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10 Tricks All-Wheel Drive Car Buyers Need to Know

We at All Tech Automotive like to bring you the best in informative automotive news, tips and trends.  We are always scouring the internet looking for the best sources to bring to you!  This week we came across this article on that bolsters our commitment to bringing you the very best in car tips.  We all know that winter can be a treacherous time on the roads with snow and ice.  We are ALWAYS here to help you with snow tires and car repairs but we often get asked our opinion on All Wheel Drive vehicles.  We are not in the business to sell you a car so we have a hard time fully answering that question so here are some great tips to consider if you are in the market and looking at an AWD vehicle.  But please remember, AWD does not replace smart driving!  Be safe out there and enjoy your vehicle but don't forget to contact us to schedule your service with us!

With winter around the corner, many people are again relying on their trusty all-wheel drive cars for some solid performance in the ice- and snow-battered months. And with more and more manufacturers putting power to all four wheels on their latest models, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that there’s a growing need for all-wheel drive vehicles in today’s market. But what are the downsides to owning an all-wheel drive car? Are they really more expensive to own? What are some common issues owners should watch out for?

To answer these and a few other AWD related questions, we turned to Cincinnati-based Subaru specialists Turn in Concepts. These guys tackle everything from complete engine builds for full-blown race cars, to suspension installation, to all-wheel drive system maintenance and repair; and with nearly all Subarus sporting a symmetrical all-wheel drive system (with the rear-wheel-driven BRZ being the only exception), the guys at Turn in Concepts are among the irreproachable experts on the subject.


We recently sat down with the company’s co-founder Tony Barber to talk about the benefits of AWD cars, and came up with 10 buying tips he had for potential buyers who are considering making the switch to all-wheel drive.


1. Get a grip

The first thing Tony stressed is the importance of having the right rubber on the road. “You’re only as good as your tires,” Tony says. “All-wheel drive can be worse than a rear-wheel drive car in the snow with improper tires.” His recommendation for those who see considerable amounts of winter weather is to get an extra set of rims and buy “Winter tires for winter months … and a [set of] summer tire[s] in the summer months.” While buying an extra set of wheels and tires may sound expensive, there’s a solid reason for this extra expense: It’ll eliminate the need to take the summer tires off all four wheels, mount and balance the winter tires, then doing it again in reverse order come spring. With a winter set of tires pre-mounted all you need to do is toss the ice-ready rollers in the garage or basement during warmer months, and when the first sign of ice hits, swap the summer set-up out for the winter tires.


2. Keep it in proportion

In all-wheel drive cars, all four tires need to always have the same rolling circumference. While this is not an issue many of us run into in our daily driven commuter cars, performance-oriented vehicles with all-wheel drive systems sometimes come from the factory with larger rear wheels for increased traction and handling. While the aspect ratios of these tires are carefully considered by the manufacturer to negate the previously mentioned issue, it’s very important to follow the suggested tire size recommendations on a factory wheel. When asked what someone should look for if they think improperly sized tires have been installed on their car, Tony says that most cars have a recommended tire size listed in the owner’s manual, as well as in the driver side door jam. He continues with a word of caution, “If tires are the wrong circumference, wear will occur on the differential units causing premature failure. This can be felt usually by a clunking sound from the drivetrain or by strange driving dynamics.”


3. Different strokes

Tony also reminded us that it’s important to remember not all all-wheel drive systems are created equal. “Many are FWD biased, [which are] pretty much all Honda and Mazda systems.” Manufacturers like BMW prefer a rear-wheel drive bias to give a more performance feel, while automakers like Subaru and Porsche opt for a symmetrical system which “… is designed from the ground up to be AWD, while most other AWD systems are adapted from FWD or RWD drivetrain configurations. This [design] leads to fewer parts, simpler maintenance, and a more reliable system.”


4. Feeling flushed

The next area to consider is lubrication. “Fluid choice is critical,” Tony stresses, “Not all systems use the same fluid and often there can be three different fluids within one AWD system. Front differential, transmission, transfer case, [and] rear differential. The fluid used will vary greatly between makes and models, [so] the owner needs to follow factory recommended fluid use and change intervals. If the car is driven hard, tracked, raced, or [sees] lots of stop and go [driving], the fluid change interval should be halved.”


5. Gotta pay to play

Tony was realistic in laying out the higher cost of ownership for AWD cars. He warns potential buyers that an all-wheel-driven car is usually, “… more expensive to maintain due to [having] more moving parts… and [they have] worse gas mileage.” When I asked what car owners can do to combat these unavoidable issues, Tony tells me that regular maintenance, AWD fluid changes, and component inspections are crucial for the protection of the car’s drivetrain, and the prevention of premature axle and driveshaft joint wear. As for poor fuel economy, Tony suggests avoiding unnecessary braking, staying on top of oil and air filter changes, buying a better flowing air intake system, maintaining good tire pressure, and always driving conscientiously.

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