Almost every automaker you can think of (Volkswagen, Fiat, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Kia) makes front-wheel drives. This is perhaps the first type of cars that were actually made. The idea was drawn from how a horse cart works.
If you were born during the time when Nigeria had colonial masters or you wash old movies, you'll notice a lot of horse carts. These carts are pretty much under the direction of the horse. If the horse in front goes left, the cart goes same way; if it stops, the cart comes to a halt too. The horse tends to carry the most power and force that forges the cart to move forward. That's how the front-wheel drive works. The power and weight are reliant on the front wheels of the car. If you're wondering whether that's how the rear wheel and all-wheel drives work too, well, yes!
This article by Naijauto is coming as a quick guide to let you know how FWD works as well as the pros and cons of front-wheel drive so you can understand it better and make a good decision when you plan to purchase one.
1. How does the front-wheel drive work?
Just as the name depicts, the front-wheel drive is one whose force comes from the front. As power is transferred from the engine to the wheels in front, the torque occurs in that same front and the vehicle accelerates. As explained using the horse theory, the front wheels pull the car forward. With the steering, gearbox, and engine all installed in front, the vehicle also has a better traction in that area - thanks to the cumulative weight.
Furthermore, the front wheels tend to do all the turning and rotating. This normally will make you rely on it for most of the safety. Hence, the weight makes it difficult for the car to slip or skid off the road as compared to a rear wheel drive for instance. The rear wheels basically follow the command sent by the front wheels and act as a support to make traction better.
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This photo shows you briefly how the front-wheel drive works
The way the front-wheel drive is designed, you can also tell that it's definitely more affordable. The design is simple as everything is installed in front and you can easily sort out the synchronisation. This is also why you can hardly see any space in the bonnet of a front-wheel drive. Every necessary component has been fitted into the small compartment in front. It makes the vehicle lighter. There's space in the middle compartment and the boot.
But the downside is it makes the car a bit slower than the rear wheel drive. This will still be explained in the article.
What about the brakes?
The brakes on the front-wheel drive causes a different reaction from what is attainable in the rear wheel drive and the all-wheel drive. The front-wheel drive has fantastic traction that also makes it efficient when it comes to saving fuel, but the weight in front means you can't apply brakes suddenly as you would in the rear wheel drive.
The vehicle will likely spin round as a result of the very less weight at the middle and the back. Keep in mind that this weight also makes the front-wheel drive slower. Therefore, when you eventually get it to speed up, you cause a weight unbalance and traction is less. In this case, you won't be able to maneuver easily, and when such goes wrong, applying brakes will not be that smooth. If you know you will be accelerating a lot, then the front-wheel drive might not be ideal for you.
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2. What are the advantages of a front-wheel drive?
Front-wheel drive cars have allow you control your car better on slippery or wet roads as they tend to have better traction. They have an easy to understand design for when you wish to install or troubleshoot certain parts of the car. An average FWD has more space than the rear wheel drive - perhaps as a result of an absent transmission tunnel and a propeller shaft. The front-wheel drive cars are lighter in weight than others.
FWD cars generally offer better control over unfavorable road surfaces
Due to the pulling mechanism with which the front-wheel drive is built, occupants of the car enjoy some comfort and stability while on the move. Less power is need to accelerate a front-wheel drive as compared to a rear wheel which uses the pushing mechanism where all the torque comes from the rear. Front-wheel drive is more fuel efficient as a result of this mechanism as well. The drivetrain and the car itself is quite cheap and user friendly.
3. Disadvantages of front-wheel-drive
Due to the weight in front, an FWD isn't a car for racing as it gets limited power in the front wheels. The weight in front also makes driving uphill hectic as the gravitational pull will be more in effect than the front pull. The brakes aren't as quickly effective as those on all-wheel and rear wheel drives.
Now that you know how the front-wheel drive works, it's in your discretion to decide if you prefer it. But in all honesty, if you aren't a fast racer and won't want to spend above your budget on fuel and maintenance, the FWD is perfect.
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