How to Tell if Your Car Is Front or Rear-Wheel Drive

Find out if you're getting ripped off on your car insurance in less than two minutes.
Find insurance savings (100% Free)
No long forms · No spam · No fees
Why you can trust Jerry
Jerry partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed insurance agents, and never influenced by our partnerships. Learn more baout how we make money, review our editorial standards, reference out data methodology, or view a list of our partners
There are several ways to check what kind of wheel drive your car has, and they're all pretty simple.
Rear-wheel drive cars offer a much different experience compared to driving a front-wheel drive vehicle, so it's important to know which kind of vehicle you have. Rear-wheel drive cars tend to have more power, while front-wheel drive vehicles exhibit more control, especially on wet or slick roads.
Learning how to tell the difference between a rear-wheel drive (RWD) and a front-wheel drive (FWD) can help when it comes time to choose a car, especially if the distinction is important to you. Here are four ways to tell the difference.
Let Jerry find your price in only 45 seconds
No spam · No long forms · No fees
Find insurance savings (100% Free)

Check the engine

The orientation of the engine is an easy way to tell if you have a front or rear-wheel drive car.
Cars with the engine in the back always have a rear-wheel drive. Cars with the engine in the front are either rear or front-wheel drive, depending on the position of the belts.
Engines mounted sideways, with the belts facing one side of the car or the other, most likely belong to front-wheel drive vehicles.
Engines mounted front-to-back, with the belts facing the front of the car, most likely belong to rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Check the owner's manual

Looking at the owner's manual is another easy way of checking if you have a front- or rear-wheel drive. Most often, you can find this information at the front of the manual under the vehicle specifications.
Trucks, full-size SUVs, and muscle cars tend to have rear-wheel drives. Family cars, compacts, minivans, and luxury cars tend to feature front-wheel drives.

Search the vehicle online

You can also research the vehicle online to see what type of drivetrain it has.
Do a web search for your vehicle's make, model, and year, and look for the car's specifications in the results.
Look for abbreviations such as RWD for rear-wheel drive and FWD for front-wheel drive. Other abbreviations include AWD for all-wheel drive and 4x4 for four-wheel drive.
The vehicle manufacturer's website is also a great place to find specifications for newer cars.

Look for an axle or rear differential

Some other components that can help you determine if you have a front- or rear-wheel drive include the axle and the differential.
Check between the front and rear wheels. Whichever set of tires has an axle shaft between the two wheels is the one with the drive wheels. If you notice both a front and rear axle, then you either have an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle.
You can also look under the rear of the car for a differential. A differential, if present, should be about the size of a pumpkin, and sit directly between the two rear tires. In addition, the differential should have a long solid tube connecting it to the transmission, located directly behind the engine.
Regardless of whether you have a front- or rear-wheel drive vehicle, you need to look for cars with safety features. And while car insurance premiums for front- and rear-wheel drive cars are the same, the improved handling of a front-wheel drive vehicle makes it less likely to be involved an accident.
Jerry can connect you with the best insurance provider options, regardless of your car’s model or age. A licensed broker that offers end-to-end support, the Jerry app generates cheap quotes, helps you switch plans, and will even help you cancel your old policy.
RECOMMENDED
Haven’t shopped for insurance in the last six months? There might be hundreds $$$ in savings waiting for you.
Judith switched to Progressive
icon savingsSaved $725 annually
Alexander switched to Travelers
icon savingsSaved $834 annually
Annie switched to Nationwide
icon savingsSaved $668 annually

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free