Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum banner

1 - 2 of 2 Posts

2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Whether you are within the market for a SUV, pickup, or vehicle, you've probably encounter this question at one point or another: What's the difference between 4WD and AWD? Both distribute power to all four wheels of a standard vehicle, as opposed to the standard front- or rear-wheel drive of 2WD autos. The power of the added system could possibly be beneficial if you live in a place where you are driving in mud and snow. However, numerous consumers do not know the main difference between the two.

4WD or AWD could conserve you, even though they cost more

Although a vehicle with either system is more costly than a two-wheel drive vehicle, you probably won’t find yourself stranded on the road during bad driving conditions, whether caused by weather or environment. The choice is for the buyer: get a lot more automobile loan for the 4-wheel drive’s added security, or get something less. With just a little help from How Stuff Works, the following summary may help you decide between the 4WD or AWD option.

Throw the switch only when necessary – Party-time 4WD

To answer the main difference between 4WD and AWD, we will start with part time 4WD. This is the basic way of selling 4WD; you use a switch to change between 2WD and 4WD. As long as the 4WD setting is avoided on dry pavement, excessive mechanical wear can be avoided. Some autos in this class have a simple 2WD/4WD toggle, and some have added possibilities like 4WD High and 4WD Low (the latter of which should only be used in extreme off-road scenarios). Newer part-time 4WD autos allow the driver to make a shift from 2WD to 4WD High when the car is moving but must be stopped before moving from 2WD to 4WD Low. Older part time 4WD cars needed to be stopped before any shift can happen. Part time 4WD is for you if you only need 4WD sometimes. Frequent changes in the driving conditions that would mean a constant switch between 2WD and 4WD are both inconvenient for the driver and add many wear and tear on the drive train.

Whenever you want to keep it running – full time 4WD

This is 4WD more advanced that will leave it on without giving strain to the vehicle. Accessible are high, low, and automatic 4WD. Shifting from High to Low when in 4WD will require that the vehicle be at a complete stop (with most automobiles). Those drivers who end up driving under adverse situations often can keep away from the tedious 2WD/4WD switching and go with this full-time 4WD option.

No switch with AWD-4WD

All-wheel drive sends power to all wheels of the car in a comparable fashion to four-wheel drive autos, but a 2WD switch is typically not present. On a slippery road, AWD locks the vehicle's axles and automatically feeds power to all wheels. Usually, AWD could be good for slippery road conditions but never good for off road excursions. Certain AWD automobiles like the Dodge Durango and Toyota 4Runner will offer a low-gear AWD setting that allows for tougher roads. In general, AWD doesn't add much weight to a automobile and is great for all weather situations.

Is 4WD or AWD safer?

Both tend to maximize traction over a 2WD, but How Stuff Works advises: that does not mean 4WD and AWD are automatically safer. Drivers should keep in mind that when 4WD and AWD help acceleration, they don't help with cornering and braking. When on wet or snowy roads, it doesn’t matter what kind of drive your wheels have when it comes to stopping. Having good brakes, having a fine suspension, and using the right set of ties will be more essential.


How Stuff Works


Premium Member
2,620 Posts
I think you are leaving out the effects that what types of differential are used within the 4WD/AWD systems. Part time 4WD usually have no differential action between the front and rear, hence the reasons given not to be engaged unless you are in a low traction conditions. Full time systems have a differential between front and rear. The really good high traction systems have a limited slip or torque biasing differential at each differential location for true 4WD. When I had my 1976 F150 4X4 I installed a torsen differential in my front Dana 44 axle and a Detroit Locker the rear 9" axle. I never got stuck in the truck.

1 - 2 of 2 Posts