All-Wheel Drive versus Four-Wheel Drive

Minit-Tune & Brake| Tuesday, February 20, 2018

When you are purchasing a car, you might notice that newer SUVs and sedans offer all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. Some SUVs even provide all-time all-wheel drive with 4-wheel drive – further adding to the confusion.

You might assume that 4-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are the same because it means four wheels are working together. However, these two drivetrains are different and offer varied functions, especially when dealing with rain, mud or the hilly terrain of B.C. Therefore, before you buy and assume you are getting the same, it is best you understand what makes these two types of vehicles different.

All-Wheel Drive Vs. Four-Wheel Drive

Understanding the Key Differences

There are three primary groups for these: full-time 4-wheel drive, part-time 4-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive. Each system varies on how much torque is given to each wheel; therefore, you must pick the right type based on your driving needs.

  • Part-Time 4-Wheel Drive: This is the original 4-wheel drive option, and it is more fundamental than the other three categories. With part-time, you have no differentials locking front and rear axles; therefore, you only can use your 4-wheel drive when off-road, because doing so where you have standard traction would damage and stress your vehicle’s drivetrain.
  • Full-Time 4-Wheel Drive: Just like the name suggests, full-time 4-wheel drive means that torque is equally supplied to all four wheels at all times. You typically can use a differential lock option on your vehicle, which then locks the centre differential and makes sure you have no rotations between the rear and front axles. You will click this on when you are off-roading and need extra traction. You might also have a 4-wheel drive “low” option which in extreme off-roading or inclines you can push to provide more torque to each wheel.
  • All-Wheel Drive: All-wheel drive is offered on sedans, crossovers, and SUVs. You do not operate in 2-wheel drive and switch to all-wheel. Instead, your vehicle continuously drives in all-wheel mode. You also cannot lock the differentials. Some newer systems use a part-time all-wheel drive, which kicks into full-time all-wheel drive when an internal sensor recognizes slippage from one of the axles. While all-wheel drive provides you with peace of mind in muddy or slick road conditions, it will not work off the road. The differentials cannot lock, and you cannot select a high or low option to apply more torque, which means limited control in harsh terrain.

Ready to Service Your Drive System? Bring it In for Auto Repairs B.C.

Whether you have a 4-wheel drive system or all-wheel drive system, it is crucial that you have them regularly serviced to ensure they work properly. After all, there is nothing like going out for a drive and exploring the backcountry with a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

The team at Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centres can help you with your drivetrain. We will service and repair, but also ensure your tires are ready for whatever adventure lies ahead.

To have your vehicle serviced, find an auto repair shop near you today. For questions about auto repairs in Kelowna or surrounding cities, or to learn more about drivetrains, contact one of our centres in your area.

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