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Name: Pamela E.
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A 
Country: N/A
Date: 9/22/2004


Question:
What handles better in the winter, a vehicle with rear wheel drive or front wheel drive? Both have anti-lock brake systems. I drive a car now that has front-wheel drive. That's all I have ever driven. My husband is looking at buying a car with rear wheel drive and I am concerned about how it will handle in the winter on icy roads and such. We live in an area that does get quite a bit of snow.


Replies:
Pam,

One of the reasons front wheel drive cars became popular because they handled better in the snow. Its not stopping the car, but driving the car. If the front wheels slip, the car will usually stay in line. With rear wheel drive, the pushing rear wheels slip and the back end of the car starts to swing.

Technology has helped reduce this problem in RWD cars to a point where auto makers are returning to build RWD. RWD has definite advantages under normal driving conditions.

Bob Hartwell


The question of front and rear drive automobiles continues to be debated among people who drive cars. The answer seems to depend a lot on driving conditions and personal preference. "Handling" has no definite engineering meaning. The greatest propulsive force will occur when the driven wheels have the greatest weight on them.

Bob Erck


In principle, four wheel drive is superior because power reaches all four wheels independently and the electronics allow each wheel to "recognize" the traction of the other three. Front wheel drive is considered next best because the "weight" of the engine is over the wheels doing the steering. Rear wheel drive without added weight is considered to be the least effective. Having said that if conditions are right, glare ice just below the freezing point of water it makes little difference. If there is no traction between tire and road it does not matter. Those of us in the older climates that do not respect that rule learn to regret it. With no traction the vehicle will continue on in a straight line in accord with Newton's laws of mechanics, no matter how many wheels you have.

Vince Calder



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