These days it seems like you need thick skin to drive a 4 x 4 car, especially in the city. This type of vehicle, mostly represented by SUVs, is seen as a symbol of consumerism and recklessness. When deciding on the vehicle they’ll buy, drivers often discover many disadvantages of 4 x 4 cars – such statements are true, so let’s see what are the most important and how they can be overcome:
1. Lower fuel efficiency
This drawback is usually listed on top of all, and is the one infuriating environmentalists the most. The truth is that AWD systems require more fuel to power the additional wheels and consume more than 2WD vehicles. However, many luxury or high-performance 2WD vehicles can consume as much as a 4 x 4 one, and fans of these large cars say that air travel causes even more pollution than their vehicles.
– Don’t opt for 4 x 4 unless you really need it
– Choose newer models which are more fuel-efficient
– Avoid extremely large vehicles
– Walk more and drive less
– Choose hybrid or electrical models if you can afford it
2. Bigger risk in case of frontal collisions
4 x 4 vehicles are usually heavier, which means they are easier to maneuver and swerve in case you need to avoid an obstacle. On the other hand, if you need to stop suddenly and you have nowhere to turn, driving a 4 x 4 heavy car is more dangerous because the distance needed to brake and stop is longer.
– Drive carefully and avoid high speed
– Avoid single lane roads where you have less space to swerve in case of an upcoming collision
3. Higher purchase costs
4 x 4 vehicles feature additional systems and parts needed to transfer power to the second set of wheels, which means you’ll be paying a few thousand dollars more for such a car.
– Opt for a 4 x 4 car only if you are dealing with bad weather or off-road conditions often. Otherwise, the investment is simply not worth.
4. Higher repair costs
Especially with AWD vehicles, costs rise because the car features additional equipment in order to provide continuous and intermittent AWD. The vehicle will need extra computers and systems, which means there is more to repair in case of breakdown or defects, thus increasing costs.
– Pay attention to car maintenance to avoid expensive repairs when problems add up and your vehicle breaks down in the middle of the road.
5. More vibration and noise
More complex systems and the transfer of power to additional wheels means the vehicle will have a higher number of rotating parts, such as propeller shafts, and will consequently produce more noise and vibration. If you want your cabin to be silent, a 4 x 4 is probably not the best option for you.
– Use the 4WD mode only when you need it
– Keep your vehicle in good condition to avoid abnormal noise and vibration from moving parts
– If you really need to trade silence for better performance, get used to the idea your favorite music may get overcome by noise at times
6. Tight corner braking phenomenon
4 x 4 cars are known to perform well in slippery conditions, but not so well on dry paved roads, where the coefficient of friction is higher. The reason is a condition similar to braking, known as tight corner braking phenomenon. What happens is that difference between the rotations of the front and rear axles cannot be absorbed when the propeller shaft between the front and rear axles is connected directly. On more slippery surfaces, the difference between rotations is easier to absorb, but when the friction is higher, this no longer happens.
– Avoid dry, paved roads
7. The false sense of security
A 4 x 4 car is not invincible as some drivers think. Better performance and increased grip do matter, but when it comes to stopping and breaking performance, the additional systems won’t help. Furthermore, 4 x 4 vehicles are more elevated, and some models can be prone to overturning risks.
– Adjust speed to road conditions and drive carefully
8. Complexity eats up space or makes the car heavier
If you are opting for a 4 x 4 traditional fuel-powered car, you’ll notice that the central tunnel connecting the front and rear axles takes some of the interior space. On the other hand, an electrical model won’t have as much drive shafts and parts, but electric components are usually heavier, thus losing the benefits of having fewer mechanical parts.
– Decide what’s most important for you – a lighter car or more cabin space. The higher costs of electrical or hybrid costs also have a role in the equation.
Considering these 4 x 4 vehicle drawbacks and ways to eliminate or ameliorate them, the only conclusion is the following: opt for this type of vehicle only if you really need the extra performance it delivers. Otherwise, you may have to support additional costs and inconveniences without too many benefits in return.