Say you have a 2WD and you want a 4WD. Would it be possible to upgrade your 2WD to a 4WD without buying a brand new 4WD car? The answer is yes, it’s possible but very expensive. Most of the time, converting 2WD to 4WD is not worth the time or effort. But you can do it if you have the means.
On average, it can cost between $10,000 to over $25,000 to convert a 2-wheel drive to a 4-wheel drive. The project requires a lot of custom work and is easier for cars that already have a 4WD version. The various required parts will cost anywhere between $1509 to over $3,000 or higher each.
2WD to 4WD conversion is a difficult process and takes a lot of time and money. We put together this guide to provide a starting place for planning such a large project. In addition to our info here, you will have to do significant research on your own.
- 2WD vs 4WD
- How Much Does it Cost to Convert a 2-Wheel Drive to 4-Wheel Drive?
- Factors that Affect Conversion Costs
- Advantages & Disadvantages of 2WD to 4WD Conversions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
- Interesting Guides
2WD vs 4WD
The main difference between 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive is how many wheels receive power from the engine. With a 2WD car, only one set of wheels gets power, either in the front or the back.
With a 4WD, all of the wheels get power. As such, 4WD provides more power and control over accelerating and steering.
Most modern cars have a 2-wheel front drive where only the front wheels have power. That design is cheap to make and provides good balance and traction at the same time, especially when going uphill.
Rear-wheel drive is common in trucks and other cars meant to carry heavy loads because it provides more power and thrust.
How Much Does it Cost to Convert a 2-Wheel Drive to 4-Wheel Drive?
It is very hard to give a complete estimate of how much it will cost to convert 2WD to 4WD, as there are an incredible amount of factors that can affect the cost.
It can cost anywhere between $10,000 on the low end to over $30,000 on the high end, depending on the make and model of your car. You can also find “kits” online, which may or may not have the parts you need.
The best option is to figure out a plan and which components you will need. Among other parts, you will need to replace the
- Front axle
- Front driveshaft
- CV shaft
- Transfer case
- Gear shifter
- And more
It is hard to give an exhaustive list of parts because every car and truck will require different ones. You will also have to perform a significant amount of bodywork to fit the new components, such as the axles and suspension.
Donor Truck Costs
It will be much easier to convert your 2WD to a 4WD if there already exists a 4WD version of your current model. In that case, you can find a donor truck to source all the parts.
Typically, you can source a decent donor car at a local junkyard. If you can’t find the exact model, you can look for compatible parts.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay about $500 to buy a junker car. You may be able to find some cars for $100 or less, but probably not ones that will have the necessary conversion components.
IFS vs SFA
Independent front suspension (IFS) and solid front axle (SFA) are two types of suspension systems used in cars and trucks. IFS is more complex and has more parts, and also has more complex electronics systems.
SFA systems are cheaper and mechanically more simple, but they are less flexible and don’t provide the same stability or control. Most of the time, it will cost much less to convert to an SFA 4WD.
Parts will also take up a significant bulk of the costs. The main thing that determines the cost of parts is the make and model of your car. Parts for luxury and high-performance brands will cost more.
|CV shafts||$200 ea.|
These are just a sampling of the parts you will need. Even if you find a suitable donor truck, you will probably have to find different parts from an auto shop or mechanic.
No matter what kind of car you have, converting to 4WD will require a lot of labor costs. The typical job will take at least 100 hours of labor time.
Assuming an average mechanic ranges between $75 to $130 an hour, that comes out to $7,500 to $13,000 on labor costs alone. These costs will be even higher if you have to make significant alterations to the frame of your car.
The main reason it takes so long is that you will likely have to build certain parts from scratch, such as new axle and transmission mounts. This will require a significant amount of welding work.
Factors that Affect Conversion Costs
Make/model of car
Your car’s make and model heavily affect the cost of conversion as it determines which parts you will need and how you’ll have to rebuild your frame and chassis. It also determines the cost of parts. For example, Toyota parts will cost less than BMW parts.
Converting your engine, transmission, and steering into 4WD is a completely custom job and will involve a lot of specialized labor. Unless you plan to do the conversion yourself, you are looking at around 100-200 hours of labor time.
Labor time can differ drastically on the make and model of your car and the components you choose.
Age of the car
Older cars will probably cost less to convert because they lack the sophisticated electrical and computer systems modern cars have. Modern cars will require a new wiring harness and sensor modules when replaced.
Advantages & Disadvantages of 2WD to 4WD Conversions
- Power. With 4WD, all the wheels receive power from the engine, meaning the engine sends more power to the drivetrain. 4WD is popular for hauling large loads.
- Better Handling. 4WD also provides better handling as each wheel gets more traction. This is one reason 4WD is favored for offroading vehicles.
- Better Balance. Since each wheel provides more traction, 4WD distributes a load of your car more evenly and provides better suspension.
- More maintenance. 4WDs have more moving parts than 2WDs and so have more maintenance costs. Specifically, 4WD transmissions are harder to maintain.
- More fuel. 4WD produces more power than 2WD, so they consequently require more fuel. If you convert your 2WD to 4WD, you’ll end up spending more on gas.
- Expensive to install. The main downside of converting to a 4WD is that it is very expensive and labor-intensive. You will essentially have to rebuild the engine frame to fit with different axles and a new transmission.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to convert 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive?
It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to over $30,000 to convert a 2WD to 4WD. Costs vary significantly depending on the details of your project and the make/model of your car.
You can save a significant amount in labor costs if you are able to do the project yourself.
What are the advantages of 4-wheel drive?
4WD improves traction in inclement conditions such as rain, ice, and snow. It also gives better control and grip on the road when steering. 4WD is especially useful for people who like to go off-roading.
How long does it take to convert?
It depends on the skill of the mechanic and the complexity of the system, but it can take anywhere between 100 to 300 hours of labor time to convert to 4WD.
You will have to reshape frame mounts and modify the axles, wheels, transmission, and steering of your car to accommodate 4WD.
Can I convert 2WD to 4WD myself?
It is possible if you have the required knowledge, tools, and expertise. Converting 2WD to 4WD is not a simple project that you can just do on a weekend. It will take weeks to months of work and a lot of money.
Is converting 2WD to 4WD worth it?
From an economic and utility standpoint, no, converting a 2WD to 4WD is not worth it. The costs are steep and it takes a lot of time.
Most people would just rather trade in their 2WD for a 4WD and they can avoid costly issues maintaining a custom car. It is possible though, and hobbyists or collectors may enjoy the project on its own merits.
Converting 2WD to 4WD is a tough project that will cost you a lot of time, money, and effort. However, it is possible and can be a fun project to test your skills.
If you do plan to convert, make sure you have a full plan for the construction process. You will need a full list of the parts you’ll need as well as an idea of how to install them and change the frame of your car.
We recommend consulting a local mechanic to get some expert advice and tips on which parts to buy.