How To Engage 4-Wheel Drive in Gmc Sierra? (2024)

Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by John Robinson

A 4-wheel drive is definitely safer than a 2-wheel drive, especially on the rough paths. The four-wheel drive delivers equal power to all four wheels so that your vehicle can overcome obstacles in a more convenient manner. GMC’S 4-wheel drive is ultimate in letting you get through difficult conditions in the smoothest way. 

Understand the role of 4-wheel drive in making GMC Sierra more powerful

Understand the role of 4-wheel drive in making GMC Sierra more powerful 

GMC Sierra is undoubtedly amongst the most powerful trucks in today’s day and age. The 4-wheel drive is commonly found in SUVs and powerful trucks so that equal power is transmitted to all four wheels.

A four-wheel drive is way better than other vehicle types because of its superseding power and traction. Note that the rotational power of your engine is known as torque. The purpose of the drivetrain is to transfer this torque to the wheels so that the vehicle can move. 

But the wheels can only move when your tires have traction on the road. Consider that the wheels will not come into motion solely through the torque delivered through the drivetrain. The presence of traction is necessary. Without traction, your tires would spin but the car wouldn’t change its position. 

Understand that the torque of your engine is utilized by the tractional forces to move your car. A 4-wheel drive has relatively more traction than a 2-wheel drive, so it will be easier to operate the vehicle on slippery and challenging services owing to better control. Note that the chief attribute of a four-wheel drive is the increased traction. 

Another excellent attribute of a 4-wheel drive is the increased transmission of power to the wheels. For more challenging obstacles, traction would not be your only requirement. You need better power transmission to overcome such a difficulty.4-wheel drive is also beneficial in delivering extra power to your wheels. Most trucks and SUVs let you shift between the high and low 4-wheel drive modes in a convenient manner. 

The high 4-wheel drive mode can deliver excellent power to the wheels of your vehicle while navigating a difficult path. In such a scenario, you’d be supplied with more power and even your speed wouldn’t be compromised. The low-range 4-wheel drive would lower the speed to the wheels while supplying adequate power to overcome a challenging obstacle. 

Different driving modes of GMC Sierra 

GMC Sierra has easily understandable driving mode settings. This factor makes your tough drives more convenient. Proper application of 4-wheel-drive is also notable in preventing any damage to your vehicle. 

  • Mode 1 is the two-wheel-drive

Mode 1 is the two-wheel-drive 

You must always rely on the normal 2-wheel drive while navigating normal roads. This would reduce the wear and tear of the 4-wheel drive components. When the condition of the road is adequate and there is no challenge to be overcome, you must only rely on the 2-wheel drive setting. 

In the 2-wheel drive mode, the power is first supplied to the transfer case before being directed towards the rear axles and wheels. Note that a 2-wheel drive would not definitely improve traction, but it is quite useful and reliable in all sorts of environments. 

For a GMC Sierra, a 2-wheel drive is the default driving mode. Unless you are navigating rough and challenging terrain, it is beneficial to drive in this mode. 

  • Mode 2 is the high-range four-wheel drive

Mode 2 is the high-range four-wheel drive 

Mode 2 of GMC Sierra refers to the high-range 4-wheel drive. This mode is the absolute best for navigating slippery and soft paths. This mode engages the front axle of your truck while transferring power from the two axles to all four wheels. The 4-wheel drive mode causes the front and rear axles to rotate simultaneously at a single speed. 

However, it is possible to experience a change of speed because of varying track length and differences in the sizes of the tires. This variation in speed is referred to as ‘crow hop’ and it sometimes creates a vast difference between the front and rear axles. This makes it possible for the tires to slip. 

Although, GMC Sierra is equipped with a special transfer case design that lets you conveniently shift between 4-wheel drive and 2-wheel drive to safely stop the vehicle. The trucks that are equipped with electronic transfer cases have a light on the selector knob that flashes during the engagement of the shift and stops when the engagement is complete. 

