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4WD Mythbusters

Jun 4, 2020 | Stories

Photo by: Andrew St Pierre White
Having scored an interview with Andrew St Pierre White of 4xoverland fame, we knew what we had to do — sort the 4WD fact from fiction for you!

Myth: Rear diff lock is as good as four-wheel drive…
Andrew says: Not even on the same page!

The difference between four-wheel drive and just a locking differential is all the difference in the world. In some situations, you won’t be able to get through without low-range gearing. Let me put it to you this way…

Imagine you’re driving along a narrow bush track and it’s starting to get a bit slippery, or it’s starting to get a bit sandy, or a bit steep. If you’re in a four-wheel drive vehicle, you’re kind of excited that it might get a little bit more difficult and, when it does, the heart races and the adrenaline starts pumping. You have to focus and you have to think and it’s exciting and rewarding.

Now imagine you’re in a two-wheel drive vehicle, or a vehicle without low-range and exactly the same thing happens. Now it’s not excitement you’re feeling, it’s not adrenaline — it’s fear. ‘Oh bugger, how am I going to get through this? What if I get stuck, or if I don’t have the clearance and hit something and break it?’

The difference is excitement and fear.

Myth: All-wheel drives are basically four-wheel drives.
Andrew says: The difference is vast.

An all-wheel drive can drive all four wheels, that’s what an all-wheel drive is. It has the capacity to drive all four wheels. But a four-wheel drive will drive all four wheels. It will, when you need it to. That’s the difference.

Yes, all-wheel drives are a bit better than two-wheel drives but give me a two-wheel drive with a rear-locking differential and an all-wheel drive and in some situations it will be better. Why? Because I have control over it. I can tell it when to lock and when not to.

Myth: You need loads of kit to go off-roading
Andrew says: You don’t need as much kit as you think you do.

If you want to go off-roading and experience real wilderness, you need a four-wheel drive vehicle and it has to have good clearance. You don’t have to have huge tyres and great big lifts — you can go that route but it’s not what you need. But you do need the clearance and you need that low-ratio gearing and four-wheel drive capacity so you can control the vehicle at extremely slow speeds with very high traction. That’s what low-range does.

And if the ground gets slippery, soft, lumpy, steep — you can control it because the speeds are low and the traction is high. You can’t do that in a vehicle without low-transfer gearing.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finance One.

Article by: Kylie Davis

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