What’s the Difference between 4WD and AWD

What’s the difference between four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD)? If you have ever looked at a new car, truck, crossover or SUV, you have almost certainly noticed these two terms in the list of available features, but do you know what they mean? Comparing4WD vs AWD vehicles is a great way to illustrate the positives and negatives of each feature and help you determine which fits you best. If you live in an area where you regularly face imposing road and weather conditions, these systems enhance traction and handling and can go a long way towards getting you where you need to go safely. Take a look at some of the top Chevy models at McCluskey Chevrolet, which incorporate 4WD or AWD, so you can make an informed car-buying decision.

4WD and AWD

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) often referred to as 4×4, is a system commonly seen on vehicles geared towards off-road adventures. Power is pushed from the transmission to the transfer case, which splits power between the front and rear axles so that torque is delivered to each wheel. Most 4WD models are either full-time which means they stay engaged, or part-time and must be manually shifted between 2WD and 4WD modes. Many also offer High and Low gear range, used to increase low-speed climbing power as needed. The downside to this is that models without differentials will find wheels turning at the same speed, which can result in a loss of efficiency.

4WD and AWD

So-called automatic limited-slip differentials (A-LSD), also known as electronic limited-slip differentials (e-LSDs), are activated by drivers via a button or switch and provide the same traction benefits as a typical LSD using a different methodology, with a few notable enhancements. Instead of relying on crutches to evenly distribute drive-wheel power, these systems rely on the automatic intervention of the braking system to transfer power between the wheels. But unlike basic traction control (mentioned earlier), A-LSDs also don’t require a reduction in engine power to work and can shift power back and forth from the left and right wheels as each wheel’s level of traction varies.

Here is how they work: Under normal conditions, one axle gets 100% of the torque – meaning you are driving in 2WD. During traction loss at the driven axle (could be front or rear) a fully automatic system (hydraulic, mechanical or electronic) makes some of the torque to the axle with traction available. This means you have to lose traction in 2WD on your driven axle first and then the other axle will be added and try to keep the car moving and stable. Once the primarily driven axle regains traction and both axles rotate at the same speed again, the system reverts back to 2WD. So, for a brief moment, you had AWD.

4WD and AWD

Some plug-in hybrid vehicles use a blend of technologies to achieve all-wheel drive. Take Volvo’s XC90 T8, for example. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine spins the front wheels while an electric motor mounted over the rear axle spins the rear wheels. It’s front-wheel-drive when the four-cylinder works on its own, rear-wheel drive in electric-only mode, and all-wheel drive with both power sources up and running.

When you install a four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD), you also can check your headlight such as the low beam 9005 led headlight bulb, fog light, taillight, etc, and the electronic system, gearbox, etc.


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