2002 chevy suburban push-button 4wd not 4wd on snow.


Asked by Oct 06, 2014 at 07:55 AM about the 2002 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 LS 4WD

Question type: General

I push the 4wd buttons and can hear the transmission engaging.  I pulled into a snow-covered parking lot and got into a slippery spot.  I engaged the 4 WD Hi (could hear the transmission changing) and as I attempted to back out, I noticed that the back tires were spinning, but the front tires were not. I tried 4WD lo, but had the same results, back tire spinning, front tires not.  Again, I could hear something happening when I pushed the buttons.

15 Answers


Ok first, its the transfer case making the noise not the transmission. Second in order to put it in 4 low you have to be completely stopped, put the gear selector into neutral, then push the 4 low button. You should hear a kind of a loud clunk as the transfer case changes gears. It's totally normal and may take a couple of seconds after you push the button.


As far as 4 hi not working, if the truck hasn't been put into 4wd mode at all in a long while the actuators on the front end might be dry or stuck. Have you tried engaging the 4hi while moving forward at all?


Thanks for the response. It's a "new to me" type of vehicle, first 4 wd, so I'm getting used to the ins and outs. I did notice a fairly loud clunck when I shifted into low 4wd using the same procedure as you put up. It did still seem like it was in 2wd in the low setting, too. I have shifted between hi 4wd and 2wd whilst moving forward. Hasn't made a difference that I can tell.


If its in 4 low and you shift the gear selector from neutral back to drive if the 4 low is truly in you will only be able to go about 30-35 mph. The gear reduction is that great in the transfer case.


Yup. The 4wd low mode is intact. I did notice that the back wheels were spinning but not the front wheels in this mode as well.


Sounds like bad front wheel actuators, broken/corroded wires or a bad transfer case. Take it to a REPUTABLE mechanic and have them look it over.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thanks for the help!


My 2002 Suburban the 4wd works when the auto 4wd button is pushed but the 4hi and 4lo buttons pushed the back wheels will just spin but the front wheels won't spin if i am stuck in the snow so i have to keep it in auto 4 for the 4wd to work.


Hhmmmm I would start with replacing the switch in the dash. Do the 4hi n 4lo lights stay on when they are pushed or do they blink and go out? When selecting 4lo the gear selector(gear shifter) has to be in neutral first. Let me know.


I just replaced the switch on the dash and it's still doing the same thing only working in auto 4. I also make sure the transmission is in neutral


When shifting to 4lo and the lights blink after the button is pushed and then stay on.


Ok then just you'll just have to do the same thing as I stated above in the original post. Get it looked at by a REPUTABLE mechanic.


Mine is doing the same thing. I have replaced the switch and the front axle actuator and it still only works in auto 4 not 4hi or 4lo. I am at a lost. I can hear the transfer case shifting. I guess I will need to take it to a mechanic so they can put a scan tool on it and look to see when it's shifting to 4 hi or 4lo what the computer is reading of what is happening.


Make sure the transmission is in neutral, make sure your on level ground ,, also there's a sensor on the case look under check for loose or broken wires or change sensor


The first thing to check is your front axle actuator, It simply screws out of the right side front axle housing . when removed you can hook the small plug back up , have a friend to engage the 4wd , You will be able to watch the (plastic piston) extend outward to push the slide pin that locks the two axle gears together, If this actuator is working put it on jack stands, with trans in neutral, You can repair this without a diagnostic scanner, Also you can actually take your finger and push the slide pin located in front axle, of course with out the truck running of course., you can actually feel the pin push in and lock front axles together, at this time when you turn your axles you will see front drive shaft turn , Most people always want to buy the cheaper version of this actuator, I have changed hundreds of these over the years and WILL NOT USE AFTER MARKET ACTUATORS, They will never work properly, if they do , they will not last. . You can simply get a free scan at Oriellys, auto zone and some napa dealers, But do not listen to these guys , Most just want to sell parts and if they knew so much they would n ot be selling parts for $8- $10 per hour , they would be making a lot more installing them .. But it might get you on the right track if you will right down the codes and do your own research after doing the manual diagnostics. If your switch on the dash is operating the the transfer switch its not bad. I have only replaced I 4wd module in a chevy in over 20 years , so don't get side tracked with that ..................... A cheap front axle actuator is the problem most of the time if you don't have inside(hard parts ) damage in your front housing assembly ..

