Blog | Brookings, South Dakota 57006 | Einspahr Auto Plaza

Know Your Drivetrain

by Einspahr Auto Plaza
2/12/2017 - Brookings, SD

Buying a new car is confusing enough with trying to sort through gas mileage, safety features, price, dependability, etc. without having to worry about terms you may not understand. We here at Einspahr want to help alleviate your burden by taking the time to explain one often confused feature—the drivetrain. Front wheel drive vs rear wheel drive vs four wheel drive vs all-wheel drive—what’s the difference and which one do you need? What you need depends on what you will use the vehicle for, whether off-roading, in snow, in bad weather, or whatever your need may be. At Einspahr, we have a full range of vehicles to meet each need, and hopefully after reading this post, you will more confident in your decision of which vehicle you need to purchase.

Front Wheel Drive

Most cars have FWD because of its many advantages. First, FWD cars are more fuel efficient because the car can be slightly lighter and because the engine has a shorter driveshaft to turn. Second, FWD cars are good in the snow. The heaviest part of the car sits over the front wheels, creating traction, making FWD cars better for climates where there is much snow and ice. However, there are some disadvantages. Because the weight is not balanced, the front tires tend to wear faster, and these cars do not accelerate as quickly as rear wheel drive cars do.

Rear Wheel Drive

RWD is what performance cars have. RWD creates quick acceleration because as the car accelerates, the weight “shifts” to the back of the car causing the rear wheels to grip the ground and make for a quick start. Because the weight is more balanced throughout the four tires, the ride also tends to be smoother. Unfortunately, since these vehicles do not have good traction, they do not perform as well in snowy conditions.

Four Wheel Drive

Not all 4WD vehicles are the same, but in most cases, 4WD is when engine powers all the wheels, but only when the driver switches 4WD on. When 4WD is not switched on, the vehicle is either just FWD or RWD. 4WD is great in off-road or slippery conditions. When FWD vehicles get their front wheels stuck in a slippery spot, they can’t go anywhere. But when a 4WD vehicle gets its front wheels stuck in a slippery spot, the back wheels will still push it out.

Most 4WD vehicles have HIGH and LOW ranges. HIGH is for faster driving, such as driving on a slippery road or highway. LOW is typically for driving under 15 mph, such as those times you might be stuck in a ditch or climbing a slope.

All Wheel Drive

AWD is different than 4WD. AWD is when all the wheels are spinning all the time. This is different than 4WD because, in most cases, AWD cannot be turned off. This is nice because this creates traction no matter what the road conditions are. The advantages and disadvantages of AWD vehicles are that the AWD vehicles drive on dry roads better than 4WD, but don’t have the fuel economy that FWD cars have. On the other hand, AWD vehicles drive in the snow better than FWD vehicles, but certainly do not do as well as 4WD. AWD vehicles are good for if you need something that has good traction in any kind of weather.

Hopefully, after reading this post, you have one less question to worry about when finding your new vehicle. Einspahr has a full range of cars and trucks from Ford, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and more to suit any situation you drive in. Stop by the dealership or check out their website for the full list of makes and models.e Text Here!