2WD with auto locking differential?

kudzu

Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 20, 2014
676
Knee deep in kudzu
Have started the search for my next TV. My Chevy Express is AWD. We don’t do real off-roading. We have had enough experience with snow & rough dirt roads to be glad for the added traction of AWD. The newer Transit vans offer an automatic, on-demand AWD system that seems much more complex than my current van. In my mind that means more likelihood of problems & more expense. Thus I am not enthusiastic over that.

Am looking at maybe a 2WD van or truck but I’ve had FWD or AWD for so long that I’m wary of returning to RWD. Am thinking of going with 2WD and auto locking differential. Does anyone have experience or knowledge they would like to share in that type of system?
 

xxxapache

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
4,574
I have an electronic locking rear end in one of my trucks. It works great if I get in a spot where one wheel spins. I often use it instead of putting the truck in 4WD.
 

Raycfe

Waterford Ct.
Oct 3, 2007
18,494
Waterford, Ct
I never got stuck with a standard shift 2 wd ranger pickup. If I ever bought a new truck I would go for two wheel drive. Less money, less repairs, easy to get into
 

NMroamer

Super Active Member
Apr 21, 2016
1,092
Albuquerque NM
I have had a couple of trucks with limited slip diffs. I think that is what you mean. They work great except on ice and where you are at a slight tilt left or right. You will end up in the ditch. Are prone to sliding sideways. A part-time four-wheel drive would work better.
Was in the mountains a couple of weeks ago with about six inches of melting snow on the roads. In four-wheel drive a little sideways slide was no problem with a little gas and the front wheels to pull me out.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,578
Nj
Hard question. When towing I only used 4 wd once. When in a torrential downpour over a bridge and people were spinning off everywhere. My camper hydroplained. Other then that, I have never needed it towing. Driving, I need 4 wd or all wd. Front wheel drive is ok, but rear wheel drive in snow and such is bad. I have to drive in bad weather. If you dont maybe its an option. For me it isnt.
 

xxxapache

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
4,574
I have a two wheel drive pickup. I only have it because it's been in the family 45 years. It's always been a fair weather pavement princess. We have towed a lot of campers with it, but are careful. The slightest moisture on a grassy incline and you are spinning. There's now way I would buy another 2WD pickup. My everyday truck is 4WD. I couldn't imagine life without it.
 

LilRed

Super Active Member
Jan 9, 2021
1,240
Long Island NY
Had an old 90’s s10 Blazer with an Eaton locker on the rear differential, and 4x4 on the floor. Did great in snow even without engaging the 4x4. If one wheel slipped, the locker would bite and engage both wheels. While torque was on, it would stay locked up until I let off the gas, then go back to standard rear differential.

My Durango is some sort that electronic awd and miss the grip of a forced 4x4, but admittedly have zero issues with slipping or steering spin/pull in snow, and I don’t have to think to shift anything.
 

kudzu

Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 20, 2014
676
Knee deep in kudzu
Thanks, all, for the input. Y'all are reminding me why I wanted an AWD van instead of just RWD. That is a decision I've not regretted one bit.

I have had a couple of trucks with limited slip diffs. I think that is what you mean.
Except they offer that with electronic (Ford) or automatic (Chevy) locking rear. Meaning when in use it is full locking, not just the limited slip. Nonetheless, it is still RWD, not AWD or 4WD.

