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How does the Mahindra Thar 4×4 work?

Sankul Nagpal GUIDES, TECHNOLOGY Leave a Comment

Be it grocery stores or long weekend getaways, our vehicles adapt to almost every journey we embark on. And if you happen to be adventure enthusiasts, your vehicle could be your greatest partner. From muddy terrains to snowy patches, SUVs are known to tackle it all. As a perfect companion for the adventurer in you, off-road SUVs offer a capable overall package that can be perfect for when you go out and explore.

With a lot of capable SUVs out there, it is difficult not to mention the Mahindra Thar, an undisputed leader that is known for its cult following amongst enthusiasts as well as critics. For any great off-roader to perform, it is crucial for it to have a capable system that is ready to take on any road. In this article we will have a look at how the Mahindra Thar manages to perform in all terrains delivering not just a powerful performance but also a handful of memories.

What is the Mahindra Thar 4X4?

In a conventional vehicle, the engine usually delivers power and torque to the two front wheels which in turn takes the vehicle forward. While this is the usual set up on a majority of vehicles, there is another set-up that is more suited for off-roading and all-terrain cruising. This special setup is what’s called a 4X4 system. 

Unlike a conventional set up that powers only the front/rear wheel, a 4X4 is a two-axle drive system that sends power and torque to all 4 wheels simultaneously so that they all move at the same speed. This specially designed 4×4 system helps the Mahindra Thar take on any terrain with sufficient traction, torque as well as power. While 4×4 drivetrains can also be permanent, the one onboard the Mahindra Thar is an on-demand 4×4 system, which means that the user has the freedom to either engage the 4×4 system or drive the Thar as a conventional two-wheel drive.

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What makes up the Thar’s 4×4 System?

The 2020 Thar’s on-demand 4×4 drivetrain is a pinnacle of Mahindra’s R&D wing that has made the Mahindra Thar a more capable off-roader over the years. The 4×4 System on board the Thar, is made up of several key components that result in a synergy of superior performance. The major components of the Mahindra Thar’s 4×4 drivetrain are:

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The Differentials

Mahindra Thar Differential

The differentials are components that are used to transfer the power from the engine/transmission to the wheels. As a 4×4 SUV, the Mahindra Thar features two differentials, front and rear, that transfer power to the rear as well as the front wheels when the 4×4 system is engaged. Not only does the differential transfer power, the gears inside it also ensure that the wheels on either side of the axle can move at different speeds as and when required. This can come handy when the vehicle turns, goes off-road or drives over bumpy roads.

The Driveshafts

Much like the differentials, a 4×4 vehicle is equipped with two driveshafts, front and rear. The main purpose of a driveshaft is to connect the transfer case to its respective differential. Thus, the front driveshaft takes power from the transfer case and delivers it to the front differential, while the rear driveshaft does the same for the rear. When the 4×4 is engaged, the transfer case splits the torque 50/50 between the front and rear driveshafts.

The Transfer Case

The heart of any 4×4 vehicle is the Transfer Case. As a component responsible to operate the entire on-demand 4×4 systems, the transfer case (also called the T-case) is what splits the power from the engine equally to both the rear and front axles by way of the front and rear driveshafts. The transfer case usually sits right behind the transmission in a typical on-demand 4×4 vehicle.

In the Mahindra Thar’s on-demand 4×4 drivetrain, when the 4×4 is not engaged, the rear wheels get 100% of the torque from the engine, and the Thar drives just like a 2WD vehicle. The power flow in this scenario moves from the engine to the transmission all the way to the transfer case which then moves the power to the differential via the driveshafts.

When the 4×4 is engaged, the series of gears and chains inside the transfer case mesh together causing a chain to move a gear that’s connected to the front driveshaft. The front driveshaft now receives power and spins at the same speed as the rear differential. Once power goes to all four wheels, the 2020 Mahindra Thar becomes a 4×4 SUV.

