Cars move accelerate and move forward when the engine relays power to the car wheels. Many people are not aware of it but in most care only two wheels are actually connected to the engine and are used to move the car. There are three ways in which a car can accelerate forward: front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or all wheel drive. With front wheel drive the two front wheels are connected to the engine and push the car forward while the rear wheels just tag along. Rear wheel drive is complete opposite the rear wheels are connected to the engine and push the car. And finally all wheel drive as the name suggests uses all the wheels at the same time to move the car.
The different drive options are also known as RWD (rear wheel drive), FWD (front wheel drive) and AWD (all wheel drive). So why are three options needed and which one fits what kind of car? Should you care what system is being used by your car?
Rear wheel drive is harder to implement. Since the engine is placed in the front of most cars transferring the engine energy to the rear wheels requires a set of transmissions and mechanical parts that are both heavy and costly. Front wheel drive on the other hand is easier since the engine and the front wheels are already very close to each other and there is very little extra work that is needed in order to transfer the engine power to the wheels.
So front wheel drive is easier to implement and not surprisingly most cars today are using front wheel drive to reduce cost and weight. One of the biggest disadvantages with front wheel drive though is weight distribution. Since both the engine and the transmission are in the front most of the car weight is in the front too. The rear part of the car does not weigh much. The result is an unbalanced car which means poor handling. This is not a problem for most sedan family cars but for high performance sports car this can be a disaster. Not surprisingly such sports car almost always use rear wheel drive. Rear wheel drive has other advantages in addition to balanced weight. Because the rear wheel drive is not used for steering acceleration and handling is even better.
When it comes to interior space and family cars front wheel driven cars are better. Since there are not many parts in the rear there is more space for a bigger trunk and since generally the car needs less moving parts and transmission there is more space for a bigger interior.
All wheel drive are the newest trend and as the name suggests they use all wheels to drive the car. Usually these car use some electronic system that decides which wheel gets how much power and when and often all wheels drive actually use just two wheels as the electronic system decides it’s the most efficient mode. All wheels have their advantages mostly in slippery roads and snow.