There are many elements to driving a car, but one of the most important is how it’s propelled forwards! Find out all you need to know about which type of “wheel drive” could work best for you with the Trust My Garage blog – read on to discover more.
Front-wheel drive is the most common layout for the engine and transmission set-up in the new car market and has been so for the last few decades. It works by the engine only sending power to the front two wheels of the vehicle (hence the name), effectively pulling the car along from the front.
Front-wheel drive is so popular in the car market because it is less complex and more affordable to engineer, compared to rear or four-wheel drive, and it also is better for fuel economy!
However, front-wheel drive does have certain limitations which make it less than ideal for high performance cars. Although many hot hatches do use it, front-wheel drive can’t offer the same kind of rapid acceleration you see from rear or four-wheel drive cars.
While most front-wheel drive cars also sport their engines in the front of the vehicle, with rear-wheel drive vehicles the engine can be located in different places (such as in the middle or rear of the vehicle). Rear-wheel drive works in the opposite manner to front-wheel drive, with the engine sending power to the rear two wheels of the vehicle and using it to push the vehicle forwards from the back.
Rear-wheel drive offers better acceleration than front-wheel drive. Unlike front-wheel drive, it is possible to achieve optimal 50/50 front/rear weight distribution with a rear-wheel drive car, which offers better balance and handling in a vehicle.
However, rear-wheel drive often compromises cabin practicality because the powertrain requires a driveshaft. This creates a bump in the passenger cabin, losing space for anyone sat in the vehicle. Rear-wheel drive is also less efficient than front-wheel drive and can be difficult for drivers to handle if there’s no traction control or road conditions are slippery due to the weather.
Both front- and rear-wheel drive can also be referred to as “Two-wheel drive”, as they only use two of the vehicle’s wheels to propel it forwards.
All-wheel drive offers a setup in which the engine’s power gets sent to a vehicle’s four wheels for maximum traction. All-wheel drive is all about varying the amount of power sent to each wheel, either mechanically or electronically.
All-wheel drive can either be offered as a part- or full-time system, depending on the model of vehicle and driver preferences. Some models now feature a system that allows the driver to disconnect the rear wheels when driving at speed, reducing drag and improving fuel economy. More expensive systems may also have a feature that engages and disengages all-wheel drive automatically based on the road conditions, detected by sensors around the vehicle and calculated by an onboard computer.
Sometimes referred to as 4×4, four-wheel drive powertrains are largely associated with SUV models, but can also be found on numerous family and executive cars, especially among vehicles with higher specs.
This system’s main distinction is that it’s typically used on vehicles designed and built to handle the unpaved wilderness.
Unlike all-wheel drive, it sends power to all four wheels equally and without variation, meaning each wheel will spin at the same constant rate as all the others. The equal split of power is great for manoeuvring through tough, low-traction situations, but it isn’t very friendly on the pavement.
Driving a four-wheel drive car on solid ground can make simple actions like turning around in a tight street very difficult, because the wheels are no longer in sync. Most modern four-wheel drive vehicles are equipped with a part-time system, meaning they operate in two-wheel drive mode in normal driving conditions. This way, the driver can engage the four-wheel drive system manually from the cabin only where necessary.
Keeping your vehicle in wheely good condition
Regardless of how your motor is propelled forwards, it’s important to keep it in a safe and legal driving condition. For a professional garage experience, you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map!
Apart from finding a garage nearby, you can also read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:
Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice, so they can help you motor on happily and safely.
Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle – and you can find out more by visiting us at TrustMyGarage.co.uk or checking out our Facebook and Twitter pages!