Have you ever wondered what the difference was between an all-wheel drive (AWD) & 4-wheel drive vehicle? Many people do, and for good reason, as the 2 could be mistaken for one another (or appear to be the same).
However, this blog article will show you the exact difference between the 2 (because there is).
Four-Wheel Drive (4WD or 4x4)
In a 4-wheel drive vehicle, the power goes from the transmission to what is known as a transfer case. This process then splits power between the front and rear axles so that maximum torque goes to each wheel, a system that still powers brands such as Jeep.
When the transfer case splits power evenly, each wheel turns at the same speed, which is a problem. For a car to make a turn, the inside wheel has to turn more slowly than the outside wheel, which cover more ground. So, in a 4WD vehicle, the inside wheel loses traction and spins freely. However, modern 4WD systems get around this as most modern 4WD systems are only on when you activate them. That way, you can use 4WD at low speed in snow or mud, but enjoy the drivability of two-wheel drive in normal conditions.
- Best traction in off-road conditions
- Can be turned off to improve fuel economy
- Proven, rugged technology
- Adds weight and complexity to cars
- Can’t be used in all conditions
- More expensive than two wheel drive models
ALL-WHEEL DRIVE (AWD)
The biggest difference between 4WD and AWD is that an AWD drive system is on most of the time, and there are two types of all-wheel drive: mechanical and electronic.