Knowing if your car has all-wheel drive is as essential as knowing the model of your vehicle.
All vehicles feature a drivetrain. This drivetrain system sends power from your vehicle's engine to the wheels. Different cars will have other drivetrain systems, including front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and even rear-wheel drive.
Knowing your vehicle's type is essential, as the kind of drivetrain will drastically affect how your car controls and feels.
Fortunately, we have spent time laying out seven ways to determine whether your car is all-wheel drive.
7 Ways To Know if Your Car Is All-wheel Drive
Below are some ways to find out if your car features
1. Read the Owner's Manual
If you are unsure if your car is all-wheel drive or not, reading the manual is the easiest and most direct way to find the answer you're looking for.
Many people don't like to flip through their car's owner's manual, which is usually very prolonged and excessive. Fortunately, finding the type of drivetrain is quite simple.
First, head to the section of your manual labeled "features." Then find where it says "drivetrain" under one of the subheadings.
If the drivetrain is not found under features, check the table of contents for a special section. Look for something like "AWD," "4WD", or "FWD." If there is a section dedicated to the type of drivetrain, then that is your answer.
2. Check Out the VIN
The VIN of a vehicle, or vehicle identification number, is a unique ID given to every vehicle. Car owners may use this special number to perform a VIN search on their cars.
VIN searches pull up specific information and history on a car. The records will include maintenance, change in ownership, and vehicle statistics. Find the page that lists the features of your car, and you will find what type of drivetrain you have.
3. Placement of the Engine
While this may seem a bit roundabout, checking a car's engine directly can tell you what type of drivetrain you have.
If your engine sits sideways, then you may have all-wheel drive. Check the drive lines to see what they connect to. Your car has all-wheel drive if they relate to both the front and rear wheels.
4. Ask a Technician or Mechanic
A straightforward way to find out if your car has all-wheel drive is to ask. If you are due for work on your car or know a mechanic, you can ask them.
The technician works on cars all day, so they might know offhand. Even if they don't know immediately, they can quickly check and see to let you know. This might be a faster means than looking around by yourself.
5. Check for a Sticker or Badge
Many vehicles will be outright labeled as all-wheel drive. In addition, many cars feature a sticker around their liftgate or on the side that lists their features.
Check around your car to see if there is a badge or a sticker that has the information you are looking for. Make sure not to skip where your door rests.
6. Call Your Dealer
If you bought your car from a dealership, that dealership would have your records. Give the sales team or other employees a quick call, and the dealership can quickly find your car's stats.
If you purchased your car from another source, such as a friend or a used lot, you could still call them to inquire. Many sellers keep their records long after a transaction, so they may very well be able to let you know.
7. Check Under Your Car
You can check your engine to find out if you have all-wheel drive, and you can also look under your car for your differential. The differential interacts with your wheels to keep them spinning, and only vehicles with AWD or 4WD will feature two differentials.
Check to make sure your car is off before starting. Then slide under to see the underside of your vehicle. If you see a large bar running from the front to the rear axle, that is the axle shaft. If you have that, then your car either has AWD or 4WD.
What Is All-Wheel Drive?
All-wheel drive is a type of transmission system found in many cars. These cars will send signals from the engine to all four of your wheels. An all-wheel drivetrain ensures that your car can find the best source of traction and acceleration and utilizes it for your benefit.
All-wheel drive systems are always active and will adjust as needed on their own. It is truly an advanced form of technology.
How Do I Know if I Have All-Wheel Drive or Two-Wheel Drive?
While there are many ways to find out what type of drivetrain you have, an excellent way to weed out two-wheel drive is by checking under your car.
As always, make sure your vehicle is off before looking. Then check the sides of the underside of your car for two axles.
These axle shafts will look like long-running bars alongside your car. If your vehicle has this bar running from the front to the rear of the car, then you do not have two-wheel drive.
How Do I Know If My Car is Front-Wheel Drive Or Not?
An excellent way to find out if your car has front-wheel drive is to check your engine's position. If your engine is either forward or backward, you do not have a front-wheel drive.
If your engine is facing sideways, you may have front-wheel drive, though not always. If your engine faces this way, check the drive lines on your car.
You have front-wheel drive if your drive lines run exclusively to the front wheels. If your car features any rear drive lines, you do not have front-wheel drive.
What Is the Difference Between All-Wheel Drive and Four-Wheel Drive?
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are different, although not as much as the front and rear-wheeled cars.
All-wheel drive, also known as AWD, has all four of your wheels working separately from each other. In addition, all-wheel drive cars will feature several differentials, also known as gearboxes, which will work to run each wheel independently.
Another feature of all-wheel drive is that all-wheel drive is always on. On the other hand, four-wheel drive is an option that you can turn on and off when needed.
