All-Wheel Drive vs Four-Wheel Drive

June 12th, 2017 by

all-wheel drive vs four-wheel drive

When you need more traction on the road, using power on all four wheels on your car is a major help. There are two different drivetrain systems available that do this: all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. We’ll take a look at the differences of All-Wheel Drive vs Four-Wheel Drive as well as explain where each one works best.

All-wheel drive

Frequently shortened to AWD, an all-wheel drive system is always on. This means the built-in sensors do all of the work and the driver doesn’t have to decide if and when to turn it on. AWD is great for handling frequently slick roads from rain, ice, or snow.

In an AWD car, the on-board sensors rapidly check each tire to see which ones need the most traction. The car then sends the power to the wheel or wheels that need it the most.

AWD is available in a wide range of vehicles from sedans to crossovers and even sports cars.

Four-wheel drive

When you need maximum traction, though, there is no competition to four-wheel drive (4WD). This is the only choice when you want to travel off pavement and drive through mud, over rocks, and tackle the toughest terrain. With 4WD, the driver has to activate the system and power is sent to all four wheels equally. This type of system is reserved for off-road vehicles and heavy-duty trucks.