AWD vs. 4WD

It’s happened to most of us. The weather is snowy, and the roads are icy, but we still have places to be. While driving, our wheels lose traction, suddenly spinning out of control, and we have a mini heart attack. It’s terrifying to lose control of your car, even if only for a brief second. To prevent this, many people choose to purchase a car with all-wheel-drive (AWD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD). A safer vehicle provides security and a peace of mind for you and all other passengers in your car.

When it comes time for you to buy a new car, be informed about your options to make the best decision to fit your needs.

What is the difference between AWD and 4WD?


  • Most of the time, AWD stays on all the time.
  • The driver does not have to think about how to control the system, and whether or not to turn on the feature.
  • The system is managed by a computer, which controls both the front and rear axles.
  • Since AWD is continuous, all four wheels are constantly adjusting to the conditions of the road. For example, on the highway, most of the power will be sent to the rear wheels, to maximize fuel efficiency.
  • In rain or snow, the system adapts, evenly distributing power to all four wheels. This significantly reduces the chance of wheels spinning out of control, and increases drive grip.
  • Provides maximum traction because either all the wheels are being controlled at the same time, or the system senses a loss of traction and sends power where it is needed.
  • Suitable to adapt to the changing conditions of the road in harsh weather.
  • Provides maximum control, safety, and traction.


  • Typically, 4WD must be turned on by the operator of the vehicle. There is usually a switch to flip or a lever to pull to activate 4WD. In this case, the driver must know when to turn it on and when it is not necessary. Under normal road conditions, it isn’t necessary to turn on 4WD.
  • When the feature is off, the vehicle is in 2WD. Usually, the rear wheels are in control, with front wheels spinning freely.
  • Designed for ruggedness/rocky roads, and icy weather with deep snow.
  • When activated, all four wheels receive power when
  • Maximum pulling power.
  • Because the feature is only activated when needed, fuel consumption is reduced.

Driving a 4WD or AWD vehicle gives you a great advantage during harsh road conditions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it is always possible for your vehicle to lose traction and spin out of control. Having 4WD or AWD helps you get going faster, but when you brake, you can slide easily. For this reason, it’s extremely important that you ALWAYS exercise extreme caution while driving in the snow. Drive slowly, and keep a large distance between you and the car ahead of you.

Whether you should get 4WD or AWD depends on where you live. If you will only need to use the feature once or twice a year, it’s probably best you get a 4WD. 4WD is also better for off-roading. AWD does all the thinking for you, so you don’t have to worry about turning on/off the feature. Take into consideration where you live, the average weather conditions, and what you will be using your vehicle for before making a decision.

By: KayLynn P.

Do you have questions about your insurance? Find an insurance agent near you with our Agent Finder

Buzz Your
Insurance Agent

Search for a local agent with our agent finder map.

Agent Finder

Search All Blogs

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Buzz Your
Insurance Agent

Search for a local agent with our agent finder map.

Agent Finder

Want to learn more about our blog writer?

Read more about KayLynn's background.

Click Here

Search All Blogs

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Home Sweet (and Secure) Home: The Dynamic Duo of Maintenance and Insurance

Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Unveiling the Secret Weapon of Homeownership (It’s Not What You Think!)

5 Hot Cities Millennials Are Flocking To (and Why They’re So Awesome)

Beyond the Usual: Top 5 Trending Cities Millennials Are Obsessed With (and Why You Should Be Too!)

From Ride-Sharing to Reality: 5 Billion-Dollar Ideas Born in the Last Decade

Billion-Dollar Babies: 5 Game-Changing Ideas Born in the Blink of an Eye

Unveiling the Different Players (and Why We’re Your Guide!)

Insurance Companies: Not All Created Equal! Find Your Perfect Match with Our Help

Beyond the Beep Beep: Unveiling the World of Supercars

Supercars: Where Luxury Meets Speed (and Million-Dollar Price Tags!)

Home Sweet Home, Protected Home: Why Upgrades Need Insurance Check-Ups

From She-Sheds to Sunrooms: How Home Improvements Impact Your Insurance Needs

Beyond Nicknames: The (Sometimes Bizarre) Tales of How American Cities Got Their Names

From Coin Flips to Greek Love: Unveiling the Hilarious Histories of City Names (and a Tip for Yours)

Small Biz Squad Unite! Why Independent Insurance Agents Are Your Secret Weapon

Ditch the Corporate Maze: Why Independent Insurance Agents Are Your Small Business Champions

Cracking the Code: Cash Value, Loan Value, Surrender Value – It’s All in the Life Insurance Policy!

Beyond the Death Benefit: Unlocking the Hidden Gems of Your Life Insurance Policy

Buckle Up for Safety: Are Cars Getting Smarter Than Crashes?

From Seatbelts to Superpowers: How Tech is Transforming Car Safety (and How You Can Benefit)