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Four-Wheel Drive on Ramps
|Author||Topic: Four-Wheel Drive on Ramps|
posted 07-21-2006 11:55 AM ET (US)
I have a Dauntless 16 and a 2005 GMC Sierra. What the general practice is at the ramp? Do most of you folks use four-wheel drive for loading and unloading at the ramp? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. --Jake
posted 07-21-2006 12:00 PM ET (US)
I use four-wheel drive when the tide is low. The ramp is wet and slippery, so four-wheel mode helps out a lot.
posted 07-21-2006 12:14 PM ET (US)
The ramp I use is very, very tight. I unload in 2-High because the truck is easier to steer and you have to be dead on straight. To pull her up I use 4-Low because if she slips, I could be in trouble. John
posted 07-21-2006 12:21 PM ET (US)
My previous truck had an open rear differential. If the ramp was steep and wet I usually needed to use the 4x4. Current truck, same model, different year, has a limited slip differential and I never have to use the 4x4.
posted 07-21-2006 12:24 PM ET (US)
We have a 4x4 2-door Blazer that we use to launch and retrieve our Temptation. Even though we have a steep and crowded ramp, even at low tide we have not had to use the 4-wheel-drive option to get out of the ramp.
I think it really matters how much weight you have over the pulling wheels. Nice heavy body and the right amount of tongue weight should do the trick.
FWIW, I could never understand why people were always wanting to use a pickup truck for retrieval unless they had a heavy load in the back.
Just my 1 1/2 cents worth.
BTW, today we are using that Blazer to launch and retrieve that big heavy 15 GLS!
posted 07-21-2006 12:28 PM ET (US)
I drive a Dodge Ram 1500, I'll usually launch in 2H unless it's a dead low and the ramp is covered in seaweed in which case I'll launch in 4H. Like JMartin said in 2H it's easier to maneuver the truck and trailer without the front wheels trying to 'dig in'.
On the retrieve I usually go into 4L. I like to engage the 4 wheel drive occasionally just to keep everything moving and the ramp seems like a good place. It may be overkill sometimes using the 4WD, but since it's there I use it and I haven't been that guy spinning his tires and wasting time since. Once up the ramp I switch back to 2H for the drive home.
posted 07-21-2006 12:45 PM ET (US)
"FWIW, I could never understand why people were always wanting to use a pickup truck for retrieval unless they had a heavy load in the back."
In my case it's because I cannot justify the expense of having a dedicated tow vehicle and it's real tough to get a couple yards of topsoil, crushed stone, a motorcycle or an atv or a snowmobile or a new bedroom set etc etc etc in/on a Blazer/Bronco/Forerunner/Cherokee/etc etc etc...
posted 07-21-2006 12:47 PM ET (US)
I tow with a Pathfinder, and concur with CatBoatSailor's post. Adding - at retrieve my Pathfinder pulls ok in 2WD,
but using 4WD is more then just adding the front drive wheels, I appreciate how the transfer case's 4LOW improves the gear ratio for pulling power, thereby reducing stress on the trucks drive train.
posted 07-21-2006 01:03 PM ET (US)
As others have noted it depends on the ramp. What are most of the ramps like in your area? Are they steep? are they slippery because of slime? Is your boat a 17' or 25'? Do you ever beach launch? One of the most popular ramps in my area is open to Tampa Bay and if the wind is from the wrong direction it loads up with seagrass often making it hard to pull boats up in 2wd. I would say that 80% of the time I don't need it, but when I do it's very comforting to know that it's there. I also beach launch some of my smaller boats and it is very helpful in that instance.
I also agree with Ace 2wd pickups are not always very effective. I had one old F100 that I rode around with sand bagss over the rear axel.
posted 07-21-2006 01:06 PM ET (US)
I tow a 13' with a '99 Chevy Tahoe. I usually turn on the Auto 4wd feature, which only engages the front diff when the rears slip. This way I get the meaneauverability I need, and the traction necessary if the ramp is slick. It's a simple press of a button and can be done on the fly, so I usually engage it as I'm driving up to the ramp facility. Plus, this way I can let my girlfriend launch the boat, and I don't have to worry about her getting the truck stuck on the ramp, or driving off down the road with the transfer case locked up.
posted 07-21-2006 01:22 PM ET (US)
I have an '01 GMC Sierra, and it has the 'traction assist' button there on the dash, though I've never had to use it. A bigger boat might prove to be an issue, but my 15'r is light enough that I've never had a slippage or control problem. I'm assuming that your vehicle has one also? Perhaps that's your answer if your travels take you to some slimey setups.
