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?


28 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.

19 out of 19 people think this is 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.

12 out of 12 people think this is helpful.
Samantha Chafin

^ 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>??

6 out of 6 people think this is 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.

9 out of 9 people think this is 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.

18 out of 18 people think this is 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.

11 out of 11 people think this is helpful.

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

17 out of 17 people think this is 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.

16 out of 16 people think this is helpful.
Kelly Krug

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!

40 out of 40 people think this is helpful.
Leroy Smart

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

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

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

11 out of 11 people think this is 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

16 out of 16 people think this is helpful.
Kelly Krug

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

7 out of 7 people think this is 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

9 out of 9 people think this is helpful.
Kelly Krug

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 ...

3 out of 3 people think this is 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.

Kelly Krug

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 .

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Kyle Ruef

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.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Kyle Ruef

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

19 out of 19 people think this is helpful.
Kyle Ruef

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

3 out of 3 people think this is 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.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Derek Faurot

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?

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
Kelly Krug

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.

8 out of 8 people think this is 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?

9 out of 9 people think this is helpful.
Emmie Jimenez

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

10 out of 10 people think this is helpful.
Robert Nowak Sr.

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!!


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?

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions

  • I have a Ford Explorer XLT 2006. I am still confused on the 4x4 auto. 9 answers

    I have a Ford Explorer XLT 2006. I am still confused on the 4x4 auto. I read above that it will go automatically into 4x4 if it senses it needs it. I was going up a snowy steep hill and pushed 4x4 au...

    2006 Ford Explorer



  • 2009 ford explorer 4x4 high 1 answer

    I drive a 2009 ford explorer. Yesterday I put my car in 4x4 high since the winter is coming. I usually have the car in 4x4 auto. I started the car and while it was in park pressed the 4x4 high button....

    2009 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD



  • 4x4 wont engage sometimes. 5 answers

    I have manual locking hub caps. With push "4x4" and "low range" buttons on dashboard. It works, then when I turn it off. I can't get it to go back on. I hear it trying to work behind drive side of ...

    1991 Ford Explorer 4 Dr XLT SUV



  • 4x4 3 answers

    How Do I Put My Explorer In 4 Wheel Drive?

    1993 Ford Explorer 4 Dr Eddie Bauer 4WD SUV



  • my 2002 ford explorer 4x4 not working 3 answers

    we tried to hit the transfer case and the 4x4 kicked in we turned it off and let it sit for a couple of hours and went to go drive it and the 4x4 would not kick in

    2002 Ford Explorer XLT


    Maintenance & Repair


Looking for a Used Explorer in your area?

CarGurus has 71,680 nationwide Explorer listings starting at $300.


Search Ford Explorer Questions

Ford Explorer Experts

#1 OJ
Reputation 8,460
#2 Tom Demyan
Tom Demyan
Reputation 3,360
#3 tennisshoes
Reputation 1,930
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Ford Expedition"
573 Great Deals out of 21,491 listings starting at $2,111
Used Jeep Grand Cherokee"
1,169 Great Deals out of 73,676 listings starting at $1,500
Used Ford F-150"
3,181 Great Deals out of 216,388 listings starting at $1,900
Used Ford Edge"
1,165 Great Deals out of 49,966 listings starting at $2,995
Used Chevrolet Tahoe"
1,055 Great Deals out of 36,222 listings starting at $1,700
Used GMC Acadia"
1,012 Great Deals out of 34,962 listings starting at $4,960
Used Ford Escape"
1,675 Great Deals out of 94,364 listings starting at $500
Used Dodge Durango"
388 Great Deals out of 22,638 listings starting at $1,700
Used Toyota 4Runner"
355 Great Deals out of 18,763 listings starting at $2,400
Used Honda Pilot"
563 Great Deals out of 19,321 listings starting at $1,800
Used Toyota Highlander"
647 Great Deals out of 30,512 listings starting at $1,990
Used Ford Explorer Sport Trac"
71 Great Deals out of 2,235 listings starting at $1,995
Used Nissan Pathfinder"
441 Great Deals out of 25,012 listings starting at $1,500
Used Chevrolet Traverse"
1,053 Great Deals out of 34,322 listings starting at $3,000

Used Cars For Sale

2016 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD For Sale
58 Great Deals out of 1,789 listings starting at $24,999
2015 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD For Sale
48 Great Deals out of 964 listings starting at $20,995
2014 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD For Sale
106 Great Deals out of 1,759 listings starting at $9,999
2013 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD For Sale
100 Great Deals out of 1,702 listings starting at $11,990