Think AWD and 4WD are the same? They are not. Here's how they are different

Despite having the same working principle, AWD and 4WD are fundamentally different technologies meant for providing additional traction and channellin
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Toyota Land Cruiser
Despite having the same working principle, AWD and 4WD are fundamentally different technologies meant for providing additional traction and channelling power to multiple axles or wheels.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Despite having the same working principle, AWD and 4WD are fundamentally different technologies meant for providing additional traction and channelling power to multiple axles or wheels.

The automotive industry is full of complex and interesting jargon. AWD and 4WD are two of them. AWD means All-Wheel Drive, while the 4WD means 4 Wheel Drive. Interestingly, a large number of car buyers and car owners think both the AWD and 4WD are the same. However, this is a misconception. While the underlying principles of both these two technologies are driving all the wheels of a car, AWD and 4WD are not the same.

Also Read : Driving in hills can be a lifetime experience but requires sharp attention to detail. Key tips here

Here is a comprehensive explainer to help you understand the differences between AWD and 4WD.

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All-Wheel-Drive (AWD)

The All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system powers all the four wheels of your car. There are two types of AWD systems, either the full-time AWD or part-time AWD. In full-time AWD, the system powers both the front and rear wheels all the time. On the other hand, the part-time AWD powers either the front or the rear wheels all the time. In both these two different types of AWD systems, the driver has no control over the power output a wheel or the set of wheels receive.

Based on the data received from a range of sensors, an onboard computer decides the amount of power, gauging the traction status of each wheel's tyres. If the computer senses a certain wheel requires more power than the available amount, the AWD system sends additional torque instantly. In this process, the AWD system maximises the car's traction in different driving conditions.

4-Wheel Drive (4WD)

The fundamental logic behind the 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) system is the same as the AWD, which is powering all the wheels. However, deep delving, the 4WD powers all four wheels of the car, with the energy channelled equally to the front and rear wheels. There are two types of 4WD systems, just like the AWD. These are full-time 4WD and part-time 4WD.

In full-time 4WD, all four wheels of the vehicle are powered at all times, while in part-time 4WD, generally the rear wheels are powered continuously with power sent to the front wheels only when needed. This is the area where the 4WD differs from an AWD, as the decision to send power to a set of wheels is taken by the driver manually through a button or a lever, not the vehicle's onboard computer.

Additionally, a 4WD system gets two different modes, which are low-range and high-range. While the low-range mode is useful to maximise traction in low-speed or intense off-road situations, the the high-range mode improves traction in less intense off-roading and in slippery driving conditions like loose sand, gravel, and snow or ice.

First Published Date: 06 Apr 2024, 18:06 PM IST
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