My Toyota Tercel WD has only miles---a great little car...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

My 1985 Toyota Tercel 4WD has only 50,000 miles---a great little car. But, when I'm in 4WD and make a hard turn while driving slow, like in a parking lot, I get a strange sound from the front end and it feels like the wheels are slipping. When I'm not in 4WD, this never happens. A neighbor with the same car says they all do this, so I shouldn't worry about it. Should I?

TOM: Your neighbor is right that they all do this, Eldon. But he's wrong when he says you shouldn't worry about it. You SHOULD worry about it.

RAY: If you look in your owner's manual (that's the little book that says "1985 Tercel" under all the unpaid parking tickets in your glove compartment), you'll see that it says not to use 4WD on dry pavement, and not to make sharp turns while the 4WD is engaged. Because if you do, you could harm the four wheel drive system, or even lose control of the vehicle.

TOM: This car does not have a center differential, which means that when you're in 4WD, the wheels all turn at the same speed. That's fine as long as you're going straight. But when you turn, the outer wheels want to move faster than the inner wheels. So that noise you're hearing is a) the outer or inner wheels being dragged along the ground, and b) your four wheel drive system being slowly pulled apart by this action.

RAY: So if I were you, Eldon, I'd stay out of four wheel drive except under these conditions; when you're stuck in the snow or mud and want to get out, or when you're really tired of this car and you want to make sharp turns and ruin it.

TOM: And by the way, Eldon, when are you going to finish painting Murphy Brown's house?

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