Am I in 2WD, 4WD, or AWD? - Nissan Pathfinder Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Am I in 2WD, 4WD, or AWD?

Hi again! Sorry if this has been asked (search didn't yield any result) or if it's a basic and kind of dumb question.

How do I get my 2014PF in 4WD?

In my 2000 Pathfinder, there was a separate stick shift to shift into 4WD from 2WD.

However, the display reads 2WD when I have the dial set to 2WD. Then, if I choose "AUTO" on the dial, the display reads "2WD/AUTO." I asked the dealer whom I bought it from and he said, "Oh no, your car is ALL wheel drive."

I think he's misinformed, but I'm just curious as the manual doesn't really explain it that well.

Thoughts?

With winter coming to New England, I want to be prepared. We've already had a good 1" plus of snow last Sunday, so...

Thank you!

markdc
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 01:36 PM
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First of all, do you indeed have the 4WD option? Pathfinders come in both 2WD and 4WD. See this YouTube video from Nissan. It explains how to put it into 4WD.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq1FhfUHxVs

If your knob doesn't look like that, you have 2WD.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-05-2014, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by markdc1968 View Post
Hi again! Sorry if this has been asked (search didn't yield any result) or if it's a basic and kind of dumb question.

How do I get my 2014PF in 4WD?

In my 2000 Pathfinder, there was a separate stick shift to shift into 4WD from 2WD.

However, the display reads 2WD when I have the dial set to 2WD. Then, if I choose "AUTO" on the dial, the display reads "2WD/AUTO." I asked the dealer whom I bought it from and he said, "Oh no, your car is ALL wheel drive."

I think he's misinformed, but I'm just curious as the manual doesn't really explain it that well.

Thoughts?

With winter coming to New England, I want to be prepared. We've already had a good 1" plus of snow last Sunday, so...

Thank you!

markdc
It's really mixture of both. In "Auto" mode it does function mostly like an AWD vehicle because there is automatically adjusted torque bias between the front and rear axles, depending upon the wheel traction. This is the setting you should use on pavement when you feel you need to power the rear wheels.
I have not fully studied the service manual on this system but I believe it operates via a locking clutch mechanism that engages/disengages the rear drive shaft. I do not believe there is a center differential like a traditional AWD system has.

In "Lock" mode, there is no center adjusted bias. The torque between the front and rear axles is equal. This mode is more like a true four wheel drive, however since there is no low range setting I wouldn't call it that completely. You should only use this mode off of pavement or in situations where the wheels are on low traction surfaces.

So there you go, it's as clear as mud. It's neither a true AWD nor a true 4WD and at the same time it's a little bit of both.

As for the snow, we some of it last winter here in Charlotte, soon after I purchased this vehicle. The "auto" mode was more than adequate. Although it didn't really appreciate the donuts I was putting it through in the parking lot at work. I should have used "Lock". Maybe next time.
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Last edited by SR20DEN; 11-05-2014 at 04:28 PM.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 09:22 AM
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Do most people run in 2WD? The dealer tried to tell me I'd get better MPG in Auto mode. I politely disagreed, but that was just me trying to use common sense.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 09:41 AM
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I keep mine in 2wd mode 95% of the time. From what I know mechanically about the system, I would say it isn't designed to be used all of the time. But I could be wrong, so use your best judgement.
I sometimes use auto mode in the rain, and especially when I am towing the camper in the rain. But as soon as the road dries up I turn it off. And I can't come up with any logical reason as to how the thing would get better mileage in Auto vs off. Logic actually dictates to me that 2wd mode would be the most economical
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 12:40 PM
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Anybody seen a maximum speed for the Auto setting? The manual indicates that even in 2WD mode that the rear wheels may get power "under certain circumstances". Presumably that's the traction control computer doing whatever it must to keep you on the road.

I'm in the habit of flipping to 4WD when it rains (from my 4Runner past where periodic 4WD mode was required to lube those parts). Still do it in my PF, but wondered if highway speeds were problematic. Not seeing a speed limitation, I'm assuming not.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 01:06 PM
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Anybody seen a maximum speed for the Auto setting?
I have not seen any notice about a speed limit in auto mode. If there was one it should be an easy to see notice under the visor, like where most 4wd warnings are. I would however not recommend high speed driving in lock mode.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-06-2014, 06:00 PM
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IIRC the 4wd cuts out at about 40kph. You cannot run anything close to highway speed in 4WD. This actually came as a surprise to me on a snowy day in the Rockies.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-07-2014, 11:29 AM
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I saw a note in the manual that the 4WD LOCK setting automatically disengages at "high speeds". It also disengages when you turn the car off. The 4WD AUTO setting sticks - I've seen it staying engaged through a restart and at speeds up to 65MPH.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 11-07-2014, 12:47 PM
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4WD and AWD are marketing terms. They don't describe any particular technology. That said, traditionalists like to think of "4WD" as the traditional differential, transfer-case setup that graced Jeeps, body-on-frame trucks and such.

Today, there are a greater number of technologies designed to deliver power to all four wheels - and manufacturers are now calling what was traditionally known as "AWD", "4WD". This has created a ton of confusion and manufacturers have done little to clear things up (and I dare say, the SAE has been far too quiet on the subject).

Simply speaking, the current Pathfinder has what is more frequently thought of as an "AWD" system. That is, rather than using a traditional set of differentials, it is predominantly a FWD (2WD) vehicle that has the ability to transfer torque to the rear wheels by way of a clutch pack. These systems are NOT designed to split torque between the front and rear consistently. Rather, they operate on the principle that the rear wheels are only engaged when additional traction is needed.

For most people, the "AUTO" mode is the correct setting for normal driving. In this mode, the system proactively sends torque to the rear wheels when launching from a standstill to aid in traction. Additionally, the system will reactively send torque to the rear wheels in the event of a loss of traction while underway.

The 2WD mode is there for optimal fuel economy. For example, if you spend the majority of your time driving in fair weather, you have no need to divide the output of your engine amongst four wheels as opposed to two. In practice, I don't notice a great deal of different in terms of fuel economy when running in 2WD, so I have taken to just leaving it in AUTO full time.

4WD mode is meant to get you out of a STUCK situation. For example, if you car bogs down in heavy snow or in mud and is immobile, the system is intended to get you out (and then it resets back to default, once you get underway). The reason for this is that the Pathfinder does not have an open differential, and so when you're going around turns, the wheel at the outer edge will want to turn at a different speed than the inner wheel, causing binding (and damaging the clutch pack).

In short, you do NOT want to put the vehicle in "4WD" unless you are completely stuck or encountering a severe situation. In general, you want to be in AUTO mode for most kinds of terrain the current generation Pathfinder is likely to see (keeping in mind that this mommymobile/CUV version is not intended to be rock-crawler like the old one was).

Hope that clears things up a bit.

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