What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

While all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems have gained popularity in recent years, the technology is not new. AWD systems are excellent at providing traction and improved stability, especially on slippery surfaces or off-road. This post will help you understand how all-wheel drive vehicles work and what makes them different from four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles.

All-Wheel Drive Vehicles: The Basics

There are four different kinds of drivetrains that are used in automobiles: all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is when the engine sends power to the front wheels. In rear-wheel drive, the engine sends power to the rear wheels.

In contrast, the engine in al all-wheel-drive vehicle distributes to power all four wheels. It enables the driver to have complete control over both sets of axles, resulting in additional traction and power. It is an excellent feature for surfaces covered by gravel, snow and sand as well as rough terrains.

Many people consider 4WD and AWD to be the same. However, in terms of the way they work, they differ a lot. The only common aspect in both these drivetrains is that all four of a vehicle’s wheels are given power.

The Difference between 4WD and AWD

AWD vehicles send power to all four wheels. This drivetrain in commonly found in SUVs, crossovers and trucks. On the other hand, in 4WD vehicles, all four wheels of the vehicle only receive power when needed.

Another major difference between the two technologies is that 4WD offers control over all axles only at certain times, whereas AWD offers permanent control over the axles. Technically, an AWD vehicle cannot drive in two-wheel-drive (2Wd) mode. However, a 4WD car can start in 2WD mode and can then shifted to 4WD. The transformation to 4WD from 2WD is either manual or automatic as per the road conditions.

The next difference is the amount of power supplied to all axles or wheels. In the all-wheel drive vehicles, all wheels receive a distinct amount of power on an individual basis. However, in four-wheel drive vehicles, all wheels receive an equal amount of power. When taking a sudden turn, AWD gives outer wheels more power more than the inner wheels. This results in more stability and better control.

How All-Wheel Drive Vehicles Function

There are two primary components installed in a standard AWD system. One is the transfer case and the second is the differentials. The differentials direct torque from the drive shaft to the wheels. The differentials allow the wheels to spin at varying speeds.

The transfer case is also very important. It consists of a setup, which regulates the speed of the rear and front axles separately. This setup is a center differential that causes the wheels to rotate. The two components make the AWD system work flawlessly.

This post is a simple explanation of how all-wheel-drive vehicles work. These systems work more effectively when their functionality is supported by Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems. If you drive on rough terrain, snow, mud or gravel, an all-wheel-drive vehicle is best for you.