You may have some good reasons why you want to keep your 2wd vehicle and convert it to 4wd. Many people love their 4wd vehicles because they have some advantages over 2wd. You can drive on ice and snow with better traction, and you know that the power of your vehicle is distributed evenly. There are many other reasons for wanting a 4wd instead of a 2wd.
Yes, it is possible to convert a 2wd to a 4wd vehicle. The question is whether or not it is worth the time and money to do this. It might be easier to sell your 2wd and buy a 4wd similar to your beloved 2wd vehicle. Find out how much is involved in making this conversion and then decide if it’s really what you want to do.
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Is it Possible to Convert a 2wd into a 4wd?
As we’ve said, it is possible to convert a 2wd into a 4wd drive, but have you considered the expense of doing so? It might be cheaper to simply buy a 4wd that you like. In addition, you will have to spend many hours on this project and may wish that you hadn’t started it.
Just because it is possible to take on a big project like this doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for you.
Is It Worth it?
Maybe you regret not buying a 4wd when you purchased your current vehicle, or maybe 4wd models weren’t available. Changing your 2wd to 4wd will require many parts such as a 4wd transmission, front differential and driveshaft, and many more. You have to have an excellent knowledge of cars and their parts to do this.
The cost of changing your truck to a 4wd may shock you. The average price ranges from $10,000 to $25,000. Then, consider the amount of time it takes to complete the work. It also requires many hours of work which usually ranges from 100 to 300 hours. This means putting aside some other things that you like to do to work on your conversion project. If you only have 3-4 hours of time per week, it will take a very long time to finish this project.
You may know a lot about cars and even have experience as a professional mechanic, but this project is still very complicated and time-consuming. It is like rebuilding your vehicle in some ways. You have to remove some parts like these:
- 4-wd transmission
- Control arms, springs, and cross members
- Transfer case
- 4wd tail shaft
- Chassis components
There are many other parts that need to be removed from an old 4-wheel drive truck that you have purchased. Then the current parts need to be removed from your 2wd truck and the 4wd parts put in their place. One of the most important steps to this process is finding a donor car to take useable parts to put into your current vehicle.
One of the tricks to know before you begin this project is that some 2wd drive models are easier than others to convert to 4wd. Earlier models lack the technology and wiring that newer vehicles have. The structure and framework are far simpler than modern models.
You may need to spend time rebuilding used parts before inserting them in your current truck. Junkyards typically have information on where to get the rebuilding parts, or they may sell these kits. Parts in the old vehicle may be rusted on and difficult to remove, or some of the parts need to be replaced.
Conversion kits can help you with this project, and there are many different kinds of kits appropriate for various car parts. The Helix HEXA 320OEFTriangulated 4-Link Kit includes nuts, bolts, springs, bars, and everything you need for this one change in your vehicle. A conversion kit can save you time because you don’t need to buy these small parts individually and they have already been gathered together for you. There are other websites that sell a variety of conversion kits.
As you are converting your vehicle from a 2wd to 4wd, you may realize that it would have been much easier to buy a new 4wd vehicle. Your 4wd converted vehicle isn’t going to bring you joy if it exceeded the cost of the truck and does not run properly.
What Is the Easiest Way to Convert a 2wd to a 4wd?
We have already mentioned some ways to make the job of converting a 2wd to a 4wd easier. These are choosing a used 4wd drive vehicle that is in good condition because otherwise, the parts may be rusted on. You don’t want to face a battle each time you want to remove a part from that vehicle.
Another way to convert to a 4wd is by using conversion kits. All of the parts you need are there and you can skip their removal from the old vehicle. Conversion kits can also skip rebuilding parts that can’t be put in your vehicle until they are repaired or rebuilt.
The last thing that we have already mentioned to make this job as easy as possible is to convert an older model truck because they do not have the complicated wiring and technology that newer vehicles have. They also have simpler frames.
To add to those, the job can be made easier by using the internet to find articles and videos that clearly show how to replace a part on the truck’s road to becoming 4wd. The internet is definitely a good instructor that provides clear steps on almost every subject. If you don’t like one video or article, switch to another until you get to one that is easy for you to understand.
