4 Wheel Drive Locks Up When Turning – 2 Ways To Solve This Problem

What should I do if my 4 wheel drive locks up when turning? Why does it happen, and what could be the possible solutions? In this article, we explore this problem in more detail.

Almost all modern vehicles allow you to effortlessly switch between 2WD and 4WD modes, provided that the speed of your car is at a reasonable level. You can safely drive on muddy and snowy tracks or other low traction surfaces in a 4WD mode. 

When you drive in a 4WD mode, it won’t cause drivetrain damage. However, did you forget to switch your vehicle from 4H mode before moving on a tarmac surface? 

Did you travel in a 4WD mode for a certain period and now feel the transmission wind-up in your vehicle? In this article, you will learn about how to tackle the transmission wind-up.

4 Wheel Drive Locks Up When Turning

Why Does Your 4 Wheel Drive Lock Up When Turning?

Do you ever wonder why whenever the four-wheel-drive system turns up, you feel jerks while turning? This happens due to the rotational force which acts on the front wheels. 

Due to this effect, the vehicle gears get jammed. The steering doesn’t move smoothly and turns jerky and stiff. This rotational force originates from the front driveshaft. 

This results in a considerable amount of understeering reaction. All you need to do is try to avoid a four-wheel drive whenever you are driving on a high traction surface for an extended period. 

4WD mode is entirely suitable for low traction surfaces, and it won’t damage your drivetrain. If you drive in a four-wheel-drive mode for a longer duration of time, then it may damage the drive train components. Thus, it will become difficult for you to get out of a 4WD or 4H mode and turn back to a 2WD model. 

You might also like to read: 4 Wheel Drive Jerks When Turning – What to Do?

How Can You Adjust The Transmission Wind Up?

As you all know, you will suffer from a transmission wind-up if you keep on driving in 4WD mode on the high traction surfaces. You will feel that your car has jammed or stuck in. This phenomenon is called transmission wind-up. 

You won’t be able to use the gear or change it because of the forces generated inside the gearbox. Due to these forces inside the gearbox, the transmission components are stuck. You won’t be able to turn the gear. Also, how do you reverse the transmission wind-up? 

4 Wheel Drive Locks Up When Turning

#1. Let two wheels be on a low traction surface

The best way to overcome the transmission wind-up is to move towards the roadside with two wheels on the surface like sand, mud, or any other smooth surface and two wheels on the asphalt surface. 

Due to this, your wheels on either sides will move at different paces. This will help you release the wind-up transmission which is built. Once you get rid of the wind-up, you can easily use the gearbox the way you want. 

#2. Reversing the car

One other way to overcome wind-up transmission is by moving your vehicle in the same direction in which you were driving. 

For instance, if you were heading in the right direction, take a reverse back in the same direction. This will automatically reduce the transmission buildup in the vehicle itself within a certain period.

You might also like to read: Why Is My 4 Wheel Drive Light Flashing: 7 Reasons

What Are Part-Time 4-Wheel Drive Systems?

In 4WD systems, the differentials are connected to the rear and front axle. The power is transferred from the engine to the transmission by the rear propeller drive shaft and reaches the rear differential. The lowest part of your car, also known as the pumpkin, is present under your vehicle.

After that, half of them are distributed between the vehicle’s rear wheels and the rear axle shaft. The wheel axles are interconnected with the multiple side gear. If the car moves aligned in a forward direction, the side gears are known to move at a certain rotational speed. 

Between pinions and differential side gears, the relative motion is not present. Both rotate simultaneously with the ring gear, but the wheels of the vehicle are not moving at a different pace when turning; this is due to the presence of gears inside the differential. 

When you turn at four-wheel drive, both the axles get connected with the help of transfer case transmitting. It is transferred to both the rare and front axle assemblies. Half identical torque is divided into the rear driveshaft, and half is divided into front driveshafts. 

When the vehicle moves, the outer wheels of the front pair are known to create a broader turning circumference compared to the inner rear wheels. Due to this, there is a vast difference in the front and rare phases of the drive shafts. It leads to a difference in the rotational speed in the rare and front wheels. 

Thus, the difference in pace of both the inner and outer wheels results in moving the axles at a different speed. You can notice this difference due to the inflation pressure changes in the vehicle.

You might also like to read: Why Wont My 4 Wheel Drive Engage?

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. What causes drivetrain binding? 

The differences in rotation between the front and rear driveshaft, which occur due to the center differential of the transfer box, result in the drivetrain binding. 

Both pairs of wheels travel at different speeds. They move ahead with a similar torque. Due to this, the front wheels and their driveshafts are locked. Thus, drivetrain binding occurs due to torsional stress. 

4 Wheel Drive Locks Up When Turning

#2. Why does the steering wheel lock?

The most common reason the Steering wheel gets locked while driving is the sharp turns. A car ignition lock problem or a problem in the vehicle’s power steering system. These are some of the most common reasons the steering wheel locks. 

#3. Why do the front wheels lock up when turning?

The steering wheel locks up when you are driving your car due to the most common reasons, like the dirt collected in the power steering fluid or less power steering fluid present in the vehicle.

You might also like to read: How Fast Can I Drive In 4 Wheel Drive?

A Few Final Words

To overcome transmission wind-up, it is essential to understand some methods, like moving the vehicle in a reverse direction in the same way you were driving it or moving one pair of wheels on the low traction surfaces and another one on the asphalt. 

In this article, we have explained why drivetrain binding occurs and why the steering wheel gets locked. Thank you for reading the article, we hope this has helped solve your problems. If you still have doubts or questions, you can write to us in the comments section and we will get back to you.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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