Dealer warns front axle will wear out if left in 4x4

willg

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Equipment
l2501
Aug 28, 2022
1
0
1
34442
Surprised at delivery, dealer told me i will wear out my front axle if using 4wd too much! What is up with that? I know not to run 4wd on hard surface but in loose soil should i worry about leaving 4wd engaged?
 

chim

Well-known member

Equipment
L4240HSTC with FEL, Ford 1210
Jan 19, 2013
1,257
339
83
Near Lancaster, PA, USA
Welcome aboard!

My understanding has been that unless you need 4WD, you shouldn't use it. Even in loose soil you can get enough traction to place unnecessary load on the gears. If you can't go where you want in 2WD, put it in 4. I keep mine in 4WD when running in snow or mud but usually take it out when on surfaces where I get enough traction in 2WD.

I do engage 4WD when scooping up material from piles regardless of the terrain. Then I pop it into 2WD. That's almost exclusively driving straight, which isn't the same as having the machine in 4WD while turning.

This is the first of many opinions you'll get:)
 
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Biker1mike

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B6200, Kubota 2030 Front Blade, King Cutter 60" finishing deck
Jan 11, 2022
411
327
63
Gallatin, NY USA
My B is in 4wd almost ALL of the time.
I have a lot of steep lawn and waiting until I loose traction is just an unsafe option.
 
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ve9aa

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tg1860, bx2380
Apr 11, 2021
585
352
63
NB, Canada
I mow 2ac in 4WD....the first time I did, I noticed the front axle was pretty gosh darn warm, and fluid was weeping (pressurized slightly) out the fill cap.

I don't notice this when I am doing general yard work in the summer, nor snowblowing in the winter.

Not sure what to make of this. I don't like the idea of "waiting til you are sliding/spinning" before engaging 4WD...
 
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hodge

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John Deere 790
Nov 19, 2010
2,676
137
63
Love, VA
Everything wears out. The more it is stressed, the more accelerated the wear. If you don't need 4WD, running it in 4WD will speed up the wear. Even on loose surfaces, tension builds up in the driveline. That's why you sometimes need to reverse direction (or get a wheel off of the ground) to unwind that tension and shift out of 4WD. It's physics, not a sales tactic.
How much wear, and how quickly, is supposition. However, it is true that adding stress to the driveline will accelerate wear.
 
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RBsingl

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Kubota F 2690 72" rear discharge deck, Deere 955
Jul 1, 2022
251
235
43
Central IL
I have mowed 5 acres of law for 26 years with my Deere 955 compact util and 72" midmount. I have a lot of hills but the only time I engage the front axle while mowing is when cutting along the roadside ditches where the bank is pretty steep.

There are plenty of times I engage the front axle when using the loader and sometimes I also use the differential lock.

I have a Kubota F2690 on order which has auto 4WD to take over the finish mowing duties from the Deere 955, it will be interesting to see how often it engages 4WD while mowing.

When turning, the front and rear axles are tracking at different angles and tire slippage at one or more wheel positions has to happen with a 4WD system that doesn't have a differential as part of the transfer case. If all of the tires have good traction, then a lot of force is being generated. Worse with this type of 4WD system is when either wear or inflation causes the design rotation speed between front and rear to be off spec even when going in a straight line.

Any driven parts wear and that wear happens even in normal use. But when it is under much higher stress which is what occurs with 4WD when all wheels have good traction, then the wear rate is much higher.

VE9AA, how long had you owned your tractor when you noticed the warm front axle? Differential gear sets develop heat in normal operation but this heat generation is much higher during the first hour or so of operation even at the low speed of tractors. With new cars, the biggest beneficiary of a proper new vehicle break-in is the differential assembly which can generate extreme heat during initial operation. With my RWD vehicles, I do an initial rear axle fluid change at 1,000 miles knowing that there are going to be considerable wear particles generated during the first few hundred miles of operation.

Rodger
 
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lynnmor

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B2601-1
May 3, 2021
735
510
93
Red Lion
When turning, the front and rear axles are tracking at different angles and tire slippage at one or more wheel positions has to happen with a 4WD system that doesn't have a differential as part of the transfer case. If all of the tires have good traction, then a lot of force is being generated. Worse with this type of 4WD system is when either wear or inflation causes the design rotation speed between front and rear to be off spec even when going in a straight line.
Rodger
Kubota actually has a slight mismatch built in for handling reasons. There will always be some load on the drivetrain even on a perfectly flat and level surface when in 4WD.
 
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RBsingl

Active member

Equipment
Kubota F 2690 72" rear discharge deck, Deere 955
Jul 1, 2022
251
235
43
Central IL
Kubota actually has a slight mismatch built in for handling reasons. There will always be some load on the drivetrain even on a perfectly flat and level surface when in 4WD.
Jeep used to do the same thing on some of their full size SUV units years ago prior to their full time systems, don't know if they still do. But the mismatch was very small.

I was at my Deere dealership years ago picking up some filters and enjoyed watching a tech who was trying to decide whether to laugh or get angry with a customer who was furious that his nearly brand new tractor was no longer working smoothly in 4WD. He had decided after delivery to get an aftermarket wheel/tire set for the rear and put much larger diameter than stock R1 tires on the rear while leaving the stock turf tire setup on the front.

Rodger
 
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Fordtech86

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L3200
Aug 7, 2018
3,376
2,453
113
Pineville,LA
With new cars, the biggest beneficiary of a proper new vehicle break-in is the differential assembly which can generate extreme heat during initial operation. With my RWD vehicles, I do an initial rear axle fluid change at 1,000 miles knowing that there are going to be considerable wear particles generated during the first few hundred miles of operation.
Not discrediting any thing you said, it certainly doesn’t hurt anything…

But I’ve been in the new car dealer world for 20 years now…at 16 I was the one doing the PDIs on the vehicles right off the transport truck, I promise you they were broke in upon customer delivery 🤣🤣🤣.

edit: I wonder if that first gt500 we got in is still on the road 🤣🤣🤣 or the 04 gt 😬.
 
