All Wheel Drive vs. Four Wheel Drive

Posted on: October 20th, 2015 by Accurate Auto Body Denver No Comments

all wheel vs four wheel drive Chances are that if you don’t work with cars, the terms all-wheel drive and four wheel drive seem interchangeable. After all, all wheels on a car does imply four wheels, right? Well it just so happens that these terms refer to two very different systems which can produce very different results. Our Denver car repair professionals at Accurate Auto Body in Aurora, Colorado are here to give you a brief explanation of what sets the two apart.

Four Wheel Drive

Four wheel drive vehicles, also known as 4X4, are used on vehicles designed for off-road conditions. Basically, the system makes sure that all four wheels are receiving the same amount of power and thus spin at the same speed. This can be excellent for driving in rough conditions such as mud or snow, but it does have its disadvantages. When a car makes a turn, the inside wheel turns much more slowly than the outside wheel, as it doesn’t need to cover as much ground. So you can see why having the wheels spinning at the same rate could cause some problems here, especially at higher speeds.

Most modern four wheel drive vehicles come equipped with an on/off switch, permitting you to drive safely on the road but also giving you the freedom to enter rough conditions. Aside from its advantage in rough conditions, 4WD does not have many benefits – it is costly, adds weight to your vehicle, and has lower fuel economy. So if you are considering buying a car, be sure to think about where you are driving – if it’s only on paved roads, 4WD might not be the best option.

All Wheel Drive

The biggest difference that sets all-wheel drive apart from four wheel drive is that it doesn’t have an on/off switch, it is always engaged. AWD systems add a little more engineering magic to the equation which enables the vehicle to deliver the most power to the wheels which have the most grip. Most modern AWD systems also feature computers which use sensors to detect which wheel to distribute power to. The advantage of AWD is that it gives more control in all road and weather conditions. However, it still lowers fuel efficiency and adds weight to your vehicle. It also doesn’t perform quite as well as 4WD in very rough conditions.

Which Is Better?

This is entirely dependent on the conditions you will be driving in. For most people driving in winter conditions, an all-wheel drive vehicle will provide them with all the safety and rough condition handling they will experience. But if you are really looking to get off the beaten track, there is no substitute for 4WD. Finally, if you don’t live in an area with extreme seasons, there is no reason to pay the additional price for either. You would likely only see a difference in handling 1-2 times a year, making it hardly worth the additional cash.

How to use this information

At Accurate Auto Body, we have extensive experience on both AWD and 4WD vehicles. If you are in need of car maintenance, be sure to give Accurate Auto Body a call at 303-344-2122 or contact us through our website for more information and we will be happy help!

Do you prefer all-wheel drive or four wheel drive in winter conditions?

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