Rear-wheel drive has become a popular choice for vehicle designers, but whether you choose a front wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or an all-wheel drive depends on a few factors such as the conditions you drive in and what kind of driver you are. Here’s what you should know about the rear-wheel drive, how it works, its benefits, and its drawbacks.
What is rear wheel drive?
Rear-wheel drive is a transmission system that provides power to the rear wheels of a vehicle while the front wheels take care of the steering. Rear-wheel drive is most commonly found on mid to large-sized sedans and family cars, trucks, SUVs, and sport and performance cars.
How does a rear wheel drive work?
A rear-wheel drive vehicle sends all of its power to the rear wheels. Getting power to the rear wheels begins with the engine. The engine in a rear wheel drive is located at the front of the vehicle. The engine is connected to a driveshaft, which sends power to the rear wheels. A lot happens during the process, and this is just a simplification.
Combusting fuel in the cylinder will push the pistons to spin the crankshaft. This creates rotational energy. This energy is sent to the transmission, which takes power from the crankshaft and applies it to various gear ratios. The transmission will use engine power to spin the driveshaft. It’s important to note the driveshaft is connected to the engine on one end and the differential at the other end. The differential is what will send power to the wheels.
Pros and Cons of Rear-Wheel Drive
Better vehicle balance and therefore better handling is one of the main benefits of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. A front-wheel drive will carry much of the weight of the engine and transaxle, whereas a rear wheel drive will help spread the weight evenly from front to back. This is why most sports cars are rear-wheel drive. If the rear-wheel drive has a solid axle design, it will be able to take more abuse without needing expensive repairs.
If you run over a curb, for example, with a solid axle rear-wheel drive, it’s unlikely anything will break. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be careless when driving and jump curbs when it seems convenient. The downside of a rear-wheel drive is that it doesn’t handle as well as you might want in rainy and snowy conditions due to increased loss of traction. This lack of traction is due to more weight being at the front of the car than at the back. If safety is a concern (and it should be), rear-wheel drive vehicles are best not used if you’re going to be driving in snow. A rear-wheel drive will handle much better in dry conditions.
Rear-wheel drives are most common in performance cars, such as race cars, but because they are also found in every day vehicles, it’s important to know how they work and under what conditions they’re best suited for. Rear-wheel drive isn’t for every vehicle and every driver, but it might be perfect for you.