Drivetrain Windup

Part time 4WD vs Full time 4WD.

Drivetrain windup occurs when the front and rear axles of a 4WD vehicle rotate at different speeds. It's the reason why Part-time 4WD vehicles should not be driven on dry pavement; because there’s little or no slip. The front tires on these vehicles rotate faster than the rest of the drivetrain. They bind up because so many part-time 4WD transfer cases do not contain a center differential that compensates for different axle speeds like all-wheel drive and modern automatic 4WD vehicles do. Driving on non-slip surfaces puts excessive stress on the rest of the drivetrain resulting in damage to the differential, axle and transfer case.

Hard steering and an unmanageable ride will occur as gears, bearings, and internal components are being forced together beyond specifications. This often results in a costly repair that could have been avoided be keeping the vehicle in 2WD on dry pavement and using 4WD for off road use or surfaces where there’s enough slippage. It may get stuck in 4WD. On some vehicles backing or jacking up one tire will ‘unwind’ the drivetrain enough to get it back into 2WD. Be careful though, the tire may spin with great force as the drive train unwinds.