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Discussion Starter #1
New to the forum and a fairly new RAV4 owner...

I have a 2008 RAV4 Sport...
I'm told that the 4WD kicks in on it's own, as it deems necessary.
To me, that means AWD...
When I start the car and the icons on the dash light up, I see one that says "4WD"... but, in the almost 2 years I've had the car, I've never seen that light up, even in snow.

Meanwhile, I have a "lock" button on the dash, that I keep getting very mixed explanations on. Some say that it IS in fact my 4WD. Others say that it's only to be used in spots that might make me spin my wheels - but not to be used as 4WD. When I press it, I see "lock" light up on the dash... but, I've yet to ever see 4WD light up.


Can someone help me better understand the lock button versus my 4 wheel drive?
Thanks...
 

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I also have a 2008 RAV4, however mine is 2WD. As I understand it, the RAV4 4WD system is not "full-time", but on demand. When you take off from a standing start, the rear wheels will kick in to get you going, then drop back to 2WD. Your RAV will be in 2WD most of the time. When the computer detects wheel slippage, it will activate 4WD until traction is restored. Also, 4WD will kick in during hard cornering and to aid the stability control when necessary. If you anticipate needing 4WD in advance, you can lock in the 4WD with the button. This gives you a maximum of 55% front, 45% rear drive until you reach 25 MPH where it will drop back to 2WD. The only time you will see the 4WD light come on is when there is a malfunction in the system.
 

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Well, then... that's good to know! So then I shouldn't go over 25mph with the lock button on?
No need to worry about that. When you hit 25mph the 4WD cuts out automatically, and if you press the lock button at over 25mph, it simply doesn't respond.

Note that besides 4WD there is TRAC and other control. Here, click the link below to get the full scoop on traction controls. It is good. Scroll down quite a way to find the TRAC, etc buttons and controls.

Here is its. Enjoy!
 

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For driving in snow, the RAV will automatically switch in to 4wd when it detects the front wheels ( the normal drive wheels) are turning faster than the rear wheels (i.e. wheel-spin). This happens so smoothly that I have not been able to tell that it is happening by feel alone. I occasionally crack the drivers door open and stick my head out to verify the rear wheels are actually spinning.

The only time I use the lock button is when climbing a steep dirt or snow covered road. The secret to maintaining traction in situations like this , is to maintain your forward momentum with a light application of continuous torque. If the front wheels where to spin for just a moment, that momentum would be lost, and the front tires might even dig a small rut in the dirt, before the transfer of torque to the rear tires could take place.

So engaging the lock button in situations like this will prevent that initial front wheel-spin, and greatly increase your chance of making it up the hill. On level ground the momentary wheel-spin seems to have little effect.
 

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i find the lock button to be useless...the computer handles the 4wd so well that i see no need to ever press it...just make sure you have good tires and you will never have traction issues...
 

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The only time you will see the 4WD light come on is when there is a malfunction in the system.
Correct and often misunderstood. Similar to the ABS and MIL (check engine) lights the 4WD light is an error indicator. They indicate something ISN'T working. Confusing because the LOCK light means it IS working.

As others have mentioned 4WD works so seamlessly you don't really need LOCK. To prove it to yourself try "launching" on grass or dirt. You'll either see four tire marks or none.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Excellent!

Thanks for all the great responses! This definitely clears up my confusion...
Now I'm glad I've never witnessed the 4WD lighting up on the dash!
I can drive calmer in the snow, now... or later.
 

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The only time you will see the 4WD light come on is when there is a malfunction in the system.
Dont mean to jack the thread, but...

How would one go about fixing this malfunction? My 4WD light is on, along with the CEL and VSC lights. All came on at the same time
 

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