4 wheel drive all the time? or just when needed

Cougsfan

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4wd, yes/no? Sometimes I get the feeling that the correct answer for one person isn't the correct answer for another.
 

oosik

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I will not use 4WD on hard, dry surfaces where traction in 2WD proves adequate. Slick, wet, icy or downhill - could be a different story.

Also - know the area where you will be traveling. Into 4WD BEFORE you are in a mess. OR - in my case, just don't go into those areas during the wet season.

I only use my tractor on my 80 acres. After 40+ years - I pretty well know what can/can not be done.
 

Ortimber

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Leaving your tractor in 4wd only presents an issue when working on hard surfaces such as pavement.

The “winding up” of front driveline components happened to me once, but it was in a pickup that had mismatched gear ratios in the front and rear differentials.

My dad leaves his tractors in 4wd all the time, and has for 45 years. Maybe he gets a little more tire scuff than usual, but that’s about it.

Leave it in 4wd and forget about it.
 

deereman75

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4wd or not, you should never get going down a steep hill with your only plan being "my tractor has brakes"
Ideally you shouldn't even be using the brakes to descend a hill, that's what your transmission is for

Your bucket should also be ready to use to slow yourself before you get into trouble, not something that you drop in a panic once you're already out of control.

Some words of wisdom I picked up from an old equipment operator, "treat every machine as if it has no brakes"
 

bearthebruce

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4wd or not, you should never get going down a steep hill with your only plan being "my tractor has brakes"
Ideally you shouldn't even be using the brakes to descend a hill, that's what your transmission is for
Agreed! I wished I done what I always had done in the past - check to be sure I was in 4wd - check that I had control. In a hurry, I got over-confident and I was lucky it ended well.
Your bucket should also be ready to use to slow yourself before you get into trouble, not something that you drop in a panic once you're already out of control.
Again, didn't have the bucket on. I had forks with a machine sitting on a pallet on those forks.. Using that rig to slow down seems to me to be asking for trouble. Didn't see it as an option. Even if I only put down the back edge, I was concerned about it catching something.
Some words of wisdom I picked up from an old equipment operator, "treat every machine as if it has no brakes"
Good words. I hope my lesson is now fully integrated and fully learned. I do not ever want to ride that 400 foot drop over a quarter mile like that again! One thrill ride was enough.

My point of telling the story was to warn the OP there is a time when 4WD is needed. Others chimed that they too had made the error. Those that say using 4WD is bad, well, my guess is they do not operate on hills. Little of our property is flat land. The gravel roads around the property are also hills with some steep inclines. We operate in 4WD more than we do in 2WD because the only place we are on pavement is at the top of the mountain, on the flat, around the house and barn. We choose 2WD on the pavement and to keep from tearing up the lawn.

The shame is all on me for rushing. I know better and still I failed. That my friends is the real lesson I was hoping Newbs like me would hear. Yeah I have over 300 hours in the seat now.. still I consider myself a newb. If I had thousands of hours in the seat, I would hope muscle memory would force me to test before going downhill, just like I was taught by my dad with old cars way back.. "You never start down a mountain without first testing the brakes at slow speed, dammit!" Right dad. Heard you as I was running out of control down that hill. You keep yelling dad! Maybe someday I will listen to ya!
 

LD1

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4wd or not, you should never get going down a steep hill with your only plan being "my tractor has brakes"
Ideally you shouldn't even be using the brakes to descend a hill, that's what your transmission is for

Your bucket should also be ready to use to slow yourself before you get into trouble, not something that you drop in a panic once you're already out of control.

Some words of wisdom I picked up from an old equipment operator, "treat every machine as if it has no brakes"
Agree that you should treat it as if it has no brakes and use gearing/transmission to go down a hill.

BUT.....if the rear tires dont have traction....that engine braking isnt gonna do any good if you aint in 4wd
 

Martin Roper

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Wait, wait, let me get this straight. You're in 2WD maneuvering in tight quarters, using the rear brakes, pedal unlocked, one wheel at a time to help the turns -- and it engages 4WD?
No they are not supposed to engage 4 Wheel drive with the pedals used independently but with larger tractors particularly with a loader on I do try not to manoeuvre using the independents unless essential.
 

Martin Roper

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I don't understand why it's a debate either. The whole point of the discussion is in the name of safely being able to control the tractor on slippery surfaces or going down a hill.

