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Having a car that is capable of powering all four wheels can be a definite plus. The two most popular systems you probably have heard of are All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Four-Wheel Drive (4WD). Both are great systems to have but there are some differences between the two. Thanks to the technical assist from Fred Martins Superstore (Barberton, OH,) we can explain this for you.

AWD does exactly as advertised. It is capable of driving all four wheels at once. Offered on many cars today, it works with little to no input from the driver, instead relying on a series of viscous couplings and differentials to distribute power to all the wheels. The central computer in the car sends power to the driving wheels until the road conditions require extra traction and control. This is usually determined by a series of sensors that constantly monitor the state of tire rotation.

4WD does send power and torque to all four wheels like AWD but AWD is designed to deal with more rugged terrain with more input from the driver as they switch between ranges. These ranges come in low, which provide the most traction and is meant for off-roading environment, and high, which is better suited for slippery conditions on the road like ice or snow.

So what’s good about AWD or 4WD? Well, AWD is automatic, requiring no input to work and comes in a wider variety of vehicles from compact sedans to many SUVs. On the other hand, 4WD opens up a wider variety of conditions, taking adverse conditions with ease compared to other drive systems. Neither is going to outdo the other by any noticeable amount when it comes to fuel efficiency or cost.

So which would be better AWD or 4WD? The answer to that comes down to how you plan to drive. For those with little to no off-roading in mind, who only have to the occasional slick road to deal with, and want to have the largest selection of passenger vehicles to choose from, then AWD is probably the best bet for you. This will get you the increased traction you need without compromising your overall ride experience, with the added bonus of working automatically. For those living in more remote areas, or who can’t let any kind of weather get in the way of their work, or find themselves towing trailers often, a 4WD system is going to be more in your wheelhouse.

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