How All-Wheel Drive Works

all-wheel drive

If you’ve ever shopped for a car, you’ve probably heard the terms “all-wheel drive” (AWD) and “front-wheel drive” (FWD), which are two of several existing drivetrains. The drivetrain is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels. With front-wheel drive, only the front wheels are given power, but with all-wheel drive, power can be delivered to all four wheels. Every new Subaru vehicle is equipped with AWD.

AWD is generally considered better for driving in snow and other slippery conditions because its smart systems pick up information on which tires have better traction in a given situation and deliver more power to those. AWD is also more stable around corners. So how are AWD vehicles able to do this?

All-wheel drive vehicles have a center differential that splits power to the front and rear wheels, whereas front-wheel drive, the most commonly available drivetrain, has a differential in front that controls the front wheels. AWD systems also have sensors on the wheels to detect how much traction they have, and the information from the sensors helps the car automatically determine which wheels need the most power.

There are two types of AWD, which include full-time and automatic AWD. With full-time, there are three differentials that send power to all four wheels all the time. In a car with automatic AWD, it will function as a FWD vehicle most of the time besides in low-traction situations when extra power is needed.

We hope this has given you a better understanding of how all-wheel drive works and whether it’s right for you!

Steve Lewis

Owner and president of Steve Lewis Subaru in Hadley, MA.

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