How To Put Honda Pilot In 4 Wheel Drive? (4WD Works)

If your Honda Pilot gets stuck in the mud or snow, then putting 4-wheel drive mode is the right solution. It enables your SUV to move forward. Indeed, This 4-wheel drive mode is extremely helpful in driving in difficult terrains. If you know how to use this feature, you are a true pilot of your Honda Pilot models. “How To Put Honda Pilot In 4 Wheel Drive” check our step-by-step guide.

Honda Pilot 4WD is automatic. It distributes the torque among the wheels to give you a better driving experience. Also, In a difficult situation, You can activate the VTM-4 lock button.

However, you can not always activate the VTM-4 lock. Stay tuned with me till the end to know how to use the button and when you should and should not use the 4-wheel drive. Also, don’t forget to check the tips at the end to enjoy the maximum benefits from this feature.

How does the 4WD work on a Honda Pilot?

How does the 4WD work on a Honda Pilot

The 4-wheel drive (4WD) is a feature or system found on Honda Pilot models that distributes power among the wheels. It helps you to provide more power to the wheels when necessary to drive through rough terrains.

The 4WD system is also known as the Variable Torque Management system or VTM-4. It transfers various amounts of torque to the rear wheels under low traction conditions to get a better driving experience.

Your Honda Pilot has a VTM-4 lock button between the instrument panel and radio. You can use this feature under certain conditions to enjoy its benefits.

For example, if your Pilot is stuck in the mud, you will have a hard time moving forward. In this condition, if you engage the VTM-4 lock, it will transfer up to 50% of power to the rear wheels, 25% each. It will increase the torque of the rear wheels and will help you move the vehicle ahead.

However, the VTM-4 or the 4WD feature only works in first, second, and reserve gear. The speed should also be below 18 mph or 30 km/h.

It is an excellent feature that lets you have better control over your vehicle on various terrains such as mud, snow, or uphill. But it can damage the rear wheels if you do not use the feature properly.

Read : How to Use a Steering Wheel Cleaner to Give Your Car a Brand New Feel

How to put Honda Pilot in 4 wheel drive?

The best thing about the 4WD in a Honda Pilot is that it works automatically. You do not need to do anything to activate the feature.

It automatically provides maximum power to the front wheels under normal driving conditions. But when necessary, it will transfer the power to the rear wheels to help you move forward.

Although it is an automatic process, there is a VTM-4 lock button available in your Honda Pilot. Now, you may ask, why is that?

The VTM-4  lock button allows you to activate the 4WD feature manually when you need extra power for the rear wheels.

When the vehicle is stuck due to the rough condition of the terrain, you can manually engage the 4-wheel drive in your Honda Pilot.

To put your Honda Pilot 4 wheel drive:

  • The vehicle should be stopped or stuck with the engine running.
  • The shift lever needs to be in the first (1), second (2), or reverse (R) gear.

Now, you can press the VTM-4 lock button to engage the 4WD system. If you see the light on the button turn on, that means it is now activated.  It will transfer torque to the rear wheel and take the vehicle forward.

As you already know, the feature works only when you are driving below 18 mph speed. That means if you start driving faster, it will temporarily unlock the rear wheels temporarily.

Then when you get below 18 mph, it will again automatically activate the VTM-4 lock.

How to disengage 4 wheel drive in a Honda Pilot?

Honda Pilot 4 wheel drive

When your vehicle is unstuck and you are driving on normal terrain, you should disengage the 4-wheel drive. You can do it in several ways, including:

  1. Press the VTM-4 lock button
  2. Move the shift lever to the third (3), fourth (4), or fifth (5) gear
  3. Lock (0) the ignition switch

If you see the light on the button go off, that means the 4-wheel drive mode is now deactivated.

Not to mention, some of you may think that driving faster than 18 mph will also disengage the VTM-4 lock. But that’s wrong. It deactivates the system only temporarily. The light on the button will remain on, which means it is still working.

You will need to follow one of the above methods to disengage the VTM-4 in your Honda Pilot.

When to use 4 wheel drive in a Honda Pilot?

It is essential to know when to use the Honda Pilot’s 4-wheel drive mode to ensure you don’t misuse the button. It will also allow you to keep your vehicle in better condition.

The following are the conditions when you should use the 4-wheel drive in a Honda Pilot:

  • Muddy terrain: It is tough to move on a muddy road, and it is highly likely that your vehicle will get stuck. In this condition, you should use the VTM-4 lock button to move your SUV.
  • Snowy roads: Snowy roads have very low traction. It makes vehicle tough to move forward. But if you engage the 4WD mode using the VTM-4 lock, it will be easier for you to move.
  • Loose gravel: You also need to drive slowly on roads with loose gravel. The vehicle may get stuck, too, and fail to move forward. Instead of manually pushing the vehicle, you can use the VTM-4 lock to get more power in the rear wheels and move forward easily.
  • Driving uphill: Driving uphill is another challenging situation, especially if you are carrying a heavy load. Using the 4WD mode in this situation can be quite helpful. 
  • Towing: Lastly, when you are towing, it will also require your vehicle to use extra power. You can press the VTM-4 button to produce that strength and move forward with ease.

When not to use 4 wheel drive in a Honda Pilot?

You should not use the 4-wheel drive in a Honda Pilot while driving on a dry, paved road. The system is designed for difficult driving conditions only.

However, if you still try to drive under these conditions, you will put the rear wheels at risk. They may get damaged, especially when trying to make a turn. 

Besides, you may hear strange noises, or the vehicle may vibrate when trying to use the 4WD mode unnecessarily.

What to do if a Honda Pilot does not move forward after using the VTM-4 lock?

The VTM-4 lock system should help you to move your vehicle forward in difficult situations. But sometimes, it may not work, and the SUV may still be in the same spot.

If you fail to move your Honda Pilot using the VTM-4 lock button, stop and move a little bit in the reverse direction. Then again, activate the 4-wheel drive mode, and it should move.

But if everything fails, you can push the SUV manually or pull it with the help of another vehicle.

Tips for driving in 4-wheel drive in a Honda Pilot

Tips for driving in 4-wheel drive in a Honda Pilot

It is essential to follow some particular guidance to use the 4-wheel drive efficiently. It will ensure you get the best output from the system and keep your Honda Pilot safe.

Here are some tips for driving in 4WD in a Honda Pilot:

  • When you are trying to free your SUV from mud or snow using the VTM-4 lock button, apply light pressure to the accelerator pedal. Trying to accelerate fast can cause damage to the vehicle.
  • While trying to move your vehicle forward in 4WD, do not spin the front tires for more than four to five seconds. It is normal for them not to spin due to the torque applied to the rear wheels.
  • Lastly, use the VTM-4 lock button only when necessary. I have already discussed when you should and should not use this excellent feature.


  1. What year Honda Pilot is 4WD?

All Honda Pilot SUVs from 2003 to 2005 featured 4-wheel drive. But moving forward, the vehicles are either 4-wheel drive (4WD) or front-wheel drive (FWD).

  1. How long can I drive in 4-wheel drive in a Honda Pilot?

You can drive in 4-wheel drive mode using VTM-4 lock in a Honda Pilot as long as you want. You only need to ensure that you are meeting the requirements to use the feature, such as driving below 18 mph and keeping the gear to 1, 2, or R.

  1. Can I shift into a 4-wheel drive while driving?

Yes, you can shift into a 4-wheel drive while driving slowly. If you are on rough terrain and having difficulties moving forward, you can press the VTM-4 lock to activate 4WD.