The easy answer is 4wd. So why "some" people that think they are smarter than everyone else wants to argue about something that could potentially save the life of a rookie tractor operator reeding this? It ain't about how you "think" the mechanics of the machine work. It's about what happens in real life situations. Don't try and take away from the importance of 4wd on hills because someone feels like arguing on the internet today.
You may be a "super star member" but if you instruct a "rookie" to use 4 wheel drive all the time on a machine that is not designed for it they may find that it isn't there when they really need it. Every machine is different and needs to be operated accordingly so it is about how the machine works and how it is applied to real life situations with safety as a priority.
 

cruz54982

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I have a bobcat 2025 (kioti) with 55 hours so far; got it this spring. I really only need to engage the front axle when moving dirt or slogging through muddy trails. All my mowing and manure spreading are easily done in 2wd. Any reason to use the front axle every once and a while? I don't really notice a difference either way; power or steering etc.
my take is use often enough to keep all moving parts free IE levers & links as they tend to stiffen or freeze from no use .
 

LD1

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You may be a "super star member" but if you instruct a "rookie" to use 4 wheel drive all the time on a machine that is not designed for it they may find that it isn't there when they really need it. Every machine is different and needs to be operated accordingly so it is about how the machine works and how it is applied to real life situations with safety as a priority.
Maybe my "super star member" status has you awe-struck?

Pleas quote the post where I said to use 4wd all the time.....I'll wait.
 

jfh0jfh

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I only engage 4WD when I need it (Kubota 5800; Kubota FS-30). I try to anticipate; I don't engage when a wheel is spinning.
 

hube2

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I only use 4wd only when I need it, which is rarely when there's no snow and ice. I think I've had to put it into 4wd twice this summer because I pulled too far into the ditch along the road to get back out with only the rear wheels.

My rational for not using 4wd unless I need it is this: If something is going to go wrong it will happen when I need the tractor the most, it will happen when I need the tractor because I'll be using it at the time. My main concern is winter, it is my only means on clearing snow. I must have the 4wd in the winter for moving the snow. If I put unnecessary stress on the 4wd when I don't need it or use it when I don't need it then I am going to reduce the life of my front axle and more than likely this will leave me without my tractor when I need it the most when it breaks.

I don't get the down hill part, mostly because I was taught to move up and down hills with the load pointing up hill which means if I have my bucket full I am backing down the hill. I once had a job where I drove large fork trucks and other equipment for moving things around. It only takes one time trying to go uphill with a 20+ ton load in the wrong direction to figure out why it's wrong. Not to mention the hours and hours I had to spend in operator safety classes over the 17 years I had that job.
 

bearthebruce

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I was taught to move up and down hills with the load pointing up hill which means if I have my bucket full I am backing down the hill.
That's helpful and makes sense. I have never thought about that. Was not a heavy equip operator and did not think about this. If backing down, all the weight remains on the back wheels.. as said, good point and helpful.
 

ning

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That's helpful and makes sense. I have never thought about that. Was not a heavy equip operator and did not think about this. If backing down, all the weight remains on the back wheels.. as said, good point and helpful.
As long as the load is well-ballasted! (of course, not being well-ballasted is a huge problem going downhill as well, potentially worse than merely not being able to stop depending on the circumstances!)
 

LD1

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In a perfect world yes, load always on the uphill side.

In reality it's not always practical or possible. Just depends on what you are doing
 

rScotty

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With steep slopes, loose dirt, and needing to cross significant pavement often, I shift back and forth from 2wd to 4wd a lot. Maybe my next tractor will have a button to push instead of a lever that's often reluctant to go out of 4wd. Backing up 3' or so usually loosens it up but sometimes I have to raise the front tires off the ground with the loader.

Does the lever feel like it is stuck?
Why do you think it is sometimes hard to shift out of 4wd?
 

rScotty

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I can see y. When in 4wd, are the front and rear axles actually locked together? On some all wheel drive cars they are Not. So maybe being in 4wd just hooks the front axle to the engine and not directly to the rear axle.

It is easy to see a question? If the front and rear axles are locked, that means there is no differential between them. Really? Could be, but easy to see such confusion?

Even if the brakes were not connected when in 4wd, being in 4wd would still help slow one down downhill because of engine braking.

For 99+% of compact tractors there is no question:

Yes in 4wd the front and rear axles are locked together.
No, being in 4wd doesn't hook the front axle to the engine. It hooks directly to the main transmission output shaft.

