Do I really need 4x4 on my van?


I've got an absolutely terrific Pleasureway Traverse camping van. The one thing is it's not 4x4. It would cost me nearly $10k to convert it and I still wouldn't use it on more than rutted two-track roads. I think of 4x4 as a safety margin for poor weather (like snow) but then there are chains which are a lot cheaper anyway.

A local shop suggested I just get some self recovery equipment, maybe do a small lift and get AT tires vs. the Michelin LTX M&S tires I run now.

I've got a Lexus Land Cruiser I can use for travels but the van is so well outfitted and comfy by comparison. I'm just really torn as to whether I really need to make the van a 4x4 or leave it alone and just limit my roads to those where 2x4 is fine.


Deleted member 9101

To me 4x4 is over rated. My truck is 2wd and even towing a trailer I can get to very remote locations. You just have to know your limitations and make sure you have recovery gear. the nice thing about a 2wd is when its stuck, its usually not that bad to get

If you are really concerned about it, get some all terrain tires and a rear locker.


Approved Vendor : Total Composites
Good tires and a lift kit would help a lot! 4x4 is only really great when you also have 100% diff locks front and back.
Like the Unimogs have.

The Adam Blaster

Expedition Leader
Well, before dropping a penny, ask yourself if you've ever been close to stuck already, and also step back and take a look at the whole picture (truck) for the next 10 years.

If you think you would eventually get the 4x4 conversion done in the next 10 years, look at what items you would buy anyways, and do the little bits first.
(Example heavy duty bumper with winch.)
If you decide, yes, I can see myself making more money in 5 years and be willing to spend the money, than I wouldn't suggest getting a lift kit now, because you likely won't be able to use the components after the new axle goes in the front.

Maybe right now just look at fitting the largest possible tires under there and start thinking about a winch bumper. As was mentioned, if you do get the 2wd stuck, it's not usually that tough to get it pulled out.


Been there, asking the same questions, during the past 3 years, until 6 months ago. It all depends where you want the van to take you. If you'll never take the van to desolate scenic and primitive places, like remote mountains and secluded beaches where there is no one to help you out, then you won't need 4x4. In my case I started going to Baja, and discovered the magic of the natural beauty of its rugged terrain and soft-sand beaches - they require not only 4x4 but also lockers both in front and rear.


A good friend of mine has a 2wd SMB with the stance/lift of a 4wd and runs 265/75/16 mild all terrain tires. He gets that thing into all kinds of remote campsites often pulling a tailer. He goes by the modo of the "good ol american wheel spin" LOL to get him through. Although I don't think I have ever seen him spin a tire. He just likes saying that! This same guy has had 4runners and VW Syncros. Pretty much gets to the same spots...

G35Vortec454 has the right idea, let your travels dictate what you need. If you start going to Baja, probably time to do some major upgrading. OR, Just take that Cruiser that you already own.

I would use that 10K for some solid travel time!


A 2x4 with good AT tires and a locker in the rear (even just a limited slip) can go a heck of a lot of places. My last two trips to do backcountry explorations I put over 150 miles of "off road" on my truck and never even put it in 4x4 once. (I was in the desert) I actually felt like kinda of a dork...


I've had two 4x4 shops tell me that a limited slip on 2x4 is mostly a waste of money and it can cause as many problems as it solves. As far as a heavy bumper, what good does that do me? I've got a hitch receiver on the back that could take a hitch mounted winch and I could put a front mounted receiver hitch on for a lot less weight and money. As far as a lift, what will that get me regarding traction? I wouldn't put bigger tires on it than are on there now so I'm not sure what I gain. The rear differential isn't going to get any higher although a few other low points might gain a bit of height. I've got just under 8" now.

As far as AT tires, those make some sense when the current tires wear out. Maybe. Most of the time I'm on decent roads. I've got AT tires on the Cruiser and they aren't as pleasant on pavement. FWIW, I've never had my Cruiser out of its standard full-time 4 hi and have been to some pretty nasty places including a lot of snow. If I need lockers then I screwed up as I'm not interested in trails or situations that require them.

While I will never go to Mexico I do live in Idaho and travel here, Utah, Arizona, etc.


I had EVERYTHING to convert my diesel van...

and I couldnt pull the trigger...

I already had decent AT tires that had an MT agressive didnt get stuck as often as my crewcab 4x4 did cus I didnt take it thru alot of the same stuff (I aint goin thru that!!...this is only 2wd! kinda thinkin)...

so I put the winch on the front...and had thoughts about a locker...airing the tires down makes a big diffrence..and so does knowing limitations when alone..

I wouldnt drop the cash...get a good winch and high-lift jack..a Co2 setup or onboard air..a shovel..a come along..20ft of chain 30ft of 3in towstrap..and just deal with things as you encounter them...just think about the stuff the guys on dirtbikes can do with only 1 wheel drive...(granted theyre much smaller..but its the mindset!)


It's hard to tell from your post weather you are trying to talk yourself into or out of converting your van to 4wd. You have just stated that you wouldn't put on bigger tires and that if you need lockers then you screwed up and are not interested in trails or situations that require them. It sounds to me like you are fine staying on hard two track roads, if that is the case then 4wd would be a waste of money.

Desert Dan

If you have to ask?

What are your main concerns snow and ice, mud or soft ground etc.?

Get some good tires and maybe a rear locker.


It's hard to tell from your post weather you are trying to talk yourself into or out of converting your van to 4wd. You have just stated that you wouldn't put on bigger tires and that if you need lockers then you screwed up and are not interested in trails or situations that require them. It sounds to me like you are fine staying on hard two track roads, if that is the case then 4wd would be a waste of money.
I'm conflicted. :D

The thing is that I've got the Cruiser for serious stuff. It's just the van is so nice to camp in. Then again, I could spend a lot less money getting a roof top tent and a fridge for the Cruiser, couldn't I? ;)


In my case, NO, I don't need a 4x4 conversion for my van. When I was looking for a new van, I just could not justify it. I added a LSD and have had NO problems of getting stuck.



You don't HAVE to have 4x4 but it is nice and no, it doesn't have to cost $10K to convert, Colorado Camper Van can convert it for half that so I would give Derek a call.

If you still don't want to spend that much because $5K is a lot and goes along way towards traveling, I would also ask Derek about making you a "correct" lift kit (which means weighing each corner to set up shock and leaf's correctly to get it to ride extremely well among other things) but with a good lift, great tires and if you don't have one already, a locker or floater in the rear. Then a winch that you could swap from front to back with good solid bumpers/rescue points an you will be able to get to probably 70% of where you would ever even think of taking your van. Not to mention good solid skills & patients behind the wheel, goes a long way as well, last year with solid tires, I drove the entire winter with out putting our van into 4 wheel drive. Now there were a few times I could have, but I wanted to see just how good the van would do in foul weather before I "HAD" to engage the 4x4, but that never really came. My wife and I live in the mountain here in Utah, an this last winter we did have a few days of over 20-30 inches in a night at our house (we live in Farmington Canyon), I pulled car after car up our road never once needing 4 wheel drive. The seer weight of our van with as I said, good winter tires, made it get down to where it needed, to get solid traction.

Now in regards to off road, we have gone to Moab, AZ (Overland Expo) and several trip around here (SLC area) already this year in the van and I only used the 4x4 only a few times, I think if we would have had a locker in the rear, I wouldn't have needed to slap it in.

You could do just these few things for probably 1/2 of what the conversion would cost from CCV.


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