They work great except on ice and where you are at a slight tilt left or right. You will end up in the ditch. Are prone to sliding sideways. A part-time four-wheel drive would work better.
Was in the mountains a couple of weeks ago with about six inches of melting snow on the roads. In four-wheel drive a little sideways slide was no problem with a little gas and the front wheels to pull me out.
Yeah, that is what makes me hesitant. With FWD and AWD I've done well in wet, snow, and managed to make it home safe in ice. (I really try to avoid ice.) Have ended up in some spots towing the trailers where I was very glad for the AWD. Getting a RWD vehicle stuck is less likely with the electronic locking rear. However, sliding on slick roads is more dangerous and I encounter that a lot more often.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,915
Southern California
I had a 2007 Ford Ranger with 2WD. Then one day I got it stuck in loose desert sand. I was able to get it out okay within a couple of minutes. But it scared me. So I ordered and installed a limited-slip differential for it. I had the Ford garage install it on a Wednesday. The truck was then stolen on the following Saturday and totaled while trying to outrun a police car. I never even had the chance to use it. Fortunately, my insurance helped to buy another Ford Ranger for me. This time it was a 2010 model with 4wd and a bigger engine. I was so thankful I had it when I went camping two years ago with my son in the high Sierra mountains. We go caught in a snow storm. Before we could get out, there was a foot of snow on the ground. My Ranger had no trouble pulling my pup out of a boondocking campsite through a foot of snow. And it was slightly uphill most of the way. I doubt that my 2007 Ranger with the Limited-slip could have done that. Driving in snow does not worry me any longer.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,983
Northern Virginia
I have a part time 4wd on my 03 4runner. So was able to switch it to 4wd only when I need it. Unfortunately a problem I discovered Is if you don't use 4wd enough it eventually may fail to engage when you do need it and your vehicle could permanently be stuck in h2. Sadly that is my problem now. Thankfully only really needed it a few times since ownership. Too costly to replace for something only needed on occasion so a bummer but it has weight on its side so even on ugly weather days I've been able to get around with little issue so long as I am careful and not do stupid things.
 

kcsa75

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Sep 9, 2013
6,013
Kansas City
I rarely use my 4wd. But it’s sure nice when you need it. Last time was at sewer rally after a weekend of tropical rain parked in the grass feild . Pulled right out Not like some. I do occasional transfer into 4 just to make sure it working

This was me when I had my Explorer. While I would sometime engage 4-hi on snowy days for more sure steering (in my mind anyway), I think I used 4-lo twice. That was to get out of my driveway after a snowplow created a two-foot pile.


My F-150 is not four wheel drive and I've never had a problem.
 

Arruba

Super Active Member
Nov 28, 2014
898
Central Oregon
Yep, Yotas call for monthly 4WD use, I take mine to a field below the house bout every 6 weeks
Fords and I’d guess Chevrolet products too. My Ranger, and my Explorer of the past has electric shift 4WD. If not periodically engaged, the actuators get gummy and won’t shift properly. While I never have had that happen, we had a couple different Explorer’s in the fleet at work that did.

As for the 2WD rear locker, or locker like idea, it’s not unheard of in the emergency services community. IIFC, CDF, now known as Calfire used to build about, if not all their 2WD heavy wildland and interface engines with locking rear ends. Between that and the Allison automatic transmissions of era, they did rather well in the brush.

Good luck with your decision.
 

xxxapache

Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2008
4,574
Nothing beats manual hubs and a shift lever in the floor for simplicity. Only one of my three 4WDs is set up that way. Sometimes when I am towing heavy loads in stop and go traffic,I'll have the hubs unlocked and shift to 4L. The truck won't go more than 35 mph in high gear, but it is great pulling out on hills from a stop.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,426
I've never needed 4WD towing. Never needed locking rear diff, towing either.

I tow with a heavy-a$$ 1995 Bronco XLT 5.8L V8. It has 4WD, and I use that a lot in snow and in moderate off-road conditions while camping (but not towing). But I've never been in a situation where I've been tempted to drop it into 4wd while towing the popup.

HOWEVER, if I were pulling a boat out of the water with the Bronco, it would be totally different. For that application, on a slippery boat ramp, 4WD is fantastic.
 

NMroamer

Super Active Member
Apr 21, 2016
1,092
Albuquerque NM
I've never needed 4WD towing. Never needed locking rear diff, towing either.

I tow with a heavy-a$$ 1995 Bronco XLT 5.8L V8. It has 4WD, and I use that a lot in snow and in moderate off-road conditions while camping (but not towing). But I've never been in a situation where I've been tempted to drop it into 4wd while towing the popup.

HOWEVER, if I were pulling a boat out of the water with the Bronco, it would be totally different. For that application, on a slippery boat ramp, 4WD is fantastic.
You have a more capable tow vehicle than most anything I have seen in the woods lately.
Campers are wanting to tow with little four cylinder SUVs. For them AWD and four wheel drive is a must if it gets heavy dew on the grass.
 




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