Navigator 4x4 system

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LoopyLincoln

Member
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I had the same question after I bought my 2020 Navigator. The answer I've come up with is that the Drive Mode is essentially the translator for the Lincoln owner. You don't have to know what the drivetrain is doing, you just select for your driving conditions and the Navigator takes care of the rest. As best as I can tell, and you can see the information in small white print on the left side of the driver's display, here is the translation (picking up a number of the points made earlier in this thread):

There are two rear wheel drive modes (2H):

Normal - 2H - Rear wheel drive.
Conserve - 2H - Real wheel drive. Shift points, suspension, etc., changed to give you better gas mileage.

There are three all wheel drive modes (4A):

Normal 4X4 - 4A - All wheel drive mode for general on-road driving.
Excite - 4A - All wheel drive mode with a performance emphasis.
Slippery - 4A - All wheel drive mode for less than ideal conditions. Lowers throttle response, changes shift points.

There is one traditional 4X4 mode (4H):

Deep Conditions - 4H - This is a traditional 4X4, Four Wheel Drive, for mud, snow, sand, etc. It is not for use on dry hard surface roads.

There is one 4X4 Low mode (4H):

Slow Climb - 4L - This is a traditional Four Wheel Drive, Low gearing, for slippery steep grades, pulling a boat out of a launch ramp, etc. It is not for use on dry, hard surfaced roads. I'm not sure, but this may only be available with the trailer package.


Good breakdown. The last one, 4L, is only available with tow package gearing right?
 

Grey Knight

New member
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1
3
I'm trying to figure out what kind of 4x4 system the navigator uses. Info says transfer case, but the one I test drove didn't have selector switch anywhere, and driving around with 4x4 selected on drive mode did not seem like front axle was engaged at all. Is it effectively an all wheel drive system that works without being noticed, or is it a traditional transfer case that tries to guess when to engage?

My main concern is that my wife is used to very good all wheel drive systems on Audis and Volvos and I do not want a system that has to be manually engaged or is clunky and distracting. It's been years since I've driven one, but I've never driven a vehicle that had an automatically engaging transfer case where I didn't think the system was terrible.
Last month I bought a low mileage 2018 Navigator reserve model with extra options to where it is practically a black label. Today was the first time I got to drive in snow and ice and I am super disappointed. My 2008 Ford Expedition handled anything in 4H and I was confident and comfortable. Today as I tried to get out of my driveway, which is a slight incline, the Navigator slipped and hydroplaned sideways. I was going slow to test it and get a feel for it. I twisted the drive mode knob to all 4 wheel drive modes (4xNormal, Slippery, and even to Deep) and a message kept popping up on my display that said “disengaged 4 wheel drive” then when I’d stop trying to struggle up my drive it would say “4 wheel drive re engaged”!!!
So, it would essentially disengage when I needed it and had selected for it, and it felt like only rear wheels were working, which would make me slide to the side. I looked in the owners manual because I really wanted to make it work but there was nothing I could find to remedy the situation. I turned traction control off and on and tried both ways. Finally, I parked back in the garage and got in my Jeep Wrangler which had absolutely no difficulty leaving the driveway or anywhere on the roads. Is the new Navigator so sophisticated that it has outsmarted itself??
 

Ice Bear

Member
52
50
18
I haven't had any problem with 4WD either. My experience is the longer the wheelbase, the more stable in snow. The only limit I've seen in the Hankook all seasons. Not bad, but not up to par with true winter tires.
 

Ballyhoo

Active member
171
83
28
On my 2011 it's a button on the center console, and when engaged you do not "feel" it. As MarkA stated, the newer models are a knob but work in the same manner. As for driving, only use 4x4 mode when required. It is a myth that you can use it forever as some have stated.
 

