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Fundamentals of Automotive All-Wheel Drive Systems C0305

This seminar provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts and evolution of passenger car and light truck 4x4/all-wheel drive (AWD) systems including the nomenclature utilized to describe these systems. Basic power transfer unit and transfer case design parameters, component application to system function, the future of AWD systems, and emerging technologies that may enable future systems are covered.

This course is an excellent follow-up to the 98024-A Familiarization of Drivetrain Components seminar (which is designed for those who have limited experience with the total drivetrain).

Learning Objectives
By attending this seminar, you will be able to:
  • Identify front wheel drive and rear wheel drive vehicle architectures
  • Identify part time, full time, and on demand all-wheel drive systems
  • Explain the benefits of all-wheel drive over two-wheel drive
  • Quantify all wheel drive traction and mobility benefits
  • Describe auxiliary axle disconnect systems
  • Explain basic vehicle dynamics performance and the effect of AWD on performance
  • Identify couplers vs. biasing devices and their basic function
  • Describe the differences between mechanical and electrical implementation in AWD systems
  • Describe basic control strategies and logic
  • Discuss advanced propulsion concepts and systems

Who Should Attend
This seminar is designed for engineers (working with passenger cars, light trucks, and SUVs) who need to master AWD componentry, and the function and effect of those components. Engineers new to the 4WD/AWD field, as well as managers, marketing personnel, purchasing professionals and others interested in all-wheel drive fundamentals will benefit from this seminar.

A technical background in any discipline is beneficial, although not required.
  • Front wheel drive and rear wheel drive vehicle architectures
    • Engine layout -Transverse vs. longitudinal
    • Transmission layout - Transaxle vs. longitudinal
    • Axle layout - Independent vs. beam
    • Powerflow - typical power transmission arrangements
  • Part time, full time, and on demand all wheel drive systems
    • Modes of operation
    • Performance benefits
    • Usage profiles
    • Twin systems
  • Benefits of all-wheel drive as compared to two-wheel drive
    • Performance
    • Weight
    • Packaging
  • Quantifying all-wheel drive traction and mobility benefits
    • Vehicle dynamics
    • Stability Acceleration
  • Auxiliary axle disconnect systems
    • Function
    • Design
  • Basic vehicle dynamics performance and the effect of AWD on performance
    • Oversteer
    • Understeer
    • Neutralsteer
    • Traction Effects
    • Stability Effects
  • Couplers vs. biasing devices
    • Functions of couplers
    • Functions of biasing devices
    • Types—mechanical, electrical, speed sensing, torque sensing
  • Mechanical vs. electrical implementation in AWD systems
    • Active control
    • Passive control
  • Effects of AWD driveline configuration on NVH and weight
    • Consequences of axle ratio selection
    • Halfshaft and propshaft options
  • Basic control strategies and logic
  • Advanced propulsion concepts and systems
    • Active differentials
    • Independent wheel control
    • Hybrid electric all-wheel drive
Joseph Palazzolo

joe_palazzolo"Joe Palazzolo is Chief Engineer - eDrive Systems at GKN Driveline. He is responsible for managing the mechanical design and development of new automotive gearboxes, torque transfer devices, concepts, and industrialization into production applications. His prior professional experience spans the majority of vehicle powertrain systems, including overall chassis design and validation, all-wheel systems design and development, power transfer unit and transfer case design, and torque management device development. Joe has been privileged to contribute while working at Carron and Company, Visteon Corporation, Warn Industries, Magna Powertrain, and Ford Motor Company.


Mr. Palazzolo maintains the ASE certified Master Technician and Undercar Specialist certifications, has chaired the SAE All-Wheel Drive Standards Committee, and has been an active SAE member since 1990. Mr. Palazzolo was a recipient of the SAE Forest R. McFarland Award for distinction in professional development and education in 2007. In 2010, he achieved the SAE Master Instructor designation and continues to maintain this in his three seminars that he has been teaching globally since 1999. In 2013, his technical and professional accomplishments to the industry were recognized by reaching the membership grade of SAE Fellow.


Mr. Palazzolo is the award winning author of High-Performance Differentials, Axles & Drivelines in 2009. In 2013, he furthered his authoring with his second text on How to Rebuild the Ford 8.8 and 9 inch Axles. He has just finalized three chapters to be featured in the Automotive Engineering Encyclopedia to be released in 2014. He has designed, built, campaigned and supported various race cars and teams for both professional and amateur racing organizations. His scope of work has been inclusive of the entire vehicle but also focused on competitive, high-performance drivetrain systems. He holds a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University and a Masters degree in Automotive Engineering from Lawrence Technological University. He has received numerous patents for his work and creativity in advancing mobility systems.

Hotel & Travel Information

Fees: $835.00
SAE Members: $668.00 - $752.00

.7 CEUs
You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.

"Although a complex topic, this seminar provided a one day overview of many of the latest devices in the automotive drivetrain arena that are currently in the market."
Steven J. Wesolowski
Director of Global Strategies
Dana Corporation


"The course content exceeded my expectations and left me much more confident in my understanding of driveline systems."
Mark Schulte
Senior Sales Engineer
Stoneridge, Inc.


"A good introduction to all-wheel-drive systems with good balance between theory and real-world experience."
Chris Teslak
Technical Specialist
Ford Motor Company


"This course saves at least several days to learn driveline technologies compared to self-desk research. In today's world where time is so valuable, the price of class is well worth it."
Sam Liang
Global Insight


"A great overview of the AWD market and the systems and devices that are utilized."
Michael F. Chmelko
Account Manager
Hilite International

b>Also available as an SAe-Learning program delivered online PD130556ON - Fundamentals of Automotive All-Wheel Drive Systems e-Seminar

To register, click the Register button above or contact SAE Customer Service 1-877-606-7323 (724-776-4970 outside the U.S. and Canada) or at

Duration: 1 Day
March 27, 2019 (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) - Troy, Michigan
September 25, 2019 (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) - Troy, Michigan