Ford Kuga
 Owners Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
Using Four-Wheel Drive

Note:When a system malfunction is present, a warning message will be displayed in the information display. See Information Messages (page 75). This means the system is not functioning correctly and has defaulted to front-wheel drive only. Have your vehicle checked by an authorized dealer.

Note: A message will be displayed in the information display when the system overheats and switches to front-wheel drive.

This condition may occur if you operate your vehicle in extreme high load conditions or with excessive wheel slip, (i.e. deep sand).

To resume four-wheel drive function as soon as possible, stop your vehicle in a safe location and switch the ignition off. After the system cools and normal four-wheel drive functionality resumes, a message will be displayed for approximately five seconds.

Note: If a warning message appears in the information display when using the spare tire, it should turn off after reinstalling the repaired or replaced road tire and you switch the ignition on.

Note: It is recommended that you reinstall the repaired tire or replace the tire as soon as possible. Major dissimilar tire sizes between the front and rear axles could cause system damage or default the system to front-wheel drive.

The system gives your vehicle some limited off-road capabilities. Operating your vehicle in conditions other than moderate sand, snow, mud or rough roads could subject it to excessive stress and heat which could result in system damage. This will not be covered by your vehicle warranty.

A graphic will be displayed in the information display to advise you of the power distribution between the front and rear wheels. The more the area is filled the more power is being distributed to that wheel.

Driving in Special Conditions With Four-Wheel Drive

Four-wheel drive vehicles are suitable for driving on sand, snow, mud and rough roads and have operating characteristics that are somewhat different from conventional vehicles, both on and off the freeway.

Note: It may be useful to switch Traction control off. This allows for more wheel spin and engine torque in certain off road conditions or if your vehicle becomes stuck.

When driving at slow speeds off road under high load conditions, use a low gear when possible. Low gear operation will maximize the engine and transmission cooling capability.

Under severe operating conditions, the air conditioning may cycle on and off to prevent the engine from overheating.

Basic Operating Principles

  • Drive slower in strong crosswinds which can affect the normal steering characteristics of your vehicle.
  • When driving your vehicle on surfaces made slippery by loose sand, water, gravel, snow or ice proceed with care.

If Your Vehicle leaves the Road

If your vehicle leaves the road, reduce your vehicle speed and avoid severe braking.

When your vehicle speed has been reduced ease your vehicle back onto the road. Do not turn the steering wheel sharply while returning your vehicle to the road.

It may be safer to stay on the shoulder of the road and slow down gradually before returning to the road. You may lose control if you do not slow down or if you turn the steering wheel too sharply or abruptly.

It may be less risky to strike small objects, such as freeway reflectors, with minor damage to your vehicle rather than attempt a sudden return to the road which could cause your vehicle to slide sideways out of control or roll over. Remember, your safety and the safety of others should be your primary concern.

Emergency Maneuvers

In an unavoidable emergency situation where a sudden sharp turn must be made, remember to avoid over-driving your vehicle (i.e. turn the steering wheel only as rapidly and as far as required to avoid the emergency). Excessive steering can result in loss of vehicle control. Apply smooth pressure to the accelerator pedal or brake pedal when changes in vehicle speed are required. Avoid abrupt steering, acceleration and braking. This could result in an increased risk of vehicle roll over, loss of vehicle control and personal injury. Use all available road surface to bring your vehicle to a safe direction of travel.

In the event of an emergency stop, avoid skidding the tires and do not attempt any sharp steering wheel movements.

If your vehicle goes from one type of surface to another (i.e. from concrete to gravel) there will be a change in the way your vehicle responds to a maneuver (i.e.

steering, acceleration or braking).


When driving over sand, try to keep all four wheels on the most solid area of the trail.

Avoid reducing the tire pressures but shift to a lower gear and drive steadily through the terrain. Apply the accelerator slowly and avoid excessive wheel slip.

Do not drive your vehicle in deep sand for an extended period of time. This will cause the system to overheat. A message will be displayed in the information display. See Information Messages

To resume operation, switch the ignition off and allow the system to cool down for a minimum of 15 minutes. After the system has cooled down, a message will be displayed briefly in the information display.

See Information Messages

When driving at slow speeds in deep sand under high outside temperatures, use a low gear when possible. Low gear operation will maximize the engine and transmission cooling capability.

Avoid driving at excessive speeds, this causes vehicle momentum to work against you and your vehicle could become stuck to the point that assistance may be required from another vehicle. Remember, you may be able to back out the way you came if you proceed with caution.

Mud and Water


Be cautious of sudden changes in vehicle speed or direction when you are driving in mud. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can lose traction in slick mud. If your vehicle does slide, steer in the direction of the slide until you regain control of your vehicle.

