Skip to Content

Can You Make a FWD Car RWD?

Can You Make a FWD Car RWD

I’ll give you the same answer that a mechanic friend of mine gave me when I asked a similar question: You can do anything with enough time and money.

Whether you should or not is an entirely different question.

Making a car rear-wheel drive is a common mod I see with enthusiast who want to send all the power of their AWD (all-wheel drive) Lamborghini Gallardo directly to the rear wheels.

But these cars have a rear-wheel bias along with the AWD which makes the conversion as simple as removing the drive shaft connected to the front wheels.

No matter how you choose to turn a FWD car into a RWD is going to take money, time and serious skills.

Costs

You’re going to get a lot of nay sayers that’ll immediately launch into criticisms about how turning your front wheel drive car, truck or SUV into a rear wheel drive isn’t worth the effort.

I’m not going to do that because a modification I might like to make to my car might be a waste of time to you.

What I will tell you is that the cost of shifting the transmission power from the front to the rear wheels depends on the type of front wheel drive you want to convert.

You should figure on spending at least $25,000 on the conversion. This is not a simple process. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

Conversion Kits

Changing the drivetrain of your car is not a new concept. There are companies out there dedicated to helping you change the drive of your vehicle.

For the right amount of money, USPMotorsports can turn your front wheel drive or all-wheel drive Volkswagen or Audi into a cloud smoking rear-wheel drive drift machine.

And therein lies a secret to a successful rear-wheel-drive conversion. And if you were paying attention, you’ll notice that I hinted at it in the introduction.

The most successful RWD conversions begin with an AWD car.

Another option is if the FWD you want to convert to RWD was also offered as a rear-wheel-drive option.

Then it’s simply a matter of buying a donor car with rear-wheel-drive components and transferring all necessary bits and pieces onto your car.

See also  Do You Rinse After Wax at a Car Wash?

Engine Direction

We sort of touched on this already.

The engine in a front-wheel-drive car is transversely mounted while the engine in a rear-wheel-drive car is longitudinally mounted.

The engine in most cars won’t allow you to simply play Tetris with them to get things to work.

Even if you’re thinking about shoe horning in an engine from a rear-wheel-drive car.

It still needs the engine mounts for a RWD car since you won’t be able to use the ones in the front-wheel-drive car.

And you’ll likely need a new transmission designed for a rear-wheel-drive setup. 

Most Cars Are FWD

Most cars are front wheel drive because they’re cheaper to manufacture.

Think about it, in a FWD setup the power that comes from the engine is sent directly to the wheels that the engine sitting on top of the drive wheels.

That’s less parts to have to manufacture than in a RWD setup where you need a driveshaft connecting the motor to the rear wheels.

Plus, a front-wheel-drive car is safer to driver in inclement weather than a car that’s pushed forward by the rear wheels.

That’s why many of the best rated family vehicles are front wheel drive.

Another reason why most cars are FWD is because removing the transmission tunnel creates more interior room.

Just take at the interior space of the Honda CR-V above. See, no transmission hump intruding on the floor space of the back seats.

Speed and the Drive Wheels

Front-wheel drive cars are perfect for snowy weather conditions because the weight of the engine pushes down on the drive wheels for better traction.

For towing, hauling and performance driving, however, a rear-wheel drive is usually the best option. RWD cars offer the strongest acceleration.

When accelerating, the weight of the car is transferred to the rear which helps boost traction for a faster car.

This ability to handle more power is the reason why many law enforcement vehicles in America are rear-wheel drive.

Sports Cars and RWD

What do BMWs, Corvettes, Mustangs and even trucks have in common?

They’re all rear-wheel drive. RWD cars offer the best handling. Because of the incredible amount of power made by these engines.

See also  How Many Cars is Too Many? (Pros of Owning More Than One Ride)

A RWD configuration gives the car better weight distribution and makes the car easier to maneuver by having the rear wheels dedicated solely to moving the car and the front wheels dedicated solely to steering.

If you put a lot of power into a front-wheel-drive car, you experience something called torque steer.

My Eagle Talon TSI made almost 200 horsepower and when power was sent to the front wheels it felt like the steering wheel wanted to rip out of your hands – that’s torque steer.

Rear-wheel-drive makes a car with a lot of power easier to manage while offering a more engaging driving experience than steering the car with the same wheels driving it.

FWD Cars and the Art of Drifting

Drifting is about speed, technique and timing. As such, you can technically drift a front-wheel drive car. I’ve done it.

A front-wheel-drive Nissan Sentra was my drift car. FWD is one of the least efficient ways to drift.

You need a higher rate of speed and/or more horsepower to induce the car into a skid to create understeer – this is when the car will push to the outside of the turn.

At this moment you can initiate lift off oversteer by lifting your foot off the accelerator and quickly turning the steering wheel which usually causes the back wheels to break loose.

I say usually because this doesn’t always happen. And that’s what makes FWD cars unpredictable for the purpose of drifting.

FWD vs. AWD

Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars are great choices for helping you maintain control of your car in the rain, snow and sleet.

AWD cars, however, are almost always heavier than FWD since there are more components involved to make both the front and rear wheels turn.

Like RWD cars, AWD cars typically have less interior space as a result of all the extra components.

And since it takes less energy to move the front wheels than it does to move the front and rear wheels, FWD car are going to be more fuel efficient than AWD cars.

But when it comes to handling AWD are typically better.

See also  Will Denatured Alcohol Damage Car Paint?

But sometimes you can experience understeer during spirited driving with all-wheel drive depending on the car.

Making a FWD Car AWD

Given my love of the EF Honda Civic sedans, this is a modification that I’m intrigued by.

I’ve seen an example of someone who was able to make their front wheel drive Civic hatchback AWD.

It seems considerably easier than turning a front wheel drive car into a rear-wheel drive since the Honda Civic station wagon of the same vintage offered AWD.

It would seem then a small matter of using one of these cars as a donor and transferring all the necessary running gear into the FWD Civic sedan.

I’m sure there will be some fabrication work involved as cars that are made from factory to be FWD are built differently than the ones designed to be AWD.

Front-Wheel-Drive and Speed

The major issue preventing FWD cars from being fast is that the weight transfer that happens during launch.

Again, the weight of the engine in a FWD car sits on the drive wheels.

When you hit the gas all that weight moves to the rear which cause the front tires to spin out resulting in loss of acceleration force which correlates to speed.

That’s why FWD cars can’t produce the same 0 to 60 times as RWD cars.

Now this doesn’t mean a FWD car can’t be fast. It’s all about you as the driver paying attention to the way weight is transferred.

When launching the car, you want to feed the car power in a way where the car remains flat.

That is in a way where all the weight of the car isn’t quickly shifted to the back which will help maintain the traction of the front wheels.

Then as you get going add more power always remembering to keep the car balanced.

Sources:

Cararac.com; Torquecars.com; Autolist.com; Thedrive.com