How does the Drivetrain work?
For this week’s How’s This Work, we’re looking at specific part of the vehicle, and in the process answering a question that is often on many people’s minds. Because in looking at the drivetrain and what exactly that is, we will discover things about 4WD and AWD, and so we might as well dive into what the differences between the two are. But first, we need to look at the drivetrain as a whole, so let’s dive in.
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Rather than being an actual, specific part, the drivetrain is basically a term that represents the collection of parts responsible for directing power to the wheels from the engine. The term powertrain then represents the drivetrain and the engine together, but we’re looking at the drivetrain today. Some of thing things it includes are the transmission system, the clutch if looking at a manual, each axle, et cetera. Thus, in the end, there are basically four main drivetrains that we deal with on a daily basis: FWD, RWD, 4WD and AWD.
Two-wheel drive vehicles are the most common. Your Camry and Corolla models will most often come standard with 2WD, but there are two different kinds: FWD and RWD. Front-wheel drive (FWD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD) both do exactly what it sounds like, they send power either to just the front wheels or just the back wheels. FWD is common amongst regular passenger cars like the two we just mentioned, while RWD is reserved for sports cars and muscle cars.
Four-wheel Drive vs. All-wheel Drive
Less common but perhaps even more discussed are your 4x4 vehicles, which include both four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) drivetrains. Contrary to popular belief, these two things are not the same. Yes, they’re very similar. They both send power out to each individual wheel, or more specifically each axle end as some vehicles have more than four wheels. But it is the way in which the power is delivered that differs, thus leaving each with its niche market. AWD drivetrains are generally used to make vehicles like those two sedans we brought up in the last section a little better at handling poor road conditions and inclement weather, while 4WD drivetrains are made specifically with off-road adventures in mind.
Hopefully this clears up a bit of the confusion on each type of drivetrain, and gives you a better idea of what exactly the drivetrain is. If you have any questions, or perhaps would like to know which Toyota vehicles come with each type of drivetrain, feel free to give us a call here at the sales desk!