There is an LED in the gauge cluster that flashes when your truck employs the manual transfer case. Note that high-range 4-wheel drive mode is very unsuitable for relatively smooth surfaces with adequate traction. Utilizing this mode on dry roads would stress your integral drivetrain components. Any carelessness in the use of this mode could result in immense damage to your vehicle. 

Always remember to change to 2-wheel drive as soon as you are back on a smooth road.

  • Mode 3 is the low-range four-wheel drive

Mode 3 is the low-range four-wheel drive 

GMC Sierra also has a low range 4-wheel drive setting. This setting increases the torque in the wheels and makes it relatively safe to drive on off-road courses. This mode comes in handy in deep sand and mud. 

Using this mode would help you control the speed of your vehicle according to the obstacles. Even the effectiveness of your braking components is improved. Overall, the various components of the four-wheel-drive are saved from getting overheated and damaged. 

The low-range 4-wheel drive is only suitable for rough areas. Moreover, it should not be engaged at speeds more than 45 mph. Driving in a 4-wheel drive mode does require some additional care, technique, and effort. 

It is recommended that you start the low-range 4-wheel drive by shifting the transmission to neutral and removing the torque. This would render you a smoother gear shift. If your truck uses a manual transfer case, it is suggested that you drive only between 3 mph and 5 mph speeds. This would let your gear teeth align properly during the low-range high-range shift. Note that you must only shift out of the low-range when the condition of the road is smooth.

  • Mode 4 is the automatic four-wheel drive 

This setting is more suitable for areas that constantly alternate between rough and smooth paths. This automatic four-wheel-drive setting lets your vehicle utilize the extra traction and sends more torque to the front axle. 

The engagement of the front axle maintains the transfer case in supplying regular power to the rear wheels. Note that the power supplied to the front wheels is regulated by clutches. This action improves the stability and traction of the truck. Best of all, this automatic setting can be conveniently utilized on any sort of path without any risk of damage to components.

How To Engage 4-Wheel Drive in Gmc Sierra?

When you encounter challenging terrains, you must shift to the 4-wheel drive for extra traction and power. Foremost, you must start your vehicle with the help of a key. 

Then you ought to put your GMC Sierra in reverse mode and continue driving. It is important to keep driving until you reach the rough terrain you aim to traverse. According to the condition of the path, select a suitable 4-wheel drive setting. 

The high-range four-wheel-drive allows better traction and grip and is useful for traversing snowy and icy paths. The low-range four-wheel drive is better for off-roading. Your truck is supplied with additional power to better overcome the step. 

Consider these tips to better maintain your GMC Sierra

Note that 4-wheel drive is not quite suitable for paved roads. This is because it adds stress to the components of the drivetrain and must only be employed on rough terrains. Also, your vehicle needs to be in a drive or reverse setting while you engage the four-wheel drive. The ignition must also be on so that you can easily shift to the 4-wheel drive mode when your vehicle is in park mode. 

You mustn’t exceed the speed limit that your vehicle is capable of handling at one time. It is best to go slow while maintaining adequate control. Slippery surfaces should be best navigated with adequate momentum and rough terrains should be crossed at minimal speed. 

You must always inspect your vehicle before you start. While your GMC truck can easily handle obstacles, it would be best if you are somewhat aware of the path beforehand. Also, it is best to maintain a low tire pressure to maintain greater contact with the road. This would increase the traction and make it easy to navigate slippery paths. 


The four-wheel-drive of GMC Sierra is integral in navigating rough roads and slippery surfaces with ease. This feature helps in maintaining your safety on an unreliable and unfamiliar path. It is very easy to apply the different driving modes when necessary. Note that it is important to maintain your four-wheel drive in the best condition and utilize it only when important.

Any issue in the four-wheel-drive of your GMC Sierra should only be rectified by a professional mechanic

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John Robinson
John Robinson

Howdy! I’m John Robinson from Levittown, New York. I am a mechanical engineer for 15 years and already had an established car repair company. I developed a personal relationship with cars since I was a kid. I always love the sounds and smell emitted by a car or truck and even at construction machinery. Since then I have been married but my love for cars only grew.