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Mlarv

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Equipment
BX23S
Jan 19, 2020
190
147
43
Crossville TN
All 4WD axles are different ratios from front to back. Let's say you have a 411 rear end the front axel will be just a tad faster so it won't get pushed. It has been done like this for many years. Now onto the tractor question. Yes it will wear faster. Now will it wear fast enough for you to notice in 30 years if you take care of it? Driving fast on the road 2wd and high. Doing any type of work 4wd either low or high gear. My tractor is in 4wd 90% of the time.
 
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jimh406

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Kubota L2501 with R4 tires
Jan 29, 2021
1,234
845
113
Western MT
Surprised at delivery, dealer told me i will wear out my front axle if using 4wd too much! What is up with that? I know not to run 4wd on hard surface but in loose soil should i worry about leaving 4wd engaged?
My L2501 HST has been in 4WD almost the entire time I’ve had it. I can’t say if I’m causing extreme wear, but it seems to be doing well. My dealer didn’t suggest running in 2WD. Other than a tiny part of my driveway that is paved, I’m never on pavement.

The reality is most of us who don’t use our tractors for a business or hardcore farming will not wear out our tractors no matter what we do.
 
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FreezinGator

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Equipment
BX1500 LA181 FEL 48MMM Back blade
Jul 10, 2020
54
44
18
Upstate NY
I only run my BX in 4 wheel drive when I need it. I find that with loaded rear tires and/or rear ballast I rarely need 4WD. I use 4WD in snow, going up and down hills and when using the loader going into a pile. Most of the rest of the time I don't need it and I find it tears up the lawn and makes tight turns harder. As always though you should do what makes sense to you. Make sure to keep an eye on the axle fluid level as it takes a while to stabilize and don't trust that the tech at the dealer filled it properly...
 
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minthral

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Kubota L47
Nov 22, 2021
182
83
28
NC
I think the saleman should stick with sales. He should talk about features etc. His statement about 4wd is misguided.

Using 4wd is mandatory on a tractor when using a loader and even more so when operating on slopes. It's not safe without it. When on dirt or grass, the front axle has ability to spin freely. Really the problem is when turning hard the system can bind...but then again when doing this, it is at really low speeds and (hopefully and realistically probably) where the front wheels don't have the best traction. Tractors have a heavier axles designed for the abuse. Unless you're constantly doing circles in 4WD, it's fine as heat doesn't build up fast enough to be problem, though eventually you need to change out the axle oil as part of the routine maintenance. Maybe I'm in the dark, but I've never heard of a tractor with a 4WD failure.

Also 4WD on a tractor isn't really 4WD. It is front assist with an open differential. Basically if one wheel spins and it doesn't have traction, other one doesn't spin either. This is different than dif locks + transfer case on trucks and jeeps. Tractor type system is a lot more reliable and user friendly in regards to 'leave it in 4WD.'

The only time you shouldn't use 4WD in a tractor is when you are concerned about damaging grass or when on pavement (because it isn't required) and need to make a hard turn. If you're doing hard turns a lot, I'd be cautious of heat build up.

Of course everything wears, but I doubt the 4WF system will be the first to go versus the other systems on the tractor.
 
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jajiu

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Lifetime Member

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L3560 HSTC,Grader, Backhoe, Root Grapple, Snow Plow, Pallet Forks
Jun 5, 2016
423
82
28
72
Rowley, Massachusetts
I have a 1000' gravel driveway with several hills and one very steep hill and my L3560 is always in 4WD unless I go to my neighbors house and up his paved drive. Never had a problem and it runs great. I purchased my tractor new in 2014. I take care of my equipment and it takes care of me. Change your fluids, filters and lube it regularly, no problems.
 
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steveh

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Equipment
Kubota L4701, forks, Land Pride rear blade, Wallenstein splitter
Dec 1, 2020
41
28
18
Rocky Mountains
I am on my third Kubota in 30 years and live where roads are dirt and driveways gravel and the slopes steep. In the mountains, in other words. Each of my tractors, bought new, went into 4WD when the delivery truck set them on the [dirt/gravel] ground and did not leave 4WD until a truck picked them up to take to the buyer when I upgraded to the next one. Never any problem from the 4WD, never even heard of that from anyone else.
 
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Freeheeler

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Equipment
b2650 tlb
Aug 16, 2018
660
457
63
Knoxville, TN
There's a little controller that lets 'you decide' if you want to engage the front axle or not. Use it as you want ;)
 
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mikester

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M59 TLB
Oct 21, 2017
1,806
693
113
Canada
www.divergentstuff.ca
Surprised at delivery, dealer told me i will wear out my front axle if using 4wd too much! What is up with that? I know not to run 4wd on hard surface but in loose soil should i worry about leaving 4wd engaged?
People worry too much. Be more like those guys who leave 4WD on all the time, remove the ROPS and safety switches, and stop wasting money on stupid things like oil and filters. Post more on user groups.
 
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ve9aa

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Equipment
tg1860, bx2380
Apr 11, 2021
585
352
63
NB, Canada
People worry too much. Be more like those guys who leave 4WD on all the time, remove the ROPS and safety switches, and stop wasting money on stupid things like oil and filters. Post more on user groups.
mikester: Wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?
Why all the sarcasm and bad vibes, guy?
 
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