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What is a Drivetrain

Understand the differences in your vehicle’s drivetrain

When you’re considering a new vehicle there are several things to take into consideration. One of the most important is to find the right drivetrain for you to find new roads. Each has advantages and disadvantages and it’s important to understand each in order to make the right decision for you. The four different types of drivetrain are all-wheel-drive (AWD), front wheel drive (FWD), rear wheel drive (RWD), and 4WD (4 wheel drive).

Front Wheel Drive

FWD means that the power from the engine is delivered to the front wheels of your vehicle. With FWD, the front wheels are pulling the car and The rear wheels don’t receive any power on their own. The pros of a FWD vehicle are that they typically gets better fuel economy and emits less carbon dioxide. Since the weight of the engine is located over the driving wheels, a FWD vehicle can maintain better traction in the snow. However, performance enthusiasts have claimed FWD vehicles are less fun to drive.

Rear Wheel Drive RWD

Rear Wheel Drive

RWD means that the power from the engine is delivered to the rear wheels and the rear wheels push the car forward. The front wheels do not receive any power and are free to manoeuvre the vehicle. Due to the weight of a RWD vehicle being more evenly spread than a FWD vehicle, creates a better balance of weight. This is why most sports cars such as the Corvette and Camaro are RWD and are more exciting to drive. The disadvantage of a RWD vehicle are that they do not perform well in poor weather conditions such as rain or snow because they are more prone to loss of traction on slick roads.

Four Wheel Drive 4WD

Four Wheel Drive

4WD means the power from the engine is delivered to all 4 wheels all of the time 4X4 is engaged and has an option to operate in a RWD format to conserve fuel. The biggest advantage of a 4WD vehicle is that it provides the versatility and power to take on any terrain or weather condition. The con of a 4WD vehicle is that it operates in RWD format most of the time and has less traction then a AWD vehicle.

All-Wheel Drive AWD

All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive: A drivetrain that employs a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle.

As the name implies, all-wheel-drive systems power both the front and rear wheels all the time. But in practice, there are actually two types of drivetrains that are called AWD. One does, in fact, drive all the wheels continuously, and some manufacturers refer to this as full-time AWD. The second, often called part-time AWD or automatic AWD, operates most of the time in two-wheel-drive mode, with power delivered to all four corners only when additional traction control is needed.

Regardless on your choice of driveline remember it is always important to have a good set of snow tires in the winter.