Have you ever found yourself driving down the road in your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo only to hit a slick patch, some loose gravel, or a snowy slope and realize you need more traction and torque? Activating the 4×4 system can give you the performance boost you need for these tricky situations. But if you’ve never used the 4 wheel drive before, knowing how and when to engage it can be confusing.
Can I simply flip a switch or turn a knob to activate 4×4 on my Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo?
Yes, activating theQUADRA-TRAC II 4wd system on Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredos is very straightforward – just locate the correct dial or switch on your center console and turn it to the proper position. We’ll cover the step-by-step process shortly.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about smoothly shifting your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo into 4wd mode, including:
- How the 4×4 system works on Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredos
- When four-wheel drive is useful or necessary
- Where to find the 4wd controls
- Step-by-step instructions for engaging 4 wheel drive
- Best practices for driving with 4×4 activated
- When and how to use 4wd low range
- Troubleshooting tips
Equipped with this information, you’ll be able to confidently activate the Jeep’s capable four wheel drive system whenever you need the extra traction or torque, dramatically increasing control and safety.
Table of Contents
Understanding Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 Systems
Modern Jeep Grand Cherokees like the Laredo model have excellent four-wheel drive systems that help optimize traction and performance in tricky conditions.
The Quadra-Trac II system available in many Jeep Grand Cherokees efficiently transfers torque between the front and rear axles using an electronic sensor and control module. This allows the SUV to automatically adjust and shift power where it’s most needed to maintain grip and forward momentum.
There are a few core benefits this provides:
- Enhanced traction and torque – By splitting power delivery between all four wheels, there’s less chance of individual wheels spinning out.
- Better handling – 4×4 allows you to accelerate, steer, and brake more confidently thanks to the increased traction.
- Low-speed assistance – Engaging 4×4 at low speeds provides tremendous benefits to acceleration, hill climbing ability, and control.
- Off-road capabilities – Obvious benefit here is the improved grip and torque while off-roading over rough terrain.
The Quadra-Trac II offers excellent 4wd functionality combined with the convenience of being able to leave it engaged on dry pavement thanks to the auto-disengagement at higher speeds. Typically this activates above 25 mph.
When To Use the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo’s 4×4
The main question most new Jeep owners have about 4-wheel drive is understanding when they should activate it. There are two primary scenarios:
Slippery Road Conditions
Obviously snow and ice are prime examples of when 4×4 can majorly benefit traction and control. The enhanced grip prevents tire slip that can occur when accelerating on loose snow or icy patches. This allows you to smoothly speed up, slow down, and steer wherever you need to go.
But winter weather isn’t the only application for 4×4. Other potentially slippery conditions like:
- Rain storms
- Gravel roads
- Wet leaves/pine needles
Can all benefit from activating 4wd to maximize tire grip. The key is gauging when you need help maintaining control and avoiding swerves. If the Jeep Grand Cherokee isn’t accelerating or turning like it should, consider shifting into 4×4.
This one is obvious but still worth mentioning specifically. Whenever you plan to drive on unpaved surfaces – especially very bumpy and uneven terrain – make sure 4×4 is engaged on your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.
Having all four wheels powered instead of just two is tremendously helpful for:
- Climbing steep dirt hills
- Crawling over rocks
- Powering through mud, deep ruts, etc.
The low-speed torque offered by 4×4 increases your off-road capabilities drastically. combined with the higher ground clearance on Jeep Grand Cherokees, you can traverse quite rugged landscapes easily as long as you take it slow.
Again, read the driving surface in front of you. If it looks extremely uneven, loose, steep, or slick and you need maximum traction to make progress without tire spin or getting stuck, activate 4wd.
Locating the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo’s 4×4 Controls
As promised earlier, engaging four-wheel drive on your Quadra-Trac II-equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo is very simple. But first you need to familiarize yourself with where the 4wd controls are located.
