The Pros and Cons of Rear-Wheel Drive Explained for Students in Automotive Schools
September 12, 2018
It’s not easy for the average driver to spot, but engine power is only directed through certain wheels of a vehicle. The average family or modestly powered vehicle is front-wheel drive, meaning the rear tires are only being dragged along for the journey. Occasionally, however, the rear wheels are given the responsibility of getting the vehicle moving, so why are both options available?
The engineering associated with front-wheel and rear-wheel drive systems show significant differences that auto mechanics need to recognize before getting started on a repair job. Both systems also seriously alter the driving experience for the client, too, so here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of rear-wheel drive.
Analyzing Rear-Wheel Drive Technology After Automotive Schools
All of the front-wheel drive engineering stays right between those two tires, but rear-wheel drive is a good deal more complex. The power from the engine is directed to the transmission, from which it is then transferred to the rear of the car through a driveshaft running along the bottom of the vehicle. A rear-differential then collects the power and redistributes it to both tires, so it can then get the wheels and the vehicle moving.
Current and future students at mechanic school should note that rear-wheel drive is relatively rare. Most reasonably priced cars feature front-wheel drive because its cheaper and more universally reliable. You’re much more likely to find rear-wheel drive systems when repairing high performance vehicles, so let’s explore why some of the top car manufacturers are so keen on this type of engineering.
The Pros of Rear-Wheel Drive – A More Exciting Driving Experience
In simple terms, sending the power to the rear wheels shares responsibility. The front tires can concentrate on steering, while the rear ones push the vehicle forward. Simpler engineering in the front wheels allows them to turn more freely, thus reducing the turning circle. It’s also easier, and cheaper, to disassemble this system when repairs are needed.
Driving enthusiasts love rear-wheel systems because it allows for sharper handling in dry conditions. Weight distribution is much more balanced across the entire vehicle too, and acceleration is improved because of the increased weight that pushes down on the rear-powered tires. Torque steer is also a phenomenon which uniquely occurs with front-wheel drive systems. This sees the vehicle pull to one side during acceleration, but drivers of rear wheel-drive cars don’t have to contend with this issue.
The Cons of Rear-Wheel Drive – Costly and Tough to Handle in Tricky Conditions
Rear-wheel drive vehicles are great fun in dry conditions, but there’s a reason why everyday vehicles generally go for front-wheel systems. Graduates of automotive schools know that handling is more difficult with rear-powered tires in challenging weather conditions. The car is effectively being pushed rather than pulled, making the vehicle that bit more difficult to drive.
The driveshaft running underneath the vehicle also limits the interior space, because a hump usually needs to be designed along the centre of the vehicle. It’s also a bulkier, and hence heavier, system which causes a slight increase in fuel consumption. Not to mention the fact that rear-wheel drive also costs more to install in the first place, which is why it’s usually a more popular option in elite high-performance vehicles.
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