What is AWD in a car, its advantages and disadvantages

What are the pros and cons of AWD in a car

Cars with all-wheel drive are the most popular among drivers. This is due to the fact that this characteristic means that the vehicle has excellent handling, a high level of safety and cross-country ability. However, when it comes to comparing specific models, the question of what is better always arises. Therefore, it is worth knowing what kind of drives there are in general and how they differ from each other.

All-wheel drive system in a vehicle

What drive systems on autos exist in general

There are three types of auto drive systems:

  1. Rear-wheel drive. Power and torque in them fall on the rear axle.
  2. Front-wheel drive. They operate on the opposite principle. That is, these characteristics are received by the front axle.
  3. Four-wheel drive. They combine all the properties of the two previous types.

But it is difficult for a novice driver to understand in what cases and for what purposes this or that type is suitable. For example, why the front-wheel drive is more suitable for cars with small liters. Moreover, people often wonder if AWD and 4WD are the same or not.

Important! The abbreviations AWD, 4WD, 2WD and the rest are invented by marketers, not those who assemble the cars.

The main difference between AWD and 4WD is that the first have the opportunity to connect the second axle only in cases where it is really necessary. The second axle is connected permanently. The load is always distributed between the axles. It is also possible to lock the inter-axle differential.

The difference between all-wheel drive systems

At first glance it seems that the difference is not particularly big. But it is not. Professional drivers can easily distinguish these systems from each other.

More about what is AWD

So, AWD in a car, what is it. It is one of several types of drives. In most cases, it is put on crossovers. However, they are also used on those cars that have off-road properties. Then a person decides for himself to use four-wheel drive or not. And the built-in electronics determines when it is necessary to activate the rear axle.

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Distinguishing features include the following:

  • The main axle is front. The rear axle is connected only when it is necessary.
  • There is no forced connection. The exception – various software and electronic ways of adjustment.
  • The differential cannot be switched off forcibly. Only electronic simulation is possible.
  • How effective this drive is is still a controversial issue. It is not uncommon for the rear axle to be engaged at the wrong time.
  • The service life and quality depends on the company that assembled it. The more expensive the device, the fewer problems will be in future operation.

Most people who prefer SUVs have a negative view of AWD. They say that its level of efficiency and quality is not high enough.

All-wheel drive system

However, this opinion is purely subjective. It all depends on the driver and how well he knows his car, what he uses the car for.

Are there any clear advantages of AWD technology

All systems have disadvantages, including AWD and 4WD. However, now let’s focus on the positives.

The advantages of AWD include the following:

  • the car feels as confident as possible when driving on the road;
  • confidence on difficult tracks;
  • it is possible to go off the road on light off-roads;
  • no adjustments are required;
  • the system will automatically disengage all-wheel drive if energy savings are required.

AWD has many more pros than cons. For this reason, the overpayment when buying a car is fully justified. Regret, in any case, is not worth it.

What are the disadvantages of the AWD drive system

The negative features of AWD should include the following:

  1. The available electronics can fail at any time. The consequence – the drive will not turn on or off in time.
  2. There are no manual settings. For most people, buying such a vehicle will be a real problem. The reason is that it is impossible to adjust anything manually.
  3. It is unclear to the driver when the drive turns on and off. If a person doesn’t feel when the drive is on, unpleasant situations can happen on the road, such as skidding and other things.
  4. If there are breakdowns, one will have to pay a large sum to have it repaired.
  5. Usually when people buy a car, they have very high expectations of the car. They expect to have the ultimate SUV. And when that doesn’t happen, expectations are not met.
  6. If a four-wheel drive vehicle is not required by the buyer, then overpaying is not justified.
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AWD systems have both pros and cons. Some motorists like this kind of drive, and some do not. It all depends on the tastes in transportation.

Renault with all-wheel drive on the road

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Which drive is better: RWD, FWD, 4WD or AWD?

For many of us, these acronyms are not just a set of Latin letters. But, unfortunately, there is a large number of motorists who do not know what these encrypted letters mean. These abbreviations designate the type of the car’s drive. But because of the variety of technology on the world stage, there is an ongoing debate about which type of drive is better and more efficient? Also, many of us are worried about which drive to buy a car? We decided to look into this question.

4WD vs AWD. RWD vs. FWD. Debates about which type of drive is best have been going on for years. Of course, what is better for you depends on your preferences and financial capabilities. Which drive to buy a car with should be decided depending on where you live, your lifestyle, etc. Also, in order to understand which type of drive is best, you need to clearly understand how each type of drive works.

What types of drive do cars have?

Rear-wheel drive: In this type of drive, the engine transmits torque to the rear wheels of the car. Typically, the rear-wheel drive type is used on high-powered cars and on pickup trucks. When rear-wheel drive is used in a car, an optimal weight balance is achieved. But there are disadvantages. Rear-wheel drive is less efficient and more expensive to produce.