On models with automatic transmission, you’ll find the primary dial or switch on the center console – usually near the gear shifter. It’s labeled something like:
- 4WD High
- 4WD Low
2WD = normal rear-wheel drive
AWD = all-wheel drive mode for enhanced traction but still primarily powered by rear wheels
4WD High = locks in standard 4 wheel drive below ~55mph
4WD Low = extra low gearing for off-road (we’ll cover this shortly)
N = Neutral
Your owner’s manual will point out the exact location of this main control dial/switch to engage four wheel drive.
Some other 4×4 controls to note:
- There may be a secondary switch near the main dial labeled something like “4WD LOW” or “4LO” to specifically activate low range when the main dial is already in the 4WD High position.
- A dashboard light will typically indicate when 4×4 is engaged.
- Some models have buttons to manually lock or unlock the center differential for increased traction in extreme situations.
Now that you know where the four-wheel-drive controls are in the Grand Cherokee Laredo, let’s go over actually using them…
How to Shift Your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo into 4×4
Let’s run through the actual step-by-step process for engaging four-wheel drive when you need enhanced traction:
Come to a Complete Stop
It’s important your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo is fully stopped before shifting into or out of 4wd modes. The transfer case can be damaged trying to make the transition at higher speeds.
Shift Automatic Transmission into Neutral
If your Laredo has an automatic transmission, make sure to move the gear shift lever into the neutral position before changing 4wd modes. Leave the engine running.
Rotate Main Dial into “4WD High”
Turn the main control dial/switch to align the arrow with 4WD High. You’ll likely feel or hear the transfer case engage.
Resume Driving Below 55 mph
The Grand Cherokee Laredo will automatically lock into four-wheel drive when accelerating from a stop. A light on the dash confirms when it’s engaged. 4wd hi mode can be left on at speeds below 55 mph.
Note: For manual transmission equipped Laredos, simply clutch in, shift the transfer case to 4HI, then slowly release the clutch to pull away after stopping.
And that’s all there is to it! If you encounter slippery conditions, simply come to a complete stop, shift into neutral, spin the 4wd dial into 4WD High, and proceed cautiously.
The Quadra-Trac system will take care of sending the right amount of power to all four Jeep tires. You should immediately notice improved acceleration, cornering, braking, and control compared to standard rear-wheel drive.
Best Practices for Driving with Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 Engaged
Now that you know how to activate it, here are some best practices for driving with 4wd engaged in your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo:
- Take it slow – Resist the temptation to drive overly aggressively just because you have increased traction. Cornering/braking distances can still be compromised on slippery terrain.
- Avoid tight turns – Sharply turning at higher speeds with 4 wheel drive engaged can bind the drivetrain and lead to vehicle damage or tire hop. Keep maneuvering smooth.
- Watch speed in dry conditions – You typically don’t want to drive faster than 55 mph with the transfer case locked in 4wd on clear, dry pavement for very long. Listen for binding or unusual noises.
- Disengage if everything seems normal – If surface conditions improve and you no longer notice slipping or loss of traction, go ahead and shift back into 2WD for improved ride comfort and fuel efficiency. No need to leave 4×4 running full-time.
- Pay attention to 4wd warning lights – If a dash indicator comes on signaling a potential 4 wheel drive error, have your Jeep serviced promptly to prevent damage.
In most normal driving scenarios, leaving the Grand Cherokee Laredo in 2WD yields the best ride, handling, and mileage. The 4wd mode gives you reassuring grip when you need it. Use judiciously.
And as promised earlier, let’s talk specifically about the 4WD Low setting…
When and How to Use Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD Low Range
We briefly touched on this earlier when covering the main control switch/dial, but what exactly is 4wd low range for in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo? When would you use the 4LO setting?
Benefits of 4WD Low Range
The 4wd low setting provides an extra gear reduction inside the transfer case for tremendous benefits:
- Ultra slow-speed rock crawling ability
- Maximized low-end torque for powering up steep hills
- Allows higher initial gearing for slow-speed traction without having to ride the brake
Essentially, 4wd low range gives you tremendous benefits for very slow off-road maneuvers by altering the gear ratios to focus torque where you need it most – off idle at 0-5 mph.
Many other SUVs lack ultra low gears, relying instead on traction control and brake intervention to crawl slowly. The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s available 4wd low range gives you much better mechanical advantage.
