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OUR BLOG

05/09/2016

Does the Placement of the Engine Affect Handling?

Most of us know where to locate our engine – they can usually be found under the hood of the car at the front of the vehicle. This design allows for more interior space in the car for drivers and passengers, as well as providing easy access to the engine for car owners or mechanics. Having a front-mounted engine usually means having front-wheel-drive, so most of the power from the engine is delivered to the front two wheels. Of course, if your car or truck is a four wheel drive, then power is delivered to all four wheels, no matter where the engine is located.

But are front-mounted engines the best from a performance perspective? Amsoil Dealer - Go Synthetic Lubes has a post which will cover that very question. 

In a rear-wheel drive situation, the load of the car is spread across all four tires. The two rear tires are responsible for force generation and ‘pushing’ the vehicle along while the front tires take care of steering. In a front-wheel drive situation, the front wheels are responsible for both steering and acceleration. This puts a lot of strain on the tires, meaning that they wear out more frequently, as well as decreasing the handling capabilities of the vehicle. 

Rear-wheel drive provides a better balance of weight across all four wheels, whereas, with front-wheel drive, most of the weight is at the front of the vehicle, decreasing efficiency. This improved balance of weight also makes rear-wheel drive cars more stable when tackling corners, and is the preferred layout for most sports cars.

Rear-wheel drive cars can accelerate much faster than front-wheel drives. When speeding up quickly from a stationary starting point, the weight of the car moves towards the back. In front-wheel drive car, this creates a lot of drag and added strain on the engine, preventing rapid acceleration.

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Due to the design of front-wheel drive cars, a problem known as ‘torque steer’ can occur. During fast acceleration, the steering begins to pull to one side and can affect the car’s handling, and the driver may feel like they have to ‘fight’ the steering wheel.

One advantage that front-wheel drive cars have over rear-wheel drive cars is that they are more stable when driving on snow and ice, due to increased traction in the front wheels. They are also usually more economical to manufacture and provide a lot more passenger and trunk space.

So, there you have it. The placement of the engine does have an impact on the car’s handling. We can think of the difference between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive as the difference between pulling a vehicle, or pushing it. Placing the engine at the front and sending most of the power to the front wheels provides better stability and traction on slippery road surfaces, a larger interior which is more comfortable for passengers, as well as more trunk space. Sending the power mainly to the back two wheels provides a better balance of weight across the tires, prolonging their lifetime. It also means better handling on corners, no torque shift, and faster acceleration.

If you are looking for an everyday family car, perhaps its acceleration rate is not your biggest concern, and you would prefer to compromise on handling in return for a more economical model with more trunk space for family vacations. In this situation, a front-wheel drive vehicle would be the better option. 

If you are looking for a recreational vehicle to take down to the track on the weekends and you want to be able to race off into the distance ahead of your friends, a rear-wheel drive vehicle would be a better choice for you due to its fast acceleration and improved handling.

Take Advantage of the Benefits of a Synthetic Oil Change in Milwaukee County

Your choice of engine oil can also affect your engine’s performance and longevity. Synthetic oils offer so many benefits – they work better at a wider range of temperatures, provide better protection against wear and may not need to be changed as frequently. Speak with Amsoil Dealer – Go Synthetic Lubes today at (262) 746-2095 and find out more about how your car can benefit from a synthetic oil change in Milwaukee County.
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