Whether you’re in the market for a new vehicle or not, it’s important to know the difference between the different drive trains in cars. Depending on where you’re living and what you need out of your vehicle, the best choice for you might be two-wheel, four-wheel, or all-wheel drive. Read on to get the specifics for the different types of drive trains, and get in touch with one of our Colorado mechanics if you have any questions about what type is right for you.

Two-Wheel Drive

Since this is the most common drive-type in cars, you have likely already owned or driven one. In two-wheel drive vehicles, energy produced by the engine is fed through the transmission, which turns one axle containing two wheels. To summarize, two-wheel drive is when two wheels on the same axle are permanently powered.

One benefit of this drive-type is that it is the cheapest option to produce, since it’s the only one that doesn’t require specialized parts to properly deliver power to the wheels. But along with a lower price comes a range of limitations—the most obvious being the two-wheel drive vehicle’s relative lack of traction. A two-wheel drive vehicle is only taking advantage of the traction from two tires, leaving the other two free-spinning and unable to give the vehicle the same power. In addition to this, two-wheel drive vehicles are more susceptible to tire wear, since half your tires will endure the stress of transferring the energy from the engine to the ground.

Four-Wheel Drive

Four-wheel drive vehicles fall into one of two categories: part time and full time. Part time four-wheel drive was designed to give a car more traction to tow things, carry heavier loads, or drive in adverse conditions. These cars are two-wheel most of the time, and have a lever or knob to select four-wheel drive. Since this capability was meant to be used only when needed, using it on regular dry pavement will actually cause extra mechanical wear and damage your car.

In cars that have full-time four-wheel drive, all four wheels are driven by power delivered to both axles. However, a vehicle with full time 4WD will be worse in adverse conditions than its part-time cousin. The reason for this comes down once again to production cost. To make a four-wheel drive vehicle active full time would require an extremely robust transmission, which isn’t the standard on production lines. Usually, these cars don’t even have a two-wheel drive option, and some rough terrain competence is retained. The reason for rolling this out is to provide added stability to everyday driving.

All-Wheel Drive

The difference between 4WD and AWD is a computer that adjusts the amount of power going to each wheel. While a four-wheel drive vehicle delivers the same power to both axles all of the time, when an all-wheel drive vehicle encounters slippery terrain, the computer starts comparing variables such as speed, friction, tire wear, tire rotation, road quality, and road slope. When some of those variables cause the wheels on one axle to start to lose traction, the computer decreases the amount of power going to that axle, and redirects it to the other.

If you plan on icy, snowy commutes or want the safest possible car for your family, you might want to consider four-or-all-wheel drive. If not, the lower price tag of two-wheel drive vehicles might appeal to you. Either way, if you want more information on Colorado car maintenance or transmission repair, contact AAMCO at Whether you need a car tune-up, radiator repair, or just want to speak to a Colorado mechanic, come in to one of our AAMCO locations today for help from the experts.