Different Types Of Automotive Drivetrains

Are you considering the type of drivetrain for your next vehicle? Are you torn between choosing a front-wheel drive or a rear-wheel drive? Or do you think you need an all-wheel drive more? Nowadays, the automotive marketplace offers a lot of drivetrain choices that it could be quite confusing for buyers.

The drivetrain of a vehicle is the system that connects the engines into the wheels. Its configuration is designed according to various kinds of driving conditions and the choices of wheels to be powered by the engine or driven. Choosing which drivetrain you will use is an essential decision when you are in the process of selecting another vehicle.

There are six different types of drivetrain technologies and they all work differently. By initially knowing and understanding them, you could have a more guided decision on which drivetrain you want for your next car.

Front-wheel drive or FWD – a vehicle with front-wheel drive system means that it sends all its engine power into the two front wheels. This gives the effect that FWD pulls the car down into the road. The transmission, engine and the powertrain are all located in the vehicle’s front and thus, there is more passenger space in the cabin. This type of drivetrain has a reduced complexity since all of its components are close to each other. It may also mean that you will not worry about too much maintenance costs.

In general, by handling a FWD vehicle you can reasonably expect stability, predictability and its dependability during the winter season. Since the vehicle’s major weight is concentrated in the front, driven wheels, it increases the traction. Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima are first-rate examples of FWD vehicles.

Rear-wheel drive or RWD – this was once the automobiles’ standard driveline. Having a vehicle with a rear-wheel drive systems means that the engine power is concentrated on the two rear wheels. This gives out the effect that the vehicle is being pushed down the road by its two rear wheels. Having a vehicle with RWD configuration is not advisable for winter tractions although most of them feature some type of stability control or traction that helps overcome this disadvantage.

Despite this fact, RWD vehicles are usually well-balanced and they offer superior braking and handling for driving buffs. The Lexus IS Series, BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G35 are among the best examples of RWD vehicles.

All-wheel Drive or AWD – this is among the roster of most sophisticated and modern drivelines available nowadays. All of the vehicle’s four wheels are powered by the engine. It has fluid-filled differentials or gears and advanced electronics which enable it to send power equally to the four wheels or transfer torque into the wheels/wheel with most traction. The AWD system is very much advanced by modern engineering and they are nearly seamless for a driver.

Vehicles with AWD configuration can be designed also with a bias to either the front or rear wheels. As such, the driving dynamics are very much improved. Unlike 4WD vehicles, AWD vehicles offer vast and highly improved capability for winter driving on slippery and wet roads. Subaru Legacy, Acura RL and BMW X5 are among the best examples of AWD.

Full – time Four-wheel drive or 4WD – this system has a similarity with the AWD but it is typically more robust because of its built is designed serious off-road driving. The Lexus LX Series, Land Rover Range Rover and the Hummer H2 are great examples of this type of drivetrain.

Part-time All-wheel drive or Part time AWD – this vehicle is essentially a two-wheel drive. Its driveline configuration sends power only to either of the two front or rear wheels until there is a need for additional traction. It can become an AWD only for a limited time. It is effective to prevent complete loss of traction but is generally not recommended for heavy off-road drives. The Toyota RAV4 AWD and Honda CR-V AWD are examples of the part-time AWD.

Part-time four-wheel drive or Part-time 4WD – this kind of drivetrain systems usually sends engine power into the rear wheels, always. Once there is a loss of traction, the power is sent to all the four wheels by a hydraulic, mechanical or electrical switching system. It cannot be used often on dry pavements since the mechanicals could become damaged. The Chevrolet Avalanche 4WD, Nissan Titan 4WD and Jeep Wrangler are among the examples of the Part-time 4WD.