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My 2008 Laramie is the first modern 4wd I've owned. My last was an old 85 Toyota(almost 20 years ago) that only had 4hi 4low 2hi and neutral. My Ram has 4auto 4lock and 4low. I don't want to mess anything up when it's time to use it so can one of y'all please help me understand the difference in auto and lock. Also do I need to cycle through the two before going to 4low?

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Congratulations on your "new" 2008 Laramie, Anrique...Please clarify:  Your transfer case should also have a 2WD mode.  Right?  If you do have a 2WD mode designation, that is the mode to use for hard, dry pavement or dry highway driving.  The other modes you describe typically work as follows:

1)  4-Auto mode provides 4-wheel-drive through a differential system in the transfer case.  This allows the mode to be used for harder surface driving, much like an all-wheel drive (AWD) car.  This is a system that responds to loose traction and provides 4WD as needed.  4WD Auto mode will be used on paved winter streets or highways when there is wet or intermittently icy pavement.  It can be used any time slippery surfaces are intermittent.  This mode is useful for drivers who are unclear about the available traction—there is no thought required.  This mode can be effective for most traction demands.  This would be my choice for slippery pavement.  Again, this is not intended for use where 2WD mode is expected (hard, dry pavement and dry highway).

2)  4-Lock would be a true 4WD mode like your older Toyota in its 4WD mode.  This is used when you are clearly on a loose traction surface for an extended period of time.  Power is not "differentiated" between the front and rear axles, and torque applies equally to each axle.  If this mode is used on hard pavement or solid traction surfaces, it will place undo load on the axles and likely cause steering wheel "jacking" when making tight turns.  This kind of steering wheel feedback is from equal torque being applied to both axles.  I might use this mode on long stretches of loose gravel road or a muddy road, a steeper pull on a loose traction surface, or some of the situations where you used 4WD High in your earlier Toyota 4x4.  This mode can affect steering and vehicle handling, especially at speed, and it should only be used when necessary.  You get full, equal torque to the front and rear axles.

3)  4-Low is the same locked mode as 4-Lock plus the benefit of reduction gearing.  This is like your Toyota's 4-Low years ago.  4-Low should be used on a loose traction surface, which can also include tugging a boat straight up a slick boat ramp.  It is not designed for use on hard surfaces and will also create steering wheel "jacking" on tight turns and other symptoms of bind.

I heartily recommend your reading the glovebox owner's handbook for your Laramie.  If the purchase did not include the owner's handbook, try to find one at eBay.  There should be a section devoted to the 4WD traction modes and how to use them.  That would be Chrysler's recommendation.  My points are from experience.  Make sense of both.

I trust this helps.  It's a broad overview...


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  • Moses Ludel changed the title to 2008 Ram Laramie Transfer Case Shift Modes

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