All Wheel vs 4 Wheel Drive: What Are the Differences?

Bad turns and poor weather conditions are some of the leading causes of car accidents in the US. One of the ways you can improve your vehicle’s ability to deal with these factors is by having the right axle power system for your needs.

All wheel drive and 4 wheel drive are terms often used interchangeably. But when one or the other is important to you when you’re buying a vehicle, you need to know the differences.

Both are power systems for the front and rear axles, but that’s where their similarity ends. Depending on what conditions you drive in and whether you regularly have a heavy load completely changes which option is best for you.

Keep reading to learn more so you know what will work best for you when it comes to all wheel vs 4 wheel drive!

What Is All Wheel Drive?

All wheel drive (AWD) is when power is given to the front and rear axles all the time. While this might sound like 4 wheel drive, it’s very different.

A car with AWD has more power, so it has better traction when the conditions are wet and slippery. The power given to each axle can be changed, which means the wheels on each axle can rotate at different speeds.

This means the car is the best option for regular city driving because it can handle corners and different conditions well. With these benefits, AWD is becoming more popular.

There are 2 ways a car can have AWD. The first is that it’s always on, called full-time AWD. The second is part-time AWD, which is when sensors will automatically engage AWD when the conditions on the road call for it.

What Is 4 Wheel Drive?

4 wheel drive (4WD) is a good option if you’re driving on roads with poor conditions or if you’re hauling heavy loads like in trucks and SUVs. It helps in these conditions because it gives power to both the front and rear axles, just like in AWD. But the difference is that 4WD locks the axles together, so they turn in the same direction.

This makes it difficult when driving in cities with lots of corners or on dry pavements in good conditions. To account for this, 4 wheel drive in a car or truck has to be manually engaged. This is usually done with a button or switch, and is only engaged when it’s needed.

Trucks will engage their 4 wheel drive once they get out of cities and have fewer sharp corners to get through. SUV drivers will only engage their 4WD when going off-road or when towing something.

The wheels on your vehicles are also an important consideration. If you’ve got a truck that is regularly hauling heavy loads, check out this article on best truck wheels.

Know When You Want All Wheel vs 4 Wheel Drive

Since it’s often unclear on the differences when comparing all wheel vs 4 wheel drive, it means people end up buying vehicles that aren’t right for them. When you know the difference, you can make sure you’re purchasing the vehicle that is right for your needs.

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