Is a AWD Expensive To Maintain?

I am looking into buying a new AWD vehicle and I was curious how much it was going to cost to maintain. I decided to do some research and see if it was going to be expensive and how much it was all really going to cost. So, here’s what I found out!

Are all wheel drives expensive to maintain? Yes they can be expensive to maintain. The maintenance of an AWD can differ due to a variety of conditions and stress that can be put on the vehicle. Due to AWD systems being more complex and taken off-road, it is expected that they require more upkeep. Over the life of the vehicle, it is quite possible additional costs can be as much as $10,000!

You might want to know the details of why they are more expensive to maintain and how much the maintenance is going to cost, make sure to read on to learn more.

Why are AWD expensive to maintain?

AWD vehicles are expensive to maintain for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, All Wheel Drives cost more upfront by dealers charging a premium between $1,500-$3,000. The fact that it is an AWD means that it has a more complex system than a 2WD. The fact that it is complex, means that there are more components of the car that can go wrong, thus needing repairs or replacements adding to the overall maintenance costs.

The All Wheel Drive system uses more energy sending power to all four wheels as it is an AWD, this increases in fuel usage, So you will be required to spend more on fuel. Also, due to the extra complexity of the vehicle, there is extra weight. This extra equipment required for an AWD system can equate to 50kg more to the cars curb weight than your average 2WD, which requires the engine to work harder to keep the vehicle moving. Furthermore, hampering the fuel economy.

The conditions and terrain in which the vehicle is used can also impact the need for maintenance. In harsh weather and rough terrain, some parts can wear or be damaged quicker than usual, needing replacement or repair at more regular intervals. The tougher the terrain the harder it will be on the vehicle. For example, if you go off-road and go through a stream crossing, there is a possibility that the electrical system could get damaged, requiring repair on the car. Some AWD SUV’s can be used for towing which can cause more stress on the car, this may require changing of fluids (differential and/or transfer case) on a more frequent basis.

Inspection of tyres and brakes can be required more often if your vehicle is being taken off road, particularly if there is debris in the areas you have been driving, as they can wear or tear the brake pads and cause things to get stuck in your tyres, causing punctures.

Not only that, but the tyres on an AWD are particularly important, you need to ensure all tires have equal tread as to not disrupt the traction sensors of the vehicle. Rotating the tires and replacing all of them at once will ensure you won’t have an issue with the traction system.

On top of all of that, you still have the general costs of annual services. While the prices vary between major and minor services, Generally Servicing an All Wheel Drive Vehicle is quite an expensive exercise due to the extra technology and extra fluid required to transfer the power to all four wheels.

A minor service will typically include:

  • Changing the oil and oil filter
  • Lubricating the chassis if it has not been factory sealed
  • Inspection of all fluids, filters, belts, hoses, brakes and emissions

A major service will typically include:

  • All minor services
  • Replacement of various filters, fluids and spark plugs
  • Timing belt replacement (at manufacturer’s recommended replacement interval)
  • Other specified major services related to the fuel delivery, emissions and the ignition systems

Keeping up with your annual services and the general upkeep of the car will ensure the safety of the vehicle, the warranty of the vehicle and a great resale value when it comes time to sell.

How much is the maintenance going cost?

The cost for maintenance of any vehicle will vary depending on what is required and where and/or who is conducting the maintenance as well as the model of vehicle you have. Not all services are created equal and not all mechanics are equal. Therefore, when it comes to maintaining your vehicle, cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Below is a table of some prices and various types of upkeep that could be required for your AWD.

MaintenanceLow Range CostHigh Range Cost
Annual Service$280.00$720.00
New Tyres (each tyre)$50.00$350.00
Installing New Tyres (each tyres)$13.00$45.00
Brake Pad Replacement (per axle)$100.00$300.00
Electrical System (Short Circuit)$200.00$400.00
Front or Rear Differential (Light/Medium Repair) ie oil seal, adjust backlash$200.00$400.00
Front or Rear Differential (Heavy Repair) ie overhaul or rebuild$400.00$800.00
Differential Fluid Change$80.00$150.00


When should maintenance occur?

Firstly, you should always adhere to the owners manual. There are specific dates and kilometres for a reason, and you should not ignore them when it comes to maintaining your AWD. It is recommended to check the fluids of your vehicle regularly and top them up if required.

When and how often other upkeep is required is completely dependent on the conditions, terrain and circumstances in which you put your AWD through, this is the most important indicator of whether more maintenance is required. If you are only driving on asphalt roads, then following the manufacturer’s operators manual should be sufficient, However, if you are taking your baby on glorious off-road adventures and pushing her to the limits, you will need to keep a closer eye on your vehicle as wear and tear could happen a lot sooner.

For example, changing the oil and transmission fluid every 4,000-5,000km instead of every 10,000km intervals most cars use today, can keep your baby up and running efficiently. Most manufacturers propose the differential fluid gets changed every 30,000-60,000km.

What outweighs the expenses of maintenance?

There are many values that outweigh the expenses of maintenance on an AWD. Below is a few points why the expenses of upkeep are worthwhile:

AWD can maneuver in harsh weather (snow, ice, stormy weather etc)

  • AWD can handle rougher terrain ( rural roads, stream crossings, ice roads etc)
  • Most AWD offer a better resale value
  • A vehicle with AWD is easier to sell
  • Off-road adventures and experiences
  • Safer when frequently going off road

It is important to remember that the upkeep of your vehicle is vital, especially on an AWD. However, if you are not willing to put in the coin to keep your baby up to a serviceable standard, you shouldn’t really purchase her. None the less, with many vehicles the benefits of AWD only outweigh the extra costs if you plan on using them frequently on rough roads or in harsh weather conditions.

You need to remember practicality vs cost and if the upkeep expenses are worth your while and if you are just purchasing because of the power and authority an AWD has, you need to be willing to accept the extra costs for running a mechanically complex vehicle.


Related Questions

What are some AWD vehicles?

In the following are some AWD that are praised among individuals for there features and design.


  • Ford Escape
  • Subaru Outback
  • Subaru Cross trek
  • Ford Territory
  • Toyota Rev 4
  • Jeep Cherokees
  • Jeep Renegade

How much is an AWD to buy?

If you’re looking at purchasing an AWD brand new from a dealership you are looking at an absolute minimum of $20,000 and up for a 2018 model. Otherwise, buying an older model or used car can save you a lot of money. If you do purchase a used car or an older model be sure to check the warranty and that it is still viable and get an independent mechanical inspection completed as it could save you a ton of cash later.

Will an AWD work in snow?

Yes, an AWD will get you around when facing snowstorms and icy roads. It is recommended to have winter tyres for the extra traction. It is advisable to have a set of winter and summer tyres if you get frequent snow storms.

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