What does 4x4 Mean?

4x4 simply means that there are 4 wheels powered by 4 wheels (as opposed to 4x2 which is 4 wheels powered by 2 wheels). It is a type of all wheel drive (AWD) that also goes by the name four wheel drive (4WD). It means your truck is more versatile than the standard truck. Standard trucks eat your dust, sand, or mud. Standard trucks are made for the road. The 4x4 wheels, tires, and drive train on your truck are all designed to get you where there are no roads, or to keep you going when the roads get bad. There are three types of 4x4s.

Different Types of 4x4s

Full Time

With this type of rig, your 4x4 wheels and tires are always under power. The amount of power to the front and rear axles may change as necessary. The driver doesn't need to take any action to engage the AWD. You may hear this referred to as "permanent 4 wheel". All 4 wheels are under power all the time, on road and off road. You get to pick between 4 High and 4 Low. 4 High is your everyday setting. 4 Low is when you need more torque at slower speeds, like towing a heavy load or extreme off roading. The Dodge Ram 1500 is a great example of a truck commonly sold with AWD (part time is available as well, but we haven't got there yet). A great truck like that Dodge Ram 1500 deserves great 4x4 wheels. The Moto Metal 4x4 wheel M0951 with a chrome finish is a great wheel for that Dodge. Six split spokes means it has style, Moto Metal means it is made for performance on and off road.

Part Time

Part time AWD is all about options. The driver is in control of the power going to the wheels. You can pick AWD when you need it and cruise down the highway under 2 wheel drive when you don't need it. Most of the time, you switch between 4WD and 2WD with a lever or a switch. Check your owner's manual, but you usually make this switch when slowly rolling. Don't run your truck in AWD mode on the highway if you have part time AWD. Speeds above 45 mph can cause serious damage to the drive train. The quintessential part time AWD is the Jeep. A classic Jeep warrants a classic 4x4 wheel like the MKW OffRoad M81. This is a 4x4 wheel that looks as good on the road as it does off road. The one piece 4x4 wheel is made of a molded alloy engineered for off road durability.


GM refers to this wonder of modern engineering as "Automatic Transfer Case". This enables the truck to automatically switch between AWD and 2WD as driving conditions change. GM isn't the only game in town, but they are a leader. According to GM this means "the front axle is engaged, but the vehicles power is sent only to the front and rear wheels automatically based on driving conditions." This is a great set up for driving in bad weather conditions. It is not engineered for serious off roading. If you want a stunning look, pick a 4x4 wheel like the KMC XD-Series XD775 Rockstar Black for your GMC made Sierra 1500 with Auto AWD.

Care of your 4x4 Wheels and Truck

You may consider a coating of mud to be a badge of honor. It's not. After deep or heavy mud, be sure to rinse the undercarriage. That mud dries and gets very heavy, adding weight to your truck, robbing you of fuel efficiency. A layer of mud is NOT a rustproof coating.

If you aren't going to bother to wash your truck with soap, at least rinse it off. You aren't making mud pies, so continue rinsing until the water runs off clear. Be careful with coin operated car washes. That high water pressure can be enough to blast away your truck's latest lube job.

A coating of polish will help keep your 4x4 wheels looking good. A quick treatment with the D-Spec Polish Pad is all it takes.

Even if your truck is only used for work, at least vacuum the interior every once in awhile. Dirt, dust, and sand are just as abrasive inside as outside. These particles will break down the fibers on the seat upholstery and carpet. Vacuuming won't kill you and your truck will thank you.