What Are Differentials?
Your differentials are responsible for taking power from your drivetrain and transferring it to your drive axles. There are three different types of differential found in the heavy-duty industry. The first, open differentials, are the most common. These differentials allow for power to follow the path of least resistance. They’re not necessarily the best for rough or uneven terrain, but they’re perfect for on-road use. Locking differentials are the second type. They’re responsible for evening out the distribution of power to each wheel. Limited slip differentials are the third type. They’re responsible for ensuring each wheel gets power but doesn’t fully lock them. Limited slip differentials are typically operated using brake or torque sensors.
Where Does Each Differential Work Best?
Locking differentials work best for offroading situations. If you drive a logging truck or work on construction sites, you need as much traction as possible on each wheel. Locking differentials provide you with a 50% power balance for each wheel. Locking differentials are usually selectable and can be turned off and on at will.
Open differentials are great for on-road use. When turning a corner, your wheels travel different distances and, as such, cannot spin at the same rate. Because open differentials follow the path of least resistance, allowing this difference in pace to happen.
Limited Slip Differentials
Limited slip differentials allow for light offroading to be undergone and are usually only found on smaller heavy-duty trucks. They don’t provide the offroading ability that locking differentials provide, but they’re a happy middle ground between locking and open differentials. They can be used on both dry pavement and uneven terrain.
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