What Is 3-Wheel Drive?

by Shannon Keen

Three-wheel drive is a transmission system in a motor vehicle that supplies power to only three wheels. It is used only in three-wheeled vehicles, such as motor scooters. Four-wheeled vehicles, such as cars, use only two- or four-wheel drive.


Three-wheel drive is a type of transmission system. A transmission system transfers power from the engine of a motor vehicle to the wheels. The number of wheels receiving power determines the level of traction a vehicle can generate.

Three-Wheel Drive

Three-wheel drive is never used in vehicles with more than three wheels. Cars, trucks and similar four-wheeled vehicles either supply power to the front wheels, the back wheels or all four at once. In a three-wheeled vehicle, power is supplied to all three wheels -- thus, "three-wheel" drive.


In certain hybrid vehicles, such as Peugeot's hybrid three-wheel scooter, all three wheels are not powered by a single engine. In Peugeot's scooter, the two front wheels are powered by individual electric motors. The back wheel is powered by a separate, aspirating engine.

About the Author

Based in central Pennsylvania, Shannon Keen has been writing since 2003. She writes for various websites, specializing in film, literature and gaming. Keen started writing for her high school newspaper and went on to win a Gold Key in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Writing Competition. She is pursuing a degree in English literature at Harrisburg Area Community College.

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