What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

If you have never owned an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle and plan to buy one, it is better to get some knowledge about such vehicles. To make things easy for you, we have presented some important facts about all-wheel-drive systems. 

How All-Wheel-Drive Works 

A typical AWD system has two main components: the differentials and the transfer case. The AWD system has two differentials — one located in the middle of the front wheels and one located at the middle of rear wheels. These differentials perform the task of diverting torque to the drive shaft of the wheels. 

In other words, the transmission sends power to all wheels. In an all-wheel-drive vehicle, all wheels may not receive the same power. For example, the electronic stability control diverts more power to outer wheels while turning as they have to cover more distance than the inner wheels. 

Do AWD Systems Make Driving Safer? 

According to automobile experts, all-wheel-drive is all about getting your car moving from a dead stop. It is not about steering or braking performance. An all-wheel-drive system helps in seamless acceleration in slippery conditions as well as off-road driving. Though AWD systems are known to provide superior traction performance than four-wheel drive (4WD) and two-wheel drive (2WD), the traction performance depends a lot on the type of tires used. An AWD vehicle with the right tires will perform better on the slippery road surface than 4WD, as the AWD system provides power to all wheels. 

AWD Vehicles Are Not Fuel Efficient

The power, performance, and superior traction offered by AWD systems comes at a price: low fuel economy. Since the transmission has to provide power to all wheels, it burns more fuel. If you don’t go off-road or don’t live in a region where the road is covered with snow, you will hardly use any features of the AWD system. An AWD vehicle might not be the right car for city driving and you would be burning more fuel unnecessarily. 

Tire Types Are Important 

If you are driving an AWD car on roads covered with ice or snow, you need to get winter tires. Without the right tires, the steering and braking performance will suffer. It is also important that an AWD vehicle is fitted with the same type of tires on all four wheels. For example, if you are fitting winter tires on all wheels, make sure the tire model is the same. Don’t use tires from different manufacturers, as the tire circumference might be different. 

Replace All Four Tires At Once

If one of the tires needs to be replaced, make sure you replace all four tires at once. This is important because there will be some differences in the circumference of the old tires and a new one. In AWD, all the wheels are required to move at the same speed. If there is more circumference or tread depth difference, it will damage the drive mechanisms and the transfer case. The greater the difference in tire circumference, the greater the damage will happen to the transfer case. 

The information about all-wheel-drive vehicles in this post will help you make the right buying decision and also help you take proper care of an AWD vehicle.