Hyundai Santa Fe (TM): Four wheel drive (4WD) - Driving your vehicleHyundai Santa Fe (TM): Four wheel drive (4WD)

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) delivers engine power to front and rear wheels for maximum traction. 4WD is useful when extra traction is required, such as when driving on, muddy, wet, or snow-covered roads.


To reduce the risk of SERIOUS INJURY or DEATH:

  • Do not drive in conditions that exceed the vehicles intended design such as challenging off-road conditions.
  • Avoid high speeds when cornering or turning.
  • Do not make quick steering wheel movements, such as sharp lane changes or fast, sharp turns.
  • The risk of a rollover is greatly increased if you lose control of your vehicle at highway speeds.
  • Loss of control often occurs if two or more wheels drop off the roadway and the driver over steers to reenter the roadway.
  • In the event your vehicle leaves the roadway, do not steer sharply. Instead, slow down before pulling back into the travel lanes.


  • Do not drive in water if the level is higher than the bottom of the vehicle.
  • Check your brake condition once you are out of mud or water. Depress the brake pedal several times as you move slowly until you feel normal braking return.
  • Shorten your scheduled maintenance interval if you drive in off-road conditions such as sand, mud or water (see "Maintenance Under Severe Usage Conditions" section in chapter 9).
  • Always wash your vehicle thoroughly after off road use, especially the bottom of the vehicle.
  • Be sure to equip the vehicle with four tires of the same size and type.
  • Make sure that a full time 4WD vehicle is towed by a flat bed tow truck.

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) operation

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) mode selection


If 4WD warning light () stays on the instrument cluster, your vehicle may have a malfunction with the 4WD system. When the 4WD warning light () illuminates have the vehicle be checked by an authorized HYUNDAI dealer as soon as possible.


When driving on normal roads, deactivate the 4WD LOCK mode by pushing the 4WD LOCK button (4WD LOCK indicator light goes off). Driving on normal roads with the 4WD LOCK mode, especially, when cornering may cause mechanical noise or vibration. The noise and vibration will disappear when the 4WD LOCK mode is deactivated. Prolonged driving with the noise and vibration may damage some parts of the power train.


  • When the 4WD LOCK mode is deactivated, a sensation may be felt as the driving power is delivered entirely to the front wheels.

Auto Four Wheel Drive mode (normal driving). Four Wheel Drive (4WD) selection

Auto Four Wheel Drive mode (normal driving)

If the 4WD system determines there is a need for four wheel drive, the engine's driving power is distributed to all four wheels automatically.

Four Wheel Drive (4WD) selection

Be sure to maintain Auto 4WD mode when driving on normal roads. If you drive with the 4WD Lock mode on normal roads or curved roads, it may damage 4WD parts and cause vibration and noise. However, vibration and noise are normal conditions that will disappear when Auto 4WD mode is selected. Also, when the vehicle is changed from 4WD Lock to Auto 4WD, a sensation may be felt as driving power is delivered to the rear wheels.

For safe 4WD operation

Before driving

  • Make sure all passengers are wearing seat belts.
  • Sit upright and closer to the steering wheel than usual. Adjust the steering wheel to a position comfortable for you to drive.

Driving on snow-covered or icy roads

  • Start off slowly by applying the accelerator pedal gently.
  • Use snow tires or tire chains.
  • Keep sufficient distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Apply engine braking during deceleration by using the paddle shifter (manual shift mode) and manually selecting a lower gear.
  • Avoid speeding, rapid acceleration, sudden brake applications, and sharp turns to prevent skids.


When using Snow Tires, mount them on all four wheels.

If a full set of chains is not available for an 4WD vehicle when using tire chains, chains may be installed on the front wheels only.

For more details on Snow Tires and Tire Chains, refer to "Winter Driving" section later in this chapter.


Mud or snow

If one of the front or rear wheels begins to spin in mud, snow, etc., the vehicle can sometimes be driven out by engaging the accelerator pedal further; however avoid running the engine continuously at high rpm because doing so could damage the AWD system.

Driving in sand or mud

  • Maintain slow and constant speed. Operate the accelerator pedal slowly to ensure safe driving (wheel-slip prevention).
  • Keep sufficient distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Reduce vehicle speed and always check the road condition.
  • Avoid speeding, rapid acceleration, sudden brake applications, and sharp turns to prevent getting stuck.
  • When the vehicle is stuck in snow, sand or mud, the tires may not operate.
  • This is to protect the transmission and not a malfunction.


Moving the vehicle forcibly to get out of mud or sand can cause damage/ overheat of the engine or damage/ breakdown of the transmission, differential or 4WD system as well as damage to tires. If excessive wheel slip occurs after entering a sandy/muddy road, the vehicle may fall into the sand/ mud. When it happens, put a stone or a tree branch under the tire, and then try to pull out the vehicle, or try to get it unstuck by repeatedly moving forwards and backwards.

Transmission overheated

  • When driving on muddy and sandy roads under the severe condition, the transmission could be overheated.
  • When the transmission is overheated, the safe protection mode engages and the “Transmission Hot! Park with engine on: warning message will appear on the LCD display with a chime.
  • If this occurs, pull over to a safe location, stop the vehicle with the engine running, apply the brakes and shift the vehicle to P (Park), and allow the transmission to cool.
  • If you ignore this warning, the driving condition may become worse. You may experience abrupt shifts, frequent shifts, or jerkiness. To return to the normal driving condition, stop the vehicle and apply the foot brake or shift into P (Park). Then allow the transmission to cool for a few minutes with engine on, before driving off.
  • When the message “Trans cooled. Resume driving” appears you can continue to drive your vehicle.
  • If the warning messages in the LCD display continue to blink, for your safety, have the system checked by an authorized HYUNDAI dealer.

