Fundamentals of Automotive All-Wheel Drive Systems C0305

Topics: Powertrain & Propulsion

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.

Also available as an SAE On Demand Course!
Fundamentals of Automotive All-Wheel Drive Systems (PD730556)


A technical background in any discipline is beneficial, although not required.


"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

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

  • 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
    • Typesmechanical, 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_palazzoloJoe Palazzolo is Director of Business Development and Electrified Product Strategy at Dana Incorporated’s Light Vehicle Drive System business where he is responsible for managing business development for electrified systems and guiding the strategy for electrified products. Previously, Joe was at GKN Automotive where he held roles of increasing responsibility, including chief engineer for geared products. Prior to that, he was a development engineer and technical fellow at other automotive suppliers.

Mr. Palazzolo holds more than a dozen patents and is an award-winning author of two books, High-Performance Differentials, Axles & Drivelines and How to Rebuild the Ford 8.8 and 9-inch Axles. He also wrote three chapters in the Automotive Engineering Encyclopedia. He 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, which he has been teaching globally since 1999. In 2013, he reached the SAE Fellow membership grade which recognizes his technical and professional accomplishments to the industry.

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 bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University and a master’s degree in Automotive Engineering from Lawrence Technological University. He has received numerous patents for his work and creativity in advancing mobility systems.

Duration: 1 Day
CEUs: .7

Format: Classroom

Event ID: LM042

Location: Troy, Michigan

Session Info:

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Fees: $599.00

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