Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

AWD Pros and Cons

AWD Pros and Cons — should you buy an AWD vehicle?

If you’re considering a new or used car, don’t automatically assume that all-wheel drive (AWD) is the best choice. Just like any other automotive decision, there are AWD pros and cons that you must be aware of before you buy an AWD vehicle.

AWD Pros

An AWD accelerates better from a stopped position, than one with front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive that’s equipped with the same tires. Four driven tires improve your chances of gaining traction on slippery road surfaces.

• AWD reduces the chances of spinning out after a turn. After the turn, accelerating an AWD vehicle provides more traction than a 2WD in the same situation.

• An AWD has a higher resale value than a 2WD version of the same make and model.

AWD Cons

•  AWD cost more to buy

• AWD vehicles get lower gas mileage than a comparable 2WD vehicle

•  AWD cost more to maintain (fluid changes and repairs to the AWD system). Tire rotation is critical.

•  If you puncture a tire and it’s not repairable, you’ll have to buy four new tires. Here’s why: Most AWD carmakers require the tire tread depth on all four tires to be within 2/32” of each other. If you damage one tire and the replacement tire is more than 2/32” different than the other three tires, you must either shave the new tire down to the tread depth of the other three or buy four new tires.

Very few tire shops offer tire shaving services. So you’d have to order a shaved tire from an online source and wait for it to arrive or purchase four tires.

• AWD does not help you stop any faster than a comparable 2WD vehicle

• AWD does not help you corner better than a comparable 2WD vehicle.

• AWD vehicles give you a false sense of security when driving on slippery roads. Generally speaking, more AWD and 4WD vehicles end up in the ditch than 2WD when road conditions are slipperly, due to over confidence.

Buying winter tires for a 2WD is an alternative to AWD

For less than the difference in purchase price between a 2wd and AWD version of the same vehicle, you could buy an extra set of wheels and winter tires.

Winter tire advantages over AWD

• Winter tires provide better traction than all-season tires on slippery road.

• Winter tires may actually outperform an AWD vehicle equipped with all-season tires when accelerating from a stop.

• Winter tires stop faster on slippery roads than an AWD vehicle equipped with all-season tires.

• Winter tires provide better control in turns than an AWD vehicle equipped with all-season tires.

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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