Your car, truck, or SUV has numerous vital components that are necessary for it to operate. You understand basics like the engine and steering wheels, but there are other concepts that you might not feel confident about. Our service department gets a lot of questions about drivetrains.
The drivetrain of a vehicle is the system that takes the power from your vehicle’s engine through the transmission and sends it to the four wheels. In doing so, the drivetrain interacts with the engine, the transmission, the driveshaft, the axles, and the wheels.
There are two main types of drivetrains: two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive includes rear-wheel drive and front-wheel drive, while four-wheel drive is either standard four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Each type of drivetrain has its benefits. automakers will consider how a vehicle will be driven when determining the type of drivetrain to install.
In FWD vehicles, 100 percent of the power from the engine is sent to the two front wheels, so the rear wheels are essentially pulled along. The main benefit of FWD vehicles is improved fuel economy. If you are hoping to save money (and the environment) with reduced fuel consumption, consider a FWD car. Of the two 2WD configurations, FWD offers better traction in snow and rain.
RWD vehicles send all the power to the rear wheels. This makes for exciting performance and peeling out in sports cars but reduces fuel economy and traction.
In traditional 4WD vehicles, power is evenly distributed among the four wheels. This provides great traction in all conditions, but especially so during off-road driving.
All-wheel drive also sends power to all four wheels but can determine how much power to send to the front and the back (essentially like engaging FWD and RWD at the same time). It does this to give you the best grip in any road condition, making it especially strong in snow and ice.