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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,
This may sound odd but im having real trouble comprehending this 4x4-i system in the pathfinder. Googling and the pf manual do little to put my mind at ease. I hear people say "awd" when talking about having the car in auto-4x4 mode.... and im hearing about people daily driving with it in auto??? the manual has specific road conditions for using each mode, which only adds to my confusion lol.

My experience with 4x4 is from my days of off roading my '88 jeep xj. Im assuming that nissans Auto 4x4 is the equivalent to 4hi, and lock is the same as 4lo. In my jeep it was pretty standard knowledge that you dont activate 4x4 on dry pavement for fear of causing damage, 4hi was for 'shifting on the fly', snow, dirt etc. and 4lo was for your 'oh s*** im stuck' moments and heavy duty off roading like crawling, mudding etc.

So my question is this, is it ok to daily drive the 2018 pf in auto 4x4 to get an "awd" handling experience? and would you recommend towing in auto 4x4?

thanks
 

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Nissan's 4WD is nothing like your Jeep. 2WD is easy to understand and on the PF is FWD. Auto is more like AWD and sensors adjust the power in the transfer case between the front and rear axles as it see fit. You can see the percentage on the center screen. Locked locks the power to 50/50 front/rear. Now you still have open differentials on the axles. With ESP on, sensors recognize slippage on the wheels and provides resistance to the wheel that is slipping causing the other side to spin. Problem I see is if all 4 tires are on slippery surface, all 4 will not spin with ESP on. In that situation, you probably need to turn ESP off and step on the throttle to cause spin to hopefully get out of that situation.
I may be wrong but driving in auto is the same as other AWD vehicles. I think Nissan has the 2WD mode on the PF to offer a tad more MPG. I drive on most surfaces in 2WD. I have a vacation house at the end of a gravel road with a couple of steep hills. I switch to Auto for that and get no wheel slippage. In my other FWD car, it can slip some going up the hill. I may switch to auto on rainy wet paved roads. Locked should be used for more serious situations maybe like pulling a boat out of water, starting in the snow/ice, etc. Also, hill decent control only works in Lock mode.

I also have an '87 Suzuki Samurai with 4WD high and low like your Jeep. In 4WD, the transfer case is locked. I also have an automatic locker in the rear differential but my front diff is still open. There are no sensors and if 1 of my rear tires slip, the auto locker kicks in and locks the rear differential so both turn. A locker in the front diff would provide me with the best traction but makes it difficult to steer.

Hope this helps some.
 

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Good explanation.

To add to it, your 88 Jeep didn't have a center differential therefore there was no way to compensate for different wheel rotation between the front and back axles. When off roading, the road conditions (dirt, mud, snow, gravel) allow for the tires to slip on those surfaces so there is no stress on the power train. That is why you engaging 4x4 on paved roads on such vehicles can damage your transmission.

Modern 4x4 vehicles include a center differential or some sort of clutch (Pathfinder is magnetic) on the drive shaft which allows to have it on or in auto mode on any road condition. There is more to it and lots of discussion about what makes a vehicle an AWD vs a 4WD, but I won't get into that.

The Pathfinder has 2WD, 4x4 auto and 4x4 lock modes. When on auto, it sends between 100 to 50% of the power to the front wheels, and it only sends between 0 to 50% to the rear wheels, if front wheel slippage is detected by the traction control system. This is done by activating the magnetic clutch located on the rear differential/drive shaft.

The 4x4 lock function on the Pathfinder sends 50% to each axle but it only stays on for about 5 - 10 minutes and then it goes back to Auto. So to answer your question, when towing, you won't be able to have it on 4x4 lock for long.

I always have mine on 4x4 auto, always. I've only used 4x4 lock when pulling a boat on a ramp or when driving through deep snow.

I don't like driving it on 2WD as I get too much wheel spin on hard acceleration.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys, this definitely helps me understand. I prefer awd traction as well so im gonna switch it to auto from now on.
 
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