You can learn tips and tricks from others who have already converted their vehicle from 2wd to 4wd. Learn tips about how they would do it if they had to repeat this step of the conversion.
It is also helpful to talk to mechanics and car parts store consultants who have come in contact with many people who attempted this difficult job. You may change your mind after hearing their tales about this experience.
What You’ll Need to Do
There are some steps that you’ll need to take before beginning your conversion project. Find out if your current vehicle is one of those considered easier or more difficult to convert.
Then, look for a used 4wd vehicle that you can buy, making sure that the transmission and other necessary parts are still in useable condition. If you need to spend time rebuilding parts, consider this in your time plan it will take to do.
You will need to also figure out a budget of how much you want to spend converting to a 4wd. Use this article as a guide as to the parts you need and research online to find deals on lower-priced useable parts.
Make sure that you have a garage to work in to complete this job.
Modern Vs. Old
Modern vehicles are much more difficult to change from 2wd to 4wd as we have mentioned. Newer models after 1992 have simpler structures and frameworks. They do not have the technology and extra parts of newer vehicles. Modern cars, trucks, and SUVs are far more complicated under the hood than older models.
Take the time to investigate the old 4wd that you are considering buying. It needs to be in decent condition with a transmission that hasn’t had major problems. If it was blown or needs rebuilding, you will need to ask yourself if it is really a great bargain.
IFS Vs. SFA
An Independent Front Suspension (IFS) and a Solid Front Axle (SFA) have different capabilities, so deciding which one to use depends on what you intend to do with your 4wd vehicle.
In other words, where will you drive it the most? An IFS is best to use on the road, and it typically handles off-roading in most cases. An SFA is made for more difficult trails and for dune driving.
If your vehicle will be used for driving to and from work and around the city to shop and take care of necessities, then an IFS is probably the best choice. If the vehicle you are changing from 2wd to 4wd drive will be driven primarily offroad, then an SFA is the better choice.
Manufacturers known for vehicle diversification are the best ones to stick with. You will want to vehicle utilize the same chassis, drivetrain, and other components in models, types, and ranges. You would make the conversion of your truck much more difficult by attempting to change it into a different model or type.
In other words, it’s not a great idea to convert your truck into a different model because some of the main parts will be different in size and shape. Yes, you can change from a 2wd to a 4wd drive by taking parts from an old junked, or wrecked vehicle of the same model as your current 2d drive vehicle.
We will discuss some of the components that you will need for your conversion from a 2wd to a 4wd below:
Transfer Case – A transfer case is what makes a vehicle 4wd. Transfer cases split engine power and send it to all four tires via the front and back axles. The most common kind of 4wd is the type that can transfer from 2wd to 4wd. They offer smooth rides on streets and highways while the off-road function is used part-time.
Transfer Case Gear Shifter – Advance adaptors atlas cable shifters can replace your 2wd with a universal 4wd part. Some repair kits have all part needed for this job. Gear shifters can be purchased at auto supply stores or online at many different websites.
A Complete Front Axle Assembly – A front axle has many functions in a vehicle. It turns the front wheels and provides steering action. It also controls the ride with shock absorbers and takes the weight of the vehicle front. Both live axle replacements and dead axle replacements are available. The live axle is in most cars and heavy trucks. It transmits power to the rear wheels. You will need to find the right axle for the truck or vehicle you are transforming into 4wd.
Wiring Harness if Existing Wiring if Existing Wiring Does Not Include Blanked-Off Wire Connections – A wire harness is a group of cables joined together with an external sheath that holds them together. They keep wires organized and easier to access. Wire harnesses in vehicles help two components work together without interference from one another
Upgrade/New 4×4 Compatible Transmission – An upgrade strengthens and prolongs the life of a transmission. To find out if a transmission is compatible, use the Transmission Cross Reference and Interchange Chart to find a compatible transmission for your vehicle.
Adding a 4wd Transfer Box to a 2wd
A 4wd transfer box transmits power from the engine to the front and rear axles of the vehicle. It shifts the 2wd to 4wd and is an important part of the vehicle. It works with many other components to do this. Some of these are differentials, drive axles, wheels, transmission, and driveshafts.
