Grand Rapids Ford & Mazda Dealer News

Many in West Michigan rely on All-Wheel Drive or Four-Wheel Drive to get to their destinations safely in the winter weather. While front-wheel drive has advantages over rear-wheel drive in slick conditions, nothing beats having all four wheels working together to keep you moving.

Naturally, having all four wheels receive power means there's more moving parts to your vehicle, so in this article we'll explain what those parts are called and how they function as well as how to maintain them. We'll also cover the key differences between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Let's take a look!

Why All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive Are Preferred in Winter Weather

With all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive (AWD and 4WD/4x4*) all four of your wheels are receiving turning power or torque from the transmission and pushing the vehicle forward. In slippery conditions, this means the force required to get the vehicle moving from a stop is spread out twice as much as with front-wheel drive, and the chances of all four wheels not having any traction is lower.

If you've ever been stuck in the snow with a front-wheel drive vehicle and needed people to get out and physically push to get you going again, this works on a similar principle. The rear wheels are there to spread out the required traction and push from the back in addition to pulling from the front.

Bear in mind the old adage, "Four wheel drive doesn't mean four wheel stop." This applies to all-wheel drive too. While it isn't exactly true, as each wheel has their own brake, the message is that just because you can get moving easier doesn't mean it's easier to stop. Always give yourself extra space in slippery conditions.

*4x4 actually means "number of wheels" by "how many of them are powered." In most cases with consumer vehicles, there are four wheels and four of them receive power. If a vehicle had six wheels, it may still have four-wheel drive but wouldn't be a 4x4, it'd be a 6x4.

What Is The Difference Between All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive?

AWD and 4WD work mostly the same way, but there is a key difference between them.

In an AWD vehicle, power is distributed between all four wheels independently, meaning if a wheel loses traction, it receives less power and the other three turn with more force to compensate. Most modern AWD systems are controlled electronically and will automatically activate when needed.

In a 4WD vehicle, the front wheels operate as normal but the rear wheels will each receive the same amount of power. Before you think this is a disadvantage over all-wheel drive, it's actually preferred for drivers living outside the city on roads that don't get plowed often. Some 4WD vehicles allow you to change the settings too based on the conditions or your preferences.

In short, All-Wheel Drive is preferable for city and suburban driving, while Four-Wheel Drive is better suited for more rural conditions.

Do All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles Need Extra Maintenance?

Short answer: not really. While there are extra parts such as differentials, sensors, axles, and driveshaft that will eventually need service, during your routine checkups and maintenance your technician will only need to check the fluid in the differential (or differentials on AWD.)

That being said, the important thing is to make sure that your transmission fluid is changed on a regular basis. This is true for front-wheel drive vehicles as well. Manufacturer specifications vary wildly on this, but Borgman recommends that your transmission be flushed every 36,000 miles. Your transmission fluid acts as both a lubricant for all of the intricate, moving parts inside as well as a coolant, so it's of the utmost importance it's replaced before it starts to chemically break down.


Keep Your Vehicle Ready For Anything at the Borgman Service Center in Grand Rapids MI

Stay one step ahead of the West Michigan winter weather with regular maintenance. Making sure your all-wheel or four-wheel drive system is in good order is key, but other things like tires, coolant, brakes, and your battery play a part too.

The experts at the Borgman Service Center are here to keep your vehicle running like new all year long. Use our easy Online Scheduler to make your appointment, then head over to our Service Specials to save on services you need most. Our customer service is what has set us apart for over 60 years, and we're here to keep you moving. Come see why we're the Best in the West!

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