Automotive Tips

The Unique Maintenance Needs of Four-Wheel and All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

Technician_Under_Car_2The maintenance needs of a four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle are different from those of its two-wheel drive cousin. Needs may also depend on how often it’s driven in severe conditions ranging from rugged off-road use to towing, stop-and-go driving, or rolling through dust, dirt, or mud.  Because these vehicles work hard, components like the transfer case and differential require extra TLC to stay in peak condition.

Below, Jiffy Lube of Southern California describes the necessary maintenance for 4WD and AWD vehicles including information about why the transfer case and the differential are important to the performance of these vehicles:

Transfer Case

This gearbox delivers power from the transmission to the front, rear or all four wheels depending on whether or not the vehicle is 4WD or AWD. The transfer case requires fluid to lubricate the gears so they stay cool and turn smoothly. It’s important to check the level of the fluid and change it per vehicle manufacturer recommendations remembering that driving in severe conditions (described above) will increase the optimal service frequency. If for example, a vehicle is regularly driven off-road in rough terrain, recommendations for a fluid change might jump in frequency from around 30-36,000 miles to 15,000 miles. Replacing the transfer case fluid on a regular basis prevents it from degrading and provides protection from premature wear and damage.


This gearbox allows the wheels to turn at different speeds such as when the vehicle is turning a corner. Because high internal temperatures can cause the differential fluid to break down, compromising its ability to lubricate the gears, it’s important to replace this fluid on a regular basis.

Recommended Care

To help ensure that your 4WD or AWD vehicle is ready to roll in nearly any type of road or weather condition, you can depend on your neighborhood Jiffy Lube for drivetrain services. During this service, our professional technicians will remove the old differential and transfer case fluids and replace both with new fluids.

It’s important to remember that any vehicle driven for extended periods in severe conditions will need routine maintenance more frequently than one that is used more gently or driven mainly on the highway. Jiffy Lube provides a wide range of preventive vehicle maintenance such as our comprehensive oil change service to smooth all your 4WD or AWD travels, whether you choose to go off road or stick to the beaten path.

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