Can You Still Drive With The Service 4WD Light On – Everything You Need To Know

Sometimes 4WD lights appear on the dash. You can, however, still drive your vehicle with the service 4WD light on, but eventually, it will affect the performance of your vehicle. 

When the light appears, it indicates a problem with the 4WD that may not be fatal immediately, but over time the damages will scale up exponentially.

There can be many reasons for the issue. This can be due to faulty sensors, gear problems, or driveshaft failure. No matter what the cause, you need to fix it quickly. So, let’s see how you can do this in detail.  

What Does Service 4WD Light On Indicate?

Service 4WD light indicates there are some malfunctions in the 4WD mode. 4WD stands for four-wheel drive vehicles. This means the power produced by the engine should be distributed to all four wheels, not just the front or rear wheels.

When the service 4WD is not working properly, you may see “SERV 4WD” or “4WD” texts or signs on the dashboard. Generally, it indicates that the power distribution is not working properly or that the gear transmission is not smooth.

Though there are many reasons why this light came up, you should not ignore it and resolve it quickly. But do you need to stop driving immediately? That’s what we’re going to discuss now.

Can You Still Drive With A Service 4WD Light?

In short, Yes, you can. Service 4WD light coming on is not a severe enough issue to stop driving immediately. But that doesn’t mean you can be relaxed and ignore it. Well, let’s explain.

When the gear shifting is not proper, this light can come on. This indicates that the gears are now exposed to additional stress and force, which is definitely bad for the internal parts. This may not break your vehicle instantly, but in the long run, it’ll damage the engine parts.

So, whenever you see such indications of service 4WD light, just drive to the nearest service center if you can’t handle it on your own. In short, don’t panic if you see this light come on, but don’t ignore it either, and solve it as soon as possible.

What Causes the Service 4WD Light To Turn On In Your Jeep?

Before solving or resetting the 4WD light, you must know all the reasons behind this particular problem. So, let’s see what may cause the light to come on.

Transfer case issue

The transfer case control module (TCCM) is responsible for distributing power to all four wheels. Sometimes, the TCCM can get damaged while driving on off-roads or highly rough roads.

In this case, the module will fail to distribute power evenly to all the wheels. Then the 4WD will not work properly, and eventually, the service 4WD light will come up.

Overheating issue

Excessive off-roading, faulty wiring, or defective batteries can sometimes cause overheating of the TCCM. Due to this, the performance of the TCCM module can fall apart.

This generally occurs when your vehicle is stuck somewhere without any forward motion, and you still try to hit the gas to produce more power to move on. Then it’ll create excessive heat.

However, never do this. Rather, wait until the vehicle cools and then take the necessary steps.

Defective fuses and sensors

In most cases, rather than some severe problems like TCCM failure, what causes the 4WD light to come up is defective sensors and fuses.

When it happens, the sensors send incorrect data, and thus the control unit can’t function properly. The same goes for fuses. So, Before checking anything else, you should check the fuse first. Then the sensors.

If they are defective, change them to solve the issue.

Drive shaft failure

Sometimes the drive shaft itself fails to transmit power to the wheels. That’s why not all the wheels get adequate power. And since the 4WD is all about the distribution of power to all four wheels, the light gets turned on to indicate the problem. 

Driveshafts can fail for so many reasons. It can be damaged, worn out, or broken apart under extremely heavy loads.

So, in such scenarios, fixing the drive shaft will solve the problem, though it can be costly. 

Gear shifting problem

4WD mode is mainly for producing more torque and traction so that the vehicle can move through off-road terrain. That’s why, to produce more torque, gears should be at low ratios.

If the gears don’t engage with each other properly, then the power transmission from the engine to the wheel gets affected. Thus, it will result in the service 4WD light being illuminated.

Control unit problem

Though this case is not so common, sometimes the program on which the whole computerized control system is working may go wrong. In such conditions, the TCCM, ECU, or sensors can start showing anomalous behavior.

Then the light can come on. Anyway, the problem is that there’s not much we can do about it. It needs professional help to reinstall the program and fix it.

So, if this is the case, discuss with the dealer or a professional mechanic to find out the

How To Reset The Service 4WD Light Necessary things to do:

Resetting is quite easy if you know the right method. Here we are explaining it step-by-step. Following these will enable you to reset your service 4WD light at any time.

Identifying issues

Before taking any action, make sure to check if there are indeed some issues with the service 4WD light. Otherwise, all your labor may be useless.

If there is any problem with the light, it will either blink continuously or just appear red on the dashboard. However, if you notice this, then it’s confirmed that you need to reset the service 4WD light. So, jump into the next step.

Removing necessary parts

You may need to remove some interior parts, depending on which vehicle you use. The knee bolster and dash bezel may need to be removed. Though removing the dash bezel is not a big deal, the knee bolster requires unscrewing some bolts to separate it from the vehicle.

Internal checking

At this stage, you should check whether all of the wiring and internal parts are okay and free of damage. Often, it is seen that the service 4WD light is malfunctioning due to wiring problems. So, checking thoroughly is recommended.

Removing switch assembly

Then you have to pull off the switch assembly very carefully. Make sure to pull this off evenly from all four sides. Otherwise, it can get damaged.

Pulling off TCCM

TCCM stands for Transfer Case Control Module. It is located inside the switch assembly. The main function of this part is to distribute power to all four wheels.

There, you can see a gray box with two wires. Unplug the wires and wait for a minute. Then start your car, and the light should be cleared at this moment. If not, go to the next step.

Unplug the battery:

If unplugging TCCM doesn’t work, then just unplug the negative cable of the battery. Then reconnect it. Doing so will reset the service 4WD light. You can check it by starting the engine again.


4 wheel drive (4WD) is the most convenient driving method for cars for off roads. However, there are many confusing questions about this, which we should cover here with proper answers. So, let’s check those.

What does 4WD low light mean?

4WD Low Light indicates that the vehicle is in a lower gear ratio to produce more torque. The maximum speed in this mode is 15 MPH. However, this mode is useful for driving on sandy, snowy, or off-roads.

How can you tell if 4WD is working?

There are many methods to check this, though, the most common one is to lift your vehicle a bit so that the wheels are off the ground. Then hit the gas and observe whether all the wheels are rotating. If yes, then it’s working fine.

How much can a 4WD service light repair cost?

Depending on the severity of the problem, models of vehicles, and the labor cost, servicing a 4WD light can cost around $800-$1000. You must negotiate the deal before buying any services since the cost range can vary.

Final Words

Replacing or even just fixing a Service 4WD light can be very expensive. That’s why, you should never ignore any of its malfunctions. Otherwise, with time, these can be dangerous for your vehicle.

Though you can drive with this light ON, that’s not recommended. Rather, try to fix it soon or consult a mechanic if the problem is severe.

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