Motor vehicles feature a variety of transmissions and engine arrangements, each of which speaks to performance and a host of other factors. The front-wheel drive, also referred to as FWD, is one of the transmission and engine arrangements, and entails a transverse, mid, or longitudinal engine powering the front wheels alone. You can find a lot of front-wheel drive motor vehicles among repossessed cars for sale that are available in our online car auctions. To shed more light on the topic, here is a look at all you need to know about front-wheel drive cars. 

Available Types

The front-wheel drive engine setup has taken 3 major configurations over the years.

Transverse Engine

The first recorded car with a front-wheel drive and transverse engine was created in 1931. From the twin-cylinder two-stroke car, the market also saw the development of a transversely-mounted four-cylinder inline water-cooled engine, in which the transmission was located underneath the crankshaft and power was transmitted via transfer gears. The most popular configuration has the transmission located besides an engine that is transversely installed. It features irregularly-shaped driveshafts due to the location of the transmission in front of the differential after double backing the drivetrain. 

Longitudinal Engine

The first known longitudinally mounted engine configuration was located before the front wheels, with the differential at the back part. Then came the ‘side-by-side’ transmission and engine design which was linked with a heavy-duty chain and had a driveshaft passing below the sump. Audi has perfected this design, in the form of the MLB Platform, by locating the clutch behind the differential and having the axle line moved to link with the rear of the engine block. This results in proper weight distribution.


The first mid-engine configuration had wheels that were located in front of a longitudinally installed engine. The differential was in front of the car while the transmission was nowhere near the engine’s front part. It was a rather inconvenient configuration as the engine took a back seat to all the other parts. It also suffered from weight distribution issues that had bedeviled the early longitudinal engine configuration. The problem was once again solved, but this time by Citroen, who put the differential in the middle and the transmission in front. 

Today’s FWD Configuration

As mentioned before, the transverse engine configuration is the one that has become popular today. The transverse configuration is preferred for a variety of reasons including:

  • Cheaper, smaller, and more fuel efficient drivetrains 
  • More traction 
  • Less demand for horsepower
  • Less weight
  • Increased safety ( a bigger crumple zone in the event of a head-on collision)  

A lot of innovations around the configuration have hit the market since the 1990s. These include:

  • Electronically operated cooling fans
  • Use of CV joint to link drive shafts and front wheels
  • ‘End-on’ transmission arrangement mounting


You can get amazing deals on a range of cars, including FWD models, when you register to participate in our online auctions featuring repossessed cars for sale. AutoBidMaster offers an inventory that is constantly refreshed with fresh options to give you more choice and opportunities to save on your next car. For more information on available repossessed cars for sale or to get expert assistance about repossessed car auctions, talk to our Buyer Services team. Simply call +1 (503) 298-4300, Monday through Friday, 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM (GMT-8:00), or email

AutoBidMaster Staff Writer

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