What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

Is more always better? This question is directed towards all-wheel-drive vehicles. Many people think all-wheel-drive vehicles offer more than 2WD or 4WD and hence they are superior vehicles. We’ll discuss this below and find out if AWD is the best option. 

How All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles Work

In front-wheel-drive (FWD) and rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicles, only the front or rear wheels get power depending on the drivetrain type. In an all-wheel-drive vehicle, the engine power is diverted to all four wheels of the vehicle. There are different types of AWD drivetrains. In some AWD systems, the engine power is diverted to either front or rear wheels. Whenever the system detects that the vehicle is losing traction, the power is diverted to the remaining wheels to compensate for the loss of traction and achieve stability.

Here are some important facts about all-wheel-drive vehicles that you should know. 

AWD Vehicles Are Not Fuel Efficient 

Since the engine has to provide power to all wheels, it has to burn more fuel to generate more power for all wheels. If you are looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle, an AWD vehicle might not be right for you. 

What Is the Difference Between Four-Wheel Drive and AWD?

Four-wheel drive (4WD) is different than AWD. Typically, a four-wheel-drive is implemented as a part-time system. In other words, the 4WD is working as two-wheel-drive most of the time. Only when the driver chooses to engage the transmission’s transfer case and lock in the four-wheel-drive mode do all four wheels get power. In the case of AWD vehicles, the drivetrain is always in all-wheel-drive mode but the power directed to different wheels depends on the traction requirements. 

Using the Right Tires Is Crucial

The stability and traction performance of AWD vehicle depends a lot on what type of tire is being used, especially in the winter season. If you live in an area where the roads are covered with snow during the winter, you need to get winter tires for your AWD vehicle. Without the right types of tires, you won’t get the traction you expect from an AWD system. Also, AWD works great in mud, snow and off-road terrain, but does not offer any additional help in steering or braking performance. 

Replace All Four Tires at Once

If one of the tires of your AWD vehicle needs replacement, you need to change all the tires. The reason is the circumference difference between new and old tires. A tire with larger circumference and more tread depth will cover more distance in one rotation. To keep up, the older tires with less tread depth and a smaller circumference have to rotate faster to cover the same distance. This can damage the transfer case and increase your maintenance costs. Hence you need to replace all tires at the same time in an AWD vehicle.

Use the Same Tire Models

You should never mix tires from different manufacturers on AWD vehicle. The difference in the circumference and tread pattern can damage your vehicle’s transmission in the same way that using old and new tires can. Always use the same tire model from the same manufacturer on each wheel.

SUVs and crossovers are the most common vehicles that come with all-wheel drive, although there multiple sedans, trucks and even minivans that do, too. If you’re looking for a safe vehicle that will handle great in inclement weather and rough terrain, AWD vehicles offer a huge advantage over their counterparts. However, if you live in a city or an area with good weather year-round, other vehicles may prove to be a better option.