Herb's Letter, November 2019

The All-Wheel-Drive Question

Fall is in full effect which only means one thing: winter is coming. To all-wheel-drive or not to AWD is the question ringing in everyone’s mind, I’m sure, as the winter months close in on us.

I would normally say, “It probably depends on where you live.” But considering that we’re all New Englanders, we already know that answer.

The next question to consider is this: Is All Wheel Drive (AWD) or Four Wheel Drive (4WD) that much safer and worth the roughly $2,000? It does give you two extra drive wheels – but is it worth it?

AWD and 4WD are often referred to interchangeably, but they do operate differently and can be found on different vehicles.

For the majority of us dealing with potholes, unpaved roads, and frost heaves, I would consider AWD and 4WD. Either option helps with traction when it rains or snows, and should be high on your list of must-have car options.

Pros of AWD/4WD

Better acceleration: An AWD or 4WD vehicle can accelerate better than a two-wheel-drive vehicle in inclement weather.

Helps with traction and towing: A 4WD truck's improved traction can help if you are towing from any wet surfaces. If you go camping off-road in dirt or in sandy areas, a vehicle with AWD or 4WD will reduce your chances of getting stuck.

Added resale value: Your vehicle may be worth a bit more if you live in an area where trucks are popular. (I would say that trucks are pretty popular in New England!) People are willing to pay a premium for vehicles with AWD and 4WD.

Cons of AWD/4WD

Added cost: The cost of an AWD or 4WD system can range from $1,300 on a Honda CR-V to about $3,500 on a Ford F-150. You'll also have to factor in slightly more for gas because the vehicle's rated fuel economy will be slightly lower. Keep in mind that much of this will come back to you in the resale!

Lower fuel economy: The AWD and 4WD components weigh more and place a higher load on the engine. These factors will decrease fuel economy by about 1-2 mpg. It may not seem like much, but this is a 5-10 percent decrease in trucks (4-9 percent in cars and crossovers) and can add up to a couple hundred dollars in a year. If you use your truck for plowing, this feature is almost a no-brainer.

Some additional maintenance: The differentials on AWD and 4WD vehicles require oil changes. And though the differential fluid doesn't need to be changed as often as the engine oil, it is something to keep in mind.

Inaccurate sense of security: It is easy to think that having AWD means you can drive in the snow or rain as easily as you would in dry conditions. But the truth is that AWD and 4WD help only with acceleration and traction. Braking distances and handling will be the same as with a 2WD vehicle.

There is a lot to weigh when it comes to deciding if AWD or 4WD is something you want for your vehicle. The reality is, you live in New England. There’s going to be inclement weather. AWD / 4WD is probably a good idea.

That being said, good tires make a big difference. If you’re driving a vehicle that comes standard with summer tires, make sure you get your winter tires on before it starts to get too cold.

Whatever decision you make, take the time to weigh the pros and cons and find the perfect vehicle for you!

Remember, we don’t sell cars, we help people buy them! Stop in any of our dealerships if you have questions about AWD, 4WD, or all-season tires. We’re here to help, and to ensure you and your loved ones are traveling safe all year round!

Categories: News