What's the Difference between AWD and 4WD?

Whilst a 4WD and an AWD may seem like they do the same thing, there are a number of differences that affect the functionality and distinguish the two.

Four-wheel drives are usually used for driving on unpaved wilderness and are intended for off-road drives. The system in a 4WD powers all four of its wheels at the same time, and all the wheels spin at the same rate as each other. Four-wheel drive vehicles are not necessarily meant for everyday driving, as it can result in some actions being more difficult to perform. Therefore, four-wheel drive systems can usually be disabled into a two-wheel drive to improve driving on everyday roads.

There are two kinds of 4WD systems; part-time and full-time. Part-time is where the vehicle begins in two-wheel drive and if four-wheel drive is needed, it can be activated. Some cars are full-time four-wheel drives, which means the vehicle is permanently in 4WD mode.

All-wheel drives are slightly different to four-wheel drives. Whilst 4WD sends the same amount of power to all wheels, AWD is about varying the amount that is sent to each one. There is no activation needed or input from the driver to make this work. All-wheel drives are intended for use on softer roads and are often known as high-performance vehicles. They have added stability in all weather conditions and, compared to 4WD, have massive improvements in handling due to most AWD having computers involved in their systems.

All-wheel drives also have sensors on their wheels which monitor various types of data, allowing the engine control unit to decide which wheels the most power is sent to, and which wheels require the most grip. However, a disadvantage of AWD is that the added friction between the tyre and the road means that it increases its overall fuel usage.

At Charlton Recycled Auto Parts, we are specialist 4x4 dismantlers. We stock a wide range of 4x4 parts for multiple models, makes and vehicles. For more information, you can get in touch with the team today by visiting our contact page or by giving us a call on 01223 832 656.