changing to four wheel drive



I've had my G-reg sportrak for a few months but necver had to use four wheel drive.
We are expecting snow very shortly and as I do a lot of moorland driving I went to change to four wheel drive. I had been told to turn the thing on the front wheels to free and then use the gear lever to change to 4x4.
There are two settings on the front wheels, free and lock, so I have to turn it to free to change it and then change it back to lock to lock it into 4x4??
Then if changing back to 2 wheel drive do I have to do the same again or do I leave the wheels in free when in 4x4???


P.s. Yes I'm a woman and don't understand these things.

The things in the centre of

The things in the centre of the front wheels are called Free Wheeling Hubs (FWH). They disconect the front drive chain from the front wheels. This gives you slightly better fule consumption and performance.
To use 4wd the FWHs need to be set to the 'lock' posision. You can quit happily leave them in lock all the time. As I said you will suffer a slight decrease in performance and fuel ecconimy, but it will do no harm to the car. if you are going out and expecting bad conditions I would always leave the FWHs in the lock position, as this alowes you to select 4x4 with the transfer lever (little gear stick) without getting out of the cab into whatever it is you are stuck in.
It is possible to go from 2wd to 4wd and back whilst the car is moving if you are VERY gentle with the selecter, but it is always better to do any selecting with the transfer box whilst the car is stationary.
When you put the car back into 2wd it may be necesary to revers the car up, or bounce it over a cerb, befor the 4wd disengages. This is becouse the transmition 'winds up' when in 4wd. This means the front and back axles are trying to run at slightly diffrent speeds (du to cornering etc) and the transfer box wont let them. So the transmition becomes tight. This stops the dog clutch (a splined sleave over a splined shaft) in the transfer from disengaging. Reversing alowes the drive train to 'un-wind'.
The 4wd light on the dash should go out when the transmition has unwound, and the dog clutch has released. You can also tell, as the stearing will feel stif and unresponsive if you use 4x4 on a dry grippy serface.
You should not use 4x4 on a grippy serface, such as a dry road, as this will couse unesecary strain on the transmition.

Any veiws expresed in this thread by me are purely from my own experience, and (sometimes) falible memory. Hope my comments help, but please don't take them as gospel.

Thanks everyone for your

Thanks everyone for your swift, and easily understood, replies.
I was told, when I bought the car, that I should leave the wheel hubs in lock all the time and only change it when using 4 wheel drive.
At least now I know I can come on here when I need advice.

I must say I like the car better every day.
I hit black ice a couple of weeks ago and went into a dry stone wall, I was only doing 15mph, on a tight corner. I wasn't hurt at all and the car only had minor damage even though I took out 3 metres of the wall. In my old 'sporty' mondeo I would have been seriously injured to say the least. My sprotrak has the old metal bullbars on so that's probably why.

Manual Hubs

When the front hubs are in the "free" position, they are disconnected from the transmission, and so can spin freely, and don't do anything.

When they are in the "lock" position, they connect up to the front transmission, and start driving the axle and front diff.
You can drive with the hubs in the lock position on normal roads, as the engine is still only driving the two rear wheels.

It can cause slightly more wear to the transmission, as all the front transmission components are being operated by the front wheels turning.

If you need to go into 4 wheel drive, you just use the lever in the cab.

This causes the transfer box in the centre of the vehicle to start driving the front wheels as well as the rear.

If you then want to go back to 2wd, just use the lever again.

If you are going to be using 2wd for any length of time, it would be a good idea to set the front hubs to free, and then lock them when you will be needing 4wd.

Just to add my advice. The

Just to add my advice.
The guys are right "lock" is for 4wd and "free" is for extended periods on tarmac in 2wd to save fuel etc.
Always get in the habit of stopping the car to select 4wd and again when going back to 2wd and set off easy just to avoid giving the trasmission unecessary abuse.

One more thing, the little gear lever that you select 4wd with
has 2H, 4H and 4L positions.
2H as you no doubt know is for 2wd.
4H position engages 4wd in 'high range' which means the same gearing as normal driving.
4L selects 4wd 'low range' which lowers the gearing right down to give more tracion for steep hills and more difficult terrain.
The 4L position gives you better accelerator control at low speeds off road too.

Keep your speed down in 4wd until you gain confidence off road.
Before long you'll be flying over big bumps and through mud in a way you never thought possible!

Hope this helps.