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4WD shift habits


New member
Someone was asking a few days ago about transmission behaviour when in 4WD. I searched but can't find the relevant thread. Anyway, here're my observations based on a couple hours at the local OHV area this afternoon.

Vehicle: 2001 Sport, NP231, 4-speed auto, 6 cyl.


D: All gears shift up and down as per 2WD.
3: Same as for D, but with fourth locked out.
1-2: Seems to be speed / rev dependent. On a flat, I could get it to shift up to second, then back down to first as per 2WD. However, it did seem to hold first longer between upshifts than in 2WD as well as giving road and engine speed a bit longer to fall off before allowing a downshift.


D: All gears shift up and down as per 2WD, but seems to do a 'protected' downshift where it gives priority to allowing revs and road speed to drop before shifting, more so than in 4Hi 1-2. Also holds gears longer before upshifts.
3: Same as for D, but with fourth locked out.
1-2: Holds first and does not seem to allow an automatic upshift to second - at least, I couldn't get it to do it. To get second, manually shift to third, wait for the shift, then place shift lever back in 1-2 position. Second will hold until revs drop, at which point it'll do the protected shift back into first (which can be a real necksnapper if you're not ready for it).

It should be pointed out that these are just my observations from behind the wheel. I have no idea how accurately they map to the intended or actual behaviour of the transmission per Chrysler's design, but this is how it felt like it was behaving. From what I remember of the previous thread, this seems similar to what the person enquiring about the shift behaviour was seeing.

As a side note: third gear in 4Lo has turned out to be extremely useful in descents where you want to control speed with engine braking but move a bit faster than a complete crawl. Pop the shifter into 3 from 1-2, let it upshift and raise the ground speed; pop it back into 1-2 if it's getting too quick (or you don't want third) and work the throttle to keep it in second if you don't want it dropping back to first.