When car shopping, it’s important that you know certain terms to make sure you’re getting the best car for your specific needs.
Take, for instance, the four types of drive systems:
- Front-wheel drive
- Rear-wheel drive
- All-wheel drive
- Four-wheel drive
Do you know the differences? You will once you’re finished reading.
FWD: Front-Wheel Drive
Let’s start with the most prevalent of the drive systems: FWD. Front-wheel drive vehicles are the cheapest to manufacture and take up less cabin space. So these cars are typically lower in price and have more cabin space for the driver — two great selling points for a vehicle.
FWD works by sending engine power to the front wheels. The setup positions the bulk of the weight over the front wheels, which results in better traction in slippery conditions.
RWD: Rear-Wheel Drive
As the name indicates, this drive system is the opposite of front-wheel drive. The power is thrown to the rear wheels, which allows it to handle higher horsepower and heavier vehicles. Cars that benefit most from this type of arrangement are high-performance cars, race cars, and large trucks.
The occurrence of RWD has been trending downwards, mainly because the FWD option is seen as more practical. Another reason for the downward trend is that RWD vehicles perform poorly in slippery conditions.
AWD: All-Wheel Drive
If you often find yourself in bad weather conditions or tend to do some off-roading on varied terrain, AWD is the drive system for you.
In general, all-wheel drive means that engine’s power is evenly distributed to all four wheels. However, AWD designs vary depending on the car manufacturer. Some cars direct a greater percentage to the front wheels, while others only allow power to certain wheels to kick in when necessary.
For instance, when the vehicle feels certain tires slipping against the pavement, it automatically throws power to those wheels.
4WD: Four-Wheel Drive
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive sound awfully alike. So what’s the main difference? Well, they’re built the same, but 4WD systems are typically built to handle more. If you need the kind of off-road capability to climb mountains and over big boulders, through deep water, and so on, you want a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Depending on the car, your 4WD may be part-time or full-time. Part-time allows the driver to manually switch from 2WD to 4WD when needed. Full-time allows the vehicle itself to automatically switch between 2WD and 4WD as it feels the need.
Which drive system fits your needs?
Are you an off-roader or do you have a need for speed? Do you just need a vehicle to handle day-to-day driving in messy weather conditions, or is that never really an issue where you live?