How Does All Wheel Drive Work?

How Does All Wheel Drive Work?

August 7, 2019    Driving

When researching new or used vehicles, all wheel drive is a feature you may see highlighted. But how does all wheel drive work? Learn what it is and how it may affect your car-buying decision.


What Is All Wheel Drive?

You don’t need to be a car expert to understand how all all wheel drive works. When a vehicle has all wheel drive, it means the drivetrain uses a center differential to power the front and back wheels. 

This differential is a set of gears that transfers power to both sets of wheels. All wheel drive relies on a system of sensors to determine when and how much power to direct. 

The overall goal of an all wheel drive system is to make sure your wheels are working together to grip the road and provide the smoothest ride possible. 

All Wheel Drive vs. Four Wheel Drive

You might see all wheel drive and four wheel drive referred to as the same thing but they’re actually different. 

With all wheel drive, your system is running continuously to power the wheels. With a four wheel drive system, power is concentrated on the rear wheels until you switch on four wheel drive. (There are some car models that leave four wheel drive on all the time, though it’s less common.) 

In place of a center differential, four wheel drive systems may have a transfer case. This stores the gears necessary to power the system and split power between the front and back wheels. 

Four wheel drive systems are usually associated with trucks, SUVs or off-road vehicles that navigate rough terrain. All wheel drive systems can be found in cars, trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles, making them better suited for your daily commute, running errands or road trips. 

The Pros of All Wheel Drive

All wheel drive systems can make navigating the roads easier. These systems are designed to make adjustments for you, based on the information relayed from the sensors to the center differential.

That allows you to drive over any surface, without having to switch four wheel drive on and off. All wheel drive systems can also help minimize wear and tear to the underside of your vehicle because the different controls the movements of the axle and wheels. 

A car with all wheel drive can offer better handling and improved acceleration. It may also boost your resale value if you decide to switch off to another vehicle down the road. 

The Cons of All Wheel Drive

Purchasing a vehicle with all wheel drive could be more expensive, as cars with this feature tend to cost more. 

You may also pay more to drive and maintain an all wheel drive vehicle, since they can siphon away fuel efficiency and cost more to repair. And you can expect to shell out more for things like oil changes and routine maintenance to keep your system running smoothly. 

Whether you decide to buy an all wheel drive vehicle or not, take time and compare your financing options. At Birchwood Credit Solutions, we have a large inventory of vehicles to meet your needs and we offer financing to fit every credit background. 

If you’re ready to explore your financing options, complete our quick, two-minute online application. Birchwood Credit Solutions can address all types of credit and financial situations, including customers who have applied for bankruptcy and car-buyers who are new to Canada. 

Rebecca Lake
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