Driving up or down hills

  • Driving uphill
    - Before starting off, check if it is possible to drive uphill.
    - Drive as straight as possible.
  • Driving downhill
    - Do not change gear while driving downhill. Select gear before driving downhill.
    - Drive slowly using engine braking while driving downhill.
    - Drive straight as possible.


Exercise extreme caution driving up or down steep hills. The vehicle may flip over depending on the grade, terrain, water and mud conditions.


Do not drive across the contour of steep hills. A slight change in the wheel angle can destabilize the vehicle, or a stable vehicle may lose stability if the vehicle stops its forward motion. Your vehicle may roll over and lead to a serious injury or death.

Driving through water

  • Try to avoid driving in deep standing water. It may stall your engine and clog your exhaust pipes.
  • Do not change gear while driving in water.


Always drive slowly in water. If you drive too fast, water may get into the engine compartment and wet the ignition system causing your vehicle to suddenly stop.

Additional driving conditions

  • Become familiar with the off-road conditions before driving.
  • Always pay attention when driving offroad and avoid dangerous areas.
  • Drive slowly when driving in heavy wind.
  • Reduce vehicle speed when cornering. The center of gravity of 4WD vehicles is higher than conventional 2WD vehicles, making them more likely to roll over when you rapidly turn corners.
  • Always hold the steering wheel firmly when you are driving off-road.


Do hold the steering wheel tightly when you are driving off-road. You may hurt your arm by a sudden steering maneuver or from steering wheel rebound due to an impact with objects on the ground. You could lose control of the steering wheel which may lead to serious injury or death.

Emergency precautions


When replacing tires, be sure to equip all four tires with the same size, type, tread patterns, brand and load-carrying capacity.


Do not use tire and wheel with different size and type from the one originally installed on your vehicle. It can affect the safety and performance of your vehicle, which could lead to steering failure or rollover causing serious injury.

In an emergency situation, a compact spare tire (if equipped) or Tire Mobility Kit (if equipped) may be used. But, do not use the compact spare tire continuously. Repair or replace the original tire as soon as possible to avoid failure of the differential or 4WD system.


Never start or run the engine while an 4WD vehicle is raised on a jack. The vehicle can slip or roll off of a jack causing serious injury or death to you or those nearby.


4WD vehicles must be towed with a wheel lift and dollies or flatbed equipment with all the wheels off the ground. For more details, refer to "Towing" section in chapter 8.

Vehicle inspection

  • If the vehicle needs to be operated on a vehicle lift do not attempt to stop any of the four wheels from turning. This could damage the 4WD system.
  • Never engage the parking brake while running the engine on a car lift. This may damage the 4WD system.

Dynamometer testing

An 4WD vehicle must be tested on a special four wheel chassis dynamometer.

[A] : Roll tester (Speedometer), [B] : Temporary free roller

An 4WD vehicle should not be tested on a 2WD roll tester. If a 2WD roll tester must be used, perform the following procedure:

1. Check the tire pressures recommended for your vehicle.

2. Place the rear wheels on the roll tester for a speedometer test as shown in the illustration.

3. Release the parking brake.

4. Place the front wheels on the temporary free roller as shown in the illustration.


Keep away from the front of the vehicle while the vehicle is in gear on the dynamometer. The vehicle can jump forward and cause serious injury or death.

Reducing the risk of a rollover

Your multi-purpose passenger vehicle is defined as a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). SUV’s have higher ground clearance and a narrower track to make them capable of performing in a wide variety of off-road applications. The specific design characteristics give them a higher center of gravity than ordinary vehicles making them more likely to roll over if you make abrupt turns. Utility vehicles have a significantly higher rollover rate than other types of vehicles. Due to this risk, driver and passengers are strongly recommended to buckle their seat belts. In a rollover crash, an unbelted person is significantly more likely to die than a person wearing a seat belt.

There are steps that a driver can make to reduce the risk of a rollover. If at all possible, avoid sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers, do not load your roof rack with heavy cargo, and never modify your vehicle in any way.



As with other Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), failure to operate this vehicle correctly may result in loss of control, an accident or vehicle rollover.

  • Utility vehicles have a significantly higher rollover rate than other types of vehicles.
  • Specific design characteristics (higher ground clearance, narrower track, etc.) give this vehicle a higher center of gravity than ordinary vehicles.
  • A SUV is not designed for cornering at the same speeds as conventional vehicles.
  • Avoid sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers.
  • In a rollover crash, an unbelted person is significantly more likely to die than a person wearing a seat belt. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly buckled up.


Your vehicle is equipped with tires designed to provide safe ride and handling capability. Do not use a size and type of tire and wheel that is different from the one that is originally installed on your vehicle. It can affect the safety and performance of your vehicle, which could lead to steering failure or rollover and serious injury. When replacing the tires, be sure to equip all four tires with the tire and wheel of the same size, type, tread, brand and load-carrying capacity. If you nevertheless decide to equip your vehicle with any tire/wheel combination not recommended by HYUNDAI for off road driving, you should not use these tires for highway driving.


Jacked vehicle

While a full-time 4WD vehicle is being raised on a jack, never start the engine or cause the tires to rotate.

There is a danger that rotating tires touching the ground could cause the vehicle to fall off the jack and to jump forward or rearward.

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