posted 07-21-2006 01:23 PM ET (US)
I've never needed the 4WD on our Expedition with out 21' boat. Last week, the Expedition was upstate, so we used my brother inlaw's (OJ style) Bronco to pull her. It was low tide and the rear tires were on the slime. In 2WD she just slipped, so he put it in 4WD and out she came. I've had the Expedition for over 5 years now and have never needed 4WD down at the ramp. First try with the Bronco and we needed 4WD. If was not low tide, 2WD probably would have been ok with the Bronco too.
posted 07-21-2006 01:58 PM ET (US)
I'm going to venture a guess and assume that the Bronco didn't have a limited slip rear differential. Most likely it was just one wheel slipping. Your newer Expedition probably has one, so that is why you are seeing the difference.
When I was back in high school, whenever a friend of ours got his hands on a new truck (whether it be newly aquired, or borrowed from his dad), we would make it our first test to find out if it had "posi". This was done by starting from a stop on flat pavement, with the wheels turned hard to the right. Then, with the left foot firmly on the brake, we would jam on the gas with our right foot until the rear wheels started spinning. If you had an external observer, they could tell you if one wheel was spinning or if both were. If you didn't, you could always just let off the brake a little bit, and if the rear end drifted sideways before hooking up, you had a posi-traction rear end.
Man I loved being an irresponsible teenager.
posted 07-21-2006 02:38 PM ET (US)
I smoke a transmission on a ramp at low tide using a my 10 year old Ford E250. Turns out that the transmission cooling line was smashed between the motor mount and the frame AT THE FACTORY! How I got 10 years out of it I will never know. Anyway, a gentleman in a new suburban handed me one end of a tow strap and got me out. I limped it home with boat in tow. The next morning it would not move.
From that day I carry a tow strap with my new rig and offer an assistants to anyone that needs it. After all, that's what it's all about, isn't it?
posted 07-21-2006 02:45 PM ET (US)
I dont understand this question. You bought the 4-WD to be safer and never use it, then when you in a situation where it might actually be needed you dont use it??? Back the trailer down but before entering the water slip it in 4-WD. finish launching and pull out, when you hit dry pavement shift out of 4-WD. You sure as heck dont want to be grabbing the 4-WD lever as your sliding into the drink. If you dont use the 4-WD and you slip into the drink what are you going to say to your insurence carrier or to the tow truck driver or audence at the ramp when everyone chides you about slipping your 4-WD into the drink in 2-WD.
People slip into the drink all the time for various reasons dont be one of them if you dont have to. If we could predict when bad things will happen we could selectivily use these things only when we need them but until then. Shift the lever and leave these problems for someone else. Have a fun SAFE day and may the back window on your rig remain dry.
posted 07-21-2006 02:51 PM ET (US)
It depends on the ramp, generally I do not engage 4WD. My wife's Jeep Liberty has a limited slip differential and my Toyota has a custom rear locker. However, if the ramp is steep or gravel or slippery then it only makes ssense to use 4WD. My Toyota has an unusual feature, it has HSAC, Hill Start Assist Control, if you remove your foot from the brake and the vehicle begins to roll backwards then the anti-lock brake controller applies braking force to stop the backward roll. No more need to jump from the brake to the gas pedal, now even my wife can pull the boat out--lol.
posted 07-21-2006 04:17 PM ET (US)
I got rid of my last truck cause it was 2wd. I would fry my tires & the back end would just fishtail. Finally, enough other guys would feel sorry for me & get into the back of the truck. The 4wd cured the problem. I don't know about other states, but in So Calif (especially Ventura Harbor) the ramp is very slippery & mossy at low tide. In the winter months it's especially bad. I wouldn't be without 4wd on my tow vehicle again.
posted 07-21-2006 04:45 PM ET (US)
My tow truck is 54 years old. One of the features I added was a limited slip rear end thanks to a 1979 Pontiac LeMans donor car. My drive way is steeper than the boat ramp and is unpaved. The old Chevy climbs it without turning over a gravel even with the Montauk behind it. Four wheel drive is not necessary at most ramps if you have a limited slip rear differential.
posted 07-21-2006 05:02 PM ET (US)
Good tires are a big help too.
posted 07-21-2006 07:36 PM ET (US)
I engage 4-low every time I launch or retrieve the boat. I never know when I might have to withdraw the boat for some reason on launch. With a heavy boat such as my 23WA, I don't take the chance on a slippery or wet ramp, plus, as previously mentioned, 4L really seems to ease the strain on the engine and drivetrain on pull-out.
posted 07-21-2006 07:59 PM ET (US)
Stevebaz--I appreciate your input as well as everybody else's. It is not a question of why I bought my truck with four-wheel drive; it is learning from the experiences of others. Putting it in 4wheel doesn't cost me a dime. I was hoping to learn something. I got 4 wheel because I live in Mass. Steve thank you for your help, Jake.
posted 07-21-2006 10:48 PM ET (US)
"Four-wheel drive lets you get stuck deeper in the woods."
