Front-wheel drive

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Updated: 3/28/2003 1:53 pm
Most vehicles sold today are front-wheel drive. This system uses only the front wheels to deliver power from the engine to the road. Since most engines are also in the front, it's the most efficient way to transmit power from the engine to the wheels. The engine is mounted sideways and connects to the front wheels with a short driveshaft. This requires fewer parts and boosts engine horsepower. Also, the weight of the engine directly over the driving wheels improves traction on slippery or snow-packed roads. Despite these practical advantages, front-wheel drive can limit the performance of your car. Since vehicle weight shifts to the rear during hard acceleration, the front wheels may lose some traction. In rear-wheel drive cars, performance increases because the two rear wheels handle the duty of acceleration, leaving the front wheels to focus solely on steering the car. The disadvantages of rear-wheel drive include the hump inside the car to allow for the long driveshaft, and a differential which adds extra weight and cuts down on fuel efficiency. In the final analysis, front-wheel drive cars are more efficient and economical, and perform better on hazardous roads. For more information on front-wheel drive, consult your owner's manual or an auto dealer.

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