The Difference Between AWD and 4WD

January 3, 2018
Category: General

At a glance, all-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive should mean the same thing. However, there’s actually a significant difference between the two. Since AWD and 4WD have become popular, there’s been an obsession to find a car with either one for many different reasons. Read on to learn more about the differences surrounding these two drive-train types.

The Difference Between AWD and 4WD

What is all-wheel-drive?

In an AWD car, each wheel is getting power at all times, but the amount of power they’re receiving varies by situation. In most cases, handling ability can be increased with AWD cars. For this reason, many high-end and high-performance cars are latching onto the idea of all-wheel-drive.

AWD is functional in everyday driving life, and is not typically desired when a driver is off-roading. In some cases, AWD might only activate when traction is lost by the front tires. While it might produce more handingly capabilities, AWD is not usually necessary.

What is four-wheel-drive?

The much more commonly-known counterpart to AWD is four-wheel-drive, which is known for its ability to aid with off-roading. 4WD is also desirable among many parts of the country where it snows heavily. It means that all four wheels are working simultaneously, all the time.

Some vehicles will have an optional 4WD in order to save gas. However, full-time 4WD cars are using four-wheel-drive constantly. In this case, each tire is getting the same amount of power at all times.

Maintenance Costs

Depending on what you choose, maintenance is going to be specific to that kind of drive-train. Wear and tear is going to be congruent with how much use the tires are getting. For example, a 4WD vehicle that is constantly using 4WD is going to need more maintenance than an AWD used only part-time.

Likewise, an AWD vehicle is probably going to have tires that wear down at different rates. A part-time 4WD vehicle is going to have varying degrees of disrepair within the suspension and wheel system. Generally, though, a full-time 4WD vehicle is going to require the most preventative and upkeep maintenance.

Which is right for you?

Unless you’re living in a particularly icy or snowy climate, AWD and 4WD are not going to be of much use when it comes to everyday driving. Handling might be improved with AWD, but it’s certainly not necessary in order to drive safely on the road. 4WD is necessary, however, for off-roading activities. A part-time 4WD vehicle is perfect for driving day-to-day while completing more extensive driving tasks on the side. After weighing the pros and cons, the decision is up to you.

Still confused? Contact your local Gaithersburg auto repair service. General Automotive can help you navigate the complex world of different drive-trains. Call today, and we’ll help you with all the basics.

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