Piston Slap: Always AWD for the MKC?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap always awd for the mkc

TTAC commentator Fordman_48126 writes:


I have a 2015 Lincoln MKC powered by the base 2.0-liter turbo and all-wheel drive. My issue is that the AWD system is a part-time setup that defaults to front-wheel drive. Do you know if there a way to convert it via changing and/or modifying the programming on the ECM to run it in all-wheel-drive mode all the time?

I really like the way my wife’s 2010 Audi Q5 handles in slippery conditions with its full-time Quattro system, and the mileage penalty isn’t bad from what I can tell. I find that in many situations the system is detecting slippage but the traction control always seems to activate before the rear differential kicks in.

Sajeev answers:

Getting a definitive answer is difficult. And even if you can unlock the parameters that control all-wheel drive, who knows if anyone tweaks that side of the computer. My advice is to contact a tuning company directly because they might have the ability to unlock that part of the ECM.

But this might not be a good idea, even if it’s a great idea in theory. I reckon FWD-based intelligent AWD powertrains that only activate the rear wheels when needed could be inadequately designed for full-time use. This pertains to the Power Take-Off Unit and all points downstream.

Do you really have faith that companies overbuild PTUs if they never see that much action? Not if it’s my ride I don’t, son …

Even if this is a short-term lease, it’s not a good idea to override the (possible) computer calibration. Instead, get winter tires for more grip, or just leave it alone and enjoy the white knuckle moments of joy of a tuned 2.0-liter Ecoboost in the summer! If they don’t have a tune for your ride yet, just ask.

[Image: Lincoln Motor Company]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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4 of 76 comments
  • Modemjunki Modemjunki on Jun 21, 2016

    I've got a 2013 Escape Titanium with the 2.0. I do not get advertised fuel mileage because I regularly enjoy putting the right pedal down whenever I feel it is safe to do so. The AWD is seamless even when hooning it in the snow with stock all-seasons. I took it out to a local megamall parking lot to practice driving with it when we had some snowfall last winter and put the driver display in the mode that showed power transfer. At all times (wet or dry) the system is AWD when starting out from a full stop. It then reduces torque sent to the rear wheels once you are moving at a steady state for a bit, but that is dependent on what you are doing with your right foot. If you are getting on it it keeps the rear wheels engaged, if you put the pedal down to pass it engages the rear wheels, and if you start hobby-horsing the throttle to jockey in traffic it engages the rears. In the snow the results were interesting. Not once did I notice ("feel") the torque transfer modulation. Instead the car behaved somewhat like my old '03 Subaru Forester XS Premium - it just gathered itself up and moved without too much fuss unless I really got on it. Unlike the old Foz, the electronic nannies prevented me from actively maintaining wheelspin and driving it sideways. I actually view this as a positive point for a commuter vehicle. And that is the point of my response - these vehicles are 100% fly-by-wire with a system designed by folks who were told to make it work smoothly, to make it as safe as they could, and to make it last at least as long as the warranty. I would wager that neither you nor I are qualified to second guess that work. Don't mess with it. Don't void your warranty. Throw some snow tires on it of you feel you need them. Just drive it and enjoy, that's a nice car you've got there.

  • JaySeis JaySeis on Jun 21, 2016

    My 2010 Sport Trac Adrenalin /4.6 v8, 6spd auto and AWD is interesting. I spent sometime on the internets trying to figure out how it's Haldex derived AWD actually operates and...after driving it for 6 years it has proven dependable though startling at times. Normally it appears to be front wheel drive. If I'm parked on wet grass the rear wheels engage pronto, almost scared the crap out of me. Under throttle when cornering it feels just like a front wheel drive. Twice, on snow/ice going uphill on a turn I felt the traction control kick in at lightning speed, so fast it left me wondering...chicken & egg..did that just save me from a spin or did it detect wheel spin and corrected so fast that it felt like the AWD caused a temporary slide...I couldn't tell. From what the internets say...the AWD/traction control monitors wheel rotation and engages the AWD clutch pack (to become AWD, send power to rear) and the traction control brakes the offending spinning wheel. Or something like that. That I know, the AWD is not full-time AWD. But it can become instantaneous when needed. Is this all correct?

    • See 1 previous
    • JaySeis JaySeis on Jun 21, 2016

      @Scoutdude Hey thanks! I've never seen that explanation. I checked https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ControlTrac And there was the explanation. So the sensors (wheel and clutch pack) sense wheel spin and torque, then apportion power back to front and individually to wheels or...a single wheel if necessary. Like I say I searched for a simple diagram and description of how power was routed but never found one.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.