Is Your Subaru’s AWD System Working? How to Tell and Why it Matters

If you’re a Subaru owner, you already know the benefits of having an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system in your vehicle. AWD provides better traction and grip on the road, giving you more confidence when driving in inclement weather conditions or on difficult terrain.

But how do you know if your AWD system is working correctly? In this article, we’ll explain what AWD is, how it works, and how to tell if your Subaru’s AWD is working as intended.

What is AWD?

AWD is a type of drivetrain that sends power to all four wheels of a vehicle. Unlike a two-wheel-drive vehicle, where power is only sent to either the front or rear wheels, a vehicle with AWD distributes power evenly to all four wheels.

Subaru has been a pioneer in AWD technology, with its symmetrical AWD system that evenly distributes power for maximum stability and traction on the road.

How does AWD work?

The AWD system is made up of several components, including the transfer case, differentials, and electronic sensors that work together to ensure that power is evenly distributed to all four wheels.

When driving on a dry surface, power is typically sent primarily to the front or rear wheels, depending on the vehicle’s design. However, if the vehicle detects slippage, the AWD system will automatically engage, sending power to the wheels with the most traction.

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Some AWD systems also allow the driver to manually switch between different drive modes, such as snow or mud, to optimize performance in specific driving conditions.

Signs that your AWD system may not be working

While AWD provides additional safety and control when driving, it’s not foolproof, and there are certain scenarios where it may not function correctly. Here are some common signs that your AWD system may not be working:

  • Reduced traction when driving on slippery surfaces, such as snow or ice.
  • Difficulty turning or handling the vehicle.
  • Unusual noises coming from the drivetrain such as grinding or whining.
  • A warning light on the dashboard indicating an issue with the AWD system.

If any of these symptoms occur, it’s essential to have your vehicle inspected by a Subaru-certified technician to diagnose and fix the problem.

How to Maintain Your AWD System

To ensure that your AWD system is functioning correctly, it’s crucial to follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your Subaru. Regular maintenance not only ensures your vehicle’s safety but can also extend the lifespan of your vehicle.

The following are essential maintenance procedures that will help keep your AWD system functioning correctly:

  • Regular tire rotation and balancing
  • Replacing worn tires
  • Regular inspections of the transfer case and differentials
  • Checking and replacing the transmission and differential fluids as needed

By following these maintenance procedures, you can ensure that your Subaru’s AWD system is always functioning correctly.

Why AWD Matters for Vehicle Safety

A working AWD system can provide added safety and control when driving, particularly in inclement weather conditions. A vehicle with AWD is less likely to lose traction and skid, reducing the risk of an accident.

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Additionally, AWD systems can help vehicles maintain stability and control when driving on uneven or irregular terrain, such as mountain roads or off-road trails. With a well-maintained AWD system, you can have peace of mind when driving in any condition.

Subaru AWD: A Pioneer in AWD Technology

Subaru has been a pioneer in AWD technology for over 40 years, with its symmetrical AWD system that provides maximum stability and control on the road.

By following the recommended maintenance procedures and being aware of the signs that your AWD system may not be working, you can ensure that your Subaru is always performing at its best.


Q. Does every Subaru come with AWD?

A. Yes, every Subaru vehicle comes standard with symmetrical all-wheel drive.

Q. Does AWD improve fuel efficiency?

A. While AWD can slightly reduce fuel efficiency due to the added weight and friction of the system, newer AWD systems like those found in Subaru vehicles are designed to minimize this impact, resulting in only a slight difference in MPG.

Q. Can you switch off AWD in a Subaru?

A. No, AWD is standard on all Subaru vehicles and cannot be switched off. However, some models have a mode where power can be shifted and only two wheels will receive power for better fuel efficiency.

Q. Can I use AWD in dry conditions?

A. Yes, AWD can be used on dry roads. However, it’s essential to remember that AWD is not a substitute for safe driving, and it’s still necessary to be cautious and drive responsibly.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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