Most of the automobiles that are prevalent in the market today are manufactured with front wheel drives (FWD). This is a trend that has risen towards the end of the 20th century, as most cars of the 20th century were manufactured with rear wheel drives (RWD). There are plenty of reasons for this paradigm shift from FWD to RWD, but in the last couple of years, it is a fact that car manufacturers are increasingly shifting towards manufacturing such cars once again.
The primary difference between FWD and RWD is the set of wheels that the engine controls. In RWD cars the engine is placed at the front end of the car, and the set of wheels that are powered by the engine are the rear wheels. This layout is commonly referred to as the front-engine rear-wheel drive layout, or the FR layout. Any motorcycle that you see on the road follows this layout, as it is the rear wheels that are powered by the engine.
Emergence of FWD Cars
There are plenty of reasons why RWD cars were replaced by front wheel drive cars, and the primary reason was that of car safety. Car manufacturers and drivers began to realize that the driving experience could be much safer if the car was fitted with a front wheel drive. The majority of the weight of the car is on the front wheels in the front wheel drive, and as a result of this the car tends to go straight, similar to an arrowhead that places the head at the front tip of the shaft. It still holds true that if a car skids or goes out of control, a front wheel drive enables the driver to regain control of the car easier and faster, thus avoiding car crashes. If a person does not know how to drive such vehicles properly, there's a high chance that he will be unable to regain control of the car if it slides, as at least half of the weight is on the rear side resulting in the car rotating.
Despite these obvious safety concerns, most luxury cars, and even racing cars for that matter, are endowed with rear wheel drives. The explanation for this is that since the weight of the car is almost equally distributed between the front and the back, there is greater balance while the car is in motion. This makes the car easier to handle, and lends a dynamism to its movement that cannot be experienced with front wheel drive cars. If the car needs to be stopped suddenly, they are far more superior to FWD cars as well.
Many car enthusiasts are firmly against RWD cars, and point out the following reasons for their inherent dislike of such vehicles.
- Since the engine is in the front, the transmission shaft that connects to the rear wheels have to travel under the entire length of the car's body. This increases the overall weight of the vehicle.
- Only someone who knows how to drive such vehicles can handle the vehicle effectively. Average drivers find it difficult to maneuver these cars.
- These cars are more expensive than FWD cars. This is due to the higher cost of assembly, owing to the presence of a long transmission tunnel that connects the engine to the rear wheels.
- On wet surfaces like snow, rain, gravel etc. these cars are tougher to navigate, as the car is being powered from behind, like a push, vis-a-vis a FWD car, where the engine acts like it is pulling a vehicle.
- Many people also complain about the lack of interior space and leg room in RWD car. This is again due to the presence of the transmission tunnel under the body of the car, running from the engine to the rear wheels.
Along with these factors, there are other reasons why many people prefer to drive them.
- Since all the auto parts are spread out over a wide area, the repair and maintenance costs are relatively lower. Their repair does not require complicated disassembly and uses lesser specialized tools.
- Since the front wheels are concentrating on the steering, more power can be applied to the rear wheels and the vehicle on a whole under dry conditions. Since the force is lesser on the front wheels, more friction can be utilized towards steering.
- Under heavy and sudden braking, the car stops smoothly since the weight is evenly divided between the front and the rear of the vehicle.
- There is no presence of 'torque steer' in RWD cars, vis-a-vis FWD cars. The presence of this effect in FWD cars causes the car to shift slowly towards the right side at high speeds, owing to the difference in length of the shafts that connect the engine to the wheels.
Driving RWD Cars in Snow
Driving them in snow is a skill that can be acquired only through practice and caution. It is definitely more dangerous to drive a RWD car in snow than a FWD car, but for someone who is aware of how to drive RWD cars, this is no big feat. Just adhere to the following guidelines and you will do just alright.
- Drive slowly.
- Avoid taking sharp turns.
- Be informed and be prepared.
- Know how to control the car in a skid.
- Know your roads.
Fortunately, most of them that are being manufactured today come with traction control, which makes it much easier to drive in slippery conditions. Thus the main disadvantage is negated. Thanks to the other benefits, more and more manufacturers are moving towards making them and this type is becoming more common once again. Here is a list of RWD cars that are the best in the market.
- Ford Mustang
- Chrysler 300
- Dodge Charger
- BMW 3 Series
- Ford Crown Victoria
- Lincoln Town Car
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Honda S2000
- Infiniti J30
- Lexus SC
- Toyota Supra
You can easily locate buying tips over the Internet, and this will show you the massive upsurge in the sales of these vehicles in the market today. Though these cars are risky for inexperienced drivers, manufacturers are constantly working on the improvement of the safety factors of the car through constant engineering and processing. Once you have figured out how to drive RWD cars efficiently and safely, you will also realize its benefits and advantages.