What’s the difference between 4WD and AWD?

AWD and 4WD. What are these acronyms? These letters are plastered all over sport utility vehicles and trucks, but what does it mean?

Four wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive allow a vehicle to send torque to all four wheels versus the popular two wheel drive trains in most cars. Sending power to all four wheels will increase traction on loose surfaces.

Four wheel drive drive (aka 4X4) and All Wheel Drive trains sound quite similar, yet they are totally different. Let’s discuss the differences.

AWD sends power from the transmission to a center differential. The center differential than can redirect torque to the front and rear axles. This is done automatically though computer systems that can recognize which axle is losing traction and can distribute the torque accordingly.4WD (4X4) sends power to a transfer case instead of a center differential. The transfer case allows the driver to manually select where to redirect the power to. For example the drive can send power to just the rear wheels or they can send power to both the front and the rear wheels.

What are the benefits of AWD?

  • The driver does not have to manually control the AWD system, the vehicle automatically distributes the power for you based on the traction it is seeing
  • Works great both on-road and off-road because it allows for slip which will not cause binding. (Binding is when the transmission can not shift into the desired gear and the transmission will make noise)

What are the benefits of 4WD?

  • The transfercase works just like a locked differential. Which means it is unable to send different speeds to both differentials, they both will get the exact same speed. This is great for off road conditions because the tires without enough traction will slip and will not cause binding.
  • Having the option to send power to just the two rear wheels is more efficient that constantly send power to all four wheels
  • A true 4WD system will come with a low gear range which creates more torque so you can crawl more slowly over large obstacles.

Keep in mind that 4WD should not be used on the road. If you have a speed differential between your front axle and rear axle, you will cause binding in the transfer case. Binding will break down the protective properties of all lubricants, eventually leading to expensive component failure.

If you are spending every weekend exploring back-country roads, then a 4WD system can help you maneuver over difficult obstacles.

However, if you like the idea of having power at all four corners for daily driving or for a day trip up to the ski hill, than AWD would be great choice.

AWD and 4WD. What are these acronyms? These letters are plastered all over sport utility vehicles and trucks, but what does it mean?

 

Four wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive allow a vehicle to send torque to all four wheels versus the popular two wheel drive trains in most cars. Sending power to all four wheels will increase traction on loose surfaces.

Four wheel drive drive (aka 4X4) and All Wheel Drive trains sound quite similar, yet they are totally different. Let’s discuss the differences.

AWD sends power from the transmission to a center differential. The center differential than can redirect torque to the front and rear axles. This is done automatically though computer systems that can recognize which axle is losing traction and can distribute the torque accordingly. 4WD (4X4) sends power to a transfer case instead of a center differential. The transfer case allows the driver to manually select where to redirect the power to. For example the drive can send power to just the rear wheels or they can send power to both the front and the rear wheels.

 

What are the benefits of AWD?

  • The driver does not have to manually control the AWD system, the vehicle automatically distributes the power for you based on the traction it is seeing

  • Works great both on-road and off-road because it allows for slip which will not cause binding. (Binding is when the transmission can not shift into the desired gear and the transmission will make noise)

What are the benefits of 4WD?

  • The transfercase works just like a locked differential. Which means it is unable to send different speeds to both differentials, they both will get the exact same speed. This is great for off road conditions because the tires without enough traction will slip and will not cause binding.

  • Having the option to send power to just the two rear wheels is more efficient that constantly send power to all four wheels

  • A true 4WD system will come with a low gear range which creates more torque so you can crawl more slowly over large obstacles.

Keep in mind that 4WD should not be used on the road. If you have a speed differential between your front axle and rear axle, you will cause binding in the transfer case. Binding will break down the protective properties of all lubricants, eventually leading to expensive component failure.

If you are spending every weekend exploring back-country roads, then a 4WD system can help you maneuver over difficult obstacles.

 

However, if you like the idea of having power at all four corners for daily driving or for a day trip up to the ski hill, than AWD would be great choice.

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