December 30th, 2022 by

Getting a new Chevy Silverado is exciting, but it can also be an adjustment, learning how all the new features work. Or, perhaps, you’ve been driving your Silverado for years, but never paid much attention to the difference between 4-wheel drive high and 4-wheel drive low. Either way, we’re here to clear things up when it comes to your truck’s driving and operating capabilities.


Drive Modes

Let’s start with defining what a drive mode is. Drive modes allow drivers to adjust their vehicle’s performance based on changing road conditions. You might want to change your vehicle’s drive mode depending on the kind of trip you’re taking through West Michigan and beyond! A 2023 Chevrolet Silverado offers three different drive modes: normal, sport, and off-road.


  • Normal mode is great for everyday driving on Michigan city roads or highways.
  • Sport mode causes your steering response to tighten and your suspension calibration to be more responsive. This makes this mode great for drivers that really want to experience the performance of their vehicle, ideally on dry roads.
  • Off-Road mode is great for rougher road conditions like gravel, sand, and mud. This mode is designed to improve traction, maneuverability, and handling confidence in off-road conditions.



Not only does your Silverado come with different drive modes, but it also comes equipped with 2-wheel drive, AUTO 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive high, and 4-wheel drive low. Here’s when to use them!


  • 2-wheel drive is best for everyday driving on most streets and highways. It also provides the best fuel economy for your truck.
  • AUTO 4-wheel drive allows your vehicle to send power automatically to the front and rear wheels based on driving conditions. This is why it’s best to use AUTO when the road conditions vary, like light snow that could cause some slippage.
  • 4-wheel drive high gives you extra traction so it’s best for very snowy or icy conditions. In other words, a must for a Grand Rapids’ winter!
  • 4-wheel drive low should be used when you’re really stuck in heavy snow or other off-roading conditions like sand or thick mud. This drivetrain engages the front axle and delivers extra torque, helping you get out of sticky situations.


4-wheel high vs. 4-wheel low

Now you may be thinking to yourself, 4-wheel high and 4-wheel low sound pretty similar, so how do I determine what the situation calls for? The primary difference between the two is the speed at which you intend to travel. If you’re traveling at a speed greater than 25 mph, but need more traction than what AUTO 4-wheel drive provides, then you should switch to 4-wheel drive high. When power and traction matter more than speed, like when you’re stuck in a snow bank or going up a steep incline, then 4-wheel drive low is your best bet. A simple way to remember the difference is that 4-wheel drive high is for high speed and low is for low speed!

Check out this video for more helpful tips and demonstrations on how to switch between your drive modes and drivetrains in your Chevy Silverado. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxxlEvkB3wI

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