If you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive, I can't see why you would hesitate to use it on a steep ramp or on a slippery ramp.
posted 07-21-2006 11:28 PM ET (US)
I use my 4 wheel at every ramp. that just help keep the parts moving over the summer. I am then ready for deer season and the woods.
posted 07-22-2006 09:04 AM ET (US)
I can't see why you would need to use 4 wheel drive putting the boat "in" the water. Your brakes are doing most of the work anyway. Unless of course, you need more than one trip down the ramp to line up. Pulling the boat out is entirely different story. Spinning your wheels is a waste of expensive rubber, plus if the wheels do grab at some point you might break the strap/cable and leave your boat "on" the ramp. Don't laugh. seen it happen.
posted 07-22-2006 10:53 PM ET (US)
I used a Geo Tracker 2WD to pull the 13' I have. It pulled straight up out of the ICW at a fairly steep steel ramp near my house. The launch was as easy as can be expected without power steering, the pull was no problem, the tow was no problem, but in the end I really wasn't comfortable with the entire rig. Smooth or not, I know the Tracker won't last in the long haul, so hopefully the Dakota I just bought will make things easier. If only having 2WD on the Dakota gives me a problem I guess I'll just toss the Tracker in the bed for a little extra weight.
posted 07-23-2006 12:45 AM ET (US)
I tow my '87 Outrage 18' with a 1990 Toyota Landcruiser. I use 4WD whenever I am retrieving the boat as "insurance". As well, I never turn the car off when it's on the ramp on the very off chance it won't start again. Have turned it off and have done the pull in 2WD but see it as better and more respectful to others using the ramp to use every bit of insurance I have.
posted 07-23-2006 01:34 AM ET (US)
There is lots of good information in this topic. On the ramp, I would add the following from 50 years experience trailer boating; Take a look at the ramp before backing down. Plan where to put the wheels of the trailer and tow vehicle. Back the trailer wheels into the water only far enough to accomplish the objective. Avoid allowing the hubs to go under water if practical. Study where the vehicle wheels will be at the bottom of the ramp and the surface they will be on for traction, softness, potholes and other things. The best spot may only be one tire width away. Remember, the rig is more likely to get stuck on the road out which includes the road to the parking lot and if it rains while boating. On a difficult ramp, it is often an advantage to back in crooked and depart with an oblique angle on the ramp. This trick provides a mechanical advantage plus allows a little inertia to build before the maximum pulling force is required. Climbing a wide ramp at an angle effectively reduces its steepness. Be cautious about letting the trailer wheels drop off the end of the paved ramp. Do not allow a wrecker to pull your tow vehicle and boat out together because the forces required by the wrecker will almost certainly damage your vehicle, either pulling off a bumper or distorting the frame of the vehicle. When stuck, secure the trailer with a line and or block the wheels. Disconnect the trailer. Use the wrecker to pull out the vehicle and trailer separately. By disconnecting your trailer, and attaching a proper towing strap or line, a wrecker is almost never necessary. It is possible to use the winch to pull a trailer out, but this is frought with danger. One must know how to safely use winches. They are dangerous. It is a very bad practice to allow the differential or hubs of the tow vehicle to go under water because water may enter differential causing damage.
posted 07-23-2006 02:14 AM ET (US)
I tow a 17' Montauk with my '96 bronco, one ramp i launch at in freshwater,, I never use 4 wheel drive, no tire spinning at all. For the most part, 70% of people who have four wheel drive never need it.
I do however use it when i go to Maine, the ramp that is very steep, and depending on the tides the tires are often on wet pavement. I engage it just to be on the safe side, but probably even still dont need it, if my truck wasn't equipped with it,,, if differently wouldn't stop me from using the ramp.
