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How to Put Jeep Wrangler in Four-Wheel Drive: Step-by-Step

How to Put Jeep Wrangler in Four-Wheel Drive: Step-by-Step

Jeep Wranglers are iconic off-road machines that look good on the street or covered in mud. Their off-road prowess is due to the exceptional four-wheel drive and light body that makes it perfect for trails and mudholes. So how do you put a Jeep Wrangler in four-wheel drive?

Put a Jeep Wrangler into four-wheel drive by locating the 4WD lever above the center console near the shift lever and moving it into 4H or 4L while the vehicle is stopped or going under 40mph. While stopped is best to avoid a gear slipping.

The number of handles and switches in Wranglers is enough to make your head spin. The lever to initiate the four-wheel drive is often located by the gear shifter, and some models could have no lever at all. Don’t sweat it! With practice, you will know all the ins and outs of the Wrangler. So read on and learn how you put a Jeep Wrangler in a four-wheel drive.

Putting a Jeep Wrangler in Four Wheel Drive

One of the first things you need to know is what kind of transmission your Jeep has. It comes with manual and automatic versions, each of which will have the exact location for the four-wheel drive lever. You should also learn which situations to shift in as transmissions are expensive to repair, especially with four-wheel drive.

You should always try to be stopped when changing the transmission from two-wheel to four-wheel. You can be moving to make the change but being stopped allows for a definite shift that won’t slip out or fail while changing.

Here’s a walk-through video with more info and written steps below:

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The First Step is Locating the Four-Wheel Drive Lever

Wranglers are usually known for having tons of accessories that allow you to spend money in the aftermarket to get the look you want for your ride.

However, one of the things they don’t usually talk about upgrading is the lever for the four-wheel drive. It is located by the regular gear shift and runs parallel to the console.

The steps involved in finding the four-wheel drive lever are:

  • Find the Gear Shift – One of the easiest places to locate the four-wheel drive lever is by looking for the gear shifter. It is a T-shaped handle with a button on the side for an automatic and a grip with a gear diagram on the top for a manual. Just below is the four-wheel drive lever. It is a long handle that resides next to the main gearbox.
  • Four-Wheel Drive Lever – The lever will be down by the console and should move backward when pulled. There will also be a few options for four-wheel drive mode, and you will feel the lever grind through them as you move.

The lever is easy to find and could be covered with a shiny bulb on the top and a boot that covers the moving pieces. However, the diagram on the top of the lever is a dead giveaway that you have the right handle.

The Next Step is Choosing a Four-Wheel Drive Mode

Now that you know where the lever is and how it moves, it is time to activate it. Once the lever has fallen into place, the transmission will switch power to all four wheels.

The modes will offer different terrain options for the Jeep, as the low-geared options work best in mud, while the high-geared mode allows you to find your grip in sand or snow.

The steps to choosing a four-wheel drive mode for your Jeep Wrangler are as follows:

  • Choose Your Mode – There could be four or five types of four-wheel drive to choose from in your model Wrangler. They are 2WD – two-wheel drive, 4H – four high, 4L – four low, and Neutral. There could also be an FT or PT button that allows the transmission to decide for itself what mode to be in.
  • Make the Shift – The mode you choose should be heavily influenced by how fast you are going and the terrain you expect to encounter. Choose low gears for places where you must climb hills or go through the mud. You should choose high gear for sandy beaches or snowy roads.

Once the mode is chosen, and the lever has been moved, you should be in four-wheel drive. You will notice that the vehicle moves slower and could be throwing more mud and dirt than average. It could also impact the engine and force it to work harder while moving less.

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How do I Put my Jeep in Four-Wheel Drive in the Snow

Snow is a hazard that could take the assets of your Jeep and make them liabilities. It takes a steady road surface, making it slick and covered with obstructions like slush and grit. Your focus should be on holding the road and not on setting any speed records.

  • Slow it Down – The first thing you must do is slow to a stop or a crawl. If you don’t, there’s a chance that the transmission could grind or fail to reach the gear. By allowing the transmission to change without moving parts, you ensure that it works as it should.
  • Shift the Lever – As soon as you are stopped, you should move the lever. It is located on the floor by the gear shift, and you should move it to the 4L or 4H gears. The depth and type of snow should determine your choice, but going with 4L is always good if you want to move slowly and deliberately.

Jeeps are safe and dependable in the snow. They have a sure footing that will allow you to move confidently up snowy hills and around icy curves. However, whatever mode you choose, stay away from drifts as they could cover large holes that could harm you and your passengers.


Placing your Jeep Wrangler in four-wheel drive is easy once you know where the lever is located and what the gears do. By doing a bit of homework, you will know which gears to use in specific scenarios and improve your confidence.

You should always be stopped or slowly roll when you change the transmission from 2WD to 4WD. By going slow, you allow the transmission time to click together and form a bond that enables you to move through your obstructions quickly. Putting your Jeep Wrangler in four-wheel drive is the opening stanza for a great adventure.

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