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Wheels started to spin, but i was still moving and making forward progress, until i wasnt and the system shut down. I would have made it no problem if i could have kept the power on and have they system stay on. Once it failed and shut down, i was done and helpless. Frustrating to say the least how it failed so quickly.
It doesn’t surprise me, AWD is not made for continuous long term spinning of the tires. The system that allows it to change from front/rear will heat up eventually. Looks like you found the limits. This is why the manual has a warning about deep sand and how long you can go in it.

Only a full time 4wd system will allow you to continuously spin, at least until you break one of the front axles under the right circumstances. It is the weak point for these independent front axle assemblies. Especially for a fully loaded down van.

Of course a deep lug mud tire makes a big difference, but isn’t good for anything else. Everything else just packs up and spins.
 

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Cutting wires is not recommended:p

Part of my motivation for the work I'm doing is to asses the feasibility of adding a low range...which would have to be accompanied by an electronic "bypass" of some sort to keep the t-case "locked" into AWD and traction control off. It can be done from what I see...just has to be a decent demand for it.
Just being able to lock it would be beneficial, even without a low range. My wife's RAV4 has a button that does this, but it automatically unlocks at anything over a very slow speed.
 

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Whole brain ford engineering goes through the costs to build a new AWD system with (new?) parts (at least new compared to the European version) instead of just taking what appears to be a proven design from the European version. Typical

So far happy with my AWD though. No deep snow or mud yet though
What’s funny is I was going through some past posts and someone posted they talked to a mechanic friend from Europe who said don’t get the AWD because it constantly breaks, lol.

Then people posted how the AWD system here is different etc....

You just can’t win today on the internet, everything is complete junk!!!, lol.
 

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I think being able to push a button and lock it 50:50 front/rear would be a great option. You get all the benefits of AWD, and then in those rare times you need it, lock it and not worry about the system doing its own thing.

I believe this is an aftermarket option that would sell well.
 
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