It is no big secret that if you want supreme traction when you drive over varying terrains, four-wheel-drive is the option you need in your vehicle. A four-wheel-drive traction control system was first installed on cars in 1903 and quickly became a popular fixture in off-road worthy trucks and SUVs. However, the early four-wheel-drive option meant stepping out of your vehicle and manually locking in hubs to get the desired traction.
Eventually, four-wheel-drive meant an extra shifter inside of the vehicle to turn on the power without leaving the vehicle, but even that was not convenient enough, and the most modern vehicles often feature four-wheel-drive controls that are a simple series of buttons. The push-button four-wheel-drive feature may be convenient, but all of this convenience comes with a price. Here are a few of downfalls and woes of this system.
More Opportunities for Electronic Failures
Between additional fuses, an electronic button panel, and a transfer case control module filled with wires and sensors, there is a lot of electronic effort that goes into the push-button four-wheel-drive system. If electronics were as reliable as good ole machinery, this would not be a big issue, but the simple fact is, electronic parts tend to have more complex problems when it comes to mechanics. This means that if your four-wheel-drive system fails, it could be a number of things causing the problem, which means repairs will not be a walk in the park and will almost definitely require an auto repair shop just for diagnosis.
Higher Battery Power Requirements
With all of the electronic action of the modern four-wheeling system, the extra drain can be taxing on your battery. Over time, this may mean alternator and battery replacements on a more regular basis. This is especially true if you use your system a great deal, either because of snowy weather or off-roading.
Excess Wear of the Transfer Case
The transfer case makes makes the transmission kick into four-wheel-drive on demand, regardless of whether you have a push-button or manual shifter. However, with a push-button system, which is obviously more convenient, there is a good chance that the transfer case will work even harder to keep up with the changing demands. In a lot of models with the push-button feature, the transfer case is lucky to make it through many years without needing to be replaced.
The bottom line is, push-button four-wheel-drive systems can have their fair share of problems in the long term. Some drivers think that the added convenience is worth the risk, but this is something you should heavily consider before you make the choice for yourself.