After driving through mud, clean off residue stuck to rotating driveshafts and tires.

Excess mud stuck on tires and rotating driveshafts can cause an imbalance that could damage drive components.


If you must drive through high water, drive slowly. Traction or brake capability may be limited.

When driving through water, determine the depth and avoid water higher than the bottom of the wheel rims. If the ignition system gets wet, your vehicle may stall.

Once through water, always try the brakes.

Wet brakes do not stop your vehicle as effectively as dry brakes. Drying can be improved by applying light pressure to the brake pedal while moving slowly.

Note: Driving through deep water may damage the transmission. If the front or rear axle is submerged in water, the axle lubricant and power transfer unit lubricant should be checked and changed if necessary.

Driving on Hilly or Sloping Terrain

Although natural obstacles may make it necessary to travel diagonally up or down a hill or steep incline, you should always try to drive straight up or straight down.

Note:Avoid turning on steep slopes or hills.

A danger lies in losing traction, slipping sideways and possible vehicle roll over.

Whenever driving on a hill, determine beforehand the route you will use. Do not drive over the crest of a hill without seeing what conditions are on the other side. Do not drive in reverse over a hill without the aid of an observer.

When climbing a steep slope or hill, start in a lower gear rather than downshifting to a lower gear from a higher gear once the ascent has started. This reduces strain on the engine and the possibility of stalling.

If your vehicle stalls, do not try to turn around because this could cause vehicle roll over. It is better to reverse back to a safe location.

Apply just enough power to the wheels to climb the hill. Too much power will cause the tires to slip, spin or lose traction, resulting in loss of vehicle control.

Driving on Hilly or Sloping Terrain

Descend a hill in the same gear you would use to climb up the hill to avoid excessive brake application and brake overheating.

Do not descend in neutral. Disengage overdrive or move the transmission selector lever to a lower gear. When descending a steep hill, avoid sudden hard braking as you could lose control. The front wheels have to be turning in order to steer your vehicle.

Your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, therefore apply the brakes steadily. Do not pump the brake pedal.

Driving on Snow and Ice


If you are driving in slippery conditions that require tire chains or cables, then it is critical that you drive cautiously. Keep speeds down, allow for longer stopping distances and avoid aggressive steering to reduce the chances of a loss of vehicle control which can lead to serious injury or death. If the rear end of your vehicle slides while cornering, steer in the direction of the slide until you regain control of your vehicle.

Note: Excessive tire slippage can cause transmission damage

Four-wheel drive vehicles have advantages over two-wheel drive vehicles in snow and ice but can skid like any other vehicle.

Should you start to slide while driving on snowy or icy roads, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide until you regain control.

Avoid sudden applications of power and quick changes of direction on snow and ice. Apply the accelerator slowly and steadily when starting from a full stop.

Avoid sudden braking. Although a four-wheel drive vehicle may accelerate better than a two-wheel drive vehicle in snow and ice, it will not stop any faster as braking occurs at all four wheels. Do not become overconfident as to road conditions.

Make sure you allow sufficient distance between you and other vehicles for stopping. Drive slower than usual and consider using one of the lower gears. In emergency stopping situations, apply the brake steadily. As your vehicle has a four wheel anti-lock brake system, do not pump the brake pedal. See Hints on Driving With Anti-Lock Brakes

If Your Vehicle Gets Stuck In Mud or Snow

If your vehicle gets stuck in mud or snow, it may be rocked out by shifting between forward and reverse gears, stopping between shifts in a steady pattern. Press lightly on the accelerator in each gear.

Note: Do not rock your vehicle if the engine is not at normal operating temperature, damage to the transmission may occur.

Note: Do not rock your vehicle for more than a minute, damage to the transmission and tires may occur or the engine may overheat.

Maintenance and Modifications

The suspension and steering systems on your vehicle have been designed and tested to provide predictable performance whether loaded or empty. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you do not make modifications such as adding or removing parts (i.e. lift kits or stabilizer bars) or by using replacement parts not equivalent to the original factory equipment.

We recommend that you use caution when your vehicle has either a high load or device (i.e. ladder or luggage racks). Any modifications to your vehicle that raise the center of gravity may cause your vehicle to roll over when there is a loss of vehicle control.

Failure to maintain your vehicle correctly may void the warranty, increase your repair cost, reduce vehicle performance and operational capabilities and adversely affect you and your passenger's safety. We recommend you frequently inspect your vehicle's chassis components when your vehicle is subject to off road usage.

    More about «Four-Wheel Drive»:

    Principle of Operation

    Using Four-Wheel Drive

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