When to Use 4WD Low Range
Because low range gears are optimized for very slow maneuvers, you should ONLY engage 4wd low under these conditions:
- Driving off-road slower than 5 mph to 10 mph
- Climbing or descending very steep dirt hills
- Rock crawling
- Pulling heavy loads at slow speeds
- If stuck, rock vehicle slowly to break free
Essentially any challenging low-speed maneuvering is suitable for the Laredo’s 4wd low setting.
Conversely, you should NOT use 4wd low range on dry pavement, especially above 10 mph. It puts excessive strain on driveline components not designed to handle the forces generated.
Shifting into 4WD Low Range
Here is the process for engaging low gear 4wd:
- Come to complete stop
- Shift vehicle to Neutral
- Rotate main dial into 4WD High position
- Press separate 4wd Low button/switch (often near main dial)
- Light on dash will indicate when gearing change is complete
- Carefully pull away and remember speed limits!
This engages that special ultra low gear range perfect for creeping up a rocky trail or backing down a boat launch. Take advantage where you need maximum slow-speed traction and torque multiplication.
Troubleshooting Common Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 Issues
While modern Jeep Grand Cherokee 4wd systems are robust and reliable, you may occasionally encounter issues engaging or operating four-wheel drive. Here’s advice on addressing two common problems:
4×4 Won’t Engage When Activated
If the 4WD indicator light on the dash flashes but won’t fully lock on, a few key things to check:
- Is the vehicle moving? It may require rolling slightly to line gears up.
- Is the automatic transmission in neutral? This is required to activate 4wd.
- Do any other warning lights indicate issues? Check diagnostics.
- Has the transfer case fluid been checked/changed lately? Low fluid can prevent engagement.
Try shifting out of and back into 4WD a couple times while moving slightly forward or reverse. If the light still won’t solidly lock on, take the Laredo to your Jeep dealership promptly to have the system inspected and repaired before driving further.
Ignoring intermittent 4WD engagement warnings risks drivetrain damage. Get diagnosed and fixed ASAP.
Stuck in 4WD on Dry Pavement
Ideally you wouldn’t drive long distances on dry pavement with 4 wheel drive engaged in your Grand Cherokee Laredo. But occasionally folks accidentally leave the transfer case locked while driving normally for awhile.
If you find yourself stuck in 4wd on pavement, don’t panic. Ease to a stop, shift to neutral, and rotate the dial back out of 4WD High. You may hear/feel a loud clunk from the driveline unbinding. This is normal.
If for some reason the dial refuses to disengage on pavement:
- Come to a smooth easy stop
- Shift to park
- Shut engine off
- Let vehicle sit for 30+ seconds
- Restart engine
- Shift to neutral
- Rotate transfer case dial to disengage
Allowing all driveline components to stop spinning for a bit can encourage the shift out of 4WD when stuck.
Avoid sharp turns with 4×4 still engaged as dreaded “tire hop” can occur. Take it easy and focus on straightening your path to get the transfer case to unlock. The Quadra-Trak will try to stay powered up in slick conditions so be patient but persistent shifting out.
And as always, if any other warning lights indicate drivetrain issues after an awkward 4WD pavement stint, get your Laredo serviced promptly. Technicians can check for binding damage.
Conclusion – Activation is Simple
Hopefully this comprehensive guide has eliminated any anxiety about smoothly engaging 4 wheel drive when you need it in your Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.
The Quadra-Trak II system makes shifting in and out a breeze. Just stop fully, shift to neutral, spin the dial or flip the control switch into 4WD High, and drive away once the light confirms you’re locked in.
Taking advantage of 4×4 provides awesome benefits:
- Increased traction, torque, control on slippery roads
- Greatly enhanced slow-speed off-road prowess
- Ability to tackle steep loose hills with ease
- Much better performance in rain, snow, mud and dirt
So don’t shy away from using this excellent feature during your next winter storm slog or backcountry adventure. Activate that capable Jeep Grand Cherokee all wheel drive whenever conditions call for it!
Let us know if you have any other questions down in the comments!