, °F

Personalized Forecasts

Featured Forecast

My Favorite Forecasts

    My Recent Locations

    Is Winter Driving Safer With Four-Wheel, All-Wheel Drive Vehicles?

    By By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
    January 24, 2014, 12:21:57 AM EST

    Winter brings a slew of challenges to drivers, from black ice to snow. Some vehicles are built with features to help get drivers home safely, including are four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

    Unlike front- and rear-wheel drive, which use only two wheels to propel a vehicle, four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive use all the wheels of a car to move.

    The differences between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, however, come in deciding when all four wheels get the power.

    Rock Salt Versus Salt Brines: What's Best for Road Safety?
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center
    The Advantages, Dangers of Rooftop Snow

    With an all-wheel drive, an electronic sensor sends the power to all four wheels and determines when all the wheels are needed.

    As for four-wheel drive, the driver is in charge of manually putting all four wheels to work by flipping a switch within the vehicle. Typically, these cars have different ranges for various speeds, including the highway, off-road driving or driving in heavy snow.


    Both four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive benefit the driver by giving them a larger margin of error.

    "You are splitting the amount of grip between four wheels, giving the driver more margin for error," Director of the Bridgestone Driving School Mark Cox said.

    While these two types of drives have some benefits and may be considered ideal for driving under winter conditions, in the end, safety is dependent upon the driver.

    "All-wheel drive creates a false sense of confidence," Cox said. "It doesn't really matter how many wheels propel your vehicle forward but when it comes to turning and stopping all vehicles are created equal."

    Some content above contributed by Executive Editor for OnTheSnow.com Roger Leo.

    Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

    Report a Typo


    Thank you for your patience during our recent Comments outage. Comments have returned, including comments on previous stories & blogs before the outage. As before, Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

    More Weather News