What’s Better? Front Or Rear Wheel Drive

There’s a lot to think about when buying a car, and the wheels that drive the vehicle should be one of the most important considerations. Cars have traditionally been rear-wheel drive, but in recent decades front-wheel drive has become almost as popular. Today, all-wheel drive is also a popular option. What you decide should be determined by the conditions you drive in and what the car will be used for. Costs such as car insurance and maintenance, such as a car service in Sydney, probably won’t have much of an influence, but here’s a list of the pros and cons to help you make an informed choice.

The good and bad of rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive cars are generally better balanced, and as a result they handle better. In basic terms, the weight of the car’s drivetrain is spread more evenly along the vehicle. Consider which wheels power most racing cars. It’s the rear ones, simply because of this weight balance and subsequent handling benefits. High-performance sports cars are also predominantly rear-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive also tends to be more rugged than front-wheel drive. Think about trucks, tractors and other heavy vehicles – they are rear-wheel drive because of this toughness in the axle and other components.

While rear-wheel drive vehicles may handle better, when it comes to wet or icy conditions, they suffer. Rear-wheel drive vehicles will lose traction in difficult conditions far more often than front-wheel drive vehicles. It would be fair to say that almost everyone who has been behind the wheel of a rear-wheel drive vehicle has had a time where it felt as though the back end of the car wanted to overtake the front.

Rear-wheel drive vehicles tend to cost more to produce as well, so you are likely to pay more for one off the showroom floor than its front-wheel drive counterpart. In terms of other costs, it’s always worth shopping around when getting car insurance quotes or organising maintenance, such as a car service in Melbourne.

The good and bad of front-wheel drive

While front-wheel drive vehicles have been around for more than 80 years, they didn’t start to become popular until the 1970s when carmakers were looking at ways to produce cheaper cars with better fuel economy. The answer was smaller cars and smaller engines, and front-wheel drive helped achieve this because it requires less components. With no axle or transmission components running down the length of the car, vehicles could be made more compact.

The result is front-wheel drive cars cost less to produce and they are significantly lighter. The biggest benefit of this weight reduction is that they use less fuel, making them ever so popular in the small and compact car segments. Another big advantage front-wheel drive cars have is traction. With the weight of the engine and drivetrain sitting virtually on top of the drive wheels, it helps the car get better grip than its rear-wheeled cousin. This means it won’t spin out as often in wet or icy conditions.

On the negative side, because a great deal of a front-wheel drive’s car weight is at one end of the vehicle, its handling characteristics are not as good as a rear-wheel version. The handling is further affected by the fact that the driving wheels are also the steering wheels.

What about all-wheel drive?

Obviously you get the best bits of front and rear-wheel drive with AWD and the advantages they bring, but it also reduces the deficiencies of FWD and RWD. AWD has no peers when it comes to traction and it will allow drivers to go many places FWD or RWD won’t. Many AWD systems alter the amount of drive going to the wheels for even better handling. On the down side, AWD does cost more to produce and fuel consumption can suffer, purely because it is carrying the weight of two drivetrains.

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