I have only owned front wheel drives till we brought my new car a couple of months ago and tbh i felt a lot safer in front wheel then rear wheel i guess because dp and i had a bad car accident in a rear wheel car and since the road was wet and had gravel all over the rd we spun out and hit a pole and no we were not speeding we were doing like 20km/h max.
Though the thing i like about my new car is it has traction control so won't spin out and it is a safe car.
Aquaplaning is when you drive over a decent sized puddle, and the grooves in the tyres can't disperse the water quickly enough. The tyres basically sit on the water surface, rather than on the road. FWD or RWD, you're little more than a passenger at that point.
Plough understeer happens when you turn too quickly. The tyres don't have enough traction to overcome the inertia of a tonne and a half of car pushing forward, and the tyres break traction. If you get plough-understeer, you're going too fast for the conditions. The vast majority of instances of cars "aquaplaning" is actually this instead.
Weight-balance is somewhat of an issue, but not all that relevant. The drive wheels is less important than the engine position.
The only really weighty drivetrain component in the back of a RWD car is the differential, which (unless you have a huge 9" diff or something) are comparatively light. Weight balance is influenced far more by where the engine is in comparison to the front axle. Even some FWD cars have very sound front-rear weight distribution, while a lot of RWD cars are hugely front heavy.
On loose surfaces, FWD is FAR safer than rear - unless you have serious rally driving skills and know how to steer with your accelerator. If you're going a bit fast in a FWD car and it breaks traction on gravel, it will generally push straight forward. You ease off the gas a little and straighten the wheel, the wheels will regain traction, and you drive out of it.
In a RWD car, the rear end will break loose. The back of the car will do its best to overtake the front, and you'll be in strife. You have to balance the accelerator and steer back into the skid - too much or too little back steering or accelerator, and you'll find yourself heading FAST into the nearest tree.
If you really know how to handle an out-of-control car, a RWD is easier to balance on the throttle and more controllable. If, like me, you're one of the 99% of people who aren't quite drift-kings or rally aces, a FWD is safer. Less fun, but safer.
There's a reason why FWD cars were always huge in Scandinavia.
Oh dear, are you saying that i shouldnt be driving at 70-80km/hr in rainy weather because im going too fast?
I live in the tropics, i used to live between australias two wettest towns, ive driven in umpteenth severe rainstorms, and a cyclone or two. Im not an idiot, i know if im driving too fast in rainy weather. The speed has nothing to do with whether or not you aquaplane. If you have a light car, and gigantic puddles, you can aquaplane at any speed.
GFP, if i aquaplane i take my foot of the accelerator and let the motor slow the car. I used to drive a rwd car so i didnt have any 'close calls'. But driving a fwd i did. Living in the tropics, where it rains 3/4 of the year, i prefer rwd cars. Not so i can go super dooper fast, but because i find they dont aquaplane as much.
Back to the original question which I think has been comprehensively answered... I agree that the FWD/RWD debate is not relevant to a purchase decision unless you're a rally driver
Chocolate All Gone Now (20-06-2012)
So pretty much the easiest way to explain it is this:
- front wheel drive - means that all the power is transferred by the front wheels, so essentially the car is being pulled forward.
- rear wheel drive - means that all the power is transferred by the rear wheels, so the car is being pushed forward.
These days, with all the modern technology, there is no difference in safety. Just look for a car with a 5 star ANCAP rating! This means its met the world safety standards!
Buy a Mazda, they are the shiznit!
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