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Four-Wheel Drive: Everything You Need to Know

The first four-wheel drive car was invented in the beginning of the 20th century by the Dutch car manufacturer Spyker who also manufactured the golden carriage for the Dutch royal family. Since then, four-wheel drive vehicles, more commonly known as 4x4s, have become much more versatile. So, it is important to know exactly how they work and how they benefit compared to other vehicles.

How Does 4×4 Work?

In two-wheel drive cars, the power from the engine is sent through the driveshaft and meets with the differential – a set of gears, known as a gear train, that work together to ensure that the wheels turn at different rates when the vehicle turns. As well as this, the differential is used to transport the power from the propshaft to the wheels.

In four-wheel drive cars, the power from the transmission is sent to a centre differential that then splits the power to the front and rear axles. With this, the power is sent to all four wheels rather than just two.

Land Rover

 What Is So Great About 4×4?

Let’s look at a 400 horsepower car. In a two-wheel drive car, the power, as discussed, is split between the two front wheels, so each wheel receives 200 horsepower. However, in a four-wheel drive car, the power is split between all the four wheels, so each wheel receives 100 horsepower. The reduction in power to the wheels in a four-wheel drive car greatly reduces the amount of torque on each wheel.

This affects the likelihood of your vehicle suffering the phenomenon known as wheelspin. Wheelspin occurs when the torque of the wheel exceeds the amount of grip that is available on the road. For the four-wheel drive car, because of the reduced torque, wheelspin occurs much less than in a two-wheel drive car, which results in a more stable feel.  

Applications of 4x4s

In the old days, four-wheel drive cars were used in very few applications. Some were used for racing purposes but the most prolific use of the four-wheel drive car was in the Second World War. The American car company Jeep manufactured hundreds of four-wheel drive all-terrain cars and they were so useful that they become the most well-known four-wheel drive vehicle during this period.

In the modern day, 4×4 vehicles are being built by world leading car manufacturers that focus on sports cars, such as Porsche with the Cayenne, and Volkswagen with the Touareg. Even though 4×4 vehicles are traditionally associated with the likes of Land Rover, it is becoming increasingly popular in sports and even supercars, due to the better traction on the road.

The car on rural road.

Four-wheel drive cars have made their place in history, and it will be incredibly exciting to see how they will shape the future of the automotive industry. At CWS 4×4, we understand that it is vital to keep your 4×4 in pristine condition, so if you are ever in need of some spare parts, then we are here to help! If you would like to know more, then please don’t hesitate to contact us! Give us a call today on 01458 834930 and we will be more than happy to help with your enquiry.

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