FWD vs AWD – Types of Wheel Drive Systems

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FWD vs AWD, find out all you need to know about this two-wheel-drive design. Get to know the best choice for you, by exploring this article to the end. When buying a car whether a new or used car, the type of powertrain is a very important decision to make.

FWD vs AWD

This will depend on your location and the type of driving you usually do. However, the drive system will play a big part in how well-suited that car is to you.

FWD vs AWD

FWD is a front-wheel drive, while AWD is an all-wheel drive. The difference between this two is which sets of wheels get the power from the engine. For FWD, the engine sends power to the front axle while for AWD, the power is transmitted to both, the front and the rear axle at the same time.

That is to say, the main difference between an all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive system is how the power from the engine is distributed.

Types of Wheel Drive Systems

Apart from FWD and AWD, there are other types of drive systems. Each of them have its own unique characteristics. Knowing the differences between these drive systems is important when shopping for cars.

Front-Wheel-Drive (FWD):

FWD vehicles transmit all of the engine’s power down to the front wheels of the car. And there is no link between the actual drivetrain and the rear wheels of the vehicle. Which can help reduce oversteer by preventing the back wheels from sliding in a turn.

In the FWD, the majority of the weight and power is coming from the front end, which pulls the car along instead of pushing it. However, most modern cars come with front-wheel-drive at their most basic level since it is usually the least expensive drive system to produce as well as the simplest.

Rear-Wheel-Drive (RWD):

A lot of the muscle cars and sports cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s are rear-wheel-drive. In the RWD the engine turns a driveshaft that then turns a differential on the rear axle.

RWD systems provide precise handling due to the weight that transmits throughout the vehicle. They also free up the front wheels for fine-tuning, which can result in more responsive steering that can be easily adjusted to suit the driver’s specific needs.

All-Wheel-Drive (AWD)

AWD systems are very complex and dynamic and can be found in many new cars. The AWD delivers power to every wheel on the car but does not transmit the same amount of power to each axle.

Most times, the ratio will be around 80/20 which depends on the vehicle and what it has been set at. However, some AWD systems can divert more power to the different axles if necessary. For instance, when one of the tires starts to slip because of winter weather conditions.

For some other part, the driver will not have to do anything to make these power changes happen and it will all be taken care of by sensors and electronic control modules.  In a nutshell, the all-wheel-drive cars provide better traction control on things like ice, snowfall, and wet roads and usually have better, more responsive handling than two-wheel-drive cars.

Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD or 4×4):

4WD vehicles make use of a similar principle as that of the AWD cars in that they transmit power to all four wheels. However, the 4WD system distributes that power evenly throughout all four wheels regardless of the traction needed or the road conditions, unlike AWD.

Also, the 4WD cars usually have differentials on the front and back axles including the transfer case and different gear ratios that the driver can choose from depending on their needs.

However, some systems also give the driver the ability to switch between 4WD and 2WD. This is because driving with 4WD engaged on regular asphalt can sometimes cause damage to the drivetrain.

All Wheel Drive (AWD) Pros

Below are the pros of AWD vehicles;

Dynamic and Adaptable: One of the most amazing things about driving an AWD vehicle is the fact that they are very dynamic and adaptable. Thus, dynamic and adaptable to almost any kind of terrain or road conditions. Since drivers don’t make any decisions about how the power is transmitted to the wheels, the driver can simply drive and be rest assured that the drive system is making the best decisions for slippery conditions or off-road driving.

Better Traction: the All-wheel-drive systems provide you with better traction and handling irrespective of the condition of the road. With this, you rest assured that the car will respond to any moves you make with the wheel and that it will always be running at the ideal ratio.

Also, It can help eliminate the need for things like snow tires if you live in an area that only gets light snow.

Cons of AWD

Here are the disadvantages of AWD cars

Not Fuel sufficient: this type of vehicle is not Fuel sufficient like the two-wheel-drive card. The reason is that they transmit power to extra two wheels, and will likely burn up fuel faster.

Also, the improved traction can also be detrimental to fuel economy because of the higher rolling resistance on the vehicle. So, the more the tires stick to the road surface, the less fuel-efficient a car is going to be.

AWD vehicles can also be less useful if you want control over the configuration and drive system of your vehicle.

 Pros of FWD

Here are the Benefits of Front-wheel drive cars;

Cheaper: The major benefit of a front-wheel-drive vehicle is the fact that it will be cheaper to buy and also cheaper to maintain. This type of vehicle requires fewer parts and is usually given as the base model by automotive manufacturers.

Consumes Lesser Gas: They will consume less gas because power is only going to the front tires instead of all four. A lot of FWD cars also have better cornering abilities because of the lack of oversteer caused by not delivering power to the rear wheels.

Run Faster: The FWD vehicles may also run faster due to the decreased weight. When you have power going to all four wheels, it requires more equipment and heavier parts, which will almost always translate into slower acceleration times.

Cons of FWD

One of the biggest disadvantages of front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars is their lack of traction control. For example, if you live in a place that regularly gets rain, ice, or snow, you may need to use all-season tires or winter tires when the weather starts to get bad. This is because, FWD cars only have powered contact points at the front, which can cause the rear wheels to slip.

FWD cars will also have a lower towing capacity than 4WD or AWD cars as well as less manoeuvrability in off-road situations. So, the front-wheel-drive vehicles pull themselves along instead of pulling and pushing. Therefore, if the front wheels aren’t making as much contact with the road from uneven terrain or a heavy towing load, you may not have as much power or control.

When to Choose All-Wheel-Drive – FWD vs AWD

If you reside in an area that gets snow, ice, and rain, AWD vehicles will be best for you. Having that extra traction can be a major relief and can help you feel more confident on the road.

Also, it is a better option if you are planning on doing a lot of towing or off-road driving with your car. Since AWD cars have a higher towing capacity, they will perform better and give you better gas mileage in the long run when towing.

If you always use your vehicle for outdoor adventures or hauling, all-wheel drive is going to be your best option.

When to Choose Front-Wheel-Drive

If you are someone who drives a lot, and FWD car may be the better option. The lesser fuel consumption will save you money as will the lower cost of purchasing your vehicle.

However, lots of people don’t need an AWD or 4WD vehicle if they are doing easy highway driving.

Also, If you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of snow or rain, FWD will be perfectly suitable for your situation.

Conclusively;

Whether you should have AWD or FWD car will depend strictly on your requirements. So if you have to use your car frequently under tough conditions, Under normal conditions, FWD can serve well. While AWD is the best for snow and minor off-road conditions. And for severe off-road conditions, 4 WD is the best.

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