All-Wheel Drive in Snow: Does It Really Make a Difference?

November 28, 2018 Published by Leave your thoughts

The winter weather can bring some slippery conditions along with it as the roads get covered in snow and ice. Therefore, you’re going to want to have a vehicle that’s capable of handling these conditions so you can feel safe and in control when behind the wheel.

You might be wondering what the differences are between various types of driving and steering systems, including all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Here’s some more in-depth information from a mechanic in Patchogue, NY to help you understand how these systems differ and which ones are most beneficial when the weather outside is frightful.

Front-wheel drive

Most passenger vehicles you’ll find on the market use front-wheel drive. In this system, the engine’s power gets routed to the two front wheels. These designs are cheaper to manufacture and are more efficient with regard to how they use space than rear-wheel systems. They generally provide better traction than rear-wheel systems as well, because the front wheels are usually right underneath the engine.

While vehicles that have front-wheel drive should be able to handle light snow and minor winter conditions, they are not going to be the most reliable choice when it comes to driving on especially slick pavement.

All-wheel drive

All-wheel drive (AWD) provides power to all four wheels. Depending on the type of system, AWD is also capable of offering maximum forward traction while the vehicle is accelerating. This makes it especially useful when the road conditions are sloppy, or if you need to do any moderate off-road driving. You’ll be able to get moving and stay moving through loose surfaces such as mud, sand and snow.

Most AWD systems will deliver power primarily to one set of wheels, either in the front or the rear. If there’s any slippage at one axle, power gets diverted to the other to try to find more traction. Keep in mind that not all AWD systems are created equal—some portion out the percentage of power they direct to each axle differently. However, if the conditions outside are rapidly changing, or if you’re driving on roads that have intermittent areas of snow and ice, you’ll find this to be a beneficial driving system.

Four-wheel drive

Many people are unaware of the differences between four-wheel drive (4WD) and AWD. In fact, the terms are often used interchangeably in advertising, but there is a difference. In most cases, 4WD is optimized for more severe off-road conditions, such as driving over boulders, driving through deeper water and going up steep hills with low-traction surfaces. Most drivers will never come close to needing the abilities provided by 4WD, so unless you’re a big off-road enthusiast, 4WD is overkill if you’re just looking for more stability during the winter weather—AWD will suit you just fine.

For more information about all-wheel drive during the winter and how it compares to other types of driving systems, contact Gene’s 112 Auto Service Center Inc. to speak with a mechanic in Patchogue, NY today.

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