How Does Front-Wheel-Drive Work?

by Jennifer Garcia


There are four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles that allow one to go off-road with their vehicles. However, not much is said about front-wheel-drive vehicles and how they function. Front-wheel-drive cars have become increasingly popular because they handle a little better in bad weather conditions. However, they do not perform as well in bad weather as a four-wheel or all-wheel vehicle can, but they do perform better than a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The best description for front wheel drive is a defined as a vehicle in which only the front wheels are driven by the engine. Transverse engines are featured in most modern vehicles that have front-wheel drive. This means that instead of the longitudinal engines that most vehicles have, the front-wheel-drive vehicle has the transverse, or "sideways," engine under its hood.


Front-wheel drive works in the following way: An end-on mounted transmission, in conjunction with the transverse engine, uses drive shafts linked by CV joints, or constant velocity joints, to drive the front wheels of a vehicle. Because most of the engine's and transmission's power is being delivered to the front wheels, the car handles a little bit better than a rear-wheel drive vehicle would. Because of the way the front-wheel drive vehicle performs, many car manufacturers have stopped producing rear-wheel-drive vehicles and switched over to producing front-wheel-drive vehicles.

Past and Present

The first documented front-wheel-drive vehicle is said by various sources to have been produced by Graf and Stift sometime between 1895 and 1898. During this time, they produced the De Dion-Bouton engine, which ran on one cylinder and powered the vehicle's front axle. In addition, the engine was located at the front of the vehicle. Fiat made front-wheel drive popular in 1969. Chevrolet was known for producing rear-wheel vehicles such as the Camaro and the Corvette, however, things changed and by the early 2000s, Chevrolet offered only one rear-wheel-drive vehicle, the Corvette.

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