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Suzuki Carry 4WD Explained: Axle Lock, Diff Lock, Extra Low, and Hi/Lo Gears

Suzuki Carry 4WD Explained: Axle Lock, Diff Lock, Extra Low, and Hi/Lo Gears

The Suzuki Carry is one of the most popular Japanese mini trucks out there, both domestically and internationally. Similar to other mini trucks, the Suzuki Carry comes loaded with amazing and useful features related to its 4WD system. Some of the most commonly asked questions about the Carry’s 4WD system include the function of locking differentials (diff lock), axle lock, and Hi/Lo 4WD transfer cases. A 4x4 Carry truck equipped with axle lock, and diff lock can be a perfect work machine with the ability to traverse a wide range of terrains. Let's have a look at what makes the Carry so popular as a compact and capable off-roader by digging into its 4x4 drivetrain. 

What is the Difference Between Axle Lock and Diff Lock?

Suzuki Carry Diff Lock, Dump, and Axle Lock Buttons

This is one of the most common questions we come across from our customers and we’d like to clarify this so everyone can know exactly what features they’re getting from their trucks. Quite simply, Axle Lock is not Diff Lock, and Diff Lock is not Axle Lock, they are both separate features.

Axle Lock: Auto Locking Front Hubs

Suzuki Carry Axle Lock Button On

Axle Lock is an electronic switch that locks and unlocks the front wheel hubs with the ease of a button, rather than stepping out of the vehicle to manually turn the wheel hub locks like older 4x4 trucks require.
On Suzuki Carry mini trucks equipped with 4WD, the Axle Lock button is necessary in order to engage 4WD and transfer engine power to the front axles.

To properly use Axle Lock, first push the button on the dash and confirm that the light has turned on. Then engage 4WD with the selector switch in the center console, use 4 high (4H) if equipped with hi/lo gears. After this, begin to drive the truck and it should be engaged in 4WD. If Axle Lock is not engaged, the truck will still only be powered by the rear wheels.

Diff Lock: Also Called Locking Differentials or Differential Lock

Suzuki Carry Diff Lock, Dump, and Axle Lock Buttons

Locking the rear differential ensures that power is being distributed to both rear wheels in order to enhance traction in adverse conditions. When the rear diff lock is not engaged, and the diff is “open”, and power is transferred to the wheel with the least amount of resistance. This transfers most power to one wheel in normal driving conditions. Without diff lock, if a wheel is in the air all of the power transfers through the one spinning in the air but not the one with grip. Thus, the diff lock helps by locking rear the rear differential, causing both the left and right rear wheels to turn in at the same time, even if one of the wheels loses contact with the ground and cannot find traction.

What are 2H, 4H and 4L modes in a 4WD Suzuki Carry?

Suzuki Carry 4WD Transfer Case

2H/2WD High Mode

2H, which stands for 2WD High Range, is the normal driving mode for a mini truck. It’s the mode that should be selected when driving on normal road conditions to run more efficiently. In this mode, only the rear wheels drive the vehicle and the gearing is at its highest setting for maximum top speed. When driving off road in 2H it’s possible that the mini truck may not have the best traction, but for road use this is the most efficient option for speed and fuel efficiency.

4H/4WD High Mode

4H, or 4WD High Range, should be used when driving at faster speeds on roads or terrains that require more traction. In this mode, all four wheels drive the vehicle to provide the traction required to move the vehicle on surfaces like dirt, sand, gravel, etc. As soon as this mode is engaged, the front axles start channeling torque to the front wheels. This can help to distribute torque across the wheels to ensure the truck will not be stuck or slip..

4L/4WD Low Mode

4L, or 4WD Low Range, should be engaged to get maximum power and traction from the engine and drivetrain. Ideally, this mode should be used when driving up or down a hill, through deep mud, snow, or rocky surfaces. It may also be useful when towing or hauling heavy cargo. In 4 low, the top speed is lowered due to lower gearing to provide maximum power. In order to engage 4L, the selector switch should first go into the neutral position (N), and then further down to 4L. There will be a satisfying and loud click when the vehicle switches to 4L after driving a short distance forward.

What is Extra Low Gear on the Suzuki Carry?

Suzuki Carry Extra Low Crawler Gear Shifter

Some 4WD Suzuki Carry models are equipped with an extra low gear, also called crawler gear, on the manual transmission. This gear is set lower than 1st gear, and is meant to be used in low-speed conditions that require maximum traction. Carry trucks equipped with the extra low gear do not have the 4H/4L transfer case, so this is the best function to use if in adverse terrain with limited traction.

What happens If I Don't Activate Axle Lock In My Suzuki Carry?

If 4H 4WD is engaged but Axle Lock is not, the truck will still remain in 2WD, with power going only to the rear wheels. However if 4WD 4L is engaged, the front drive axles are engaged automatically and 4WD will work. In short, if using 4WD High range, or if driving a truck without Hi/lo gears, Axle Lock is necessary. It is not necessary to use the axle lock button in 4WD low range.

What should I Do If My Suzuki Carry Can Not Gain Enough Traction?

It’s definitely possible that trucks can get stuck, but it’s best to use the features explained above in order to channel the engine’s power to the most efficient places. We recommend the following flow to get your truck out of a sticky situation:

  1. Engage 4WD (Ensure that Axle Lock is engaged as explained above)
  2. Engage Diff Lock (If truck is equipped)
  3. Shift to 4L Gear (If truck is equipped)
  4. Shift to Extra Low Gear (If truck is equipped)


The Suzuki Carry comes with many useful off-road features to ensure that it can get through some of the roughest terrains and conditions. We hope this guide will help you on your next journey in your Japanese mini truck. Please find a list of useful terms for the 4WD system below:

2H= Normal driving Conditions
4H= Normal/ High speed along with High Traction
4L= Low Speed (<10km/h) coupled with High power and Traction
4H + No Axle Lock = Acts as a 2WD ( In case of Suzuki Carry)
4H+ Axle Lock = Acts as a 4WD ( In case of Suzuki Carry)
4L= Acts as a 4WD (In case of Suzuki Carry)
No need to turn on Axle Lock if selector switch is in 4L
EL - Extra Low (Crawler) Gear

If interested in purchasing or asking any questions about the Suzuki Carry or other Japanese mini truck models, please contact us today and we’ll get you setup.

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