Car traction: types and characteristics

The wheel-drive car is the transmission of force from the engine to the wheels: there are different types, discover them together with their characteristics.

Car traction: how it works

Simply put, in cars the engine force (torque) is transferred from the driveshaft to the differential, and ultimately to the wheel system. As you know, the world of cars offers a wide variety of models, each characterized by different types of bodywork and engine, but also by different technical choices.

Traction is one of the latter : if it is true that the most
common solution adopted on most cars is the front one , it must be said that the rear one is typical of sports cars.

Read also front-wheel drive cars and rear-wheel drive cars .

What about all-wheel drive ? You may already know that the latter is adopted (mainly) by off-road vehicles, but there are also many sports (and powerful) cars that adopt four-wheel drive, with various technical expedients that serve to “manage” many horses and high displacements, especially if in conjunction with turbochargers.

But now let’s find out all the acronyms concerning car traction and let’s clarify.

Car traction: all the acronyms to know

Vehicles can transmit driving force (the power of the engine) through the use of the various wheels they have. Each traction is mainly determined by its efficiency, and is adopted based on the performance that the manufacturer provides for a particular model.

Not only that, the choice of traction also depends on the position of the engine which can be:

  • front
  • central
  • rear

Then there are special acronyms that clearly identify the number of drive wheels (WD), and in cars they are the following:

  • 2WD – 2-wheel drive, the most common solution for four-wheelers
  • wheels
  • 4WD – 4 wheels, we tend to confuse it with four-wheel drive, but the two are not necessarily connected

Here are the abbreviations for the type of traction :

  • AWD – 4 wheels capable of traction
  • FWD – front wheel drive
  • RWD – rear wheel drive

The wording NxN the total number of wheels for the drive wheels, and gives rise to
these words:

  • 4 × 2 – 4 wheels of which 2 are traction (RWD or FWD vehicle)
  • 4 × 4 – 4 wheels including 4 traction

A curiosity? A “pioneer” of front-wheel drive was Citroen and its Traction Avant in the 1930s.


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