Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. 5 Essential Things to Know About All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

5 Essential Things to Know About All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

all wheel drive

All-wheel drive (AWD) systems provide power to all four wheels, rather than only to the front or back ones. When driving, a majority of these systems have either a front or rear base, which means the power is focused there unless the vehicle begins to slip. When this occurs, power is sent to the other axle in an effort to regain traction. This is why AWD vehicles are more popular in areas where snow and ice are common – it provides the additional traction needed to make it through these conditions. Whether you are considering a vehicle with all-wheel drive or you’ve already purchased one, there are a few things you need to know about the system to ensure the best user experience and vehicle performance.

Understand How All-Wheel Drive Works

Most people believe that AWD automatically provides safer driving in snow and ice. While this is somewhat true, it’s important to remember that this type of system improves traction from a complete stop. However, it will not improve turning and stopping in these conditions. As such, you will still need to drive with caution in dangerous conditions.

Tire Types Matter

The tires that are on the vehicle play a major role in how well the AWD system works. If you live in an area where the winter months include significant ice and snow, you should make sure you are using winter tires during the colder months. The increased flexibility will provide better grip on the road in cold temperatures, ice, snow and slush, which will help improve the overall all-wheel drive performance.

Maintain Proper Fluid Levels

All-wheel drive vehicles require lubrication in the form of transmission, transfer case and differential fluids. It is important that you maintain the manufacturer-recommended fluid levels and change frequency to keep the system lubed properly to ensure optimal performance.

Lower Fuel Economy

While AWD vehicles provide improved handling in certain conditions, it does come at a price. These vehicles typically have lower gas mileage than front- or rear-wheel drive options, so if you are looking for economy, AWD might not be the best option for you.

Tire Size Is Crucial

When AWD vehicles are manufactured, it is to strict specifications. In order for the system to work properly, you need to follow the manufacturer suggestions for tire size, including those that call for larger tires on the back than those that are on the front.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...

Related questions

Q: AWD light stays on and I just had all 4 tires changed by a mechanic.

Hi there. The AWD light is coming on for the sensors on the wheels are picking up different tire rotational speeds. If you are putting on used tires and not new tires, then you will need to check the tire...

Q: What does the All-Wheel Drive Off message mean?

The All-Wheel Drive Off message can appear in the driver information center (DIC). When the DIC displays this alert, it means that the rear drive system is overheating, and the all-wheel drive (AWD) system has been disabled.

Q: What does the all-wheel drive (AWD) Warning Light mean in a 2012 Honda CR-V?

The all-wheel drive (AWD) Warning Light is located on the instrument panel. When the light comes on, the AWD system is either not working, or is overheating and has been made inactive. Tip Like all warning lights, the AWD warning...