Finding  the “Just Right” Drivetrain

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was far too comfortable with entering strangers’ homes and making herself comfortable. She ate their porridge, broke a perfectly good rocking chair, and tested out their beds. . . settling in at last to nap in the one that was apparently good enough for her.

Her rough awakening by the disgruntled, large and hairy homeowners drove her out the window and hopefully to better life choices. It was quite an ordeal to get that “just right” bowl of porridge.

But, humans like what we like and finding the “just right” fit is worth the struggle. It just doesn’t justify breaking into someone’s home and eating their breakfast.

Luckily, finding the “just right” drivetrain for your next used car purchase doesn’t involve any breaking or entering. Still, it is just as important to do some research and try a few things out to make sure you land with the car that fits you.

What is a Drivetrain?

You can thank the drivetrain for getting you from point A to point B. It contains the components that transfer the power from your engine through the transmission and ultimately to the wheels. It consists of the transmission, the driveshaft, the axle shafts, and different joints that allow the shaft and axle to move.

Four Main Types

There are four different types of drivetrains available. Learning the basics of how each one works is the best place to start:

Front Wheel Drive

This is the most common type of drivetrain in cars. The engine’s power is routed to the two front tires. The back tires just spin along for the ride. All the motion comes from the front.

Rear Wheel Drive

This might seem obvious, but it is basically the opposite of front wheel drive. The engine moves the two tires in the rear and they push the front tires along. This is most common in high performance cars and trucks. It provides better traction if you are hauling or towing something but offers less control in slippery or snowy conditions.

Four Wheel Drive

When a vehicle has a four wheel drive possibility, the engine power is divided between the four wheels, setting them all in motion. This is good for off-roading or in bad weather where the roads are slick, wet, or frozen. The four wheel drive option should only be used when the conditions demand it. Driving in four wheel drive on dry roads can do damage to the drivetrain.

All Wheel Drive

Since most vehicles have only four wheels, it might sound like four wheel drive and all wheel drive would be the same thing. And, you wouldn’t be too wrong. In all wheel drive, all tires are getting power and have the capacity to work independently of the others, making adjustments for weather. The main difference is that it is all wheels, all the time.

Four wheel drive is more of a setting you can turn on and off for hauling or bad roads. All wheel drive is on at all times, which is helpful if bad weather is common.

Finding your Fit

Goldilocks and her search for the “just right” fit took some time and some sampling. Finding your “right fit” might demand the same. There are a few factors to consider as you find the drivetrain that fits you.

MPG (miles per gallon)

Gas prices are a major factor in a car decision–especially now as we’re all paying more at the pump. It is the most recurring expense in any vehicle. Front and rear wheel drives are the most fuel efficient. Four wheel drive is a gas guzzler, but you are in and out of it so it doesn’t have the same impact.

All wheel drive isn’t as powerful as full four wheel drive, but it is constant and generally less fuel efficient than front or rear wheel drive. All wheel drive vehicles are heavier, which lowers the miles per gallon rate.

Still, that doesn’t mean you need to spit out the all wheel drive idea right away. If you live in an area where the winters are long and the roads are bad, then it could be worth the investment. All wheel drive uses less gas than full four wheel drive so if you find that you would be going in and out of four wheel drive regularly, then it’s worth sampling all wheel drive.


If you live by a beach, then front or rear wheel drive will probably be just fine. If you are moving to a new area, take a look at what is being driven most in the area. These are drivers that have been living in that weather longer than you have, so take note.


Different drivetrains wear down tires differently. Two wheel drive will wear tires down very differently, so it is important to stay on top of the rotation schedule to keep the wear and tear balanced. Matching tires is a must for all drivetrains, but especially in four wheel or all wheel drive, since every tire is getting power and working hard. If one of your tires wears more than the others, you might have to replace all of them just to keep things even–not a small expenditure.

In the hunt for your perfect fit, pay attention to the drivetrain. While finding the “just right” fit for Goldilocks had a rather unhappy ending, your journey through auto dealerships in Utah , fortunately, won’t involve breaking and entering, porridge, or broken chairs. Whether you’re working with a new car dealership or a rebuilt title car dealer here in Utah, the salesperson should be well equipped to help you find the best fit, depending on your driving habits and preferences and Utah’s weather patterns.