How Fast Can You Drive in 4 Wheel High [+Pros and Cons]

Four-wheel drive is an essential option for driving in off-road and rough conditions. 4WD high and 4WD low are two modes of 4×4 driving systems used in different terrains.

But the common question of many 4×4 users is: How fast can you drive in 4 wheel high? It is a good question, as different terrains require different approaches for safe driving.

Also, you may be wondering about the differences between 4-wheel high and low. There is no actual speed limit while driving in a 4WD high, but the safe speed limit is 15 to 55 mph.

4WD high is good for roads where you need better traction and can drive over 15 miles per hour. You should use 4WD low in rough terrain where you can’t drive over 10 mph.

In this article, I have talked about 4 wheels high and low, what 4 wheels high are used for, how fast you can drive in 4 high, the pros and cons of it, and answered a few common questions.

What is 4 Wheel High and Low?

what is 4 wheel high and low

4WD high refers to the high-range gear engagement of the 4×4 system. 4-wheel high is the mode where your vehicle sends the full engine torque into the front and rear axles. Every tire receives the full power divided between them.

It makes the vehicle provide better traction and grip on rough terrain. It is ideal when you drive on slippery roads, snowy conditions, muddy roads, sand tracks, wet surfaces, rocky roads, etc.

On the other hand, 4WD low refers to low-range gear engagement. You will have a lower gearbox ratio with the transfer case when it is engaged. Wheels get more power and are ready to rev at full power to avoid stalling in this mode.

It is now a common feature in most of the 4×4 vehicles and engages automatically. 4WD low is necessary for more challenging terrains that need extreme traction.

It is ideal for deep beach sand, thick mud, crawling on rocks, deep river crossings, etc. These situations won’t allow driving over 10 mph, and 4WD low mode becomes necessary.

What is 4 Wheel High Used for?

what is 4 wheel high used for

4-wheel-high is used for rough terrain where the vehicle needs more traction.

It is ideal for situations where you can’t drive over 55 mph, such as muddy roads, snowy roads, terrain with big holes, slippery roads, etc.

Your vehicle’s full engine power is distributed among the four wheels in 4-wheel high mode.

However, using 4WD is not a good decision for all situations. 2WD is necessary for general driving environments.

You can use 4 wheels high in the following situations:

  • Slippery roads
  • Snowy tracks
  • Uneven terrains
  • Sandy terrains
  • Roads with holes
  • Muddy roads
  • Watery and wet surfaces

How Fast Can I Drive in 4 High?

You can drive as fast as your vehicle goes in 4-wheel-high mode, but it is unsafe. In 4-wheel high, you will have better traction but a higher reaction time and lower brakes.

To safely drive in the abovementioned situations, you should not drive past 55 mph in a 4-wheel-high vehicle. The safe speed limit is 10 to 15 mph minimum and 40 to 55 mph maximum for 4-wheel-high.

If you exceed the speed limit, you may lose control of the vehicle and get into an accident. 4WD puts a lot of pressure on your vehicle, and forcing it to exceed the limit may damage vehicle components.

The transmission, transfer case, and axles are directly related to the 4-wheel drive system. Damaging these components will lead to higher maintenance costs and safety issues.

Pros and Cons of 4 Wheel Drive

pros and cons of 4 wheel drive

Using the 4-wheel drive high has some pros and cons. Let’s discuss them now:

Pros of 4WD high: The main advantage of 4WD high is better traction. It is an important feature for offroading. Other pros of the 4WD high include better handling, control, etc.

Cons of 4WD low:  The 4-wheel High comes with some disadvantages, too. It affects reaction times and brakes. You may also face higher cornering times and less control over the vehicle.

Can You Drive in 4WD High All the Time?

It is not recommended to use a 4-wheel high all the time. You can use it constantly, but it may harm your vehicle and safety.

In 4-wheel high mode, the vehicle wheels provide better traction and control. In general, driving in 4H on even roads is unnecessary.

Also, driving your vehicle in 4×4 high mode puts a lot of pressure on your vehicle. So, you may damage your vehicle’s components by using them all the time.

There is also a speed limit of 15–55 mph for 4-wheel high mode. You should use that mode for rough terrain only.


Can I switch to 4H while driving?

You can switch to 4H while driving but don’t do it while accelerating. Some vehicles need a neutral or parking mode to switch between gears. It is recommended to switch gears to neutral. You may hear some noise and feel vibrations during shifting.

Can you use 4H on highway?

4H is not necessary for highways. You should use it for rough and messy terrain. 4H puts much pressure on the drivetrain, and highways have even tracks. So, don’t use 4H on highways.

Does 4H use more fuel?

4H refers to a 4-wheel driving mode with a higher gear ratio. It uses more fuel than the 2WD system, as the engine power is distributed among all four wheels. Most vehicles automatically switch between 2WD and 4WD to save fuel.

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