Drive Train Differences to Drive You Crazy

Front Wheel Drive & Rear Wheel Drive

By Gilbert Jaime

Consumers are out on the market on a daily basis shopping for a car. They go to the dealerships looking for gas efficient, reliable, and good looking cars. However, something consumers hardly ever take into consideration when shopping the market for a car is the drivetrain the car has. What is a drivetrain? Drivetrain of a motor vehicle is the group of components that deliver power to the driving wheels. Either making them front wheel drive (FWD,) rear wheel drive (RWD,) all-wheel drive (AWD,) or four by four (4×4.) (Check back soon for a comparison between all-wheel drive and 4×4.) The differences between the four are significant, depending on what you are planning to do with the automobile. Some drivetrains are made specifically for the road while other drivetrains are made for the road or off roading. Differentiating between FWD and RWD is important when choosing a vehicle.



Front wheel drive is when the engine powers the front wheels only. This type of drivetrain is mainly found in compact, hatchbacks and some four door automobiles. In front wheel drive, the engine is transverse (side to side.) With the engine being transverse there is also an engine size limit. The advantages of having a FWD include more interior space, lower weight, improved drivetrain efficiency, and improved traction. On the other hand, the cons of FWD are poor torque (if accelerated with force the car may pull left or right,) acceleration is limited by the weight shift, turning circle is bigger, and as mentioned before the size of the engine is restricted.



Rear wheel drive is the exact opposite from front wheel drive. With this drivetrain, the engine powers the rear wheels. The RWD drivetrain is most popular in high performance automobiles, as the engine in this car is longitudinal instead of transverse like FWD. With a longitudinal engine, it allows it to be stronger and more powerful.  The pros of RWD are better braking, improved handling on dry roads, easier service, and also better weight transfer when accelerating. The cons of RWD are higher cost for the vehicle, less interior space, poor traction in snow, ice, and sand.


FWD and RWD are two different drivetrains that can affect your decision depending on what exactly you want in a car. At the end of the day you have the final word on what kind of drivetrain you prefer to have.


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