2WD-L transmission mode

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  • All Jimny generations (1-4) have part-time four wheel drive transmission system.
  • That means that the engine nominally drives only the rear axle (rear wheel drive).
  • Since only two wheels are driven, that is called "2WD" mode.

  • The driver can manually engage "4WD(-H)" mode.
  • In that mode, the front drive train (propeller shaft, differential, half axles, etc.) and the front wheels get connected to the transmission as well.
  • When this is accomplished, both axles receive the equal amount of torque ("power") from the engine, and consequently all four wheels receive engine power.

Constraints of 4WD and 4WD-L modes



  • However, because the transfer box contains no center differential, the front and rear propeller shaft always have to rotate at the same speed in 4WD mode.
  • This in practice means that Jimny must not be used on non-slippery surfaces when in 4WD mode (except for very short distances and ONLY going dead straight).
  • Otherwise, the transmission can be severely damaged!

  • If steering to left or right must be done while Jimny is in 4WD mode, the road surface must be very slippery for the transmission to be able to relieve the tension caused by the lack of center differential.
  • Wet tarmac roads are typically not slippery enough for 4WD, nor are hard gravel and dirt roads, nor dry grass fields.

  • Now, Jimny also has low range gears, meaning that it can effectively halve all of its gears' speed while doubling the torque.
  • That functionality is essential for any serious all terrain duty, and very helpful even on gravel roads of varying constitution.

  • However, Jimny's transmission controls (both lever-style mechanically operated and push-button-style electrically operated - depending on the vehicle) allow the low range to be engaged only in conjunction with 4WD mode.
  • Therefore, Jimny allows only "4WD-L" mode to be used.
  • This means that low range mode is always severely constrained by the above mentioned disadvantages of ordinary (high range) 4WD mode.

A side note:

  • In all Jimnys with lever style operated transfer boxes, as well as in all early Jimnys (2005-2008) with push button style operated transfer boxes, it is not possible to shift directly from 2WD-H to 4WD-L and vice versa.
    • In order to shift from 2WD-H to 4WD-L or vice versa, the transmission must first be manually shifted into 4WD-H.
  • However, on push-button operated Jimnys gen3 made between 2008-2018 (factory "type 7" and newer), the 4WD controller allows shifting "directly" from 2WD-H to 4WD-L and vice versa.
    • Actually, it does not shift directly - the same process of going through 4WD-H mode happens, just automatically by the 4WD controller instead by the operator.

Reasons for having 2WD-L mode



  • On the other hand, in practice there can be several situations where "2WD-L" mode would be desired - using low range gears without 4WD mode.
  • In that mode, steering would be safe to do on any kind of surface.

  • Typical situation is when driving on a dry, rough, twisty gravel or rocky road.
  • On such roads, steering is applied a lot, the road surface is difficult, so 1st low gear or 3rd low gear are required, but the road surface is not slippery.
  • Using 2WD-L mode in such a situation would be ideal.

  • Another useful situation for 2WD-L mode would be to tow a trailer for some short twisty distance, or to make an easier start with a trailer when going uphill.
  • Also, parking in and out of difficult (sloped) (and wet) parking positions would be much easier with 2WD-L mode.

Possibilities of having 2WD-L mode



So, how to "enable" 2WD-L mode?

Note Icon.png

  • If you have already changed your factory vacuum operated free wheeling hub heads on the front wheels to manually operated ones, engaging 2WD-L mode for you is trivial.
  • Just do not engage the front wheel hub heads, and then shift the transmission into 4WD-L - it will effectively work in 2WD-L mode.

  • Technically, 2WD-L mode can work in the transmission system of any Jimny (gen1-4).
  • The preconditions for entering it are fulfilled by simply not connecting the front propeller shaft to the transfer box and/or not engaging the front wheel hub heads.
  • However, it is always "simpler said than done".
  • This can be done manually by removing the front propeller shaft and/or blocking or disabling the vacuum system for the front wheel hubs.
  • However, both 4WD modes would be permanently lost (until everything is returned back).

  • Suzuki could have simply made the 2WD-L mode possible by making another "position / program" in Jimny's transfer box lever (for Jimnys with lever-operated transmission) or in the 4WD controller (for Jimnys with button-operated transmission).
  • In that position / program, the lever / controller would only operate the low range selector in the transfer box, and leave the front propeller shaft and the front wheel hubs disconnected.
  • But Suzuki did not enable this, either because of lack of thought or because some smart slick manager thought that adding one more transmission mode would confuse a typical user.

