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Insurance Premiums for Four-Wheel Drive Vs Two-Wheel Drive

White car speeding on wet road; rain; driving
Here's what you need to know...
  • Front wheel drive and rear wheel drive vehicles are viewed equally as far as insurance rates go
  • There is a price difference seen in insurance costs between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles
  • Because of various risk factors associated with four-wheel drive vehicles and because they tend to be more expensive than two-wheel drive vehicles, their insurance premiums are significantly higher

Most of us who have been driving for any length of time understand the fact that the type of car we drive affects how much we’ll pay for car insurance.

Armed with that knowledge, you might be wondering if there is a difference in insurance rates between front-wheel drives (FWD), rear-wheel drives (RWD), and four-wheel drives (4WD).

We’ll look at these issues in this article, and hopefully give you some additional insight on this subject.

Before you read any further, why not start searching for online car insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code above?

We all know that different cars have different insurance rates, but understanding why may take some research. The difference in rates has to with several different factors including:

  • The safety rating of an individual car
  • The types of drivers that typically purchase said car
  • How much it would cost to replace the vehicle

These factors are all part of a complicated formula that insurance companies use to determine individual rates.

The Difference between Drive Trains


When we talk about FWD, RWD, and 4WD vehicles we are simply referring to how a vehicle’s transmission works.

  • In an FWD car, it is the front wheels of the vehicle that cause it to move. Those wheels receive power directly from the motor without a complicated transmission system. They are considered to be the most fuel-efficient among the three and are certainly the easiest to maintain.
  • The RWD system was the standard for American cars up until the mid-1980s. With this type of setup, the rear wheels are connected to the engine through a long transmission system running from front to back, and they put the car in motion.
  • 4WD vehicles are designated as those capable of having all four wheels being driven by the motor simultaneously. “Capability” is an important designation due to the fact that many 4WD vehicles only use it on a part-time basis.

For normal street driving in calm weather conditions, the vehicle can be switched into 2WD drive. In poor weather conditions or off-road scenarios, the vehicle can be switched to 4WD.

Because there are so many moving parts, and energy must be transferred along a longer path, RWD cars are significantly less fuel-efficient and more costly to maintain.

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Safety Issues and Car Insurance

Every vehicle sold in the United States is rated for safety. Cars that are considered less safe will incur a higher insurance rate than their safer counterparts.

Cars are not inherently safer based on the FWD or RWD difference alone. Therefore, the difference in insurance premiums between FWD and RWD are minimal.

That being said, many of today’s modern RWD cars tend to be larger and heavier – factors which some insurance companies might consider as part of safety.

4WD vehicles, on the other hand, are generally considered less safe because of the activities they are associated with.

Let’s face it, off-road driving is inherently more dangerous than day-to-day street driving. A 4WD vehicle is therefore considered a greater risk and will incur higher insurance rates.

It’s also important to note that many 4WD cars ride higher off the ground. This means they are at greater risk of rollover in a street accident, thus making them a higher safety risk.

Vehicle Value and Car Insurance


There is virtually no difference in these two standard drive train systems (FWD and RWD) from the standpoint of an insurance company. It is only the difference between 2WD and 4WD that is significant.

4WD vehicles tend to be considerably more expensive than 2WD vehicles.

When you’re talking about collision and comprehensive insurance – insurance designed to replace a totaled or stolen vehicle – it only makes sense that more expensive vehicles will garner higher insurance rates.

That means your 4WD SUVs and crossovers will be more costly to replace for an insurance company, so companies will charge a higher rate for coverage.

Driving History and Insurance

The last thing to consider is your driving history. If it is poor, it really won’t matter what type of car you drive, your premiums will be high.

Regardless of whether you’re driving a FWD, RWD, or 4WD car you need to do your best to avoid tickets, accidents, and circumstances that could result in a claim.

The Internet is a great resource for comparing car insurance rates  start your search now by entering your ZIP code in the box below.

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