Difference Between 4 Wheel Drive And All-Wheel Drive

Even few years back, car shopping was so simple. You didn't have many options other than some SUVs, trucks or pickups depending on what you want your car to mainly use on. But with technological improvements, there are more options today.

Now, a big part of the car market consists of either all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4 wheel drive (4WD). So what are the differences between 4 wheel drive and all-wheel drive? And which one should you choose?

Here’s how these different systems work And the benefits of one over the other and the problems.

With this information, you can make better decisions while buying your next car.

What Is Known As 4WD (Four-Wheel DRIVE)?

A four-wheel drive is known as 4WD and also said to be 4 by 4 or 4x4. The major thing about this system is that it is used for vehicles designed to be driven on rough tracks like not paved or forest roads.

SUVs like Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler are examples of four-wheel drive. Cars that need to run on off-roads have this system.

“4 wheel” - meaning the system provides power equally to all four-wheels. If you think - it means all-wheels turn at the same rate as the other ones. The engine transfers power to the transmission, and there, a transfer case spreads it between the rear and front axles.

Driving on low traction roads, for example; on a rainy day or sand covered road with an four-wheel drive is actually a great experience. But if you consider it for day to day use, you notice that it's not always a good experience because all of the wheels want to rotate at the same rate.

Think of a situation that you have to turn your car. The outside wheel covers more ground so it has to spin more than the other ones. But all of the wheels want to turn at the same rate and this creates a problem.

As a solution of this car, manufacturers keep an option to disable the system so that when the car needs to drive on normal roads, you can use regular two wheel drive. This is known as part-time 4WD.

What is an AWD (All-Wheel DRIVE)?

All-wheel drive is more of a recent invention and you can find it in from almost all the sports cars to regular utility SUVs. The underlying idea of it is very much alike compared to the part-time 4WDs.

The major difference between 4WD and AWD is the former tries to push the power to spin all the 4 wheels in an equal speed in order to get maximum traction without considering the track type.Whereas, an all-wheel drive provides different proper power levels to each wheels depending on traction.

Though it is compared to a part-time 4 wheel drive, all-wheel drive is fully automated. The system is computerized to give the right amount of power to each wheels by using differentials or other electrical systems that tricks the ABS into braking and down as a wheel loses traction.

Recently, a new era of electric vehicles uses what is known as electric all-wheel drive that has each axle a motor, so overall it improves both the performance and traction without requiring the need for a transmission tunnel.

These are known as hybrids.

So Which One Should You Get?

It depends on your regular driving requirement and also your area. If you regularly have to drive on off-roads and harsh tracks, you might be best benefited in buying a four-wheel drive.

It is specifically designed to ride on off-road tracks. However, it will cost you more in fuels.

For maximum drivers, all-wheel drive can give them the experience they need. It automatically changes traction based on computer system detection and can work without driver’s manual input. All of these combined can result in a smooth riding vehicle that is also fuel efficient.

Finally, before purchasing your car, you should also keep in mind that having good tires is also important besides getting the right drive wheels. So take your time, have it researched and make the purchase.

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