Does all-wheel drive make insurance cheaper?

Car insurance may cost more if your car has an all-wheel drive system, since they can be more expensive to repair after damage.

Andrew Hurst

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Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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Having all-wheel drive probably won't make your car insurance coverage any cheaper. The cost of car insurance is determined by a range of factors, including the special features that come with your car. Since all-wheel drive is more sophisticated than front-wheel drive, you're more likely to pay more to insure a vehicle that has all-wheel drive capabilities.

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The cost of a vehicle with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive is more expensive than one with a front-wheel or two-wheel drive system. Since a vehicle with four-wheel drive is meant to be used off roads, where conditions can be unpredictable, it may be more expensive to insure a four-wheel drive vehicle than an all-wheel drive model in the long run.

Key takeaways

  • All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles are more expensive to insure than cars with front-wheel drive capabilities.

  • Four-wheel drive vehicles may be more expensive to insure than all-wheel drive vehicles in the long run, since you're more likely to drive them regularly off road and may get into accidents.

  • Drivetrain is just one of the factors that insurers use to determine your rates, meaning the cost of your insurance will depend on other variables, like your location, car make and model, and accident history.

Does AWD make insurance cheaper?

No, having AWD doesn't make insurance cheaper. AWD, or all-wheel drive, is an upgraded driveline that powers all four of your vehicle's wheels. This allows you to control the car better on hazardous surfaces, like wet or snowy roads.

Cars with all-wheel drive are more expensive to insure than those with front-wheel drive (FWD), because the all-wheel drive system is more sophisticated. In the event that your all-wheel drive car were totaled, it would cost more to repair or replace than a front-wheel drive vehicle.

While it's generally more expensive to insure cars with AWD than FWD, it's not necessarily true that all cars with four-wheel drive cost more to insure. Since the cost of car insurance varies depending on your vehicle's make and model, it's possible that a car without all-wheel drive will cost more to insure if it's a premium make and model.

→ Learn more about how to find the cheapest auto insurance coverage for you

What does AWD mean?

AWD, or all-wheel drive, refers to the parts of your car that deliver power from your vehicle's engine to its wheels. When roads become dangerous and your wheels begin to lose traction, your car may automatically start to use its all-wheel drive capability. Alternatively, some models use AWD all of the time. 

In addition to all-wheel drive, cars can also have front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive only delivers power to the two front wheels. Front-wheel driving systems require smaller suspensions and have better fuel efficiency than AWD cars. However, front-wheel drive cars don't offer the same traction in adverse driving conditions as vehicles with all-wheel drive.

Another variant of a two-wheel driving system is rear-wheel drive (RWD). RWD sends the power from the engine to the back two wheels, effectively pushing the car forward. It's relatively uncommon for most new cars that aren't high-performance models to have rear-wheel drive systems, but driving enthusiasts tend to prefer it over front-wheel drive for horsepower. 

Is all-wheel drive more expensive to insure than four-wheel drive?

It's not necessarily the case that cars with all-wheel drive capabilities will be more expensive to insure than four-wheel drive models. "All-wheel drive" may be used interchangeably with "four-wheel drive," but while all-wheel drive models aid performance in slick conditions, four-wheel drive vehicles are meant to handle poor driving environments on roadways and off. 

If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle and spend a lot of time using your car for off-road driving, you could be more likely to be involved in a crash than someone who drives primarily on-road. If you're involved in a crash that requires you to make a claim with your policy's comprehensive or collision coverage, you could pay more for insurance afterwards.

What affects the cost of insurance?

Auto insurance premiums are determined by a range of factors, including your car's drivetrain. Your location, coverage limits, driving history, and personal information can all impact what you pay for insurance.

If you have a car with all-wheel, four-wheel driving capabilities, or premium features like anti-theft systems, lane departure software, and brake assistance, you may be able to lower the cost of your car insurance using discount opportunities. Insurance companies commonly offer discounts for: 

  • Safe drivers who avoid accidents or tickets

  • Bundling your auto insurance with your home or renters insurance

  • Completing a driver's education or safe driving course

  • Paying for the entire cost of your car insurance all at once

  • Being affiliated with certain organizations, schools, businesses, or associations

Besides discount opportunities, you could find lower rates by shopping around for coverage. Policygenius recommends comparing quotes from top car insurance companies, along with coverage options, discount opportunities, and customer service reputations to get the best option for your needs.

→ Read more about the factors that impact the cost of insurance

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is AWD more expensive?

All-wheel drive is more expensive than front-wheel drive due to its relative sophistication. Since vehicles with all-wheel drive capabilities require slightly larger suspensions and more power, more material is required to build (and repair or replace) these types of cars. For these reasons, all-wheel drive vehicles are considered upgrades of other models and, as a result, cost more.

Is AWD more expensive to maintain than FWD?

Yes, all-wheel drive systems are more expensive to maintain than front-wheel drive cars. There are more parts to an all-wheel drive vehicle than a front-wheel drive car, resulting in more complexity and a higher chance of one component requiring care. All-wheel drive also requires more fuel, since it powers four wheels instead of two. These means that fill-ups are more regularly needed.

What type of vehicle is best for the snow?

Vehicles with all-wheel and four-wheel drive are best for snowy conditions. However, despite the increased control that these vehicles offer, you should still exercise caution when driving in wintry conditions. Always make sure that your vehicle's tires have sufficient air pressure and enough tread to get through the winter months.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Expert reviewer

Certified Financial Planner

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner

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Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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