Piston Slap: Always AWD for the MKC?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

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.

Sajeev Mehta
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  • 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?

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    • 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.

  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.