Correct. There is no differential between front and rear axle.
The brakes don't change in 4wd. What changes is that in 4wd the front and rear axles are solidly connected together; so the rear brakes are now braking both the rear tires and the front tires.

Engine braking works the same as friction braking, i.e. in 2wd it only brakes the rear tires. In 4wd engine braking works on all 4 tires.
 

deereman75

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Well here's something to consider. My company does a lot of work for a large Kubota dealer near by, and their service manager is a friend of mine. I asked him today while I was there for something unrelated and his answer was "you can run a Kubota in 4wd all the time and not hurt anything"
 

LD1

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Well here's something to consider. My company does a lot of work for a large Kubota dealer near by, and their service manager is a friend of mine. I asked him today while I was there for something unrelated and his answer was "you can run a Kubota in 4wd all the time and not hurt anything"
No you aren't gonna "hurt" anything. Buy you wear out components faster and tires.

You aren't gonna "hurt" a chainsaw cutting hard dead trees....but you wear the chain out faster than cutting green pine.
 

K5lwq

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I would think having 4WD engaged full time would lead to forgetting it is in 4WD. You never think about until after for some reason you had to road the tractor for a few miles and something gives. I like to be aware of everything when operating equipment. I will continue to use it when I need it.
 

Doughknob

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Soooo, without reading back through everything, if it is OK to leave 4wd on all the time, why do manufacturers even make the switching on/off option?

Why don't they just make them full time 4wd? That'd be cheaper than having the switching mechanisms in place. When is 2wd better?
 

rScotty

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Well here's something to consider. My company does a lot of work for a large Kubota dealer near by, and their service manager is a friend of mine. I asked him today while I was there for something unrelated and his answer was "you can run a Kubota in 4wd all the time and not hurt anything"

I think we all have friends like that, and I cherish their friendship. But now my curiosity is up.

We know that what he says doesn't make sense mechanically, but what do you say to your buddy when he says something like that?
 

deereman75

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I think we all have friends like that, and I cherish their friendship. But now my curiosity is up.

We know that what he says doesn't make sense mechanically, but what do you say to your buddy when he says something like that?
Considering I have never had a front axle or transmission component off a Kubota smaller than an M7 in my shop, I am inclined to say that (other than tire wear if on hard surfaces) he is right.
The drivetrains are so robust on the smaller Kubota units that you'd really struggle to break one. They don't really have enough power to break themselves.
 

Martin Roper

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Well here's something to consider. My company does a lot of work for a large Kubota dealer near by, and their service manager is a friend of mine. I asked him today while I was there for something unrelated and his answer was "you can run a Kubota in 4wd all the time and not hurt anything"
A while ago I purchased a very second hand Ford 40 series which came on an unusual size mix of tyres and I checked with our main Ford dealer that this was alright and was assured it made no difference by their workshop manager. I found the transmission to be winding up so changed the tyre mix and it cured it. My point being that some times the "specialists" are not always giving sound advice (and they are also allowed bad days) which can be expensive to the consumer so if the Kubota has a central differential allowing to be in constant 4 wheel drive or a slipping mechanism, mechanical or electrical I would have doubts that is would be advisable to leave it in gear unless needed. Usually if it is safe to leave in constant 4 wheel drive you can not disengage as with our Land Rovers.
 

RoyJackson

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Deere recommends using MFWD as needed. Although my 4052 does have MFWD, it's rarely used. This is my 5th Deere since 1998-1999, all had MFWD, never stayed in 4WD unless necessary.
Just don't see a good reason for it as it adds unnecessary wear and tear on the drive line and front tires
 

lman

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Soooo, without reading back through everything, if it is OK to leave 4wd on all the time, why do manufacturers even make the switching on/off option?

Why don't they just make them full time 4wd? That'd be cheaper than having the switching mechanisms in place. When is 2wd better?
You have apparently never made a sharp turn on pavement while your tractor is in 4wd. The tractor will buck and it is obvious that it is not good for the tractor.
 

Smokeydog

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Owned and well used many of 2wd tractors before getting a 4wd Kubotas. Tire wear from spinning 2wd tractors has got to be considered. Safety on hillsides a definite plus for the 4x4 tractors. Mine stay in 4x4 unless on hard surfaces which is rare. Gravel, grass, pasture or woods are all loose surfaces. The braking advantage is as important as the pulling. Have not seen appreciable extra wear from staying in 4x4 with the Kubotas I have owned and maintained. Sure wouldn’t be able to do all the work we do as safe without 4x4 in our situation. Find what works best for you.
 

