Does AWD and 4WD affect auto insurance?

All-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) systems are more complex and costly to repair than standard front-wheel drive systems. That means your auto insurance rate may be higher for an AWD or 4WD vehicle. However, the vehicle's system is only one initial piece that insurers consider when calculating your rate, and some of the other factors tend to have more impact.

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Do AWD vehicles cost more to insure?

AWD vehicles are generally more expensive than cars with only front-wheel drive. Additionally, repairs to AWD systems usually run higher than standard two-wheel drive repairs. With a more expensive vehicle and a more complex driving system, an AWD vehicle may raise the risk for an auto insurer, and your insurer will price the policy accordingly. But AWD is far from the only or overriding factor in your car insurance premium.

Your driving history and location, as well as other safety features of your car, will all be part of the equation. You won’t necessarily see a higher rate just because your vehicle has AWD.

Are 4WD vehicles more expensive to insure?

Like AWD vehicles, 4WD vehicles may be more expensive to insure since they’re more robust than conventional cars. Consult with your auto insurer to find out whether and to what degree off-roading is covered by your auto insurance policy and learn about the cheapest cars to insure.

What is the difference between AWD and 4WD?

All-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) are both designed to power all four wheels of a vehicle. The main distinction is that AWD sends torque automatically through a computer, while 4WD requires the driver to engage and disengage the mechanical system based on the terrain. AWD is safe for use on paved roads and is the most common system included in today's cars and SUVs. 4WD is made for off-roading or challenging conditions like ice and snow but should not be used on paved roads.

How does all-wheel drive work?

AWD essentially works on its own. If you own a vehicle with AWD, all wheels will receive power at all times, no matter how fast or slow you're driving. The front and rear wheels will each receive the right amount of power along the way as the computerized system adapts to the driving conditions. In muddy or slippery conditions — or if you speed up — more torque will go to the rear wheels. While these basics apply to all AWD systems, different vehicle models will have different AWD features.

What is four-wheel drive?

When you hear "four-wheel drive," you may picture car commercials featuring big trucks driving through mud, water, or mountains. 4-wheel drive is designed for serious off-roading, with the driver in control of when the system kicks in. Since it's mechanical and not computerized, a 4WD system will have manual controls (the simplest being a lever), allowing the driver to decide when and how to increase traction for difficult terrain. Remember that 4WD isn't suitable for on-road driving and can cause both damage and danger on smooth, paved roads. It should always be disengaged during normal driving.

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