How Fast Can You Drive In 4 High?

When it comes to how fast you can drive, 4 high can be tricky. Here we’ll discuss when to use 4-wheel drive high and the difference between 4WD low and high.

You can drive the 4Runner in 4WD high in the 0-60mph range without experiencing any problems. However, exceeding that speed doesn’t necessarily mean your differential or transmission will blow up.

Of course, if you are doing 60mph, you don’t need 4-wheel drive, so why worry about it? 

While 4WD can be used on long and open dirt roads or snowy motorways, driving at such high speeds on these types of road conditions carries risk. 

Since dirt roads have less traffic than paved roads, you are more likely to encounter animals. Furthermore, dirt is a loose surface, so if a bend is tighter than you anticipated, you may lose grip and end up in a ditch. 

If rain causes ruts, you may not be able to react in time. If these ruts are deep, you could easily get a puncture or damage suspension components.

On a snowy motorway, 60mph is too fast. If you have to change lanes to avoid an accident, or if the person in front of you brakes, you will lose control of your vehicle. 

The bottom line is, it isn’t practical to drive at that speed even though the vehicle is capable of doing it.

While driving in 4WD, stick to around 30-40mph on dirt roads or snowy motorways. Once conditions improve, switch back to 2WD and stick to the speed limit.

Does It Hurt Your Truck to Drive in 4 High?

Furthermore, it is obvious to ask whether driving in high range can harm your vehicle, aside from how fast you can go in 4×4 high. 

In short, it is not. However, this is only true if 4WD is used appropriately. 

A vehicle should only switch to 4WD on loose surfaces such as snow, mud, or dirt, and sharp turns should be avoided because they can lead to a bind-up of energy. 

It’s because when the vehicle is in 4WD, its front and rear axles can’t spin at different speeds. As a result, the energy will either be released through wheelspin or stored in the vehicle’s drivetrain, which may lead to a break.

So now you know why the wheels spin when you are in 4WD while turning!

Can You Drive in 4 High All the Time?

I’m afraid not!

As mentioned above, you will inevitably create an accumulation of energy within your vehicle’s drivetrain, which will lead to excessive wear or failure. 

Is It Dangerous to Drive Too Fast in Four-Wheel Drive?

Approximately 60mph is the maximum speed you can drive in 4 high, but what happens when you go faster? 

The answer is nothing, really. However, if you are going speeds higher than 60mph, either you don’t need 4WD or you are completely insane.

A 4WD vehicle consumes more fuel and wears out more quickly. There is a minimal difference in fuel consumption and wear, but it is evident. 

What is the Difference Between 4×4 High and 4×4 Low?

In 4WD high, power is transferred to the wheels using normal transmission gearing. In 4WD low, the power is transferred using high-performance transmission gearing.

In contrast, when the transfer box is switched to 4×4 low, the gearing is changed and the speed is greatly increased. The ratio of 3rd gear in the low range is pretty much the same as that of 1st gear in the high range, for example. By gearing, the torque of the engine is multiplied. It’s similar to riding a bike up a hill. When it hurts your legs and the pedals are too heavy, you shift to a lower gear.

You can concentrate better on picking your line when you are in the 4×4 low range since you do not need to maintain momentum to prevent the vehicle from stalling. Furthermore, when you are in the 4×4 low range, you can avoid damages caused by obstacles and rough terrain.

There is a different answer to the question of how fast you can drive in 4 high. Since the gearing is lower in the low range, the speeds that you can go dramatically decrease. Moreover, it is really not a question that needs to be answered in the first place. For speeds over 25mph, you should switch back to 4WD high or 2WD if back on the road. 

How Can Full-Time 4x4s Drive at Any Speed?

There may be the obvious question of how full-time 4WD vehicles such as Land Rovers and Toyotas always drive in 4WD high. 

If you are driving a full-time 4×4 in 4 high, you can drive at any speed you choose. 

To accomplish the above, they use a center differential that splits the power between the two axles, just like a normal differential. 

During cornering, vehicle differentials send power to the wheel with the least grip to allow two wheels on one axle to spin at different speeds, so the inside wheel has to cover a shorter distance than the outside wheel. 

Similarly, the center differential is designed to send power to the axle with the least grip, which allows the vehicle’s ends to turn at different speeds. 

Without a locked center differential, a full-time 4×4 will not function as a true 4×4 under low-grip conditions. 

Imagine setting off on an icy hill with all the differentials open. The center differential will direct all the power to the front axle if the left front wheel starts spinning since that’s the one with the least grip. Therefore, your 4×4 is now a one-wheel drive because the differential on the axle will once again direct the power straight to the left front wheel.

Whenever the center diff is locked, power will be split evenly between the two axles, and if both rear wheels are gripped, power will be sent to the rear wheels as well.

Power is again split between two wheels on each axle, so the vehicle is not a true 4×4.

Therefore, a 4×4 vehicle is only considered a true 4×4 if the center differential, front differential, and rear differential are all lockable. 

