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Thread: 4WD or AWD?

  1. #1

    Default 4WD or AWD?

    I'm looking at purchasing an '03 Tahoe LT. It says 4WD on the original window sticker and owner says it is, but on the dash I don't see 2 hi, 4 hi and 4 lo like you would expect. Instead there's only 3 buttons one has a pic of 4 wheels with the front turned slightly and the one below that says 4 lo.....

    Is this AWD or how does it work? I'd rather not buy an AWD vehicle, but maybe I'm just confused.

  2. #2


    Hi cibula11: I have a 03 Tahoe and there are 4 buttons to the left of the wheel. top is AWD next is 2 wheel, 4 hi and 4 low.....

  3. #3
    Master Mechanic Jimmeh's Avatar
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    Technically, Tahoe's (and any of the 4WD Chevy trucks) are 4WD because they are selectable. However, there is an AWD mode that you can select so that it's not in 4WD the whole time. My dad uses this in his pickup almost exclusively, and it drives me bananas.
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  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by BIGREDDADDY53 View Post
    Hi cibula11: I have a 03 Tahoe and there are 4 buttons to the left of the wheel. top is AWD next is 2 wheel, 4 hi and 4 low.....
    That's what i thought would be on it, but it only has a button that says neutral and then one with wheels turned to the right and then a 4 LO...I've googled it and can't seem to find exactly what the difference between 4wd and AWD....or how this relates to this vehicle

    ---------- Post added at 09:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:49 PM ----------

    So...I found this thread:

    Still wondering if someone could tell me if this option on the 03 Tahoe (which appears to be a denali drivetrain with the 4 lo option) is better or worse than a true 4WD option? Seems to be rare in any case.

  5. #5


    One of the biggest differences between AWD and 4 wheel drive is the percentage of power going to the front and rear wheels.
    Most AWD systems run roughly 35/65% front/rear, 4WD systems run closer to a 50/50% front/rear.
    AWD systems will always use a different transfer case than a 4WD system, in the AWD system the transfer case will have clutch's or some other device designed to allow wheel slippage so you dont break drivetrain parts as easily on dry paved surfaces.
    4WD normally will lock and grip on any surface while AWD slips if it gets to much traction.
    Other tha driving all 4 wheels at once (technically) the two systems really arent a like and have very different uses.
    4WD is really designed to be used of road on slippery surfaces while AWD is designed to aid traction on paved surfaces.

  6. #6


    Any idea then as to how this Tahoe compares to a standard 4WD or AWD....since it doesn't appear to be completely either?

  7. #7


    The difference will be in how you plan on using it.
    If you looking to build a lifted truck or want to use it to play off-road I'd look for something with traditional 4wd.
    If you want a decent handling road machine for inclement weather conditions then this vehicle should suffice.
    Even though its got 4 low/4 hi/2 hi this isnt a traditional T case, from what I could dig up it's a bastardized case GM used on a limited number of vehicles, with that in mind I personally would be leary of it because if anything ever happens it's gonna be hard to find parts and get rebuilt or repaired.
    I'd probably search for something with a standardized T case in it.
    But again that depends on your usage plans.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by tbplus10 View Post
    Even though its got 4 low/4 hi/2 hi
    Does it? This is what confuses me. There is not an option to stay in 2 just give the option for 4 if it's full time 4WD with a 4 lo me that would seem more like an awd. These are the buttons on the dash:

    Top=Stabilitrac On/Off
    Middle=4 wheels
    Bottom=4 Lo

    That said, I don't plan on going off road....just something to haul the family around in Iowa winters.
    Last edited by cibula11; 01-20-2012 at 10:29 PM.

  9. #9


    Scratch that your right it doesnt include any 2wd options.
    Without 2wd fuel consumption might be a little higher too, but they have gotten better than they used to be about mpg.
    This case also deletes the neutral option which makes it a bad choice if you ever want to tow it behind an RV.
    But if you plans are to use it as a safe winter family truckster it should serve that purpose well.

  10. #10


    So, basically it's a full time 4WD....where all wheels are spinning at the same time/speed? or is there a difference between this one and an AWD?

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