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  1. #1

    Default old man needs help on using the 4x4 button

    coming from a 2WD and my current suburban is out of service due to tranny issue, I tested a 4WD 1999 last night. I had no idea how to use the 4x4 button on the dash. I am sure most of you have 4x4 so if you can give me some info, that will be great.

    1) am I supposed to step on the brake, move the tranny to N, then press any of the 4x4 button (Hi, Low,). I tried it and I heard the click so I guess it engaged, but none of the 4x4 button light up.
    2) let say I have it in any 4x4 mode, how can I cancel it?
    3) so once I am in 4x4 mode, what happened if I shift to R? will R get 4x4 also?
    4) if I shift the car to park from 4x4 and turn the key off, on restart, will it go back to 4x4?

    I am new to that 4x4 things so any input on how to check/test 4x4 on used suburban will be very helpful.


  2. #2


    If its a "switch on the fly" then you don't have to be in "N" (neutral) to switch from 2-WD (2x4) to 4x4 high (high only, do not go into 4x4 low while rolling). If not a switch on the fly, them you can either place it in park or neutral and put it into 4x4 high / low and then put it in drive and it should show you that you are in 4x4 high or low (if the vehicle is equipped with a dash light showing.

    To cancel 4x4 high, if you have switch on the fly, you can just push the button labeled 2-WD and not worry about what gear your truck is in. If your coming out of 4x4 low then you need to put the truck in park or neutral and then push the button labeled 2-WD to disengage the 4x4. If you DO NOT have the switch on the fly feature then you need to exude your vehicle is in either park or neutral prior to switching from 4x4 high / low to 2-WD.

    If your vehicle is in 4x4 high / low and you put it in reverse, then you will have 4x4 high / low in reverse. (depending on which you have it in).

    As for whether or not the vehicle will stay in 4x4 high / low after turning the vehicle off and then back on, I'm not sure. I've never tried it with a push button 4x4. I know with a floor shifter for 4x4's if you leave it in 4x4 and turn off the vehicle, when you turn it back on it will remain on.

    As for checks on the 4x4 system, I'm not sure how you could test it other than the steering when moving slowly will be tighter and a little stiffer. Sometimes Gwen you push your 4x4 button and you don't see a dash light right away, sometimes you have to start rolling to engage it and then a light on the dash will come on.

    I hope this helps you out at least a little. Maybe someone else it experienced with this vehicle could explain better on how to test to see if you 4x4 is working properly.
    2012 Silverado LT crew cab Z-71: 6" Pro Comp lift w/ trailing arms / 18" Pro Comp black rims with 35x12.50 Pro Comp X-Terrain's / Black "Z71 4x4" Bed Decals / Flowmaster's "Super 40" series Single in - Dual out the rear

  3. #3


    It will remain in 4x4 when off because it is a mecanical change in the transfer-case.

    1996 Chevy Tahoe LT 5.7L V8 4X4 205,000+ miles. Built proudly at Janesville Assembly in Janesville, Wisconsin
    Basic mods: Lights all over, bunch of electrical work, and a couple cooling mods.

    Check out my other mods in My Garage:

  4. #4
    Jr. Mechanic BillM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Fair Oaks, CA


    Gunnin and Conlan have the answers. Very detailed and accurate Gunnin. You must be a Tech Writer?
    Bill M. Blown 2003 Tahoe Z71

  5. #5


    Thx bill. No tech writer just wanted to be as thorough as possible for "oldmanstuck". I didn't want him o get the wrong idea or go about it the wrong way. Thanks tho for the props.

  6. #6


    thanks for the info guys.
    I guess that sub I tested last night has a broken dash light since none of the 4x4 button light up. I did hear the clicking noise as the drive engaged. I also noticed it's harder to turn once in 4HI so I gess the system did work.

    Some how I found the 99 1500 4x4 drives slower than my 88 2WD sub. The tranny felt lazy also.

  7. #7


    The manufacturer suggests to be in Neutral and moving 1-2 mph to shift into and out of 4Lo. Also remember not to use the 4WD on dry and normal driving conditions. And what do you mean as far as the 99 driving slower? Isn't it the driver who controls the speed?
    00 Chevy Tahoe LT, 5.3 4x4

  8. #8


    Tested 2 1999 4x4, both have broken light on those 4x4 buttons.

    1) 160K miles, based, non leather, no running board, bench front. Everything seems in working condition but I hear something maybe an exhaust leak?
    2) 200K miles, LT with leather, running board, heated seat.... Owner said recent work included ball join, suspension, pumps, alternator, and tranny. Also has cold intake (K&N), broken barn door handle, some oil grease on left valve cover near the oil cap area, not sure it's common.

    Both around $3K and both have sign of oild grease/leak (but not drip) around transfer case, rear axle (common?) I said last time about the 99 was slow. On my 88 2WD, I step on it and it goes and shifts (when it was working) pretty smoothly compares to the 99 4x4. The gas pedal feels harder on 99 and I felt like I had to floor it to keep the car moving. Just took more effort to drive I guess. Acceleration just seems slower which make me wonder how it feel like when driving up a mountain.

  9. #9


    with the exhaust leak, check where the manifold bolts to the heads. See if the heads some of the bolts are missing. If you feel like you have to keep it to the floor to keep moving I would say that there is an issue. My 02 and 05 feel nothing like that

    1995 Silverado 4x4
    6" BDS Suspension Lift-3" Body Lift-Add A Leaf in rear -Trailmaster SSV Shocks-Duel Steering Stabilizer Kit -AirAid Cold air intake-
    4.56 Gears with Detroit Auburn Locker-Pro-Comp Traction Bars with duel shocks-Aluminum Skid Plate Kit-38.5" x 16.5" Mickey Thompson Baja Claws-Constant Dropping fuel gauge

    2005 Yukon XL Jet Power Programmer, Bilstein Shocks, Bilstein rear springs, Helwig Anti-sway bars, EGR Window Visors, EGR Hood Shield, Denali Headlights, Headlight harness upgrade, GE NightHawk Bulbs, White Night Rear lighting system, Russell Braided SS brake lines, PowerStop Brake pads, PowerStop cross drilled and Slotted Rotors,
    2002 Silverado ext cab 2wd (Sold)
    2003 Yukon XL (Totaled)

  10. #10


    My 96 Tahoe doesn't have a problem with acceleration so I would deff check that out especially if one has a K&N intake. My truck with out any engine hp gain mods usually has trouble with always wanting to accelerate. Also what do you mean by the lights are broken? Do you mean the yellow indicator bulb isn't lighting up?

    For the second there maybe grease by the oil cap because someone spilled well filling.

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