How to Change an FWD to an AWD? How Much Would it Cost?

Converting a Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) vehicle to All-Wheel Drive (AWD) can be a substantial modification, and it involves several complex processes. Whether you’re interested in enhancing your vehicle’s traction and stability or you’ve acquired a FWD vehicle that you want to convert to AWD, this comprehensive 3000-word blog post will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about the process, costs, and considerations.

How to Change an FWD to an AWD? How Much Would it Cost?

Converting a Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) vehicle to All-Wheel Drive (AWD) involves selecting a compatible AWD system, removing FWD components, installing AWD components, modifying suspension and brakes, adjusting the engine, integrating electrical systems, and extensive testing. Costs vary widely but can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on factors such as the vehicle’s make and model, parts quality, and labor rates.

Here’s a table summarizing the key steps involved in changing a Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) vehicle to All-Wheel Drive (AWD), along with cost considerations:

StepDescriptionCost Considerations
1. Identify CompatibilityChoose a compatible AWD system or kit.Costs vary based on the AWD kit or components selected.
2. Remove FWD ComponentsDisassemble and remove FWD components.Labor costs for disassembly and removal.
3. Install AWD ComponentsInstall AWD components and modifications.Cost of AWD components and any necessary modifications.
4. Modify Suspension and Braking SystemsAdapt suspension and brakes for AWD.Costs for suspension and brake modifications.
5. Adjust the EngineModify the engine to accommodate AWD.Costs for engine adjustments and additions.
6. Electrical and Control SystemsIntegrate electrical components and controls.Expenses for electrical and control systems.
7. Testing and CalibrationThoroughly test and calibrate the AWD system.Labor and testing costs for ensuring functionality.
Total CostTotal cost, including parts and labor, can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Please note that the total cost can vary significantly based on factors such as the vehicle’s make and model, the complexity of the conversion, the quality of components chosen, and the labor rates of the automotive shop or mechanic performing the work. It’s advisable to obtain quotes and consult with professionals to get a more accurate cost estimate for your specific project.

Understanding FWD and AWD

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD)

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) is a drivetrain configuration where the engine’s power is transmitted to the front wheels. Most passenger cars, including sedans and compact cars, are equipped with FWD because it offers good traction and fuel efficiency while simplifying the vehicle’s design.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD)

All-Wheel Drive (AWD) is a drivetrain configuration that distributes power to all four wheels, providing improved traction and stability. AWD systems are commonly found in SUVs, crossovers, sports cars, and some high-performance sedans. They can vary in complexity, with some offering full-time AWD, while others engage the rear wheels only when needed for traction.

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Why Convert from FWD to AWD?

There are several reasons why someone might consider converting a FWD vehicle to AWD:

  1. Enhanced Traction: AWD vehicles typically provide better traction, especially in adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or ice. This can improve safety and control while driving.
  2. Off-Road Capability: AWD can enhance off-road performance, making it a desirable feature for those who enjoy off-roading or outdoor adventures.
  3. Towing Capacity: AWD can improve a vehicle’s towing capabilities, which is valuable for those who need to tow trailers or other heavy loads.
  4. Performance: AWD can enhance a vehicle’s handling and performance, making it a popular choice for sports cars and high-performance vehicles.
  5. Personal Preference: Some individuals simply prefer the feel and handling of an AWD vehicle, and they may choose to convert their FWD vehicle to align with their preferences.

Converting FWD to AWD: The Process

Converting a FWD vehicle to AWD is a complex and labor-intensive process that typically requires the expertise of experienced mechanics or automotive technicians. Here are the key steps involved:

1. Identify a Compatible AWD System

The first step is to choose a compatible AWD system that can be installed in your FWD vehicle. This may involve selecting an AWD system from the same manufacturer or an aftermarket AWD kit designed for your vehicle’s make and model.

2. Remove the FWD Components

The existing FWD components, including the transmission, differential, and axles, need to be removed from the vehicle. This is a time-consuming process that requires lifting the vehicle and disassembling various parts.

3. Install AWD Components

The AWD system’s components, such as a transfer case, additional driveshaft, and rear differential, need to be installed. This often involves significant modifications to the vehicle’s chassis and drivetrain.

4. Modify Suspension and Braking Systems

The vehicle’s suspension and braking systems may need modifications to accommodate the additional weight and components associated with AWD.

5. Adjust the Engine

The engine may require adjustments to accommodate the AWD system, including the addition of a front driveshaft and modifications to the engine bay.

6. Electrical and Control Systems

AWD systems often require additional electrical components and control systems to manage power distribution and traction. Wiring and computer systems must be integrated into the vehicle.

7. Testing and Calibration

After the conversion is complete, extensive testing and calibration are necessary to ensure that the AWD system functions correctly and safely.

Cost Considerations

Converting a FWD vehicle to AWD is a significant and costly undertaking. Several factors can influence the total cost:

1. AWD Kit or Components

The cost of the AWD kit or components themselves can vary widely based on the vehicle’s make and model and whether you choose OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or aftermarket parts. Costs can range from a few thousand dollars to several thousand.

