What Your Drivetrain Means for Your Vehicle’s Performance

Drivetrain might sound like a term only a mechanic would use, but it is important to understand what it is and what it does in your car. Perhaps the abbreviations ‘4WD‘, ‘AWD‘, ‘FWD‘, or ‘RWD‘ sound familiar? Let’s look at the different types of drivetrain and how yours impacts the performance of your vehicle.

What is Drivetrain?

The drivetrain in your vehicle is the group of components that deliver power to the wheels. Its purpose is to connect the engine, that produces the power in your vehicle, to the wheels that use the engine’s power to rotate the axles. Your car’s drivetrain likely includes a drive shaft, which is a pipe that delivers power from a front-end engine to the front and/or back-end wheels. Depending on the kind of vehicle you drive, your drivetrain type is one of the following:

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)

In a front-wheel drive vehicle, the engine’s power is delivered to only the front two wheels. The rear wheels do not receive power on their own and are instead propelled forward by the pull of the front wheels. FWD vehicles typically have a desirable fuel economy and can provide an average amount of traction in snowy conditions.

Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)

With this vehicle system, engine power is distributed among the back two wheels only and the rear wheels propel the car forward. Because the weight is more evenly spread in an RWD vehicle (engine in the front, power in the back), they are frequently cited as more exciting to drive. However, RWD cars do not perform well in rainy and snowy conditions as they provide below-average traction.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

As its name implies, an all-wheel drive system directs engine power to all wheels of your vehicle. The AWD system focuses on varying the amount of power that the engine sends to each wheel based on driving conditions. Many modern all-wheel drive cars have engine power sent to a primary axle (front or rear) and will transfer power away from wheels that slip when a loss of traction is detected. AWD vehicles are known for their reliability in bad driving conditions, such as snow and ice.

4-Wheel Drive (4WD)

You might be asking, “Vehicles have four wheels, so aren’t AWD and 4WD the same thing?”, but, a 4-wheel drive vehicle operates in RWD throughout most of the driving time. When engaged, the 4×4/4WD option pushes as much power to all four wheels as equally as possible. This function, however, is often only used when driving over rugged terrain or in harsh weather conditions, which is why it is commonly found on trucks and SUVs.

Reliable Drivetrain Service in Los Angeles

Having your car in for routine maintenance is a great way to ensure that all the main components that work together to move your vehicle – the engine, transmission, and drivetrain – are in healthy condition. If your car needs a check-up, or you suspect your drivetrain isn’t running as efficiently as it should be, reach out to the automotive repair specialists at Westside Transmission & Automotive, Inc.  We provide vehicle maintenance, repair, and drivetrain service to Los Angeles and surrounding areas. We’d love to look at your car and ensure your safety while driving this winter. Contact us today at 310-473-2235!