In Summary
  • If your vehicle has this kind of system, then you are good to go even when the weather makes a turn to the worst.

Last week, I received an email from a reader who wondered when to engage the four-wheel drive gear.
“When do I engage the four-wheel gear that is fitted just around the main gear lever in my automatic Mitsubishi Pajero (io)?” he asked.
You could have noticed that lately, most Sport Utility Vehicles are fitted with a four-wheel gear system in addition to the normal automatic gear lever.
My first car was a Suzuki Escudo (1996). It was a lightweight four-wheel car and when I got into situations where I needed more power and traction, I would engage it.
It is a rarely used feature but once engaged rightly, it gives your car rare power to swerve out of even the messiest places.
Four-wheel drives are an important aspect, especially in a country where roads are mostly murram (dirt) with relatively unpredictable weather pattern.
When engaged, the gear helps the tyres to gain a firm grip of the road surface in areas that have low traction.
The gear is mostly required in conditions where the car slides off a slippery surface or fails to get decent traction such as driving up a steep hill or driving on a rough uneven surface.
The four-wheel system is offered in many configurations such as part time, full time, manual shift or fully automatic.
Each system, however, has different ways through which it is engaged or disengaged.

For instance, cars with full-time four-wheel drive do not require any input from the driver because it is engaged automatically when the vehicle senses conditions where it is required.
Therefore, if your vehicle has this kind of system, then you are good to go even when the weather makes a turn to the worst.
Engaging the four-wheel drive, however, results into more fuel consumption since the car requires more energy to pull out of any mess.
To this end, experts advise that the four-wheel drive should be used only when appropriate and necessary.
dbukenya@ug.nationmedia.com