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Fundamentals of Automotive All-Wheel Drive Systems PD730556

This on-demand course 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. It covers 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.

Based on the popular classroom seminar, this eight-module course includes the instructor's insights and industry experience, including answers to participant questions. To engage the learner and ensure that the objectives are met, interactions, knowledge checks, and summaries have been added. A downloadable course handbook is also included. While the course is approximately five hours in length, the estimated time to completion, including knowledge checks and the learning assessment is six hours.

This on-demand course is the equivalent to Fundamentals of Automotive All-Wheel Drive Systems and satisfies a requirement in the Transmission/Drivetrain Certificate Program. This course is an excellent follow-up to the A Familiarization of Drivetrain Components seminar (which is designed for those who have limited experience with the total drivetrain).


By participating in this On Demand Course, 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

Materials Provided

  • 90 days of online single-user access (from date of purchase) to the six hour presentation
  • Eight video modules (see Topics/Outline tab)
  • Integrated knowledge checks to reinforce key concepts
  • Course handbook (downloadable, .pdf's)
  • Online learning assessment ((a passing score of 70% or higher is required))
  • Follow-up to your content questions
  • 0.6 CEUs*/Certificate of Achievement (upon completion of all course content and a score of 70% or higher on the learning assessment)

*SAE International is authorized by IACET to offer CEUs for this course.

Is this On Demand Course for You?

This course 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.


Have colleagues who need this course? See Special Offers to the right.

Click on the Requirements tab to make sure you are properly equipped to interact with this course.

For More Details

Email, or call 1-877-606-7323 (U.S. and Canada) or 724-776-4970 (outside US and Canada).

  • Module I: All-Wheel Drive Systems Overview
  • Module II: Part-Time Systems
  • Module III: Full-Time Systems
  • Module IV: Transfer Case Design
  • Module V: Couplers
  • Module VI: Noise, Vibration, and Harshness
  • Module VII: Emerging Technologies
  • Module VIII: All-Wheel Drive Interactions/New Developments

  • Windows 7, 8 (Apple OSX and Unix/Linux are not supported but may work)
  • Pentium 4 PC
  • Minimum 512 MB RAM; recommended 1 GB RAM
  • Internet Explorer 10-11, Mozilla Firefox 37, Google Chrome 42 (Safari and Opera are not supported)
  • Broadband-1Mbps minimum

Joe J. Doe
Joe Palazzolo

Joe Palazzolo is Director - eDrive Systems at GKN Autmotive. He leads the development team responsible for mechanical and electrical design of new automotive propulsion systems and torque transfer devices, as well as the industrialization of new driveline technologies from concept to production readiness. Previously, Joe was GKN Driveline’s chief engineer for Geared Products, holding increasingly responsible roles since joining GKN Driveline in 2006. He is also a GKN Engineering Fellow. Prior to joining the company, 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.

0.6 CEUs


"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 program was very beneficial to my general understanding of the components and dynamics of various all wheel drive systems."

Andrew Schulte
Honda R&D Americas


Have colleagues who need this course? See Special Offers to the right.

Click on the Requirements tab to make sure you are properly equipped to interact with this course.

Access Period:90 Days

Duration: 5 Hours
Members save up to 20% off list price.
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Special Offers:

Have colleagues who need this course? Purchase access for one individual at the appropriate member or list price, then purchase access for up to four additional employees at 10% off the list price. Contact SAE Customer Service to arrange online access for all individuals at the same time or mention the confirmation number for the first purchase. The offer is good for only the same on demand course. All participants will receive a personal account and opportunity for CEUs.


Quantity discounts for six or more students and corporate access options also are available - complete a Corporate Learning Solutions Request Form for a quote.