What does the 4x4 AUTO button do?

Asked by Dec 10, 2007 at 02:15 PM about the 2008 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD

Question type: General

I recently purchased a 2008 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD. When I push the 4x4 HIGH button, a 4x4 light comes on the dashboard. Likewise, when I push the 4x4 LOW button, a 4x4 and LOW light comes on. When I push the 4x4 AUTO button, there is no light and no indication that the 4x4 AUTO system is engaged.

What does the 4x4 AUTO button do? How can I tell if the vehicle is in 4x4 AUTO mode or in standard 2WD mode?


32 Answers


4x4 Auto is like 4x4 Part-time. The vehicle constantly senses whether or not wheels are slipping and engages 4WD as necessary. The 4WD auto system should turn off after the car is shut off and thus you'd need to turn it on any time you wanted to use it.

36 people found this helpful.

only time you need 4x4 is in snow or ice otherwise if you run in 4x4 all the time will burn up the 4x4.

17 people found this helpful.

^ what if u r in a mud pit?? u dont need 4X4?? or a dirt/clay rd thats wet...?? they do still exist & r SUPER fun!4X4 isnt any use for these circumstances>??

8 people found this helpful.

you just answered your own question.4 high light on,4 low light on push again no light on,you in 2 wheel drive.never drive in 4x4 unless in snow,ice, mud or just plain stuck.

14 people found this helpful.

Ford Explorers are always in 4 wheel drive, If you push the 4X4 auto it is in it's standard running mode. In other words 4 wheel drive on demand. T use 4 wheel drive you don,t need to do anything. 4X4 high & 4X4 low are explained in your owners manual.

30 people found this helpful.

if you want to drive on rough are where usually car struct then only use 4x4 low (low speed 4x4) or use 4x4 high(allow you high speed), once the rough area over then just press button 4x4Auto which will stop your 4w and start 2w as normal. one more thing don't forget to put your gare in N when you want to put 4w, once put then use D.

14 people found this helpful.

Then the only purpose for the auto 4x4 push button is to turn 4x4 high or low off ,IS THIS CORRECT

30 people found this helpful.

The standard position is Automatic. So if the High or Low light is not on, the it is in Automatic. The only time you should use high is the roads are really bad. Using high all the time can wear on the front transfer case. In auto the truck gives 75% of the power to the back wheels and 25% to the front. If it senses a problem, it can transfer power to the wheel that needs it. In High all four wheels get identical power and they will only compensate if you have traction control as well. You should only use low very rarely and very carefully. It should only be used when the truck is stuck or trying to climb a nasty grade. Do not exceed 10 miles per hour in low.

29 people found this helpful.

I was under the impression that 4x4 Auto comes on when it senses the need, then shuts off on it's own. This is what mine does, anyway. And while we're on the subject, does anyone know what could possibly be wrong with mine ... none of the buttons seem to be working. I rarely use 4x4. Imagine my surprise when I ventured out during a blizzard only to find it wasn't working!

73 people found this helpful.

Hi good afternoon I have a 2005 ford explorer an its stop on me its not getting gas an no spark

9 people found this helpful.

In the auto position 4 wheel Drive kicks out at 30 mph.

21 people found this helpful.

i have a 2002 ford explorer i need help on the 4x4 butons. like do i stop put on neutral, press 4x4 high, then put it on drive? i need it for mud

32 people found this helpful.

You don't need to put it in neutral ... just hit the button!

12 people found this helpful.

Just bought a 02 explorer. When pressing the 4x4 high or low, the light wont come in. Dealer says its the module, he's fixing for free. I'm curious to know if this is a common issue, or should I not really expect it to happen again. Also, I live in Boston, while driving around in this bad weather on 12/17/2013, it seems to handle much better than any other "rear wheel drive" SUV I've ever driven. Could the auto still work and sense the road condition? Like an earlier comment, there is no light that indicates weather the system is engaged. That's how I figured there was an issue with the 4wheel drive to begin with. Any thoughts could help greatly. Thanks

15 people found this helpful.

You're lucky to get that module fixed for free! I shelled out $350 to replace the main and remote module. I discovered the 4WD was out during the worst snowstorm of the year. My '02 was as helpless as could be. My '92 Explorer went through deep snow without the 4x4 ...

6 people found this helpful.