Vics 2021 Navigator L

SUPPORTING MEMBER
63
61
18
South Holland
Wow I have a 2020 Black Label 4x4 and this year we got more snow than we have had in Chicago area since 1979 and my driveway on the last snow storm was over a foot deep I put my truck in 4-h slippery conditions and I backed out of my garage with no problems with over a foot of snow it was probably almost 18 inches between the two houses the snow drifted of of the house roofs and onto my driveway.The Navigator went right thru it no problem my neighbors were all shoveling out their cars and I drove right thru.Plus the truck handled the snowy streets with ease I could not be happier!!😀
Last month I bought a low mileage 2018 Navigator reserve model with extra options to where it is practically a black label. Today was the first time I got to drive in snow and ice and I am super disappointed. My 2008 Ford Expedition handled anything in 4H and I was confident and comfortable. Today as I tried to get out of my driveway, which is a slight incline, the Navigator slipped and hydroplaned sideways. I was going slow to test it and get a feel for it. I twisted the drive mode knob to all 4 wheel drive modes (4xNormal, Slippery, and even to Deep) and a message kept popping up on my display that said “disengaged 4 wheel drive” then when I’d stop trying to struggle up my drive it would say “4 wheel drive re engaged”!!!
So, it would essentially disengage when I needed it and had selected for it, and it felt like only rear wheels were working, which would make me slide to the side. I looked in the owners manual because I really wanted to make it work but there was nothing I could find to remedy the situation. I turned traction control off and on and tried both ways. Finally, I parked back in the garage and got in my Jeep Wrangler which had absolutely no difficulty leaving the driveway or anywhere on the roads. Is the new Navigator so sophisticated that it has outsmarted itself??
 

GHopper

New member
2
2
3
Bought our ‘21 Nav. Reserve in April;
Had the opportunity recently on a trip to try out the different drive modes; which are described in detail in the owners manual; vehicle performed very well in snow and mud/snow; the drive modes control the power distribution to the wheels and how it’s distributed; I believe it’s more complex and advanced than a standard transfer case; I do not think it’s quite up to performing like the Quattro system on my A8 however;
Also, the “climb “ mode requires a transmission be in neutral; so be careful just flipping through the modes quickly; I imagine the system has a fail-safe to prevent damage though.
______________________________
 

Ballyhoo

Active member
171
83
28
I'm an older guy and know exactly what you're referring to. I've still got my '77 with three shifters, 4 wheel engage, high/low and a four-speed gear box. Oh, and manual locking hubs. For you youngsters, that means getting out, bending over and turning a hub 1/4 turn on not one, but both front wheels. Pretty much anti-theft to the current crowd, too much going on to operate for them. For the intended purpose I'd choose old style all day long.
 
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2021Navigator

Active member
102
43
28
I'm an older guy and know exactly what you're referring to. I've still got my '77 with three shifters, 4 wheel engage, high/low and a four-speed gear box. Oh, and manual locking hubs. For you youngsters, that means getting out, bending over and turning a hub 1/4 turn on not one, but both front wheels. Pretty much anti-theft to the current crowd, too much going on to operate for them. For the intended purpose I'd choose old style all day long.
That's too funny! Did your 77 come with the hand crank in the center of the grill or did you get the battery start option?

There is something to be said for the simplistic nature of vehicles from 40-50 years ago with very little to fail. It is amazing the advancements that have been made and I can only imagine that in 20-30 years that it will be illegal for the average person to drive a car or your insurance company will not allow it because of the increased risk verse a computer doing the driving.
 

Grey Knight

New member
12
1
3
I'm trying to figure out what kind of 4x4 system the navigator uses. Info says transfer case, but the one I test drove didn't have selector switch anywhere, and driving around with 4x4 selected on drive mode did not seem like front axle was engaged at all. Is it effectively an all wheel drive system that works without being noticed, or is it a traditional transfer case that tries to guess when to engage?

My main concern is that my wife is used to very good all wheel drive systems on Audis and Volvos and I do not want a system that has to be manually engaged or is clunky and distracting. It's been years since I've driven one, but I've never driven a vehicle that had an automatically engaging transfer case where I didn't think the system was terrible.
You’re question is right on the mark. I totally agree that the dealer cannot answer these questions. I’m utterly frustrated with my 2018 navigator. I’ve got all of the upgrades that essentially make it a black label with 4 wheel drive. Last winter I couldn’t get out of my driveway when it snowed and got slippery. My daughter’s 4wh drive Jeep had no trouble getting out, nor did my wife’s Tesla. My old Ford Expedition went through 13 winters and never ever had a problem.
This is my 2nd winter with this Navigator and it snowed last week and again it failed to leave the driveway. This is a $90k automobile. I would never have bought this if I knew 4x4 doesn’t work. By the way, last winter I took it to the dealer after it left me stuck at home and the dealer said they couldn’t reproduce the problem (they didn’t have snow and a very slight incline) so there was nothing to fix. I even gave them video and photos that I took of the dashboard (rpms, drive mode, pictures of vehicle location in my driveway and the conditions, etc) when it was trying to get out of my drive. None of that data helped them. Someone said the stick Hankook tires were terrible so I upgraded to the best Michelin tires that my service advisor said he uses on his pickup. That didn’t solve the problem either. I’m trying to figure out how to hold the dealer accountable to fix this or trade for a functional vehicle. Did you ever find out anything it’s about your wife’s navigator 4x4? (Here are photos from a few days ago, I can dig up photos from last year if they would be helpful to see.)
 

