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Bravada AWD Plowing

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by 365years, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. 365years

    365years Junior Member
    from 14568
    Messages: 2

    Hello from lawnsite, first post here for me. Love them both.

    I don't plow commercially, but I do have a few hundred feet of driveway I have to plow. I currently have an old 92 4.0 Blazer with a light 6 1/2 foot plow on it. It's nothing special, I can't even angle it, just straight plowing and height control. It does everything I want, but the body and frame have seen better days. When those days end without notice in the winter, I do have an old Simplicity tractor to fill in, but then I am in the weather.

    I just picked up a 94 Oldsmobile Bravada (sister of the Blazer), for free because it has a bad engine bearing. My Blazer has a good motor, and I plan on swapping it to the Bravada next year, but the Bravada doesn't have on/off 4WD, but AWD.

    I have never used a vehicle with AWD, so my question is will it work? I assume the front drive won't engage until it senses slippage, which I think may be too late. I don't think the wheels will slip until I have stopped because I can't push the pile anymore which would be too late. Plus the constant on/off can't be good for the transfer case.

    Another option is to swap out the transfer case with the motor, but that won't stay locked in either. Something is wrong in there, which is another reason to scrap the Blazer. A third option is to "trick" the AWD to go on. There must be a sensor or something to make the front wheels drive. Is that possible?

    So my options at the moment are:

    1) Don't worry about it, it will plow fine for my needs as is.
    2) Use the transfer case from the Blazer.
    3) Trick the AWD to always engage the front axle, but how.
    4) Stop being cheap and buy a real truck.

    Thanks for everyone's help.
  2. lawnmedic

    lawnmedic Senior Member
    Messages: 703

    AWD is just that All Wheel Drive. Power is supplied both front and rear drive shafts. Normal split is 60% rear and 40% front. The probable difference between the two systems is the 4wd system should lock the 2 front axle shafts when engaged, supplying power to both front wheels. The AWD system uses an open differential which will only supply power to one of the front tires at a time.
  3. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    most 4wd vehicles have a front open differertial, very very few come with any form of front locker or limited slip.
    the way a AWD system works depends on who made it. some split the power 60% rear and 40% front. some sense the rear slipping and send more to the front. they all allow the front and rear to turn at different speeds for cornering on dry pavement.
    a true 4wd truck locks the front and rear together.
    your bravada might allow you to lock the front and rear together, like a 4wd truck. look for a button somewhere. but, it might just be a AWD SUV with no low range.
    my wifes explorer had AWD but you can also select 4wd hi which locks the front and rear together and 4lo.
  4. Antnee77

    Antnee77 PlowSite.com Addict
    from RI
    Messages: 1,056

    AWD vehicles are very good in the snow, usually, but it tends to be the ground clearance that limits their snow driving. I don't know about all of you, but i have no limited slip front diff. on my truck!
  5. jhook

    jhook Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    I just had to park our 1992 Voyager van that was AWD. Tranny finally gave up on it. Not worth fixing. I really loved it, that thing would drive anywhere. I have gone through an unplowed parking lot pushing snow with the front bumper - no problem.

    I guess what I am saying is that I would suggest that the vehicle you describe should do the job you are asking of it. I wouldn't use it commercially but for doing your driveway, I would say go for it.
  6. TNT Lawncare

    TNT Lawncare Member
    Messages: 96

    Bravada's are 2wd until they sense that they need to be awd. They will not hold up plowing. You will tear that system up pretty quick. I used to sell Oldsmobiles. They are great for driving, plowing you are asking for an expensive headache.
  7. wagonman76

    wagonman76 Senior Member
    Messages: 107

    Since youd be swapping engines anyway, Id just use the transfer case from the Blazer too, as well as any other odd parts you might need. Who knows, maybe the driveshaft ends are different.

    Does the Blazer have that pushbutton 4WD? I know on at least some of the GMs with that, it was just a vacuum actuator that did the shifting, and they went bad sometimes. Or maybe you could get a used transfer case from the junkyard, maybe even an older style Blazer transfer case that has the manual shift 4WD. Get the floor cover too, cut a hole in the floor for the lever, and there you go.
  8. jonzer12

    jonzer12 Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 31

    I don't know specifically about the AWD system in the bravada but in general this statement is incorrect. A part time or 4wd system typically uses a "part time" transfercase what this means is that when engaged the transfer case locks the front and rear driveshaft together, ie they both recieve direct power from the transmission. The problem with this is that during cornering your front tires actually travel further than the rear tires and get bindup in your drivetrain.

    AWD is similar except that (again typical AWD setup) the transfercase contains a differential which allows the front and rear driveshafts to rotate at different speeds.
    Some AWD transfercases are capable of locking this center differential or provide some method of controlling the torque sent to the front and rear driveshafts. You will have to research your particular transfercase to determine this. In general an AWD transfercase is not nearly as tough as a part time transfercase due to the fact it is much more complicated and has many more moving parts. There really is very little to a part time transfercase. The only way you could "lock the front axle shafts" together would be with the aid of a locker or an LSD in your front differential. I highly doubt that your bravada ever came with one from the factory.

    The difference between 4WD and AWD has nothing to do with the front axle. You still have an open diff in the front. Its all in the transfercase.
    There are some AWD transfercases that are pretty tough. You will have to research those to see if it can take plowing. Other than that your driveshafts and
    axle are probably exactly the same as the ones in your blazer. I would probably think that your bravada would plow with the same ability as your blazer.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2006
  9. bryanj23

    bryanj23 Senior Member
    Messages: 135

    My mom had a Brevada and I can tell you first hand that she had nothing but problems with the all wheel drive. My aunt had one as well (different years) and she had problems with the all wheel drive as well. I would not recommend trying to plow with it. In a vehicle that is already prone to drive train problems I would not add any more stress!
  10. 365years

    365years Junior Member
    from 14568
    Messages: 2

    Thanks for all the replies to my question.

    Just took my dad out to look at it after having our Thanksgiving dinner.

    Sounds like my best bet is to pull the engine and transfer case out of the Blazer, and dump that whole setup into the Bravada. Basically all I am after is a better body and frame, the Blazer is falling apart. We don't usually get too much snow here, but I like the truck instead of my old 18 horse Simplicity. It works well most of the time, but I am in the weather, takes a lot longer and does have trouble if it does pile up a few days in a row.

    I have to go throught the Blazer transfer case, in the summer when I get it out. I doesn't stay in low or high 4WD. I have to hold it back or it falls into 2WD. That's another reason why I was hoping the Bravada would be a simple engine swap.

    Anyways, thanks again for all the responses. Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holidays.