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions

  • Winter tire/wheel of choice? 1 answer

    hi guys, just got a 2008 suburban and i'm wondering if i need to get winter tires. i live in boston and drive up to NH to ski most weekends. i didn't bother with snows on our denali xl we just traded ...

    2008 Chevrolet Suburban



  • Any tire recommendation for 1994 Sub 4WD? 2 answers

    Any suggestions on what best tire would be for a 4WD 94 Chevy Sub? Only time 4WD may be used is if truck slips trying to pull boat out at ramp... No offroad, muddin etc Currently has Michelin M/S ...

    1994 Chevrolet Suburban


    Maintenance & Repair

  • I want to "add" 4 wheel drive to my 95 1500 suburban 10 answers

    I want to "add" 4 wheel drive to my 95 1500 suburban w/ a 350. I have bought a 99 that has a good working 4 wheel drive on it. My question is this. Have I lost my mind or is this doable? if it is any ...

    1995 Chevrolet Suburban C1500


    Car Customization

  • 1999 Chevy Suburban, 5.7 L. 147,000 miles, all power options feels like the exhaust is clogged at lower speeds 4 answers

    A month ago, I slid off a solid sheet of ice driveway sideways into an 18" ditch, my son had to go out the passenger window to get out, to give you an example of how deep the snow was up the side of...

    1999 Chevrolet Suburban K1500 LT 4WD


    Maintenance & Repair

  • Can you help, I have a 1999 Suburban that the 4 wheel drive wont engage? 10 answers

    No blown fuses or service light. the 4 button(2 auto, 4lo, 4hi) switch is lit will stay in any position but 4lo

    1999 Chevrolet Suburban K2500 LT 4WD


    Maintenance & Repair


Looking for a Used Suburban in your area?

CarGurus has 24,186 nationwide Suburban listings starting at $1,500.


Search Chevrolet Suburban Questions

Chevrolet Suburban Experts

#1 Eric Fritz
Eric Fritz
Reputation 800
#1 Andrew Olsen
Andrew Olsen
Reputation 800
#3 Neal Turner
Neal Turner
Reputation 710
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Chevrolet Tahoe"
1,106 Great Deals out of 36,353 listings starting at $1,700
Used GMC Yukon XL"
206 Great Deals out of 6,707 listings starting at $2,575
Used GMC Yukon XL Denali"
197 Great Deals out of 7,560 listings starting at $3,984
Used Ford Expedition"
576 Great Deals out of 21,508 listings starting at $2,111
Used Cadillac Escalade ESV"
168 Great Deals out of 6,091 listings starting at $2,499
Used GMC Yukon"
538 Great Deals out of 14,694 listings starting at $1,500
Used Cadillac Escalade"
375 Great Deals out of 11,252 listings starting at $2,999
Used Chevrolet Silverado 1500"
2,427 Great Deals out of 143,996 listings starting at $1,995
Used GMC Yukon Denali"
26 Great Deals out of 4,665 listings starting at $7,995
Used Lincoln Navigator"
142 Great Deals out of 6,078 listings starting at $1,999
Used Ford F-150"
3,161 Great Deals out of 216,438 listings starting at $1,000
Used Toyota Sequoia"
170 Great Deals out of 6,725 listings starting at $2,500
Used Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD"
389 Great Deals out of 33,675 listings starting at $2,998
Used Ford Excursion"
16 Great Deals out of 867 listings starting at $3,995

Used Cars For Sale

2017 Chevrolet Suburban For Sale
1,359 listings starting at $42,610
2016 Chevrolet Suburban For Sale
55 Great Deals out of 9,964 listings starting at $36,999
2015 Chevrolet Suburban For Sale
136 Great Deals out of 2,990 listings starting at $29,900
2014 Chevrolet Suburban For Sale
27 Great Deals out of 509 listings starting at $19,977
2013 Chevrolet Suburban For Sale
68 Great Deals out of 1,052 listings starting at $15,998