It is extremely dangerous to drive fast in a 4×4 or 4WD, as the higher ground clearance and different suspensions make going fast quite dangerous.

You should not drive your vehicle in 4×4 mode when you plan to drive faster. Below is the recommended speed for different surfaces. 

Roads & Highways

The drivetrain can become locked if you drive in 4WD on a surface with a lot of traction, especially on a highway.

The drivetrain binding occurs when a part-time 4×4 or a 4WD vehicle is driven in a 4WD high or 4WD drive. It results from the lack of slippage between the tire and the road surface.

If your 4WD drivetrain doesn’t have enough slippage, there will be a buildup of energy that may damage your transmission and other drivetrain components.

If your vehicle somehow gets stuck in 4WD, you should keep your speed below 55 mph and avoid driving on the highway. You would be better off having your vehicle towed than risking its components.

Vehicles with high ground clearance have long stopping distances, making them dangerous to drive fast. Slamming on the brakes of a speeding vehicle with high ground clearance will cause the vehicle to tilt forward, resulting in a loss of control.   

If you want to test your vehicle’s speed on a road, take it to a private road or track. Driving on a public road to test speed is both dangerous and illegal.


The fastest speed you can reach on a dirt road will depend on the model, engine, tire setup, suspension setup, and many other factors of your 4×4.

The majority of vehicles that come out of a dealership won’t be able to go very fast on 4WD high, this drive mode is designed for driving on a rough or loose surface.

When driving on dirt, gravel, or sand roads, you will experience bumps and ditches that will rock your car. These types of roads are difficult to drive on at slow speeds, and extremely dangerous at high speeds.

Driving fast on 4×4 or 4WD requires parts that can handle all the stress. Without the right modifications or parts, driving fast on 4WD high will cause your car to be unstable, and you have a greater risk of breaking its components.

It is definitely possible to go fast with your 4×4. But again, a 4×4 is not meant to go fast, but to give you more traction. Staying below 55 mph is still recommended to extend the life of your vehicle.

No matter what, driving fast on the road is dangerous. That’s why it’s best to do it on a track or private roads. This will ensure you won’t encounter other motorists.

What Are The Best Modern Off-Road Vehicles?

In extreme road conditions, 4x4s and 4WDs are great vehicles, but they cannot be taken everywhere.

The best vehicles for this are off-road SUVs or trucks because they can be used as daily drivers as well as weekend warriors. Off-road vehicles are ideal for adventurous people because they can be used as weekend warriors or daily drivers.

The following are some of the best modern off-road vehicles. Please note that these vehicles are not ranked.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The Jeep Mopar Wrangler Rubicon was exhibited at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), one of the world’s most important car shows.

Wrangler Rubicon is one of the top off-roading vehicles that outperform all other Jeep models and their competitors. If you’re looking for a vehicle with a powerful off-road capability, this is the right car for you.

Powered by a 6.4-liter V8 engine with 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, the Jeep Wrangler has a lot of power for both road and off-road driving.

There is a tire mount in the rear, as well as a removable roof and doors on the Jeep Wrangler, which makes installing a larger tire easier.

Toyota Tundra

The Toyota Tundra is a powerful truck that competes with vehicles like the Ram Rebel and Ford Raptor. Toyota is known for making exceptionally strong vehicles, including their off-road capable cars.

Unlike the old Tundra TRD Pro, the new Tundra TRD Pro uses a 3.5-liter twin turbo v6 engine with 437 horsepower and 583 pounds-feet of torque coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Tundra is a great choice for people hoping for extra comfort and off-roading capability.

Ford Bronco

Last but not least, let’s chat about the Ford Bronco. Historically, the Ford Bronco has been a go-to off-road vehicle and a fan favorite. Older models are still seen driving off-road today.

Its redesigned generation is designed for users looking for a vehicle with explicit design, capability, and exceptional durability. It is already outperforming other Ford SUVs thanks to its redesigned body.

With 270 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, the Ford Bronco now has a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a 10-speed transmission.

Unlike the previous model, the new Bronco comes in a four-door design. You still have the option of a two-door design and a 35-inch tire mounted on the rear. The top is removable.

In Closing

On a high-traction surface, it is never a good idea to drive fast in a 4×4 high. This may cause your vehicle’s components to break.

A 4×4 or 4WD high vehicle works best on loose surfaces such as grass, dirt, gravel, or sand. Unless you’re on a track or private road, it’s never a good idea to drive fast in 4×4 or 4WD high. Drivers should be able to determine whether the road or terrain requires 4WD, and if so, whether it is worth the risk to drive up to or exceeding 60 mph.

If you are in the market for a 4×4 vehicle, the Bronco, Wrangler, and Tundra are just a few of your best choices.

You should take your time to look at the specs of each vehicle before finalizing your choice of 4×4 off-roader since they all drive and feel differently. Take them all for a test drive!