Jeep Wrangler 2H 4H N 4L (Explain)

We are here to explain Jeep Wrangler 4WD modes: 2H, 4H, N, and 4L. And if you are a seasoned off-roader, you find most of this stuff somewhat redundant.

A 4WD vehicle will have either a part-time or full-time four-wheel drive system.

Part-time 4WD systems mean vehicles typically drive in two-wheel drive (2H) most of the time and switch to four-wheel drive (4H or 4L) to get better traction.

And in a full-time 4WD system, the vehicle will have 4H and 4L options with a differential lock.

Jeep Wrangler 4-Wheel drive System (Explained)

Let’s start with the 4WD fundamentals. The vehicle engine produces the torque or rotating force coupled with the transmission system.

The transmission system alters the speed and the torque and sends it to the differential via the driveshaft to rotate the wheel.

Differential either open or lock. With an open differential, the torque goes to the wheel with less resistance. And with a differential lock, the torque is split 50/50 between the wheels.

The locking differential does not allow the difference in wheel speed, which can restrict the vehicle’s ability to turn and is not adequate for high-traction surfaces. We can activate the locking differential by switching the lock differential button.

In a front-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is at the front, and in a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is at the rear. And a four-wheel-drive vehicle will have two differentials, one on the front and one in the back.

In a four-wheel drive system, the transfer case is between the transmission and the drive shaft. In a full-time 4WD system, the transfer case will distribute the torque between the front and rear differentials by locking the front and rear driveshafts together, and the other function is going from high range to low range. In a part-time 4WD system, the transfer case has two roles, one is going from 2WD to 4WD, and the other is going from high to low range.

Jeep Wrangler 2H 4H N 4L


2H or two-high mode is two-wheel drive, either front or back depending on your vehicle.

When your vehicle is in 2H (high range, two-wheel drive), 100% of the engine torque goes to the rear differential via the drive shaft. So the differential splits the torque between the axles. In open diff, the torque goes to the wheel with the least resistance. And in a locking differential, the torque is distributed fifty-fifty between the axles.

The 2H is simply a regular driving mode.


In 4-high mode, the transfer case distributes 50/50 engine torque between the front and rear differentials by locking the front and rear drive shafts. but the same gear ratio as 2H.

In ideal conditions, the torque is spread out by 25 percent on each wheel, but in real-time, the torque goes to the wheel with the least resistance.

For example, if the rear right wheel is lifted off the ground, 25% of the torque is distributed to each front wheel, and 50% of the torque is distributed to the rear right wheel because it has the least resistance.

Torque distribution open differential to wheel with least resistance

The transfer ratio for 4H is 1:1, meaning the transfer case or engine and wheels rotate at the same speed.

Jeep Wrangler 4-High mode is useful when driving on a snow-covered surface at a high speed of about 30 to 40 km/h. Using 4H, you can double the amount of traction compared to 2H.


N stands for Neutral, but this is slightly different from the Neutral you will find in your gear selector.

The neutral disengage the drivetrain, so the differential is disconnected from the transmission.

It is useful when towing, and it is the general rule of thumb to switch your Jeep Wrangler to Neutral.


The Jeep Wrangler 4L (four-wheel drive low) is simply an increase in the final drive ratio. It means lowering your wheel speed as well as pumping up your torque, which is best for off-roading.

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has a low gear transfer ratio (4L = 4:1), which means the wheel would spin 4 times slower, but we would have an increase of 4 times the torque at the wheels.

Let’s suppose in first gear at 2000 rpm, for 4H, the vehicle speed is 21 km/h, but in 4L, it will be 4.25 km/h if the transfer ratio is 4:1.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4L transfer ratio

[low gear ratio = low rotation speed but higher torque] VS [High gear ratio = higher rotation speed but lower torque]

The Jeep Wrangler 4L is best for off-roading because of its high torque and low wheel speed. Higher torque is required when climbing steep hills and crossing rivers with slippery rocks. Because of the higher torque, the engine and transmission do not work as hard.

The myth about Jeep Wrangler 4L is that it will lock up the wheels, but that is not right. 4L is just a speed range; it has nothing to do with how the drive line delivers the power.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How To Switch From 2h To 4h Jeep Wrangler

Switching from 2H to 4H is quite easy. First, put your vehicle in park or in drive using the regular gear shifter. And then shift the lever from 2H to 4H.

can you switch from 2h to 4h while driving jeep wrangler

Yes, you can switch from 2H to 4H while driving a Jeep Wrangler. You just make sure that your speed is about 30 to 40 km/h.

how to switch to 4L jeep wrangler

Switching your Jeep Wrangler to 4L is simple as well. You put your Jeep Wrangler in neutral using the regular gear selector and then shift the lever (or push the button in the newer Jeep Wranglers) to 4L.

Conclusion – Jeep Wrangler 2H 4H N 4L

If you are a seasoned off-roader, you know how the Jeep Wrangler 2H 4H N 4L works.

2H is basically a regular driving mode.

The Jeep Wrangler 4H has all four wheels drive. It has the same gear ratio as 2H, which is 1:1. 4H is helpful when moving on a slippery or snow-covered road and needs better traction and control.

4L is best for off-roading becuase of higher final drive ratio and low gear ratio, Which mean the wheel speed is slower and the torque is higher at the wheels. Higher torque is required in off- roading so that the engine and the transmission not work as hard.

The video explain the Jeep Wrangler 4 Wheels drive

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