The Differential - the Key to 4WD
The primary function of a differential is to transfer power to the wheels while allowing them to turn independently at different (hence the name) speeds. What this means is that when going straight equal traction is supplied to all wheels, yet while the vehicle is turning, the inside wheel, which has the most resistance and a shorter distance to travel when taking a turn, is able to go at a slower rate than the outside wheel which has the least resistance, a longer travel radius, and must turn faster.
In mathematical terms, speed is equal to the distance traveled divided by the time it takes to go that distance, so consequently the wheels that travel a shorter distance travel at a lower speed. You may also want to take a look at How Stuff Works for a more in depth explanation and demonstration of Differentials.
To make a long story short, and to keep this section simple, the most common differential is called an Open Differential and is the standard setup used for most Jeeps. While this set up works just fine for normal on-road driving, you can probably see that for off-roading this isn't the ideal set up when you consider that going through mud and goo is part of the fun and what off-roading is all about.
Limited Slip Differentials, also called positraction, while not true lockers, are an option for light duty off-roading and the casual weekend warrior. They use various mechanisms to allow normal differential action when going around turns, yet when a wheel slips they allow more torque to be transferred to the slower moving wheel.
For light duty, casual off-roading we suggest you weight the advantages and disadvantages of the Lockers listed below and make a decision based on your individual preference. If you have any questions, call us and we'll help you select the Locker right for your vehicle.
Detroit Truetrac® - mostly used in front, quiet automatic traction
Lock-Right® Locker - inexpensive and easy to install, normal ratcheting sound
Powertrax - easy to install, no ratcheting sound
Locking Differentials, generally simply called Lockers, are for serious off-roading and challening trails. They are automatic lockers providing 100% traction, 100% of the time on both driving axles.
A typical full time locker is the Detroit Locker®, now updated to the SofLocker and also known as the NoSPIN®
If you're willing to lay out some big bucks for a locker, the ARB® Air Locker can't be beat. Because of the ARB's ability to engage and disengage at the press of a button it's one of the most popular heavy-duty lockers on the market.
Call for pricing. 1-800-770-2617
Want to learn more? Stu Olson compares ARB vs. Detroit lockers .. visit his site ..
The Great Locker Debate