Do I Need AWD? (Pros and Cons of AWD)

Tips

When the cold weather rolls around and the first slippery days confront drivers, it’s tempting to say, “I need an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle to deal with the weather.”  Well, maybe you don’t.  Maybe there’s another solution that is much more economical and may even have better results for you.

There are a lot of people who think having power at all four corners of the vehicle is the answer to all winter can throw at you.  True, you can get going more quickly in an all-wheel-drive (AWD) or 4-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle.  That’s because power can be sent to each wheel, and four traction spots are better than two.  And an AWD or 4WD vehicle may have a higher resale value in places with harsh winters. 

But AWD and 4WD vehicles cost hundreds, even thousands, more.  They use more fuel economy and require additional maintenance.   Some people who get AWD and 4WD vehicles think they’re invincible in the snow when the truth is they might get going more easily but won’t be able to stop any better than with front wheel drive (FWD). 

So, what’s this solution that doesn’t involve forking over thousands of bucks for the latest AWD SUV?  Sometimes it’s as simple as a new set of tires.  For those whose knuckles turn white when the streets turn white with snow, winter tires can make a night-and-day difference in how a vehicle grips the road, especially when it comes to stopping.  A major tire company wanted to find out which was better in the snow: an AWD car with all-season tires or an FWD car with winter tires.  The AWD car was a little quicker off the line, but in most of the other tests, the FWD car with winter tires handled better and stopped in a shorter distance. 

A set of winter tires is cheaper than a new AWD vehicle. It’s an option you should discuss with your Service Center.  Your Service Advisor will have a range of prices and performance features ideal for your vehicle and your driving needs.  Of course, the optimal winter vehicle will be AWD or 4WD paired with winter tires, but unless you are heading out to the tundra, you may just find yourself surprised by how much of a difference winter tires can make.

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