I think a lot of people who buy suvs for four wheel drive "cause i live in new england" are crazy. Yah, it snows every once and a while,,and I've let yet be in a situation on the road where i needed 4 wheel drive. The only times I've need it where to get myself out if situations that I where only in cause i was doing something stupid and not everyday-driveing related.
posted 07-27-2006 07:14 PM ET (US)
Ryan, I look forward to reading your insightful life lessons. Your 17 correct?
posted 07-27-2006 08:26 PM ET (US)
The applicability of using/needing 4WD depends on the ramp AND the vehicle. Certainly, those using a front wheel drive vehicle or a lighter weight vehicle may have problems when retreiving - in part, because of the added hitch load decreases the weight on the drive wheels, and hence - decreases the traction. Those with rear-wheel drive vehicles will tend to have fewer problems.
Many buy 4WD vehicles without a real bona-fide need - but when you are on a steep and/or wet ramp - use the 4WD if you have it. As Jimh says - it is foolish to not use it if it is available.
And then, in the northern and elevated states - 4WD is not neccessarily a luxury because of that stuff we call snow and ice.
Many have the feeling that 4WD keeps them out of trouble - and then "push" their luck a bit further - until they are really "up the creek". ---- Jerry/Idaho
posted 07-27-2006 09:05 PM ET (US)
Jim, I graduated from Utica High in 1960. To my knowledge, no one drove a 4WD back than in the entire State of Michigan. How did we make it? John
posted 07-28-2006 03:00 PM ET (US)
Not just the hitch weight decreases the weight on the
front wheels, there's also weight transfer because as the
front tilts up, the line straight down from the CG contacts
the ground farther back.
I ALWAYS use 4WD to launch and retreive.
One more advantage of 4WD: If you have a locked transfer case,
posted 07-28-2006 03:16 PM ET (US)
I replaced the auto locking hubs on my "OJ style" Bronco a few years ago with manual Locking Warren Hubs. I still have to use the push button on the dash to engage 4WD but it only works if I get out and manually lock the hubs first. A bit of a hassle but I use 4WD a lot and the auto lockers just don't hold up.
When launching, I always lock the hubs before backing down. If I need 4WD, its just a click away.
By the way, I would argue that if you are pulling straight up hill when retrieving your boat, there is no harm in going ahead and putting your vehicle in 4WD - even on a dry ramp. As long as you aren't turning, you aren't going to put anything in a bind. When you get the rig to the top switch off 4WD before making a turn Unless your still on wet or slick pavement or lose gravel in which case it really doesn't matter if its off or on
|JOHN W MAYO||
posted 07-28-2006 08:13 PM ET (US)
I have two 4 wheel drive Toyota's I use. With it pulling out at the ramp is a breeze, no problem for the small trucks, no strain. I estamate my boat, motor, and trailer of my Revenge 19 is problaly close to 3000-3500 lbs. I have done it in 2 wheel drive, but with the gearing of the 4x4, it is so much less strain.
If I had the option, I would always pull it out in 4 wd.
posted 07-28-2006 10:23 PM ET (US)
I launch and recover a 15' SS with a 60 HP Evinrude with a front wheel drive Taurus. The key is stay off the throttle...just get it rolling and don't spin all the way up the ramp. I carry a tow strap just in case but the "Tortoise" with good tires does the job. Hal
posted 07-30-2006 07:57 AM ET (US)
Once again thank you to some of you for your positive feedback dicussing lessons learned on the ramp. My new question seeing it was brought up. Why wouldnt you want to turn while in 4 wheel? Thanks Jake.
posted 07-30-2006 08:11 AM ET (US)
I have a 4WD, SUV now for about a 1 1/2 year. It is a continuous 4WD but it has a 4WD-Low switch. I always put it into 4WD-Low when pulling out the boat, even if I don't always need this mode. I have found that retrieving the boat without using the "Low" switch I can sometimes smell the clutch plate. Let me also add that I don't have an automatic transmission but a 5-speed manual transmission on my 2.5L, CRD, SUV. In "4WD-Low" I could probably pull out a whole convoy of 170 Montauks.
posted 07-30-2006 08:55 AM ET (US)
Last night around dusk Buckda and I were pulling out Gambler after crusing Lake St Clair in Michigan. The guy in the ramp next to us was pulling out what looked like a new 20' Something with a new Chevy full size pickup 2WD. He couldn't get it up the wet slippery ramp. This was well poured heavily textured ramp wet from a very busy day.
Finally about six guys including the owner with his wife behind the wheel pushed it up the ramp. I think she used about 10,000 mile worth of mileage off the rear tires getting it up the ramp.
I'm on my 7th 4WD vehicle and I always pop it into 4WD when on the ramp, why worry about it.
