A Beginner’s Guide to 4WD Parts: Understanding the Basics

4WD Car

4WD Car

The four-wheel-drive system is activated when the engine torque is distributed evenly to all wheels. This works through a central differential that controls power distribution to all four wheels via driveshafts at the front and back. Continue reading for more information about 4WD.

What Does 4WD Mean?

Four-wheel drive (4WD) is a drivetrain configuration in which all four wheels receive torque from the engine. Automobiles often include this setup since it is useful for towing and other work-related tasks. There are often two 4WD settings available: 4WD Low for easier towing, and 4WD High, for better wheel balancing on rougher terrain.

The 4WD seals might dry up if the system is not used often. Maintaining the system lubricated by activating it no less than once every several months is essential. Other issues with your drivetrain components may also arise, so it’s better to secure the best 4wd parts Australia has to offer to maintain peak 4WD condition.

Components of 4WD System

Now that you’ve got your dream car, you can finally go on those spontaneous road trips and weekend vacations you’ve always wanted to do. Learn about the 4WD components in the following.


Differentials do what they sound like they do: they generate a difference in the amount of force applied to each wheel in a set. A gear train changes the force applied to each wheel to achieve variable rotational speeds for two wheels on the same axis.

To facilitate a load-free turn, the differential allows the outer wheels to spin faster than the inner wheel. The ability to turn is improved by separate differentials attached to the front and back axles, each of which drives a separate set of wheels.

In low traction circumstances, a simple differential might be undesirable since it directs power down the route of least resistance. The solution is adjustable differentials designed to stop the power from going to the wheels that aren’t locked.

Locking Hubs

A car’s wheels are attached to hubs by bolts. Locking hubs are standard equipment for the front wheels of most part-time 4WD vehicles. As a result, the differential, half-shafts, and driveshafts may completely stop while the vehicle is in two-wheel drive, reducing mechanical wear and maximizing fuel efficiency.

In the past, manual locking hubs were widely utilized. To activate four-wheel drive, the driver must get out of the vehicle and crank a knob on the wheel in front until the hubs lock. The hubs automatically lock when a modern system is put into a four-wheel drive.

You can activate such a system even while the car is in motion. The front half-shafts are secured to the hub through a sliding collar in manual and automated systems.

Drive Axles and Driveshaft

A driveshaft is an elongated rod that runs from the motor to the gearboxes. It is built to permit relative motion between the wheels and the engine to prevent the loss of power owing to misalignment. The wheels are connected to the differentials by a driving axle, designed to enable the wheels to move by the terrain.

A drive axle is a double-ended axle with differential and universal joints in between. It plays a significant role in the propulsion of a vehicle. Some parts of a drive axle might be used in other drivetrains since the vehicle’s motion depends on the coordinated effort of nearly every part of the drivetrain.

Transfer Case

The engine is mounted longitudinally, thus it can only drive the back wheels. So the transfer case uses a chain-driven setup to transmit power to the front wheels. Now the wheels get power from the transfer case through a drive shaft connected to the front differential.

Low-traction conditions, when the tires might easily slide, are the only ones where a system like this would be appropriate. If you’re driving on dry concrete and want to minimize abrupt turns and excessive wear on the tires and powertrain, you should disconnect the four-wheel drive.

Learn More About 4WD Parts

Four-wheel drive is superior in terms of traction and power. The additional power provided by 4WD is essential when driving up a steep hill or venturing off-road. Though familiarity with 4WD systems is useful, drivers should also be aware that using 4WD only when necessary can help them save money and gas.