Jims1025R

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"Hurt" anything, vs needlessly wear are different. Sure, the front wheel drive components will keep working (they are robust) but needlessly running in 4WD is wearing the whole front drive for no need. It may also tear up your lawn at one front wheel. I run 4WD only when needed. To the point that when using it for improved loader traction, I'll switch in an out every time I dump a bucket.

4WD systems can be very different. Sure, all drive all four wheels, when in use, but how they do it varies. Before I retired as a firefighter, I did truck training. After some review, I came to fine that each of our four 4WD trucks had a different system, and required specific training. For my experience, compact tractors have a front and rear differential (the rear can generally be locked). They do not have a center differential - that being between the driveshafts which go front and rear. If tractors had this, it would have to be locked sometimes too, and would be adding complexity for no benefit. The result of not having a center differential is that during a turn, one front wheel will scrub relative to the rear wheels in a turn - it's mechanically inescapable.

The Audi Quatto I used to own, was a mechanical wonder in this regard. It was full time four wheel drive, with three differentials, so each wheel could find it's comfort zone. You could lock the rear and center differential for improved traction. You could not lock the front differential, probably because steering would become very difficult. If you dove on a hard surface road with the diffs locked, the car would track really straight, and buck when you tried to corner. But the traction was so good that way, that I'd use the Audi to pull out my Jeep CJ-7 plow truck when I got it stuck. The Jeep did not have diff lock, so it'd spin one front, and the opposing rear wheel, and you were stuck.

Understand your system and read your manual, but for myself, I only use 4WD when it's needed, and never when it's not.
 

Doughknob

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You have apparently never made a sharp turn on pavement while your tractor is in 4wd. The tractor will buck and it is obvious that it is not good for the tractor.
Thank you. I rest my case. Why are we still debating this. In 4wd all the time is not good..... or they would be made that way.
 

SmallChange

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Soooo, without reading back through everything, if it is OK to leave 4wd on all the time, why do manufacturers even make the switching on/off option?

Why don't they just make them full time 4wd? That'd be cheaper than having the switching mechanisms in place. When is 2wd better?

Even for a tractor that is built to handle drive train stress constantly, tight turns on a delicate surface will tear up the surface some in 4wd. Ag tires on a lawn, under conditions that might not have left any visible damage from just doing this once in 2wd, will make a big mess in 4wd.
 

deereman75

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Armchair experts missing the point as usual.... No one is claiming that you should run 4wd all the time on every surface. That is obviously bad practice.
But as to the argument of "it will damage your tractor" or "you're wearing out the 4wd components"
No.
They are designed to withstand being ran in 4wd for the life of the tractor because there are people who run them in 4wd all the time. Saving wear on the front axle is hardly relevant if the rest of the tractor is ready for the scrapyard before you start having trouble there.

And for the average person who owns a compact tractor for hobby use and puts 50-200 hours a year on, it is a complete non issue.

The mfwd system is switchable because it tears up tires on hard surfaces and tears up the ground on loose surfaces, not because it is "bad for the tractor" to use it.
 

ptsg

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Armchair experts missing the point as usual.... No one is claiming that you should run 4wd all the time on every surface. That is obviously bad practice.
But as to the argument of "it will damage your tractor" or "you're wearing out the 4wd components"
No.
They are designed to withstand being ran in 4wd for the life of the tractor because there are people who run them in 4wd all the time. Saving wear on the front axle is hardly relevant if the rest of the tractor is ready for the scrapyard before you start having trouble there.

And for the average person who owns a compact tractor for hobby use and puts 50-200 hours a year on, it is a complete non issue.

The mfwd system is switchable because it tears up tires on hard surfaces and tears up the ground on loose surfaces, not because it is "bad for the tractor" to use it.
I agree with you, if the tractor doesn't have a loader. Then, yes, the biggest issue you'll get out of it is bald tires, being that there is not much weight on them and the tires can slip.

Now, slap a loader on a tractor, thus increase the weight in the front axle, and yes, you're in for trouble sooner or later if driving with 4wd on hard surfaces. The extra weight won't let the tires slip and the entire stresses fall on the drivetrain components.

Unless the tractor has equal size wheels in front and back, then there will always be some differences in the speed which the front and rear wheels turn causing binding in hard surfaces.

But, I'm probably just an armchair expert, so what do I know...
 

