Imaging owning Chevy Silverado trucks for decades, buying a new one and then having trouble pulling your boat up a wet dock. When you reach for that 4LO button, you discover your new truck, simply a newer variation of your old truck, didn’t come with 4LO standard. Well, crap.
That’s exactly what happened to one owner.
Chris Tonn, friend of the website, recently shared a story about his uncle — a loyal Silverado owner whose last 13 trucks have been some variant of 1500 or 2500 to tow his boat — and this exact situation. It seems GM decided 4LO (aka a two-speed transfer case) wasn’t necessary for 4×4 trucks — except in off-road models. Instead, you get a single-speed transfer case with Auto, 2HI and 4HI.
According to Tonn:
“[My uncle] tells me that this fall, he buys a 2020 Silverado 4WD (because Wisconsin) and this spring he goes to try and drag his boat out of the lake. He struggles, as he can’t find the low-range. Indeed, it seems that 4LO is only available as an option — it’s standard with the Z71 package, of course. Had he known that GM had made low range an option, he’d have bought the Z71 — but neither he nor the dealer (big surprise the dealer is uninformed) knew a thing about it. And he’s well into his 70s — he’s not going to peruse spec sheets for months prior to buying.”
So, if you’re confused about the Chevy Silverado 4LO situation, clearly you aren’t alone. Here is what is going on.
Taking a close look at the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra brochures, we confirm not all 4×4 models come with both a 4HI and a 4LO. Instead, the single-speed transfer case is standard while the two-speed transfer case is optional and limited.
For example, on newer models, consumers must opt for the Z71 package on the Silverado — or the X31 package as GMC calls it — in order to get the extra speed for their trucks.
This means customers will need shell out an additional $1,595 for the Z71 package on a crew cab, short bed Silverado LT or $1,105 for the X31 crew cab, short bed, GMC Sierra Elevation.
Checking out Ford, Ram, Toyota and Nissan, we find all of them offer a two-speed transfer case as standard equipment.
Ford and Ram go one step further, adding an auto 4WD transfer case option. Ford takes it one step further, offering a torque-on-demand transfer case option as well.
For Nissan and Toyota, they simply have a two-speed transfer case for all their 4×4 trucks.
One of the big questions this raises is: Why would you need a two-speed transfer case anyway.
There are really only a few cases where it is helpful:
Removing standard 4LO from a 4X4 seems like yet another way companies are penny pinching their highly profitable full-size trucks, and without a knowledgeable dealer or a customer doing their own research, it’s easy to purchase a truck without the features you would assume it has from the factory.
The reality is buying any vehicle — but especially a truck — has gotten more and more complex, and you need to be aware of these changes that can happen when models switch over or make mid-year changes — such as some 2021 GM trucks coming without fuel saving technology.
It stinks, but the onus is on the customers to do their homework — especially for features they use frequently. Never assume that just because your truck has always had XYZ, that it continues to do so.
You also need a two speed transfer case to flat pull behind a motor home. I just made that mistake. The sticker on the window doesn’t tell you what case is in the truck! And the sicker doesn’t tell you that a single speed tranfer case will not allow you to flat pull. Now i own a 4×4 truck that i need to figure out if i can replace the single speed transfer case with a two speed. If anyone can help me please email me @email@example.com.