The majority of cars and trucks on the road today are two-wheel drive. Some models come in all-wheel drive and pickup trucks come with four-wheel drive. The difference between the two styles is how many wheels have power available to them at once. Two-wheel drive vehicles have two wheels moving the vehicle, where four-wheel drive has all four doing the work. Depending on what kind of car you have, power routes to either the front wheels or the rear wheels. Let’s answer the question, “How does two-wheel drive work?”
Modern cars are a complex system of parts and electronics, but they can be separated into different components that do specific jobs. Two-wheel drive cars have the same basic components no matter if they are front- or rear-wheel drive. The drivetrain is the collection of components in a car that gives power to the wheels in order for them to move. Two-wheel drive works like this: the engine supplies the horsepower and torque, which is delivered to the transmission. A rotating driveshaft is connected to the transmission, and as it turns, it converts the energy to the gearbox in the axle. When the gears in the axle start to turn, so do the wheels. In a two-wheel drive car, there is only one drive axle. Any vehicle that has two drive axels is a four-wheel drive.
Driveshaft and Axle
The driveshaft runs the length of the car and bisects the axle, which runs across. Where the driveshaft and axle intersect is called the differential. In order to deliver the power to the axle, the driveshaft first hooks into the differential. The system of gears in the differential takes the power from the driveshaft and changes the direction of the power so the axle can use it. Gears within the differential meet with the gears in the axle that are connected to the wheels. The wheels are fixed at either end of the axle and are actuated by the power. This propels the car forward or backward. When the engine is firing, and all those gears are turning in unison, the wheels move too.
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