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What Does FWD Mean When Buying a Car?

by Nanette Delaney Burton

The letters "FWD" stand for front wheel drive. This means that the engine drives the front wheels of the vehicle you're buying. An FWD vehicle's transmission is closer to the front of the vehicle than it would be in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.


Front wheel drive provides better traction on wet pavement because more weight is over the driving wheels. In snow and ice, the performance of a front-wheel-drive vehicle is usually superior to the performance of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.


The whole front-wheel-drive powertrain is within a FWD vehicle's engine compartment, which can provide more interior space. The lighter nature of a front-wheel-drive powertrain can also offer better gas mileage.


Front-wheel-drive vehicles date back to 1934's Citroen Traction Avant vehicles. Front wheel drive became standard in American vehicles in the 1980s.

About the Author

Nanette Delaney Burton, mother of three, began writing professionally in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego in political science (American politics and law; minor in psychology). Burton is currently working on her Juris Doctorate.

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