Four-wheel Drive Vs All-wheel Drive: Know The Difference | Mp3zion

Four-wheel Drive vs All-wheel Drive: Know The Difference

Many motorists mistakenly understand that they are both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are the same. This article will explain the difference between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive.

Many car experts use four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive interchangeably without realising there is a real difference. I bet you didn’t know that either. Knowing the difference between the two types really lets you know which type of road you need and what to expect. The difference between four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is more technical than simple, but we will try to explain it in the simplest terms so that it’s easy to understand. 

What is the four-wheel drive? 

2022 Toyota 4Runner offers impressive off-road capability thanks to a long list of four-wheel drive
The 2022 Toyota 4Runner offers impressive off-road capability thanks to a long list of four-wheel drive

You may have seen the acronyms “4X4” and “4WD” written on the body and tires of the Toyota Landcruiser, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and Jeep Wrangler are three examples. If you’ve ever wondered what that means, it simply means it has all-wheel drive. The idea behind the production of this type of car is to smoothly manoeuvre off-road and unpaved (untarred) roads. That’s probably why you see jeeps and G-wagons on the main roads of Nigeria. 

How does 4WD work?

The engine sends power evenly to all four of the wheels on the vehicle. That is, the front wheels don’t roll faster or better than the rear wheels. This operation does not matter if the system does not distribute the delivery between axles or wheels. So the transmission transfers the power it gets from the engine to the transfer case, distributing the power evenly to all four wheels of the car.

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The nice thing about having equal power on all wheels is that it’s easier to manoeuvre in low-traction situations. Driving over muddy roads, sandy terrain, rocks or gravel can give you an easy escape. However, it definitely has its drawbacks when driving on narrow roads with sharp turns. Four-wheel drive makes it difficult to turn in sharp curves. The tires rotate at the same time and must be moved back and forth many times to avoid hitting objects or falling into the side gullies. And absolutely, four-wheel-drive vehicles require more maintenance.

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class can be described as having part-time four-wheel drive. Because you can actually switch from four-wheel drive to two-wheel drive with the push of a button. In fact, high 4WD and low 4WD can be selected according to the speed you want to run.

Some vehicles have a 4WD selector switch. It will always remain an all-wheel drive. This can be seen in older Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles built in the 1990s and 4WD built before 1980. The inner and outer wheels of these cars rotate at the same speed at the same time.

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What is the all-wheel drive?

all-wheel drive cars
all-wheel drive cars

AWD is a part-time 4WD. But this time, you don’t need to make any adjustments yourself. Because the car knows what to do when it detects the type of environment it is in, all-wheel drive has become really popular these days and can be found in the latest Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicles, Mazda CX-3, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Honda CRV.

The idea of AWD is primarily to have a car that can go on all roads (paved, dirt, rocky, flat or narrow). All-wheel drive isn’t just unique to SUVs like four-wheel drive. This system can be found on crossovers, trucks, station wagons, and even sedans. 

How does it work?

All-wheel drive distributes power evenly to each wheel for improved traction. the power each wheel needs to maintain traction. It’s also automated, so the driver doesn’t have to do any extra work or flick a few switches to activate the four-wheel drive system.

For example, if the rear wheels of a 4WD are stuck in the mud, the motor will automatically transfer power to the front wheels to pull the car out. The idea is that wheels with more grip help wheels with less traction skid.

AWD vs 4WD – What’s The Difference


Which one should I choose? It is definitely a four-wheel drive for a number of reasons. First, you need a car that knows what to do in a given situation. In tight corners, the wheels rotate appropriately like a two-wheel drive, making manoeuvring easier. If your car gets stuck in rough terrain, it delivers just the right amount of power to the wheels, providing more grip to get you out. Four-wheel drive is undoubtedly more expensive (as most modern car models have it), but it’s a better option.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Four-Wheel Drive?

Four-wheel drive, also called 4×4 (“four by four”) or 4WD, refers to a two-axled vehicle drivetrain capable of providing torque to all of its wheels simultaneously. It may be full-time or on-demand and is typically linked via a transfer case providing an additional output drive shaft and, in many instances, additional gear ranges.

What Is the Primary Difference between AWD and 4WD?

AWD stands for all-wheel drive, while 4WD stands for four-wheel drive. The only difference between the two is which pair of wheels receives the engine’s power. In four-wheel drive (4WD), the engine provides power to all four wheels, but in all-wheel drive (AWD), power is sent to both the front and back axles simultaneously.


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