Four-wheel drive, also known as 4WD, is slightly different from all-wheel drive. Unlike all-wheel drive, all four wheels will be rotated evenly, gaining traction as a whole.
While four-wheel drive might not be as suitable for snowy terrain, it does help when moving a lot of weight.
Typically, cars and SUVs will have all-wheel drive, while trucks are the only vehicles that usually have four-wheel drive.
All-Wheel Drive vs. Four-Wheel Drive
Now that you understand the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, we can discuss the benefits of each option.
The benefits of all-wheel drive's independent wheels are in its traction. Having each wheel act independently rather than in unison allows your vehicle to utilize the best wheel traction to move the car.
All-wheel drive is nice because it allows for the best traction and control available during all weather.
Four-wheel drive is good because it makes moving items more manageable. Typically, trucks and other vehicles carrying a lot of weight will have four-wheel drive. Distributing the weight across an even set of support is very helpful.
Most people will generally prefer all-wheel drive because more people drive in slippery terrain than haul items. However, four-wheel drive is also good and is preferred for hauling.
All-Wheel Drive vs. Four-Wheel Drive vs. 4x4
So we now know how all-wheel drive compares to four-wheel drive, but how do the two compare to 4x4? Let's start by defining 4x4.
4x4 is similar to four-wheel drive in that it simultaneously sends power to four wheels. These are both used on trucks that are used to move things.
All 4x4 vehicles feature four-wheel drive. However, not all four-wheel drive vehicles have 4x4.
The main distinction is that some vehicles can have more than four wheels. There are a lot of trucks with six or more wheels that will have four-wheel drive but won't feature 4x4 driving. Instead, they'll have 6x4 (or more) driving.
Unless you are a trucker, you won't have to know the difference between the two. Almost no commercial vehicles feature more than four wheels, so 4x4 and four-wheel drive are interchangeable for the average person.
Is All-Wheel Drive Better Than Front-Wheel Drive?
Now that we've discussed four-wheel drive, let's compare all-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is when your car only sends power to your front two wheels. This is because the two wheels can manage most of the steering while the back wheels need to follow in line.
While all-wheel drive is better, for the most part, there are a few advantages to a front-wheel driving car.
Front-wheel drive is typically lighter than all-wheel drive. This might not seem like a huge change, but even a slight change in your car's weight will help fuel efficiency.
The lack of parts also means that front-wheel drive is easier to manage. If something goes wrong with your vehicle, there is half as much to maintain and keep running.
All-Wheel Drive Advantages and Disadvantages
The main advantage of all-wheel drive is its better traction. These cars will feature an easier time with traction, and their heavier weight will also make them easier to control.
On the flip side, cars with a lighter drivetrain will benefit from being lighter. Compared to other vehicles, a disadvantage to all-wheel drive is its worse gas mileage and lesser braking.
While the drivetrain's braking system is unchanged, added weight means your car can't stop as fast. A disadvantage of all-wheel drive is that you might need a better reaction time to break correctly.
What Is All-Wheel Drive Good For?
While the all-wheel drive may be a bit more expensive to manage, it does offer some strong incentives.
All-wheel drive makes your car heavier, meaning traction is much smoother and easier to manage. In addition, separating your wheels into four different systems helps to find the best spot for your vehicle to maintain good traction. So, all-wheel drive is ideal if you live in an area with harsh winters.
All-wheel drive also makes for an easy-to-use system. These drivetrains are always on and will adjust to your wheels as needed. This makes for ease of use not found in all vehicles.
Lastly, all-wheel drive is the best option for acceleration. Ice and mud can make for a dangerous driving environment. With the help of all-wheel drive, these environments will be easier to traverse.
Is All-Wheel Drive Good In Snow?
All-wheel drive is beneficial when driving in snow. Snow can make the road slippery and harder to cross. All-wheel drive helps your wheels find the best traction source and keeps your car from sliding around too much.
Rear-wheel drive is an uncommon type of drivetrain that some cars may feature. This transmission system is used in certain cars to move only the back wheels. The front wheels are then used to follow through and just turn alongside your vehicle.
Rear-wheel drive is uncommon because it has the worst traction in poor conditions, but it boasts the advantage of speed. In dry driving conditions, rear-wheel drive allows the fastest vehicles to go quicker.
This is usually considered less important than safety and traction, so most commercial vehicles do not feature rear-wheel drive.
Ultimately, all-wheel drive is generally considered the best option for your drivetrain. While all-wheel drive can make it a bit more challenging to break and may be more expensive, it offers the best control compared to other vehicles.
Knowing what type of machinery you are working with when you drive is necessary to avoid any issues. So, if you are unsure whether your car is all-wheel drive, use one of our seven easy checks.