While shopping for 22's part of the process was testing to see how / if my 2004 Dodge Dakota quadcab 4X4 4.7 liter was enough to handle a 22. Jeffsoutrage let me hook up and tow his Outrage 22 0n one outing, the vehicle did very well pulling the rig in & out of the ramp. The other day it pulled my "New to me" 1985 Revenge 22 out for the first time on the same ramp I mentioned at the beginning of this thread No Problem. "OH DID I TELL YOU I PUT A DEPOSIT ON A 1985 REVENGE 22 YESTERDAY, I PICK IT UP MONDAY"
sorry didn't mean to raise my voice, guess I'm just a little excited.....anyway I'm very pleased with the performance of my current truck for handling the 22 but it's going to be in 4WD
posted 07-30-2006 05:27 PM ET (US)
Years back, I launched and loaded my 15 ft. Speedliner with my 1978 Honda Civic CVCC. Of course, I had quite an audience, and actually got applause as I easily pulled my old runabout up the ramp. Today, I don't have to concern myself with the 2- vs. 4-wd question. My Subaru Outback Sport has full-time AWD with the 5-speed standard trans, and has never slipped a wheel on any ramp with my 130 Sport.
posted 07-30-2006 09:18 PM ET (US)
Either you know a lot about 4WD and asking a question to make a point, or your are simply asking a very good question. Four wheel drive (4WD) comes in several variaties, from "open" designs, in which one wheel loosing traction will allow that wheel to spin at the expense of pulling power from all the rest, to the class of 4WD where all four wheels are locked together.
When any two of the wheels are locked together from left to right, there is a binding of the drive train on dry pavement when turning because the outside wheel travels further than the inside wheel. This effect is worse when all 4 wheels are connected solidly together. The effect of this locking of all four wheels together results in a vehicle with less traction and control than open or unlocked 4WD on a slick flat surface, as on a boat ramp. It is complicated.
The fact is, provided your rear wheels have excellent traction, an open 2WD vehicle is probably better in most situations, including pulling a boat up a ramp, than 4WD. Except for the problems associated with running chains on drive pavement, chains on only two wheels with an open rear end probably is superior to 4WD on the road when driving on ice. On boat ramps, the rear wheels are more likely to loose traction because the bottom of the ramp is more likely to be wet. Whereas the top of the ramp is more likely to be dry. Thus, with front wheels pulling, the tow vehicle is able to make a good start. Once the rear wheels are on dry pavement, it would probably be better to turn off the 4WD. This is a technical point. I will leave it to others to explain more.
posted 07-30-2006 10:15 PM ET (US)
seems obvious you are a new owner of 4wd. congrats.
IF you have auto tranny & considering to use 4wd just for traction issues...not stuck in mud or sand or snow, could be tire traction, ramp angle, wet pavement, loose sand, heavy load...whatever...because you are towing a load uphill from a stop, ALWAYS USE LOW RANGE.
Some rigs dont come out of low range very easy.
Read your owners manual &/or try this...
Basically, hitting the 4wd switch powers a magnet on the hubs that allows a twist lock engage 4wd similar to electric trailer brakes. Under a load, low gear does not disengage easy, so, going into reverse eliminates the load factor and should allow d-magnetized locking hub spring to disengage the axles.
Try to avoid sharp turns in low gear under a load, you might feel the u-joints binding...this is normal, just take a little angle out of the turn & dont horse it when you can feel em binding a little (dont break u-joints).
Ref: 03 Ford F-350 Lariat SE dually, 4 door short box diesel, 22 OR, 20 years moored right next to a steep slippery ramp & a lifetime of towing boats with a variety of 2 & 4wd rigs.
Basically, I use 4wd drive to get out of trouble, not into it.
posted 07-31-2006 10:36 AM ET (US)
As BoatPlans points out, there are many types of 4WD. Full time 4-wheel drive is designed to run on dry pavement. Part-time is not. It relies on slick surfaces to allow one wheel to slip when a bind ocurrs thus protecting your drivetrain. If you are feeling the hop and jump when turning, you are putting your drivetrain under a lot of stress. This won't happen when you are going straight or turning on slick surfaces (wet, loose gravel, ice, sand, etc).
posted 08-01-2006 10:46 AM ET (US)
Thank you guys for taking the time to explain. You put some time in to your replys and I appreciate that. Yes I am new to 4 wheel, my other trucks where just 2 wheel. The reason I ask is I just didnt want to do something wrong and have something break, and hear. " Your not supposed to do that, you didnt know that"?
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