All-wheel-drive, also known as four-wheel-drive differs from most conventional drive systems because power is supplied to all four wheels equally. Most vehicles have either rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, but in these systems, only two wheels provide power and traction. All-wheel-drive systems are more heavily built than conventional drive systems because of the anticipated additional stress of driving in poor weather, off-road or use in commercial vehicles. Because of this additional engineering, all-wheel-drive systems are very durable and long-lasting with proper maintenance. This maintenance is not to be disregarded, because the cost of repairs or replacement can run at least $5,000.00 and more.
In AWD, the engine is connected to a transfer case. This is a transmission, with drive shafts for the front wheels, and a driveshaft that takes power to the rear wheels. This is a complex system and there are many variations. Some vehicles have independent rear-wheel suspension, others have a solid rear axel. There is also intelligent AWD, which means that a computer module decides how much power goes to each wheel. In addition to the gearboxes and transfer cases, there are numerous linkages that keep the wheels in contact with the road and allow you to traverse rough terrain. Some specialized AWD vehicles can climb like mountain goats, but we will confine our attention to passenger and light duty commercial vehicles.
Years ago, AWD was used almost exclusively in off-road and construction vehicles. Today, AWD is an option on almost all models, and every major manufacturer offers several AWD Models, so whether you want an economical commuter or a Super Duty pickup or SUV, you will find your dream machine. Over the past ten years, sedans and luxury vehicles have adopted AWD and they are no longer just for off-road driving and commercial use.
The major maintenance points are the transmission, differential, and transfer case. These components take all the stress of transmitting the power to the road and their internally lubricated parts need regular maintenance. Just as your engine needs oil changes, the transmission fluid and gear oil also require maintenance. Fortunately, this is not a frequent service stop. Few vehicles require this service more frequently than 30,000 to 40,000 miles. Some manufacturers push this service to a much as 70,000 miles or more, but there is a catch. If you drive in poor weather conditions, tow, or use your vehicle off-road check with your Honda Dealer for their recommendations. The average cost of changing the fluids in an AWD vehicle ranges from $75 to $175. Well worth the investment.
With all four wheels driving the vehicle, wheel alignment is critical. A wheel alignment consists of measuring the angle of the tires up and Down (Camber) and side to side- (Caster). Unless these measurements are to factory specification, your vehicle will not handle properly, result in excessive tire wear, and may even cause unsafe driving. All the linkages that connect your wheels to the frame and drive train are controlled by these links, and even normal driving can cause the wheels to become misaligned. The cost? Expect to pay between $100 to $200 dollars. That is the cost of just one tire, and a poorly aligned vehicle can wear out a new set of tires in less than 10,000 miles. Again - this is a good investment. A wheel alignment will also include checking the wheel balance, and an inspection of all the suspension components.
Have your wheel alignment checked at least once a year or 15,000 miles. Heavy off-road use or commercial vehicles should be checked at least twice a year. Call Rolling Hills Honda and make an appointment if you have not had AWD vehicle service done for over a year.