  • So, the question is how to add/enable the 2WD-L mode "systematically" - to be selectable at any time from the cabin and to be compatible with the 4WD controller and all the mechanicals.
  • The solution for Jimnys gen3 depends if the Jimny has the older stick-style mechanically operated transfer case, or the newer push-button-style electrically operated transfer case.

Solutions for Jimnys gen3


Solutions for older lever-operated transmission system

Solution 1 - installation of a custom "2WD-L" switch

  • The solution for Jimnys with this 4WD transmission system is to install a custom switch in the cabin, and wire it to a blue/black wire going from the 4WD controller to the transfer box.
  • The purpose of the switch is to selectively cut-out the feedback signal from the 4WD mechanism engagement sensor in the transfer box to the 4WD controller.

  • This way, whenever the switch is OFF, the transfer box can be operated with the lever without the 4WD controller being aware of that.
  • In other words, while the switch is OFF, the 4WD controller will think that the transfer box is in ordinary 2WD mode, no matter in which mode it really is.
  • Consequently, as long as the switch is in the OFF position, the 4WD controller will not engage the front wheel hub heads by operating the vacuum system.

  • The switch can be operated from OFF to ON position or vice versa even while the transfer box lever is already in 4WD-H or 4WD-L mode.
  • In this case, you are effectively simulating the shift of the transfer box between 2WD<->4WD to the 4WD controller whenever you flip the switch without doing anything to the transfer box.
  • This means that, while the transfer box really is in 4WD-H or 4WD-L mode, the 4WD controller will engage the front wheel hub heads whenever the switch is turned to ON position (normal 4WD) and disengage them whenever the switch is turned to OFF position (providing effectively a 2WD-L mode in a supposed 4WD-L mode).

  • Whenever the switch is in the OFF position, the green 4WD light on the instrument panel will also be in the OFF state (as the 4WD controller will believe that the transfer box is in ordinary 2WD mode), no matter in which mode the transfer box is.
  • Therefore, with the switch in the OFF position, your only indication of the current transmission mode of the vehicle is the physical position of the transfer box lever.

The video

Here is a (poorly) made video of the simple process of installing the switch:

  • Credits go to the site owner "Mlines" for making the video!

Solution 2 - replacing vacuum hub heads with manual hub heads

  • In Jimnys with lever operated transmission system, 2WD-L transmission mode gets enabled indirectly (as a side-consequence) when original vacuum operated front wheel hub heads are replaced with manually operated front wheel hub heads.


  • With manually operated front wheel hub heads, just keep the hub heads disengaged and shift the transmission lever into 4WD-L mode.
  • Since the front wheels are still disengaged, the transmission will effectively operate in 2WD-L transmission mode, just like it would with the solution 1 (custom "2WD-L" switch).

Note Icon.pngRead the wiki article "Manual or fixed front wheel hub heads" for all the details on converting to manual wheel hub heads.

Solutions for newer button-operated transmission system

Solution 1 - installation of a custom "2WD-L" switch

The following solution has been mentioned by forum member "Riccy" as tested and working:

  1. Fit an inline switch on the wires to the solenoid for the front vacuum hub heads.
    • Those are the white wires at under the battery that everyone shorts out when they fit manual hubs.
  2. Wire that switch so that it shorts out the wires when turned ON.

How to operate it:

  1. When you are in the ordinary 2WD-H transmission mode and want to engage 2WD-L transmission mode, turn that switch ON just before using the usual procedure of shifting into 4WD-L by using the transmission push-buttons.
  2. Then switch from 2WD-H to 4WD-L transmission mode as you normally would.
    • The consequence of having those wires shorted is that the 4WD controller will assume that the front vacuum wheel hubs heads had already done their job before even attempting to apply vacuum to them.
  3. Therefore, the 4WD controller will then just shift the transfer box into 4WD-L mode accordingly, but without the front wheel hub heads being engaged.
    • This means that the transfer box will be in low range gearing mode, the front propeller shaft will be connected to it, but the front wheels will be disconnected from the drive line.
      • This way the 4WD-L transmission mode will effectively behave as a proper 2WD-L transmission mode.

The procedure of shifting from 4WD-L (2WD-L) back to 2WD-H is the reverse from the above (i.e. finish the usual shifting procedure, then turn the custom switch OFF).

Solutions for Jimnys gen4


Needs to be investigated and written here ...'

Page last edited on 14/05/2019 by user Bosanek