Do All-Wheel-Drive cars require more Upkeep?

All-Wheel-Drive carThere are some car owners who do not just want to be masters of the road. No, these folks want to be masters of the terrain! They want to be able to go over cross-country areas that an ordinary car wouldn’t be driven over. The ability to do off the road driving is best done with an all-wheel-drive car. These automobiles have the thrill and challenge that a number of people just want to have. But going over rough territory does pose the question whether the all-wheel-drive cars need more upkeep than other car models. After all, these vehicles are met to take on the impossible.

There is no question that these vehicles can handle extremely rough weather. However, the all-wheel drive cars are much more complex than an ordinary two wheel drive automobile. The all-wheel-drive is in permanent four-wheel drive status, and there is no way to shift to a higher or lower range. Given the rough landscape these cars are driven over, there is going to be a need to inspect the tires and brakes more often than an ordinary vehicle. The all-wheel-drive is a beast that is meant to be able to take on stream crossings. Keep in mind, there is a possibility that the electrical system in the car can short out due to contact with the water. That is going to require work being done on the car.

An SUV is a four-wheel-drive that usually is not used for off-road driving but can be used for towing back conditions. This stress on the car may require changing the transfer case and differential fluids on a periodic basis. Rough driving means shortening the span of time between general maintenance work. Changing oil and transmission fluid will probably have to be done more in line with the old 3000 mile inspection, instead of the 5 to 8000 mile intervals most cars today will use. The oil changes on these vehicles can be well over $100, and any trouble with the differential is going to be more expensive to repair than the costs incurred with a two wheel drive automobile.

Expenses do add up with a four-wheel-drive. It doesn’t matter if it’s rocky road or two feet of snow, these vehicles are going to be used in less than perfect conditions. They are heavier than the conventional family car, and this added weight is going to create a burden to an all-wheel-drive automobile. That can equate to greater maintenance needs. Over the life of the automobile, it is quite possible to realize additional cost of as much as $10,000 beyond the actual purchase price. This is an idea of the amount of repair and service work that is going to be needed in addition to gasoline.


Still, there are people who don’t just like to operate a four-wheel-drive; they need to have one. Not every owner purchases a four-wheel-drive to show off in downtown traffic. For people who live in rural areas, especially those that experience bad winters, the all-wheel-drive vehicle can actually be a lifesaver. People who live in such places respect their cars and are willing to pay extra for good maintenance. That kind of attention will pay for itself in a blizzard. Others who simply like the power and authority of an all-wheel-drive have to be willing to accept the extra care costs that come with the ride. The benefit for them obviously comes during major storms, through which an all-wheel-drive can maneuver with a lot less problems than an ordinary urban car.

The answer to the original question is yes a four-wheel drive will cost more than a regular car model. The owner should take a close look at the owner’s manual and any recommended maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer. If someone is wishing to buy a used all-wheel-drive car, it is not a bad idea to check to see if the warranty is still valid. An all-wheel-drive vehicle that is use only on paved highways is not going to experience the same rough driving as if it were used on a backcountry road. That is probably the most important indicator of whether more upkeep is needed. The tougher the terrain harder it will be on the vehicle.

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