Front Wheel Drive vs. Rear Wheel Drive Advantages

by Ekaete Bailey

Manufacturers, mechanics, car enthusiasts, and consumers, have long debated the rear-wheel drive versus front-wheel drive issue. Determining which vehicles tend to handle better, and which are safer, is at the heart of the debate. There are distinct advantages to each type of drivetrain. Personal preference is an important barometer when analyzing the advantages between front-wheel and rear-wheel drive.

Advantages of Front-wheel Drive

Front-wheel drive advantages

The two main advantages of a front-wheel drivetrain are fuel efficiency and traction. In a front-wheel drive vehicle, the engine and differential are located in the front end. The engine filters all of its power through the differential into the front wheels, which creates a pulling effect. As Popularmechanics.com notes, this type of vehicle has less weight in the back, and is usually smaller, due to most major parts being located under the hood. This produces a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Since most of a front-wheel drive vehicle's weight is in the front, it will have better traction in poor weather conditions. Many people choose front-wheel drive trucks and cars simply because they live in an area that requires superior traction while driving.

Advantages of Rear-wheel Drive

Rear-wheel drive advantages

Rear-wheel drive vehicles are made to perform. Their advantages include easier acceleration and braking, a smoother ride, and more control over the vehicle due to an even weight balance. Rearwheeldrive.org notes that many service vehicles, including police cars, are rear-wheel drive. Additionally, all race cars require the performance abilities and balance associated with rear-wheel drive. Rear-wheel-drive automobiles have been called safer vehicles due to their overall balance and drivability. This drivetrain allows the driver to feel like he has a large amount of control over the vehicle.

Considerations

Consider your driving preferences when selecting a drivetrain.

The type of drivetrain you choose should depend on your lifestyle. If you live in snowy or rainy climates, you may find front-wheel drive best, due to its traction. However, if inclimate weather is not an issue for you, rear-wheel drive may suit your needs, with its overall handling and feel.

Warnings

Driving a rear-wheel vehicle in snow can sometimes lead to spin-outs due to a lack of traction in the front wheels. Turning with extra caution and leaving adequate room for stopping should avoid this issue. Some rear-wheel vehicles come with traction control, which helps provide stability in bad weather. Front-wheel drive vehicles sometimes have a problem with torque steer. When the vehicle is accelerating at a certain speed, the steering can effected. According to Rearwheeldrive.org, this occurs because the engine is connected to the steering column. Rear-wheel drive vehicles do not have this same issue, due to the motor being located in a different place in the vehicle.

About the Author

Ekaete Bailey began writing professionally in 2005. She has experience in journalism, copyediting, Web content, marketing, creative writing and public relations/communications, with an emphasis in travel writing. Bailey writes for a variety of print and online publications. She earned a Master of Science in public-relations management from State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera driving 4 image by Andrzej Borowicz from Fotolia.com