What You Need to Know About All-Wheel Drive Vehicles
If you are looking for superior traction in inclement weather and going off-road, an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle is what you need. However, there are pros and cons that come with an AWD vehicle. To make things simple for you, we’ll tell you some important things about AWD vehicles and how they work. Here’s what you should know about all-wheel-drive vehicles.
How All-Wheel-Drive Works
As the name implies, an all-wheel-drive system sends power to every wheel. Depending on the AWD system in your vehicle, the AWD might provide more forward traction during acceleration. Most all-wheel-drive systems are designed to deliver power to one set of wheels; front or rear. When the system detects slippage at one axle, more power is diverted to another axle in hopes of providing more traction there. AWD systems are useful in slippery roads or paths covered with ice or snow where more traction is needed to move ahead. All-wheel-drive systems are available in primarily in SUVs, but also available in certain sedans.
Is AWD Safer?
Though people buy AWD vehicles assuming they’re safer than front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicles, it is not always the case. There is no doubt that AWD offers better traction than FWD or four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems, which can be helpful in driving in the snow. However, AWD does not improve braking or cornering. The tires play an important role in safety of the vehicle and passengers inside. If you are driving on a road covered with ice or snow, it is the winter tires that will help you turn and stop the vehicle on the snowy road.
Pay Attention to Differential Fluid Level
Just like any vehicle, maintaining the right fluid levels is important. However, unlike FWD systems which only have one differential, an AWD system has a front and rear differential and also a center differential. The differentials need proper lubrication and you need to ensure the differential fluid levels never fall below a certain level. Depending on the design of your AWD system, the differentials might have their own housing and fluid or they might be integrated with the transfer case or transmission system of the vehicle.
The Size of the Tires and Tread Design Is Important
According to automobile experts, all four wheels in an all-wheel-drive vehicle should be the same size. Also, the tread design should be the same. If the tread design is different, it indicates the size of the tire is also different. The circumference of the tires is an important aspect as well because the transmission directs power to all wheels, and the tire with a smaller dimension or less tread is required to rotate faster than other wheels to cover the same distance. This can damage the transfer case.
AWD Vehicles Are Not Fuel Efficient
The performance and superior traction that AWD delivers comes at a price. An AWD system is required to send power to all wheels which require more energy and hence the engine burns more fuel to move the car.
Now that you know important facts about AWD vehicles, you’re in a better position to determine whether or not an AWD vehicle is right for you.