WD system, just leaving it engaged constantly, I don't really think it would hurt anything except your lawn if it engaged because you forgot to turn it off LOL. Other than that I would think it would operate like an all wheel drive car only sending power to the front axle when needed, so I don't see where it would harm anything except in 2WD and 4WD your turning radius is a lot larger due to the rear axle being locked, compared to turf mode where only 1 wheel is powered giving a tighter turning radius. Not sure how the 4WD being engaged constantly would change the turning radius any different than being just in locked 2WD mode. Play around with it on your machine and see which is better for you is all I can really say, I don't have the luxury of owning a Ranger yet so I can't test it myself dang it LOL.
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:02 PM   #5
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Coming back from a ride the other day, I entered a low area that is always flooded and mucky as the dickins. I always use 4wd when crossing this area to keep from getting stuck. I crossed this sloppy area without any problem as usual. When I went to put the Ranger back in 2wd I noticed that it was aready in 2wd. I had not pushed the button completely into 4wd but had just put it into locked 2wd. I would never have crossed this area in 2wd on purpose. Learned a little lesson here on the Ranger capability. My grandfather always said to run in 2wd till you need 4wd. Four wheel drive will get you out of what 2wd got you into but will not get you out of what 4wd got you into.
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Old 02-17-2013, 09:09 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bluemoon View Post
Coming back from a ride the other day, I entered a low area that is always flooded and mucky as the dickins. I always use 4wd when crossing this area to keep from getting stuck. I crossed this sloppy area without any problem as usual. When I went to put the Ranger back in 2wd I noticed that it was aready in 2wd. I had not pushed the button completely into 4wd but had just put it into locked 2wd. I would never have crossed this area in 2wd on purpose. Learned a little lesson here on the Ranger capability. My grandfather always said to run in 2wd till you need 4wd. Four wheel drive will get you out of what 2wd got you into but will not get you out of what 4wd got you into.
I learned to drive with a 2WD truck, I took that truck places where 4WD's were going without any problems. I own 4WD trucks now, but still find myself in 2WD more often than 4WD because I didn't have that luxury for so long I just learned to drive a 2WD very well.

I've had 2 ATV's one was a Yamaha Grizzly 450 the other one was a Yamaha Rhino, both rarely seen 4WD use either, but when they were in 4WD they were in some pretty nasty conditions where I probably shouldn't have been in the first place, but I was surprised what the ATV's can really do in just 2WD. I've never owned a Polaris Ranger (hope to one day) but I've heard they actually do pretty well in turf mode as well.
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:31 AM   #7
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As the vehicle turns, the front and rear axles follow a different arc. When this occurs, the only place to compensate for this binding is between the contact patch of the tires and the ground. Even if the vehicle is driven in a straight line, there are slight differences in tire circumference (due to load, tire pressure, wear, build variances...) that will cause some driveline binding. If a vehicle had the exact same size tires and was driven in a perfectly straight line, the fact that more parts are moving would mean that there would be more noise and possibly some feel of the system operating.

Use of 4WD is intended for use on a low traction surface such as snow, mud or sand. On a low traction surface, the differences in front and rear axle speeds will not have as much effect on binding because of the lower traction levels between the surface and the contact patch of the tires. On a high traction surface, the higher traction levels will create more binding and noise in the driveline. This might make the ATV/UTV harder to steer, turn and lead to premature wear of components.

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Old 02-18-2013, 09:44 AM   #8
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As the vehicle turns, the front and rear axles follow a different arc. When this occurs, the only place to compensate for this binding is between the contact patch of the tires and the ground. Even if the vehicle is driven in a straight line, there are slight differences in tire circumference (due to load, tire pressure, wear, build variances...) that will cause some driveline binding. If a vehicle had the exact same size tires and was driven in a perfectly straight line, the fact that more parts are moving would mean that there would be more noise and possibly some feel of the system operating.

Use of 4WD is intended for use on a low traction surface such as snow, mud or sand. On a low traction surface, the differences in front and rear axle speeds will not have as much effect on binding because of the lower traction levels between the surface and the contact patch of the tires. On a high traction surface, the higher traction levels will create more binding and noise in the driveline. This might make the ATV/UTV harder to steer, turn and lead to premature wear of components.

That's all correct however the AWD system in the Rangers is a completely different setup, so its not truly 4WD all the time when the switch is flipped, it only engages when traction is lost, then disengages when the wheel slippage isn't evident anymore.

I don't think with this machine it would make any difference if you just left it in AWD mode all the time, the system would automatically engage and disengage whenever it was needed.
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:01 PM   #9
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AWD mode might be less effecient then both 2x4 and turf mode though.
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:19 PM   #10
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Ive read that backing up in all wheel drive with the steering cranked to full stop has broken alot of cv joints/axles. I wouldnt think its too easy on them in forward gears either. Guys have put on steering stops on for that reason. Alls you need is a little slip and its gonna engage. Thats enough for me not to run AWD unless im in a situation I know Ill need it.
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