(Updated on August 25, 2022)
A four-wheel steering system (or all wheel steering) allows the driver to turn the rear wheels left or right along with the front wheels. Do not confuse a four-wheel steering system with a four-wheel drive vehicle because they’re two different things.
Four-wheel drive simply means that all four wheels are getting power from the engine. A four-wheel steering system means you can actually turn all four wheels with the steering wheel. Here we are going to focus on the pros and cons of the rear wheel steering system.
How Does Four-Wheel Steering Work?
The main purpose of all-wheel steering is to increase the agility and stability of a vehicle. At low speeds (usually under 30 or 40 MPH), the rear wheels turn slightly in the opposite direction as the front wheels. This is known as “counter-phase steering” and allows the vehicle to have a smaller turning radius for better agility.
At higher speeds (usually over 30 or 40 MPH), the rear wheel turn slightly in the same direction as the front wheels. This is known as “in-phase steering and allows the vehicle to be more stable during high speed corning. The vehicle actually leans less in and out of a corner since both axles share the turning forces instead of just the front.
Top 5 Advantages of Four-Wheel Steering
Below are five of the best “pros” of a four-wheel steering system.
1) Smaller Turning Radius
A four-wheel steering system gives you the ability to make tighter turns in a smaller radius because the rear wheels are able to turn in a different direction than the front wheels.
This makes it easier for you to maneuver your vehicle in a tight parking spot, parallel park, or complete u-turns in areas some cars can’t. It may be your secret weapon at the next autocross event or track day.
2) Better Stability
If you want a smooth driving experience, then it always helps to have stability in your vehicle. A four-wheel steering system makes it easier for you to control your vehicle and keep it stable, especially when you’re traveling at higher speeds with lots of turns.
3) Quicker Steering Response
There is nothing worse than a steering wheel that doesn’t respond immediately to the turns that you make with it. A four-wheel steering system gives your steering wheel a much faster response than a standard two-wheel steering system.
You’ll be able to be more precise in the direction that you’re traveling in.
4) Faster Lane Changes
If you’re someone who regularly drives on the freeway and you constantly find yourself changing lanes or passing other vehicles, then a four-wheel steering system will help you do this fast and efficiently.
You’ll be able to move into and out of another lane quicker and smoother than most other vehicles.
5) Better Safety
Not every car “rides on rails” like a Mazda Miata or Chevy Corvette. If you ever find yourself go too fast for a corner that you misjudged, rear-wheel steering will cause less body roll and may just save you from going off the road or into another vehicle.
Top 2 Disadvantages of Four-Wheel Steering
Below are two of the biggest cons of a four-wheel steering system.
1) Higher Risk of Malfunction
A four-wheel steering system is comprised of many electronic components and parts. All it would take is for one component to malfunction and then the entire system would malfunction.
As a result, you will likely need to perform additional maintenance on a four-wheel steering system just to keep it operational for use. This not only means spending more time and money on it, but it also means that you’re more at risk of experiencing problems with the system as you’re driving too.
A car that has a four-wheel steering system is going to cost a lot more money than a car with just a two-wheel steering system. This is due to the four-wheel steering system being more expensive to manufacture and develop, since it contains more sophisticated components than a two-wheel steering system.
All-wheel steering is often a standard feature with many high end sports cars but many other vehicles, it’s simply an optional feature so you at least have the choice of deciding whether the extra cost is worth it.
Cars With All-Wheel Steering
There are actually more vehicles with rear-wheel steering than most people think. Here are some of the most notable ones, some old and some new, where rear-wheel steering was an option or came standard on the vehicle.
- Acura RLX
- Acura TLX
- Audi A6
- Audi A7
- Audi A8
- Audi Q7
- BMW 5 Series
- BMW 7 Series
- BMW 8 Series
- BMW X5
- Chevy Silverado
- GMC Sierra 1500 Denali
- Ferrari 812 Superfast
- Ferrari F12
- Honda Accord
- Honda Prelude
- Infiniti Q45
- Infinity J30
- Lamborghini Aventador
- Lamborghini Huracan
- Lexus GS
- Lexus LC 500
- Mazda 929
- Mazda RX-7
- Mitsubishi 3000GT
- Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
- Nissan 300ZX
- Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R
- Porsche 911
- Porsche 991
- Porsche Cayenne
- Porsche Panamera
- Toyota Camry
- Toyota Celica