Main Every Car Is Rear Wheel Drive Discussion

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02:03:42 PM Aug 12th 2010
Why it's a trope...
02:06:25 PM Aug 12th 2010
The video clip on the bottom of the trope page explains why it is a trope and not just a thread. There are a lot of people out there that actually assume cars are RWD either because they don't know any better, don't care, or because driver's ed completely omits any kind of information and training for the handling of non-RWD cars. Therefore, all cars are RWD unless otherwise pointed out. That's what this trope is about.
12:08:06 PM Aug 18th 2010
edited by
Maybe some technical description of the effective differences between RWD and FWD would help clarify this for us non-petrolhead tropers. How do you tell them apart? How do they handle differently? Are there particular stunts that only work in one or the other?
11:43:24 AM Sep 2nd 2010
Perhaps a page image would help...
01:54:20 PM Sep 15th 2010
Drivetrain Distinctions:

Front Wheel Drive: The engine drives the car's front wheels.

Handling: FWD cars are front heavy, and tend to understeer. This means if you turn into the corner too fast, the front wheels lose traction and the car keeps going straight. Stepping on the throttle will make the car understeer more. Lifting off the throttle will cause the car to understeer less, and in downhill turns, may even cause the car to oversteer. Reliability: FWD uses CV axles, which can turn the wheels no matter the angle. This is the weakpoint. Turning and accelerating, or accelerating with heavy loads will wear the axles out quickly. Also, front wheel drive cars eat front tires all the time, but barely wear the rear wheels. Traction: Because most of the weight is in the front, the drive wheels have the best static grip. However, when you accelerate the weight comes off the front wheels, and you can lose enough grip this way to get wheelspin.

Rear Wheel Drive: The standard (or so you think!), engine drives rear wheels only.

Handling: Since the weight is better balanced, the rear wheels do much more work, and the car can turn in quickly. However, caution is needed, as turning in too fast will cause the rear wheels to break grip and the car will oversteer, causing the back end to come around front. Lifting off the throttle typically brings the back in line, whereas stepping on the throttle increases oversteer. You will spin the car around a few times if you do this and don't know how to countersteer (turn oppposite way of the spin). Reliability: Varies, old cars and trucks use a "live axle" which is solid driveshafts to the hubs. This is strong enough for heavy hauling, but is terrible for handling. Independent suspension brings along CV axles, but unlike a FWD car these are not under as much stress. RWD cars tend to wear the tires more evenly, since the rear wheels are doing the work of accelerating, and more of the work in braking and cornering. Traction: Varies, but Front Engine RWD is the worst for static traction. Mid Engine (many super cars) and Rear Engine (Porsche and VW Beetle Classic) cars have the best traction for 2WD, at the expense that they oversteer most dramatically.

Four Wheel Drive or All Wheel Drive (4WD, 6WD, 8WD, 100WD, etc.) engine can drive all the wheels.

Handling: Varies depending on the drivetrain, can have handling like a FWD car, RWD car, or its own kind of handling. For cars with Full-Time 4WD (All 2005+ Subarus, Mitsubishi Lancer, some supercars), they tend to be understeery, but when pushed past the limit, will oversteer some and then achieve a strange balance where the car remains sideways while rounding the turn. This is known as Four Wheel Drifing, and is difficult to control as all the wheels are sliding and the car will go however it feels like. A good AWD system will rebalance power to the wheels to keep this from happening. Reliability: Varies depending on the type. Viscous clutch "AWD" kinds are utterly useless, and tend to be FWD or RWD until needed. Full time systems require all the drive axles to be in working shape, and Locking 4WD (as seen on offroaders) can be driven as long as one axle set is working. Traction: 4WD cars have the best traction. With all the wheels providing power, it is much more difficult to get rut stuck or get caught in the middle of an uphill.
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