In a two wheel drive car, the engine drives either the front wheels or the rear wheels. This has led to a more precise classification of two-wheel drive cars depending on which set of wheels is propelled by the engine. Each driveline option, front wheel or rear wheel, has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Front-wheel Drive (FWD)
A FWD car employs only front wheels to run the engine. The drive train is always at the front of the car as there is no need of a long driveshaft connected to the rear wheels. However, the modern front wheel drive vehicles feature a transverse engine. A transverse engine or east-west engine is an engine in which a crankshaft is pointed side-to-side in accordance to the length of the vehicle. Today a vast majority of front wheel drive vehicles use these transverse engines.
Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD)
Just like the front wheel drive, the rear wheel drive is nothing but which uses the rear wheels to move. When the accelerator is pressed in this type of vehicle, the rear wheels are motorized.Though the engine block is still at the front end, the wheels that need the traction are at the back. So they are called as rear-wheel drive. However, this type of drive train is mostly used in racing cars, performance cars and esteem models. Basically the rear wheel drive can be mostly used in the dry roads as they can be easily accelerated. But RWD can also cause crashes if the driver is new and is not sure on how to use the cars that are RWD.
However, there has been lots of controversies as to which is better. Is it the front wheel drive or the rear wheel drive? Rear wheel drive automobiles were mostly used in the past but however by the early 1980’s front drive vehicles started gaining popularity. But today more number of the passenger cars are front wheel drive.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each drive system:
Advantages of Front Wheel Drive
They are cheap and it is the main reason why manufacturers opt for this kind of drive system.
They can be easily installed than the rear wheel drive system.
Require less space as the transmission and differential are situated in the place.
It is much easier for the designers to locate other parts beneath the vehicle like brake lines, fuel lines, and exhaust system.
The weight is comparatively less when compared to rear wheel drive. Reduces the overall vehicle’s weight perks up acceleration, fuel economy and braking.
The big advantage on the slippery roads would improve good traction while having the weight of the engine and transaxle over the drive wheels.
Interior space is also enhanced as no large bumps in the floor pan are needed to put up mechanical parts which is required in rear wheel system.
The trunk space is also increases without rear differential in the vehicle.
Disadvantages of Front Wheel Drive
Decreases the vehicle handling ability
It disturbs the balance of the vehicle due to more weight at the front of the vehicle and less load at the back of the vehicle.
The rear tyre traction is decreases, increasing the chances of car crash.
The loads placed on the front tyres are heavy. So the rear tyres have very little load on them where the ideal weight distribution is often described as 50/50 front to rear, but FWD cars rarely get near to this percentage.
Advantages of Rear Wheel drive
Some of the mechanical parts can be removed from the front and installed at the rear to ensure good vehicle balance and even the handling could be improved.
Rear tyres can be used for the acceleration traction as it reduces the load on the front and also the drivers accelerating out of a corner can have much more side grip. This is the main reason why they are being used on the racing cars.
Repair costs are much cheaper when compared with front wheel drive system.
Disadvantages of Rear Wheel drive
Rear wheel drive system increase the weight of the car compare to the rear wheel system as the components used are more complex.
A rear engine car may face reduced steering problem due to the position of the engine at the opposite end of the car from the wheels.
Modern rear wheel cars are more expensive in contrast to front wheel drive vehicles.
The mechanical efficiency of the drivetrain suffers a little weakness.
Decrease the interior space in most of the cars.
Overall, if one wants superior performance its is better to opt for real wheel drive and if interior space and packaging efficiency is the priority then select front wheel drive.