You see that switch down by your knee. You can see that it has numbers and letters. You don't fully understand what it all means, but you're itching to test it all out. That's the drive selector, and before you slam it into 4Lo you should watch the video above. Engineering Explained is here to walk you through the five things you should not be doing with your 4x4 vehicle.
First up is a pretty basic one. If your vehicle is equipped with one or more locking differentials, make sure you're not using them on the pavement. When you lock up the center differential, you're telling the vehicle to send equal power and wheel speed to the front and rear axles. This becomes an issue when you want to make a turn, as EE clearly illustrates.
Next up is to make sure that you don't attempt to put your vehicle into 4Lo while moving. Some vehicles allow you to make this switch at very slow speeds, but it's best to just come to a stop and allow the input shafts and gears to be at the same speed. That ideal speed would be zero.
Third, don't mash the throttle when you're stuck. All you're going to do is make the situation worse. EE's host Jason Fenske talks about the differences between static and kinetic friction to make his point. When you go flat on the gas, you're going to sit there as your tires spin and dig you deeper into the hole you've created.
Our fourth 4x4 bullet point concerns traction control. For the most part, you're going to want to keep it on. These systems are very intelligent and can help you out more than they'll hurt you. If you're driving through a surface like mud or sand, however, where you can sink, you'll probably want it off so the engine doesn't cut power on you. Momentum is key, and traction control could rob you of that.
Finally, once you're done with your day of wheelin', make sure you don't just pack up and drive home. Take your time and inspect the undercarriage of your ride. You could've bent suspension or steering bits. You could've banged up your exhaust. There could be branches or rocks packed into your movable parts, or mud could be covering your radiator. All of those issues can cause problems, so it's better to find out before you hit the highway for your journey home.