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2. Labor and Installation

Labor costs for the conversion are substantial, as it requires extensive disassembly and modification of the vehicle. Labor costs can range from $5,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the conversion.

3. Additional Modifications

If your vehicle requires suspension, braking, or engine modifications to accommodate the AWD system, these can add significantly to the total cost.

4. Electrical and Control Systems

Integrating electrical components and control systems is essential but can contribute to the overall cost.

5. Specialized Tools and Equipment

Mechanics may need specialized tools and equipment for the conversion, which can add to the expenses.

6. Vehicle Make and Model

The total cost can vary depending on the vehicle’s make and model, as some vehicles are more challenging to convert than others.

7. Warranty Considerations

Converting a FWD vehicle to AWD may void the manufacturer’s warranty, so it’s essential to consider potential future repair costs.

Considerations Before Converting

Before embarking on a FWD to AWD conversion, consider the following:

1. Legal and Emissions Compliance

Ensure that the conversion complies with local laws and emissions regulations. Non-compliant modifications can result in legal issues.

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Determine whether the cost of the conversion justifies the benefits you seek. Consider whether purchasing an AWD vehicle may be a more cost-effective solution.

3. Resale Value

Keep in mind that a converted vehicle may have reduced resale value compared to a factory-built AWD vehicle.

4. Professional Expertise

Choose a reputable automotive shop or mechanic with experience in AWD conversions. They can provide guidance and ensure the conversion is done correctly.

FAQs

How much does AWD add to cost? The cost of adding All-Wheel Drive (AWD) to a vehicle varies depending on the make and model. It can add a few thousand dollars to the price compared to a Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) version of the same vehicle.

Can you convert FWD to AWD? Converting a FWD vehicle to AWD is possible but complex and costly. It involves significant modifications and is typically performed by experienced automotive professionals.

How much more expensive is AWD than FWD? AWD vehicles are generally more expensive than their FWD counterparts. The price difference varies by make and model but can range from a few thousand dollars to more.

Can you change the drivetrain of a car? Changing a car’s drivetrain, such as converting from FWD to AWD, is possible but involves extensive modifications and is usually performed by professionals.

Is it worth upgrading to AWD? Upgrading to AWD is worth considering if you prioritize improved traction, stability, and performance, especially in adverse weather conditions or off-road situations.

Is it worth paying extra for AWD? Paying extra for AWD can be worth it if you value the benefits it offers, such as enhanced traction and control. It’s particularly valuable in regions with challenging weather conditions.

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Are FWD cars good in snow? FWD cars can perform reasonably well in snow with proper tires and cautious driving. However, AWD or 4WD vehicles typically have better traction in snowy conditions.

Is AWD better than FWD? AWD provides better traction and stability in various conditions, making it superior to FWD in terms of handling and performance, especially in adverse weather.

Is AWD better than FWD in snow? Yes, AWD generally outperforms FWD in snowy conditions, as it provides power to all four wheels, enhancing traction and control.

Is AWD cheaper on insurance? Insurance costs for AWD vehicles can vary depending on factors such as make, model, and location. In some cases, AWD may be associated with slightly higher insurance premiums due to the vehicle’s higher value.

What are the negatives about AWD? The negatives of AWD include increased cost, slightly lower fuel efficiency compared to FWD, and the potential for more complex maintenance and repairs.

Is AWD worth the gas mileage? AWD vehicles tend to have slightly lower gas mileage compared to FWD counterparts due to the added weight and drivetrain complexity. Whether it’s worth it depends on your priorities and driving conditions.

How much does a drivetrain swap cost? The cost of a drivetrain swap can vary significantly depending on the make, model, and complexity of the conversion. It can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Is it hard to do a drivetrain swap? Drivetrain swaps are complex and typically require advanced automotive knowledge and specialized tools. It is often best left to experienced professionals.

How long does a drivetrain swap take? The duration of a drivetrain swap varies based on the complexity of the conversion, but it can take several days to weeks to complete.

Does AWD burn more gas than FWD? AWD vehicles generally have slightly lower fuel efficiency compared to FWD due to the added weight and the continuous power to all four wheels, which can increase drag and reduce efficiency.

Is all-wheel drive safer in rain? AWD can enhance safety in rainy conditions by improving traction and stability. However, safe driving practices are essential in wet conditions regardless of the drivetrain.

Is 4WD or AWD better in snow? Both 4WD and AWD offer advantages in snowy conditions. AWD is suitable for most situations, while 4WD is often preferred for off-road or heavy-duty applications.

Conclusion

Converting a Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) vehicle to All-Wheel Drive (AWD) is a complex and costly process that offers benefits such as enhanced traction, off-road capability, and improved performance. However, it’s crucial to carefully weigh the costs and benefits, consider legal and warranty implications, and choose a qualified professional to perform the conversion. While the process can be rewarding for enthusiasts and those seeking specific vehicle capabilities, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and thorough research is essential.

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