Know the Differences Between FWD and RWD

image-shifting-gears-person-driving-stick-shift-hand-on-shifterThe differences between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive are important factors to consider when buying a car. If you’re buying a new car, there are all kinds of options these days, including all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, traction control, full-time, part-time. The advantages and disadvantages between FWD and RWD are well known, but the most important thing for you to consider is which one is best for you? Beyond that, keep in mind the differences and how they affect your maintenance and repair costs. AAMCO Minnesota has the expertise to service your vehicle from transmission to suspension, brakes, radiator, and exhaust, whether front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel, or four-wheel drive.

Front-wheel drive vehicles have many advantages for consumers and manufacturers.

Performance in the snow is better on FWD vehicles, but…

Front-wheel drive or FWD means the engine power is going directly to the front wheels. This gives the effect of the car being pulled down the road, instead of pushed from the rear. Front-wheel drive cars have developed a reputation for stability and performance in bad weather conditions, particularly snow. It places the weight of the engine over the front drive wheels, which improves traction and responsiveness.

All of this is great, but from a dry-road, performance driving perspective, FWD cars are considered not as good as RWD. Front-wheel drive cars tend to “over steer”, or push wide, when turns are taken too fast. This is because most of the mechanical weight – steering, suspension, engine, etc. – is in front.

FWD means extra interior space.

The front-wheel drive approach also opens the inside of the vehicle, requiring less space along the floor for the transaxle to pass through. Most FWD cars use transversely  mounted engines (mounted crossways), do the transmission doesn’t intrude into the passenger cabin from underneath the vehicle. The need for a big drive-shaft tunnel to transfer power to the rear wheels is eliminated. More interior space offers more opportunities for automakers to develop innovative uses of the passenger cabin, including safety features.

Manufacturing and maintenance costs for FWD are less.

Because all the major functional parts of the car are concentrated around the front of the vehicle, FWD cars have the added advantage of being less complex, easier to service, and cheaper to maintain. For example, the transmission and axle assembly are one unit in a FWD car. The reduced size, weight, and complexity of FWD vehicles also reduces manufacturing time and costs, savings which can be passed onto the buyer. Front-wheel drive cars usually have lower general maintenance costs and are more fuel efficient.

Front-wheel drive is not as rugged and repairs can cost more.

FWD systems overall involve more complex parts that make them more delicate, as automotive durability goes. Half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints are more prone to damage than the more durable solid axle of a RWD vehicle. While a RWD car’s axle might need little service or repair beyond the scheduled checkup and lube, a FWD car will need new CV joints and associated parts on a regular basis (depending on your driving habits). The front brakes might require more frequent servicing, as well, due to the distribution of weight during braking.

Rear-Wheel drive isn’t bad, and it makes sense if you have specific requirements.

Pushing a car through the snow is just more difficult.

Having a rear-wheel drive vehicle means the engine power is on the rear wheels. Trucks and many SUV’s, as well as some cars, use rear-wheel-drive. This means that a driveshaft transmits power from the engine in the front of the vehicle to the wheels at the back which drive, or push, the vehicle. A differential must be used to transfer the power from the driveshaft to the wheels. The differential makes a 90-degree turn so it can get to the wheels. This complexity of two-wheel drive vehicles does not make them any less effective than FWD vehicles – it actually allows for advantages depending on the purpose of the vehicle.

Winter weather can be an issue for RWD vehicles, particularly snow.

image - traffic in winter - slippery, snow-packed road, cars moving slowlyHaving a vehicle with RWD is not the best for winter conditions, as the weight distribution tends to leave them light in the rear, which affects traction. Many modern cars, however, feature stability or traction control that helps overcome slipping and provides added security against loss of traction. Oftentimes you will see pickup trucks with sandbags piled in the cargo beds. This is to add weight over the drive tires to increase traction in winter conditions.

RWD offers better weight distribution for performance and utility needs.

Despite the fact that RWD vehicles are notoriously difficult in inclement weather, particularly in snow or mud, they are usually well-balanced and offer superior acceleration, braking and handling. While a front-wheel drive car has the weight of the engine and transaxle over the front wheels, a rear-wheel drive car distributes the weight of its drivetrain more evenly from front-to-rear. This is a plus for performance oriented driving and drivers. High performance sports cars are predominantly rear-wheel drive and have seen considerable evolution in the technology that makes these RWD systems ideal.

From a utility perspective, a RWD vehicle benefits from having the drive wheels directly under the weight or pressure of a tow connection when towing loads. This enhances the vehicles traction and ability to effectively pull heavy loads, and aids in the distribution of the weight of the load being towed.

RWD vehicles are rugged and sometimes cheaper to repair.

RWD vehicles tend to be utilitarian and more durable, built for hard driving, towing, hauling. An advantage of many RWD vehicles is a solid axle design, which can take a lot of abuse without breaking. A simple example is if you hit a curb or a pothole really hard with a front-wheel drive car, you might damage some expensive parts. FWD cars have some complex parts, which are can be more susceptible to damage in extreme conditions. If you accidentally slam into or run over a curb or hole in the road with a solid axle rear-wheel drive car, it will most likely survive and just keep going. This is why police cars and other service or utility oriented vehicles are mostly RWD.

AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Repair Needs

Regardless of whether your car is front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, your locally owned and operated Minnesota AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care centers can handle all your automotive repair and maintenance needs. See our complete list of services and be sure to get money-saving coupons.

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AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

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940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

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10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

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