Once you get the 4wd transfer box into your vehicle and finish the switch that you are making, there are some things that you can do to prolong the life of the transfer box. Gentle shifting, using 2wd when driving on the road, and by not overusing the transfer box.
Converting a 2wd to a 4wd Drivetrain
Your truck may be much easier to convert to a 4wd if your current vehicle was also available in a 4wd model. This could make your conversion far simpler because some of the mounting holes, wiring harnesses, and brackets may already be in place.
Don’t kick yourself for not buying the 4wd model because your vehicle can now be changed to a 4wd. That is if you have a large bank balance and a lot of mechanical knowledge about how cars are put together.
Conversion kits can make your job much easier since they have all components and accessories in one kit. They eliminate ordering and gathering together many small parts to work on the next phase of this project.
It is important to understand that you will get fewer miles per gallon when you fill up your tank because a 4wd is heavier to move than a 2wd drive.
Upgrading the 2wd Suspension to Handle a 4wd
Without proper suspension, it would be difficult to drive and handle a vehicle. A 2wd drive needs a specific suspension while a 4wd needs one as well.
The ride would be very bumpy and uncomfortable without the right suspension. The weight capacity that you will use once your truck is a 4wd determines the kind of suspension that you need in the 4wd truck.
Investing in good shock absorbers is definitely a smart choice to make. A suspension system that will take a beating is the best kind to put into your truck. The suspension system is made up of three things. They are the following components:
- Shock absorbers
There are two different kinds of 4wd suspensions. They are solid axle or independent suspension. An independent suspension (IFS) was discussed earlier in this article. They have limited flex and strength and cannot be easily lifted more than 2 inches. They do provide a more comfortable ride.
A solid axle has two sides that move at the same time. These are ideal for larger lift kits and for larger tires. You will need to decide which suspension system will probably work best for you.
2wd Versus 4wd Engine Power
A 2wd vehicle has its pros and cons. In this chart, we have listed some of them for you:
|Advantages of 2wd||Disadvantages of 2wd|
|Fuel efficient||May slide on snow or ice-not good on all terrains|
|Costs Less to Buy||Less Power|
|Lighter weight than a 4 wd|
You may want to use your vehicle for off-roading, and for this purpose, a 4wd vehicle may be a better choice. Here are some pros and cons of a 4wd vehicle:
|Advantages of 4wd||Disadvantages of 4wd|
|Can be driven as 2wd||Weighs more|
|Good traction off-road||More expensive|
|Uses more gas than 2wd|
Is It Easy to Convert a 2wd Transmission to a 4wd Transmission?
It is never easy to convert a 2wd transmission to a 4wd transmission. It always requires a lot of work and money. Many people who do this experience a lot of frustration because they didn’t realize just how much work and money the conversion would cost.
Sometimes it is easier to make this change from a 2wd to a 4wd if you happen to have a lot of things going your way. Here is a list of some of the things that make this project easier:
- Having a temperature-controlled garage with good lighting
- Your vehicle was available in a 4wd model, so it already has some of the necessary holes drilled and wires available in your current vehicle.
- You own a 2wd vehicle that is easier to work on because it’s an older, simpler model that was made in 1992 or before.
- You find a donor vehicle that has easily removable parts that don’t require repair or to be rebuilt.
- You have plenty of time to change your vehicle.
- You have as much money as you need to make the change from a 2wd to a 4wd.
These factors can simplify the job, but it is never easy to do.
If you have considered everything related to changing your vehicle from 2wd to 4wd, and you really want to do it, it is possible for you to do this. Most people prefer to sell their current vehicle and buy one with 4wd capability. The most important thing about this conversion is realizing what is involved in it.
I’m William Guzenski, ASE certified master automobile technician & automotive expert. I love to attend race events and car shows throughout the country. I also loves to travel 40-foot motorhome, exploring abandoned mines and ghost towns. I’m currently building another car for Bonneville Salt Flats and will be campaigning a drag car at several events.