It works pretty good, drove fine. Cars in less than excellent condition. I'm happy with it so far, then again, it's just been a few days. I've found some quirky things that may need attention, but overall I'm happy with it.


My '92 had 269,000 miles on it when my daughter traded it in. It was the most dependable vehicle I ever owned ... the body's rusting out but wish I still had it. I still see it around every now and then. I'm hoping the '02 will give me the same dependability. So far it has!


my only issue with 4x4 auto is when you get a flat and have to change a tire if it less than 6/32 tread they cant just put on one tire nor can you just put o0n two rear or two front tires you have to change all four .

11 people found this helpful.

I was stuck in someone's driveway this winter and tried 4x4 high and didn't move. Then I switched to 4x4 low and I got out of my situation.

6 people found this helpful.

If this light blinks on your ford explorer of explorer xlt it means your 4x4 auto has engaged then after you get going it will go back into 2WD

27 people found this helpful.

This is what it looks like on a 4x4 ford explorer xlt 2007

4 people found this helpful.

4WD auto means it automatically switches to 4WD if necessary, otherwise it stays in 2WD. I drive a Mountaineer and its very similar to Explorers and I'm always in auto in the winter. Never had problems.

7 people found this helpful.

So I have a 2006 explorer with the advanced traction control system.. if it so much as slips on gravel the 4 wheel drive kicks in, but no light kicks on showing that it did kick in. If I shut off that traction control willnit shut off the 4x4 auto?

15 people found this helpful.

The 4x4 Auto is always on, delivering 25% power to the front and 75% to the back. It transfers more power to whatever axle needs it, thus the 'auto' part of it.

10 people found this helpful.

quick question, I have a 99 ford explorer 4x4 xlt. I was wondering how to turn my auto position on the 4x4 switch to a 2hi position, one the vehical dose not have. for drifting and other fun actitivitys auto forwheel makes difficult off road. Plus it is dangours in the winter time. Lets say you start slideing and are faceing a ditch and auto 4x4 kicks in. Your gonna be pulled twards where your tires are pointed, the ditch. I thought pull the transfur case shifter fuse. Didn't work. I know replacing the switch would not work. Is there some sort of computer thing I could do to tell the gem not to engage the 4x4 when the tires slip. or even unplugging a wheel sensor?

17 people found this helpful.

We have a 2002 exp xlt The heater does not work and the ac works fabulous. When heater is turned on it makes this knocking noise in the panel. will the entire panel need to be pulled to repair? We also have this noise everytime we put in in gear to go forward or backwards, it feels like something is tugging on it but still goes... any suggestions will help

14 people found this helpful.

The whole dashboard has to come out, looking at 7-9 hours of labor for an 80 dollar part, I KNOW AND I GOT SCREWED!!

1 people found this helpful.

2001 xlt ford explorer. Last week august 2016 wv weather. Both 4x4 hI and 4x4 low light come on dashboard. Checked the gear selector to make sure slider button and push on push off "Od" not engaged, and that the 4x4 auto locked in place and it was. I know my front tires need replacing. Is that the problem?

7 people found this helpful.

I have a 1997 ford suv , ill be driving on a straight road nice weather and the 4x4 light comes on and off every 15 seconds,or so , i notice when i hit 60 km the SUV just feels that im about to loose control and the faster i go the worst it is , I don't go on the highway anymore , does anyone know what happening

disconnect the shift motor and give it a clean where it plugs in.see if that helpsalso check fuses and relays first


LOL! No one has answered the actual question, What does the 4x4 AUTO button do? Is the button an override? is the button there to turn off 4x4 High or 4x4 Low, 9which I thought just pressing those buttons again do) Everyone keep answering with what 4x4 does, how to use it, using it in bad weather, that the 4x4 auto is always on (default mode for Explorer) but no one has answered What does the 4x4 AUTO button do? Not the system, its function!

2 people found this helpful.

4x4 button is there for your everyday driving mode. That’s your normal standard drive mode the vehicle should be in, I have it in 4x4 auto at all times so it can use 4wd when necessary (slipping, turning, bad weather condition etc) other then that I use the 4H in weather like today slippery roads and snow/ice on the pavement that way it’s always in 4wd distributing same amount of power to each wheel so none of them will slip, 4L I only use when going downhill on a very icy hill or when stuck going slow. So use Auto 95% of the time except for situations as named above

4 people found this helpful.

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