Front-wheel drive: The engine, box, drive, differential (which allows the wheels to move at different speeds) are combined into one single unit to transmit torque to the front axle. Front wheel drive (FWD) vehicles are the most popular on the global auto market. If the main thing for you is fuel economy and the low cost of the car, then the vehicle with front-wheel drive is an excellent choice for purchase.

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The fact is that the cost of a front-wheel drive vehicle is significantly lower than a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Also, the fuel consumption of front-wheel drive vehicles is significantly lower than that of vehicles equipped with rear-wheel drive.

All Wheel Drive (4×4): In most all-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, the driver can choose how to distribute power between all four wheels. Thus, in many cars it is possible to disable the transmission of torque to one axle (as a rule, the front axle is disconnected). Unfortunately, in recent years, full-fledged all-wheel drive with the ability to switch the torque transfer has been used by automakers very rarely, since this type of drive is the least efficient and has a high cost.

Recently, the transfer case has rarely been used on modern vehicles. It has been replaced by electronics, which independently monitor the rotation of the wheels, thereby controlling the maximum efficiency of the car. But despite the change in trends on the car market, manufacturers have left in such cars the ability to regulate the mode of operation of the car. Thus, if desired, the driver can turn on a reduced torque transmission, in which the speed of the car is low and the engine speed is increased. This is very helpful under extreme conditions (for example, if the car got stuck in the snow).

All Wheel Drive: This is a new type of drive, which is conquering the entire car market (usually used in crossovers). According to auto experts, by the end of 2015 there will be about 30 percent of all cars in the world with AWD wheel drive type. This type of drive, as a rule, transfers torque to the front wheels and only when there is not enough traction, the car automatically connects the work to the rear wheels.

Thus, almost all cars with this type of drive are considered all-wheel drive, although in fact they are, from time to time. As a rule, when rear-wheel drive is engaged in case of a lack of traction, the distribution of torque is: 60 percent to the front axle, 40 percent to the rear axle. But not all cars with AWD drive have uneven torque distribution. Thus, Subaru and Audi cars use a 50:50 traction distribution system. It is worth noting that the AWD vehicles have slightly less traction compared to the 4WD vehicles. Also, AWD vehicles lack the ability to engage a reduced torque transmission, as provided by the vehicles with 4WD system.

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Where do you live?

If you live in southern Russia, you may not need a vehicle equipped with AWD or 4WD. If you want to buy a four-wheel drive vehicle, think about whether or not you will need the extra traction. If not, why would you overpay for a car when you buy it and spend significantly more money on fuel during operation?

After all, if you live in an area where there is no need to buy a four-wheel drive car, it is better to buy a rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive car, as well as a good winter tires. Believe me this way you will not only save money, but you will not regret that you bought the wrong car.

If you live in a region where winter is not harsh and not much snow falls, you can buy a front-wheel drive vehicle (FWD). It will be enough to feel safe on the road in winter time. The advantage of front-wheel drive in winter is the large weight of the front axle of the car (the weight of the suspension, engine and transmission). Because of this, the driving front wheels have much better traction on the road surface, unlike the rear-wheel drive, which has insufficient traction.

How and where do you operate your vehicle?

If you plan to use your vehicle in mountainous terrain or your trips will often be in mud, sand or snow, then we advise you to buy a four-wheel drive vehicle (4WD). Remember that cars equipped with AWD drive are also designed for off-road, but only for easy. The thing is that, as a rule, cars with AWD drive have significantly less ground clearance compared to a full four-wheel drive cars (4WD). So if you think you will drive with AWD car on heavy roads, remember that you risk to damage your car.

But if you are not planning to conquer impassable places in fields and forests, it is better to buy a car equipped with AWD drive system instead of 4WD. For city conditions, as well as for operation in winter time it is the best choice. Plus, cars with an AWD system consume significantly less gasoline or diesel fuel compared to 4WD vehicles.

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If you want to buy a car strictly for commuting and your primary concern is fuel economy, then feel free to buy a front wheel drive car. Typically, front-wheel drive vehicles are much more fuel efficient than the heavier four-wheel drive vehicles.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, rear-wheel drive (RWD) is usually used on high-powered and sporty vehicles. Equipping powerful vehicles with rear-wheel drive gives a more thrilling driving experience. Other vehicles that use rear-wheel drive are designed to haul or tow heavy loads (such as trucks or pickup trucks). Rear-wheel drive is also often used on large, powerful SUVs (for example, the Tahoe and 4 Runner). Most SUVs are equipped with a 4WD all-wheel drive system for the most traction and power.

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