What is the Difference between All-Wheel Drive, Full-Time and Part-Time 4x4 Systems?


What is the Difference between All-Wheel Drive, Full-Time and Part-Time 4x4 Systems?

You have probably heard of the terms all-wheel drive, full-time 4x4, and part-time 4x4 thrown around when you go shopping for cars, but do you really know what each of these means? It is important to be aware of what they indicate in addition to the differences between each option. This allows you to make an informed choice regarding your vehicle. Below, we explain each of these carefully.

All-wheel drive
An all-wheel-drive is a system that delivers powers to all of the car’s four wheels at all times, much like a full-time 4WD. It can also be used on all kinds of surfaces as well. However, the main difference between the two is that an all-wheel-drive or AWD does not have a 4-low setting. Additionally, since there is no low-range option in AWD cars, they are much less capable of off-roading when compared to 4WD vehicles.

Full-time 4x4 system
Also known as permanent 4WD, a full-time 4x4 system, as the name suggests, is a system that powers all the four wheels of the vehicle at all times. In other words, there is no switching on and off. For such models, power is delivered to all four wheels at all times, regardless of which surface you are driving on, even if you happen to be cruising on the pavement. 4WD is usually employed on large SUVs that boast enhanced off-roading capabilities. These vehicles are predominantly truck-based platforms with huge wheels and special tires designed for extreme off-roading situations.

Part-time 4x4 system
A part-time 4x4 system enables a vehicle to stay either in 2WD mode or 4WD mode. Most of the time, such a car will remain in 2WD with engine output supplied to the front wheels. 4WD is only used when there are gravel roads or if the driver goes off-roading. On paved roads, however, the permanent high traction does not allow the use of 4WD. Even for off-roading, the goal here is to keep the vehicle moving rather than focused on exceptional off-road performance. Since it can be used in 4WD part-time, it is commonly referred to as a part-time 4x4 system.

Source: Jeep