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How Three-wheel Cars Work

Three-wheel Car Disadvantages

While a three-wheel car often combines the advantages of a car and a motorcycle, they also carry the weaknesses of both. How so? First, let's look at the small size. There have been very few large three-wheelers throughout automotive history -- most of them end up being subcompacts or motorcycle-sized vehicles.

That means you won't see too many three-wheelers with large engines, and despite the high-performance of some models, most of them haven't set the world ablaze with their speed. For example, the Reliant Robin could only muster 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 96.6 kilometers per hour) in about 16 seconds. Another point to remember is they aren't quite as agile as motorcycles can be.

Because of their smaller size, three-wheelers don't offer the seating and storage options you see in most four-wheel cars. They may be large enough for some people to use to get around town, but a small three-wheeler won't meet the needs of a large family with a lot of people or cargo to haul.

One of the main problems with three-wheel cars is instability. Anyone who's ever ridden a tricycle knows how easily they can tip over. That's because many three-wheel designs -- in the delta configuration -- are simply more prone to tipping over than four-wheel cars are. Three-wheeled cars, with one less wheel to provide support, carry an increased possibility of roll over in a corner. However, this instability can be reduced by choosing a three-wheeler with a tadpole setup -- two wheels up front. Cars that follow this pattern have proven to have greater cornering ability than the delta setup, which is why nearly all new three-wheel designs have gone this route.

We've weighed several of the strengths and weaknesses of three-wheeled vehicles. Next, let's look at what it takes to own one, including prices and laws regarding them in different areas.