IndyJay

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Armchair experts missing the point as usual.... No one is claiming that you should run 4wd all the time on every surface. That is obviously bad practice.
But as to the argument of "it will damage your tractor" or "you're wearing out the 4wd components"
No.
They are designed to withstand being ran in 4wd for the life of the tractor because there are people who run them in 4wd all the time. Saving wear on the front axle is hardly relevant if the rest of the tractor is ready for the scrapyard before you start having trouble there.

And for the average person who owns a compact tractor for hobby use and puts 50-200 hours a year on, it is a complete non issue.

The mfwd system is switchable because it tears up tires on hard surfaces and tears up the ground on loose surfaces, not because it is "bad for the tractor" to use it.
Sitting in my armchair as I write this, I drove my Massey 1250 in 4WD all of the time, to the point where I usually forgot to take it out when I pulled onto asphalt. I had damage to my trans-axle that required splitting the tractor. About a year later the front axle chewed up some gears and I had to have that repaired at great expense. The phrase "better safe than sorry" applies to both personal safety and protection of your equipment. Running 4WD on dry hard surfaces may damage your tractor. It would be prudent to turn it off on hard dry surfaces unless there is a specific safety reason to leave it engaged.
 

lman

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Sitting in my armchair as I write this, I drove my Massey 1250 in 4WD all of the time, to the point where I usually forgot to take it out when I pulled onto asphalt. I had damage to my trans-axle that required splitting the tractor. About a year later the front axle chewed up some gears and I had to have that repaired at great expense. The phrase "better safe than sorry" applies to both personal safety and protection of your equipment. Running 4WD on dry hard surfaces may damage your tractor. It would be prudent to turn it off on hard dry surfaces unless there is a specific safety reason to leave it engaged.
It's too bad this thread wasn't available when you got your Massey. It might have saved your tractor.
 

Avocado

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I to have have been close to death or injury by forgetting to engage 4WD when going down a hill.

If you have only flat ground, use 4WD when wheels slip.

If you have hills ALWAYS keep in 4WD.

If you forget to disable 4WD on pavement you may damage your tractor.
If you forget to engage 4WD on a hill you may damage your tractor and you may DIE or be injured.
Your tractor can be replaced, you cannot. Always default to safety.
 

k0ua

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Soooo, without reading back through everything, if it is OK to leave 4wd on all the time, why do manufacturers even make the switching on/off option?

Why don't they just make them full time 4wd? That'd be cheaper than having the switching mechanisms in place. When is 2wd better?
2wd is best any time you have to make a turn on a hard surface. When I turn around on the hard asphalt and concrete of my driveway in front of the garage I always shift to 2wd. As soon as I leave it and start down the steep gravel portion of the drive I make sure each and every time that I am in 4wd. If I were to forget, I would run the risk of losing control of the tractor. Been there, done that and don't like it much.
 

k0ua

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Kioti DK35se Hydrostat
Also guys, keep in mind when you dis-engage 4wd, all of the front components still turn, including the front drive shaft (propeller shaft) Every gear down shaft, bevel gear everything in the front differential and axle shafts ALL keep on turning. ALL of the time. Dis-engaging 4wd doesn't do a thing to keep all of this rolling machinery from moving. There isn't any nice Warn hubs to get out and disengage, or NONE of the automatic or thermo/gas engaging or electrical engaging or disengaging hardware on your CUT to do this.

EVERYTHING keeps moving whether you are in 2WD or 4WD. The only difference is that your front drive shaft is disengaged from the rear differential gear train. But is still turns because the front tires turn, and continues to drive all of this hardware. When you make sharp turns while in 4wd is engaged on a hard surface you will be putting the driveline in a bind because the travel distance of the tires is different. In 2wd, while all the hardware is still turning, but it is disengaged from the rear drive gears they the speeds of the front and rear don't matter and the tire scrubbing and hopping does not occur.
 
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SmallChange

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Apr 19, 2019
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Tractor
New Holland WM25 with 200LC front end loader, filled R4 tires 43X16.00-20 and 25X8.50-14 (had a Kubota B6200D with dozer and R1 tires)
EVERYTHING keeps moving whether you are in 2WD or 4WD. The only difference is that your front drive shaft is disengaged from the rear differential gear train.
Well, yeah, but what people care about is the wear on those parts, and gears turning without load don't wear much. It's the engagement and the potential to load big torques on the gears that causes the wear people care about.

Sure, let the gears spin without a load in 2WD. There's practically zero penalty for it.
 
 
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