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All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive

Know About the Differences Between All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive


Differences Between All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive: To catch up to the modern-day technology constantly moving forward, exuding our top Speed has become an absolute necessity nowadays. Keeping that in mind, the car companies of recent times are equally giving abundant supplies of cars with different features and speed limits. And this, on the other hand, had made the new car buyers or customers relatively confused with all these varying parts and functions! Among them, the concept of All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Four-Wheel Drive(4WD) doesn’t make any exception.

Many people choose cars without understanding the basic car terminology of all-wheel or four-wheel drive. Although both of these mechanisms give traction to the car wheels, some fundamental differences lie between the two. And if you are a car enthusiast and want to drive truly informed, you have to understand the differences between All-Wheel Drive, Four-Wheel Drive, Front-Wheel Drive, and Rear-wheel Drive too. So put your seat belts on because here we are explaining the basic but key differences between AWD and 4WD to better understand the car while shopping.

Key Difference Between All-Wheel Drive VS Four-Wheel Drive –

According to the Basic Mechanism: How Both of Them Work

AWD refers to a mechanism that powers all four wheels independently of each other. Here the rear wheel and the front wheel gain traction All the time, whereas in 4WD, it is a mechanism that powers the front or rear wheels by the driver’s command. The driver has to pull a lever or push a button to run the 4WD system. If the power is sent to the rear wheels, the front wheels freely spin without any traction.

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To put it simply, in an All-wheel drive system, all their wheel is always powered like a “fulfil-time” system for a car without needing the driver to put on a certain juncture to enable the system while riding through the road. But in the case of Four-wheel drive, it works as a part-time system that needs enabling of the power to either front or rear wheels, and because most 4WD vehicles have a centre differential to divide the torque and energy between the front and rear axle.

The difference in the Condition of Being Useful

AWD system is designed to optimize road traction and minimize wheel spin, which is popularly known as ‘Variable Torque Distribution.’ for instance, when you need to ride the car through slippery rain-stained roads or on snow-covered roads, the All-Wheel Drive system equally distributes the power in all four wheels appropriate to its name. But in case of smooth highway or road conditions, the system saves the extra fuel from burning by sending more power to the vehicle’s rear wheels. The AWD system is always a preferred mode of driving operation for general road conditions and is widely used for safer drive journeys.

On the contrary, the 4WD system is preferable for actual off-road situations. However, many four-wheel-drive activated wagons do not have high or low-range gearing but will still be used by serious off-roaders. The low range makes it easier for the engine to work even in the steep terrain at minimal Speed. The adventure seeker usually chooses 4WD models to have a thrill while hitting the off-roads.

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The difference in Functioning and Usage in Vehicles

AWD generally comes with three gearboxes or differentials added in different parts of your car, such as front, centre, or rear. This system also uses some viscous coupling and multi-plate or electronically controlled clutches that enable a rotational difference between the front and rear axles and also allows your car to get traction on four wheels independently, resulting in safer yet superior traction. Generally, the AWD consisted of two types of drivetrains. The first one, which drives all the wheels continuously, is referred o as the full-time AWD by the manufacturers, while the one in charge of operating in either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive is popularly called the part-time AWD or automatic AWD. These two systems are generally used without the driver’s required command or input.

In the case of 4WD, although it is designed to execute the same task as AWD, this system is more robust and fits to handle more rough terrain. The traditional 4WD system’s two-speed transfer case with high and low-range modes can be turned on by the driver with an electronic switch or a mechanical lever. The low range one provides maximum traction in low off-road environments by multiplying the torque. In contrast, the high range one is best fitted for less rugged road conditions, and it is also useful for riding on slippery, snow-packed, gavel, or sandy roads. This system is divided into two types full-time and part-time. The full-time one has the same function as the full-time AWD system, where all the four wheels receive the same kind of power continuously, while the part-time one is regarded as the real traditionalist of the four-wheel population.

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In this case, the rear-wheel-drive system is loaded by default, and if you want to change it back to a four-wheel-drive system, you require a driver to opt-in to push a button or just a level.

Differences in the Vehicles Where they are Being Used

AWD is famous for providing safety measures while driving. Thus, it is used by some well-known brands such as Audi and Subaru. It is also available to a wide variety of people, from compact sedans to all sizes of SUVs, leaving you a plethora of options to choose from.

On the other hand, as the 4WD was designed to hit off the most rugged yet adventurous roads, this system can be found only in SUVs – especially family SUVs.


Now that you have learned the basic and the overall difference between the All-wheel drive and scan, easily choose the right one according to your demand for Speed and traction. Though these differences lie between AWD and 4WD, these two systems’ main roles are similar. They both control traction, and depending on the road, they provide their aids. But both of them are far better than the Two-wheel drive system. So, if you live where heavy weather is a concern, you may want to choose the AWD, and if it is muddy, gravel, or sandy surfaces that you have to ride or have to climb or descend steep angles, 4DW can be your best option.


Read More: Auto News Reporter

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