Running Your Car in 4WD All the Time? Good or Bad?

Have you heard that it’s bad to drive in four-wheel drive all the time? I bet you have! But is it really true? Well, there are a few reasons why doing so can be bad for your car. The 4WD can be invaluable in some conditions, especially on off-road tracks. But if you don’t need it, there are several reasons why running your car in 4WD will lead to problems down the road.

Why Running 4WD All the Time is Bad for Your Car

The bad effects of running the 4WD depend on what you mean by “bad.” If you’re asking if it’s better to use your car’s 4-wheel drive (4WD) function only when needed, then the answer is no. But if you’re asking about whether driving with your vehicle in the four-wheel drive mode for a long time will cause damage to the car, then there are a few factors that come into play.

Let’s see what may happen if you forget to switch from 4WD to 2WD on the highway or normal road conditions:

Burning more fuel

The first thing that needs to be mentioned is fuel efficiency. When driving in 4WD mode, your car can use around 25% more fuel than when running in 2WD mode. And since gas prices are always going up and down these days, using more gas isn’t exactly what most drivers want.

4wd car
Running in 4wd all time burns more fuel. (Credit: AaronPictures / PixaBay)

When you’re running in the four-wheel drive mode, your car’s engine will need to work harder than it would if it were switched into two-wheel drive. It’s because the 4WD system engages extra gears and driveshafts.

This means that more fuel and energy are needed to keep up with all of this extra power being used by the engine. This will result in higher gas bills at the pump.

Destroying the drivetrain

If your car is running in the four-wheel drive mode, it means that there’s more weight on all the wheels. This can put a lot of stress and pressure on the wheels, resulting in faster deterioration or damage.

Driving a part-time 4WD car on dry pavement can lead to damaging the differential gear and front axles. The constant driving torque can seize the front axle and damage or wear out the gears inside your car’s transfer case.


Higher risks of accidents

Driving in the four-wheel drive mode for extended periods may cause accidents. If you’re taking a turn at high speeds and it’s raining, there’s a higher chance of losing control of your car. It happens because you cannot break as quickly due to your vehicle having more weight on all wheels. This puts other drivers around you at risk of being involved in an accident.


It is not advisable to drive in the 4WD mode all the time. Except for some specific conditions like hauling cargo or going uphill, using this feature for extended periods will bring bad news. It may cause damage and wear and tear on your car’s engine parts, such as the axles, transmission, brakes, and suspension systems. If you want a safer ride while saving some money on gas, drive your car with the 4WD mode only when necessary.