What is the difference between 4WD and AWD vehicles?
4WD and AWD are two different types of vehicle drivetrains. A drivetrain is the different components used to send power from the engine to the wheels of your vehicle. A drivetrain will include the transmission, driveshafts, differentials, axels and many other components used to drive the wheels.
Four wheel drive and all wheel drive systems may seem similar at first thought. They both work to deliver power to all four wheels and improve traction, when compared to a standard two wheel drive system (like a front wheel drive or rear wheel drive).
However, there are some key differences that separate 4WD and AWD systems.
AWD systems are aimed at road driving vehicles to help increase traction, safety and performance. Many different types of vehicles utilize an AWD system including SUV’s, sedans, coupes, and sports cars.
4WD systems are a more specialized version of the AWD system, usually geared toward off-road driving. Many 4WD systems provide additional features such as high and low gearing, better traction and stronger components. Most 4WD vehicles have increased vehicle height and wider bodies, aiding off-road performance and more space.
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More info about 4WD systems...
4WD systems come in two different options; part time or full time. A full time 4WD system gives power to all four wheels on a constant basis, with the driver having the option to determine power distribution in most vehicles. A part time 4WD system only gives power to two wheels (typically the rears) until 4WD is needed. If needed, the driver can activate 4WD by pressing a button or to power all four wheels.
4WD vehicles are often designed and created for maximum pulling/towing power, making them great options for towing items such as boats, caravans or trailers.
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More info about AWD systems...
Many AWD systems are the same. Most AWD systems primarily power one set of wheels (either the front or rear) and send power to the other set when a loss of traction is detected by the vehicle. You don't have to do anything else to engage the additional two wheels, because they are automatically engaged either mechanically or via the car’s computer system.
Some vehicles operate both the rear and front wheels at all times. This is usually the preferred method of AWD vehicles, however it is generally more expensive and complex. On dry roads this system allows for better handling, due to full power going onto the road from all wheels at all times. While in slippery conditions the four wheels being powered at all times produces better traction.
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