All Wheel Drive (AWD) versus Winter Tires: Which is More Important?

All wheel drive (AWD) systems are highly praised for offering superior handling and traction, especially in rough weather conditions such as mud, snow and ice. However, is an AWD system superior to winter tires? This article will look to answer that question. Hansma Automotive specializes in automotive repair in the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario. Click here to contact us today.

All Wheel Drive (AWD)

An AWD system is one that allows power from the engine to run to all four tires of the vehicle. AWD systems will intelligently change the power output of each wheel individually in order to maximize traction and minimize free spinning. This action naturally allows for an increased level of traction when compared to a front-wheel or rear-wheel drive system, which only allows for power to run to two wheels at a time. 

AWD differs from 4WD (four wheel drive) in the sense that the power output to the different wheels is constantly changing. 4WD systems typically run a constant output of power to each of the 4 wheels.  

Winter Tires

Winter tires operate on the principle that a more aggressive tire tread is required to grip through snow and slush, as well as to provide superior grip on ice. Winter tires have a tread that wicks away snow and slush, keeping the treads clear and ready to continue gripping. Summer and all-season tires do not feature this style of tread, and as such will bog down and lose grip in snow and slush. 

Importance of Winter Tires

The below video does a great job of showing the difference between FWD and AWD with both summer and winter tires on snow. 

To summarize the results of the video: winter tires are an absolute must in snow. Both FWD and AWD are basically useless in the snow without winter tires.

Posted on December 29, 2014 .