Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) and All-Wheel Drive (AWD) Maintenance

Vehicles equipped with 4WD or AWD systems:

  • Crossovers
  • Electric vehicles
  • Luxury cars
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Performance cars
  • SUVs
  • Trucks

If you own a 4WD or AWD vehicle, you might be the kind of person who spends more time driving on rough terrain. You may like hiking, skiing, mudding, or just happen to live in a harsh climate.

Luckily, you have a car that can handle it, but it’s worth noting that you likely need a transmission service done earlier than your less adventurous counterparts.

Even though the generally suggested interval is 30,000 miles between services, a car used heavily in rough terrain might require service every 15,000 miles. Rough terrain is considered:

  • Uneven roads, like rocky paths or steep inclines
  • Limited traction areas like sand, mud, snow, and ice
  • Varying landscapes, like forests, mountains, and deserts

Components to maintain

All-wheel drive vehicles have a transfer box (or bevel box). The transfer box functions automatically, as AWD operates continuously.

In 4WD vehicles, it’s called the transfer case. The transfer case transfers power between the front and rear axles. It manually switches between two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive automatic, and four-wheel drive high or low.

To maintain optimal performance, the transfer box/case fluid requires servicing alongside the transmission or separately.

Regardless of the type of drive system, all vehicles have a differential, enabling wheels to rotate at varying speeds while covering different distances or terrains. This capability is crucial for smooth turns, where the outer wheel must rotate faster to cover a greater distance at the same speed.

In all-wheel drive vehicles, the front differential is integrated within the transmission; this integration allows power to be distributed between the front wheels as needed since AWD is automatic.

Four-wheel drive vehicles can have a front differential that is separated OR integrated. It depends on the make and model of the vehicle. Your differential might be serviced alongside your transmission, or it might be serviced separately. You can ask your automotive specialist which is true for your vehicle.

The differentials also rely on fluid to run properly, so it’s important to know whether your differential is included when your transmission receives servicing.

The importance of fluid quality

Within the transfer case, differentials, and transmission, numerous gears, bearings, and shafts work harmoniously to withstand the extreme heat and pressure it takes to drive smoothly.

Having the best quality fluid makes all the difference in keeping these components in prime condition for peak performance. The proper fluid offers:

  • Precise lubrication for all the parts to work together
  • Dissolves accumulated debris that builds up and causes damage
  • Heat dissipation capabilities
  • Stability in rough terrain
Syncro Shift II and Ultra-Guard hero

Getting your transmission and driveline serviced is essential for longevity and reliability. And, don’t forget – if you drive in rough terrain often, you might need a service sooner than you think.

When to get a service

Avoid breaking down on the side of the road in an unfamiliar environment and paying expensive repair fees. Before your next adventure, consider a transmission/driveline service.

It’s always best to be safe and take the necessary preventive measures to keep your transmission and driveline in the best possible condition. Use our shop locator tool to find a BG Shop location.

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