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Grey Knight

New member
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You’re question is right on the mark. I totally agree that the dealer cannot answer these questions. I’m utterly frustrated with my 2018 navigator. I’ve got all of the upgrades that essentially make it a black label with 4 wheel drive. Last winter I couldn’t get out of my driveway when it snowed and got slippery. My daughter’s 4wh drive Jeep had no trouble getting out, nor did my wife’s Tesla. My old Ford Expedition went through 13 winters and never ever had a problem.
This is my 2nd winter with this Navigator and it snowed last week and again it failed to leave the driveway. This is a $90k automobile. I would never have bought this if I knew 4x4 doesn’t work. By the way, last winter I took it to the dealer after it left me stuck at home and the dealer said they couldn’t reproduce the problem (they didn’t have snow and a very slight incline) so there was nothing to fix. I even gave them video and photos that I took of the dashboard (rpms, drive mode, pictures of vehicle location in my driveway and the conditions, etc) when it was trying to get out of my drive. None of that data helped them. Someone said the stick Hankook tires were terrible so I upgraded to the best Michelin tires that my service advisor said he uses on his pickup. That didn’t solve the problem either. I’m trying to figure out how to hold the dealer accountable to fix this or trade for a functional vehicle. Did you ever find out anything it’s about your wife’s navigator 4x4? (Here are photos from a few days ago, I can dig up photos from last year if they would be helpful to see.)
Here is the info (photos of dashboard) from last February (2021) when my 2018 Navigator wouldn’t make it out of the driveway. As you will see, I tried EVERY combination of drive mode with traction control off and on. I don’t know why the 4x4 keeps disengaging precisely when I need it!
______________________________
 

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Grey Knight

New member
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Wow I have a 2020 Black Label 4x4 and this year we got more snow than we have had in Chicago area since 1979 and my driveway on the last snow storm was over a foot deep I put my truck in 4-h slippery conditions and I backed out of my garage with no problems with over a foot of snow it was probably almost 18 inches between the two houses the snow drifted of of the house roofs and onto my driveway.The Navigator went right thru it no problem my neighbors were all shoveling out their cars and I drove right thru.Plus the truck handled the snowy streets with ease I could not be happier!!😀
Thanks, that is helpful to hear. I will share that with my dealer to emphasize the difference in our experience and how my navigator should work.
 

GrussGott

New member
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Thanks, that is helpful to hear. I will share that with my dealer to emphasize the difference in our experience and how my navigator should work.
You may also want to speak with a different dealer and possibly a local indy or two...

This appears to be a common problem many Ford's have: that is, when 4wd experiences tire slip, a fault is occurring serious enough to disable the 4wd to prevent damage. Once the tire slip is no longer happening the 4wd re-engages.

As I understand, this is normally caused (in Fords, i.e., ControlTrac) by
  • Failed 4WD Actuator
  • Damaged Vacuum hoses
  • Failed Vacuum Solenoid
  • Transfer case shift motor
There are other possibilities, but in all cases that message seems due to your system switching into "safe" mode.

You'll need to find someone willing to check through the codes (though sometimes the only code is "slipping") and put the vehicle on a jack to check the system (various solenoids, actuators, vacuum pressure & hoses, etc) to find the problem.

If you google "Ford 4x4 temporarily disabled" there are hundreds of hits like this; your dealer should know better ... or, worse, they know exactly what's up and they're blowing you off.
 
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ZeDominator

New member
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Here is the info (photos of dashboard) from last February (2021) when my 2018 Navigator wouldn’t make it out of the driveway. As you will see, I tried EVERY combination of drive mode with traction control off and on. I don’t know why the 4x4 keeps disengaging precisely when I need it!
I just purchased a base 2019 and drove it over 400mi in packed snow/ice for 12 hours in the Oregon mountains. Never once did the messages you are getting pop up on the dash. Used slippery mode most of the drive on some snow rated all terrain tires. The only time that was sketchy was a very steep driveway covered in ice but all vehicles had problems with it. I’d suspect you are having transfer case issues with those messages..
 
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