awd on a vehilce

What is the difference between 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive?

Are 4WD and AWD the same thing? 

When searching for a vehicle that offers plenty of power and capability, you’ll often come across the words “four-wheel drive” and “all-wheel drive”. While these two terms may seem like they mean the same thingbut there is actually a large difference between 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. When it comes to comparing your next potential vehicles, the knowing the differences between 4WD vs AWD can have an impact on the model you end up choosing.  

To keep things simple, the difference between the two is based on where the power created by the vehicle’s engine goes.  

What is 4WD?  

4-wheel drive is traditionally used for off-roading type vehicles. The 4WD system is usually controlled by a button and allows power to go from the transmission to the transfer case. The power is then split between the front and rear axles, allowing the maximum amount of torque to go to each wheel. Another draw of 4WD is that it can be toggled on and off, helping you save on fuel when it is turned off. 

[Read more: Tips and test driving a used car]

What is AWD?  

car driving in snow with all-wheel drive

All-wheel Drive is much more complicated than 4WD. Found in a wider range of models than 4WD, AWD offers better traction and performance. With AWD, the power also transfers from the transmission to all four of your vehicle’s wheels, however it sends more power to the wheels that have the most traction. It does this by splitting the power between the front and rear axles on the center differential.  This type of system is helpful when driving in slippery conditions, like in the winter or on rainy days.  

If you’re interested in getting behind the wheel of a vehicle that offers either of these systems, contact us here at Sheehy Auto Outlet in Manassas, VA and be sure to take a look at our inventory 

Which do you prefer, 4WD or AWD? Let us know in the comments below!