If you’re a car lover or even a new driver, you’ve probably encountered this debate before: what’s the better transmission for a car? Is it rear wheel drive, where transmission powers your back wheels, or front wheel drive, where transmission powers your front wheels? Each option has its pros and cons, which this article will detail below. At the end, you’ll be better equipped when purchasing your next car.
Front wheel drive, which is the more common transmission option today, have the advantage of economy and safety. They’re cheaper to build and as a result more proliferate. Because of how they’re constructed, they are also lighter than rear while drive cars, thereby increasing fuel economy. That is, you can drive farther for the same amount of fuel with them. Also because they’re lighter, these types of cars are better at navigating icy and rainy weather.
The parts of their construction that improve navigation in bad weather conditions simultaneously reduce handling. The front wheels concurrently have two jobs: steering and pulling the vehicle forward. As you turn the steering wheel, the front wheel axle adjusts accordingly. Furthermore, the front wheels are what actually pull the car forward. All power from the car is derived by those front wheels. As a result, there will be less friction between the wheels and the ground, since the wheels are both accelerating forward and turning at the same time. Less friction leads to more slipping and therefore worse handling.
The other side of the coin is rear wheel drive transmission. As you’d expect, cars with rear wheel drive derive power from the back set of wheels. The front axle will still be used for turning the car, but now the back wheels are what propels the car forward. As per the explanation above, it follows that rear wheel cars have better handling, since the wheels are only ever moving in the forward direction. Most cars built for off-roading have rear wheel drive for this reason.
Assembling a rear wheel drive car is more expensive, as they are generally heavier and the drivetrain is more complicated to build. Furthermore, they’re actually more difficult to drive than cars with front wheel drive transmission, because rear wheel drive car suffer in performance in slick road conditions. They are more prone to fishtailing, where the back wheels lose traction and slide out from the rear of the car. Accordingly, rear wheel drive is not recommended for new drivers.
Given the above pros and cons and front wheel drive and rear wheel drive cars, you can select which option will suit you better in your next car purchase. If you’re a novice driver, front wheel drive is a better because of improved handling and ease of use. If you’re a more experienced driver, or your use of your car dictates the need for more power, rear wheel drive is the way to go.