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Mahindra Thar gear selector close

The transfer case on the Mahindra Thar 4×4 is also responsible for the low-high 4×4 range. Selecting the low range sacrifices speed to deliver more torque to the wheels. This improves traction on difficult terrain. High range, on the other hand, is geared for more speed and is ideally suited for city driving.

Locking Hubs 

On conventional 2WD vehicles, locking hubs are connected to the powered wheels, that makes the wheel turn only when power is derived from the engine. However, with Thar’s 4×4 drivetrain, the front and rear wheels have their respective locking hubs. When the 4×4 system is engaged, the locking hubs allow power to transfer to all four wheels. When the system is disengaged, the front locking hub disengages, allowing the front wheels to move freely in 2WD mode.

What are High and Low Ranges on the Mahindra Thar 4×4?

The Mahindra Thar 4×4 drivetrain’s transfer case provides three mode positions: 2H, 4H and 4L.

The 2H Mode

Mahindra Thar on-road
For the best on-road performance, 2H is the mode to select. Image courtesy: AutoX

The 2WD High Range Mode is a 2WD mode that makes only the rear wheels move at a 1:1 speed ratio. This mode is used for normal day to day driving on dry hard-surfaced roads. This position provides better fuel economy, reduced tyre wear, and better on-road driveability.

The High Range 4×4

Mahindra Thar off-road
For fast off-road action, the 4H is you go-to mode. Image courtesy: AutoX

The 4 wheel high range mode on the Mahindra Thar is engaged by moving the 4×4 gear lever in the 4H position. The 4H mode is a 4×4 mode where all four wheels of the Thar are engaged at 1:1 speed ratio. Engaging the 4×4 provides additional traction and maximum pulling power for loose, slippery road surfaces such as ice, snow, gravel, sand and dry pavement. The front and rear driveshafts are locked together in this mode which forces the front and rear wheels to rotate at the same speed.

The Low Range 4×4

The 4 wheel low range mode on the Mahindra Thar is engaged by positioning the 4×4 gear lever in the 4L position.  The 4L mode is a 4×4 mode that is engaged for maximum pulling power and traction. Use the 4L position for climbing or descending steep hills, off-road driving, hard pulling in sand, mud or deep snow. 

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Mahindra Thar terrain
The 4L mode lets you tackle the toughest terrain confidently. Image courtesy: AutoX

Since the low range engages low gear ratios resulting in maximum torque, driving in the 4L position on dry hard surfaced roads may cause increased tire wear and damage to driveline components since the 4L is handy only when optimum traction with maximum power is required. Take care not to over rev the engine and exceed 20 Kmph of speed when driving in this mode. This is because when operating your vehicle in 4L, the engine speed is considerably higher than that of the 4H position at a given road speed.

When should you use High Range?

High range mode, commonly depicted 4H on the Mahindra Thar, and is best suited when you are travelling at normal speeds but the terrain has harsher conditions. Off-road drivers commonly switch to this mode when they are on highways or on roads with less than optimal conditions. Examples include surfaces with excess dirt, gravel roads, wet and icy roads etc. Since gear ratios aren’t low, driving in this mode of the 4×4 system won’t bring any excess damage to your vehicle if you drive safely while engaged in this mode as long as you maintain normal driving speeds.

When should you use Low Range?

While 4H is recommended for higher speeds, low range mode or 4L is most effective when you are travelling slower during an off-road run. Off-roaders engage in the low range mode when attempting to traverse over water, mud, snow or sand. Combining 4L along with a reduction in tyre pressure will allow you to tackle over some of the harshest terrains. 


The 4×4 systems on the Mahindra Thar are some of the most advanced you can use in India. The ease of selecting the appropriate mode for the terrain ahead gives you the confidence to head out on the next adventure. The off-road capabilities of the Mahindra Thar combine well with the luxurious interiors to offer a true lifestyle off-road SUV. 

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