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What you felt was almost certainly the transmission "slipping" You really shouldn't try to drive the car until you can have the transmission looked at, especially if the noises you experienced were accompanied by and strange odors...
Regarding 4 Wheel Drive problems, Always follow Owners Manual for when and how to utilize 4 Wheel Drive. In most cases it should not be activated when vehicle is moving. Automatic Transmissions with 4 Wheel Drive have a Transfer Case similar to that used with Manual Transmissions. Shifting between LOW 4WD and HIGH 4WD should be selected while the vehicle is stopped. Again, follow Owners Manual Instructions. If you hear strange Grinding Noises have a Certified Technician check out your vehicle immediately.
Sorry that you are having troubles but, it sounds like the problem is more than a simple fix to me. If your Vehicle has Manual Locking Hubs make sure they are in the correct position for use in 4WD.
all valve covers leak a little when they get old, this is not a major problem may just need new gasket, the main seals are notorious for leaking..will need to have transmission off to replace. strange idling could mean fuel injectors are dirty... purchase a can of Sea Foam @ Autozone, pour in 1/2 can to half tank of gas drive around for half hour see if it wont clear up the whole fuel system..if that didn't fix the idle problem, then it could be dirty air filter or plugged up erg valve or vacuum leak..check all hoses for cracks and security. One more thing, if its been awhile since the plugs have been changed i'd look into that too! hopethis helps!
First try replacing air filter if not done recently $30, next consider bad fuel put in fuel from major oil company from station with many patrons.Then you need to look at fuel delivery system including fuel filter and furl pump. But first try the 2 things mentioned.
Most likely the power steering system is a little low on fluid so it's pulling a little air when it's that cold. Check and see if that is the case and top the system up, should take care of the problem. Good luck
Please be more specific. How is it not working right? Does it make strange noises when you use it? If so where does the noise come from? What kind of noise is it? (clicking, chunking, squeeling, etc.) In order for someone to be of help, we will need to know a little more. Thank you.