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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a '05 Pathfinder and my dealer told me not to use the 4x4 in rain (not even heavy rain) as it will mess up the 4x4 system. He advised only use 4x4 when there is more than 1 inch of snow on the ground. Is this true?
 

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You can use the "auto" feature (LE model) but I would not use 4x4 unless you were in snow/off road. It shouldn't hurt it but it will bind on corners.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick reply. Unfortunately I only have the SE model so it doesn't have the "Auto" feature. The service advisor said if I use it in any rain it will bind and mess up the transfer case over time. I was thinking it would help with sure footing in heavy rain but if it's going to bind and ruin the transfer case than I will not use it.
 

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You should be able to shift in and out on the fly up to 50mph. I use my 4wd HI in the rain on wet entrance ramps, or other dicey situations including light snow and ice where u would have rather had a front wheel drive for extra traction then shift back to 2wd when conditions improve. Yes I have accidentally left it on at times with no ill side effects till I go to parallel park then the binding kicks in.
 

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You should be able to shift in and out on the fly up to 50mph. I use my 4wd HI in the rain on wet entrance ramps, or other dicey situations including light snow and ice where u would have rather had a front wheel drive for extra traction then shift back to 2wd when conditions improve. Yes I have accidentally left it on at times with no ill side effects till I go to parallel park then the binding kicks in.
 

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If your 2005 has a center differential, then it should be okay to use 4wd-hi in the rain, or even on dry pavement. If it does not, then it is a part-time 4wd system and I would use the 4wd-hi mode only when there is low traction and at low speeds. I definitely wouldn't put it in 4wd-hi when it rains and expect to drive around like normal. You can do that with a full-time 4wd system (aka all-wheel drive), but without that center differential the front and back axles are locked together. If there is any difference between axle speeds (like when you are turning), it gets resolved by breaking traction in one of the tires. That's okay when there is low traction and you are at lower speeds, but when there is some traction, it can make driving very unpredictable... something you don't want at normal driving speeds.

The way I see it, part-time 4wd systems help keep you moving (ie. keep you from getting stuck in snow, mud, or sand.) They won't keep you out of trouble (ie. give you better handling in rain or snow or around corners). In fact they can get you into trouble.

The Auto-4wd mode on the Pathfinder decides in real-time whether the transfer case should be in 2wd-hi or 4wd-hi. Presumably it knows if there's low-enough traction to need 4wd to keep you moving. It still won't improve handling as well as a center diff.

The 50mph shift-on-the fly feature is irrelevant to the discussion - just because it can do that doesn't mean it's always appropriate.

4wd-lo is the same story, except it has a much lower gear ratio and is designed for only for low speeds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks. Your explanation helps understand the difference. How can I find out if my '05 Pathy have central diff? It's a SE model without Auto Mode.
 

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Thanks. How can I find out if my '05 Pathy have central diff? It's a SE model without Auto Mode.
What I do is look under the car. There will be a front and rear differential signifying some form of 4wd. Then I look for a center differential somewhere near the transmission and transfer case.

I doubt that your Pathy has a central diff. They are usually seen on Subarus, high-end cars like Audis, or luxury SUVs like Land Cruisers.
 

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...and it occurs to me that it might be hard to recognize a center diff. In fact, I'm not sure I could identify one on a car without some mulling over.

Another way to tell is noting how it drives when in 4wd. Try this: Get on dry pavement on a residential street or quiet parking lot away from traffic noise. Roll down all your windows, put it in 4wd-hi and slowly (<10mph) drive a straight line. If you have a center diff, you shouldn't notice anything unusual. If you don't, there'll be all sorts of effects to notice. Some are subtle and some are not, depending on how sensitive you are. Through the open windows, you'll hear the tires fighting each other on the pavement. You'll feel the steering wheel get heavy and act as if it has a mind of its own. The car itself will feel squirrelly and you have to keep a firmer hand on the wheel to keep it going straight. There will be less responsiveness to the throttle (though this might be less apparent with an automatic transmission). The whole car just feels like it's fighting itself, which in fact it is. If the pavement is imperfect or uneven, these effects will get more pronounced. If, while still moving, you turn the steering wheel away from straight-ahead, the effects will get much worse. Pathy is absolutely hating all of this, so don't turn the steering very far from straight, and don't do this experiment often.
 

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There should be no problem using it in the rain if you poked along at well under 80km/hour. :)

FYI, I live where it rains heavily. I never use 4WD on hard-top. The Michelin LTX M/S tires perform beautifully. The occasional hydro-plane is minimal; I never come even close to losing control.

I should add, that I never use the 4WD off-road unless I have to.
 
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