What Does 4L Mean in a Truck? A Comprehensive Guide

Four-wheel drive (4WD) systems are common in many trucks, offering enhanced traction and control in challenging driving conditions. However, understanding the different settings of a 4WD system, particularly the 4H and 4L modes, can be confusing for many drivers. This article will explain what the 4L setting means in a truck and when to use it.


Understanding 4WD Settings: 4H and 4L

In a 4WD system, there are typically two settings: 4H (High Range 4WD) and 4L (Low Range 4WD). These settings adjust the amount of power or torque delivered to the wheels, allowing the vehicle to adapt to different driving conditions.

What is 4L?

The 4L setting stands for ‘Low Range 4WD’. This setting is designed for situations where you need maximum power and traction. When you switch your truck to 4L, the vehicle applies more torque to the wheels, providing a better grip. This is particularly useful in challenging conditions such as icy roads, deep mud, crossing water, or climbing rocks.

However, it’s important to note that when using the 4L setting, you should keep your speed under 10 mph. This is because the vehicle is applying more power to maintain grip, and driving at higher speeds could potentially damage the drivetrain.

What is 4H?

On the other hand, the 4H setting stands for ‘High Range 4WD’. This setting is more commonly used than 4L and allows you to drive at speeds up to 55 mph while still delivering power to all four wheels. The 4H setting is beneficial when you need additional traction but drive at higher speeds, such as on slippery roads or in light off-road conditions.

When to Use 4L in a Truck

The 4L setting should be used when facing challenging driving conditions requiring maximum traction. Here are some situations where using 4L would be beneficial:

Icy Roads: The extra torque provided by the 4L setting can help maintain a grip on slippery, icy surfaces.
Deep Mud: If your truck is stuck in deep mud, the 4L setting can provide the necessary power to help you get out.
Crossing Water: When crossing shallow streams or flooded areas, the 4L setting can help maintain control and prevent the vehicle from getting stuck.
Climbing Rocks: The 4L setting can provide the extra power needed to climb steep, rocky terrains.
Always keep your speed under ten mph when using the 4L setting to avoid damaging your vehicle.


Understanding the different 4WD settings and when to use them can significantly enhance your driving experience, especially in challenging conditions. Always remember to switch to the appropriate setting based on the driving conditions and speed. If you’re unsure, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or speak to a professional mechanic.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.