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Open vs. Limited Slip Differentials

Tags: Tech

So just what exactly is the difference between an open or standard differential and a limited-slip? We will get to that, but first a little knowledge. The differential has essentially three jobs. It transfers power from the engine to the wheels. It varies this power so that the wheels may rotate independently (thus the term “differential”). Lastly, the differentials act as the final gear reduction drive system for the drivetrain.

So what is the difference?

With an open/ standard differential, gears called spider gears allow the wheels to vary speeds to negotiate turns without binding up. This setup works great for the majority of passenger vehicles on the road today. If you are running an open differential and you hit a loose patch, the differential will send power to the wheel that is encountering the least resistance. This results in wheel spin on the loose patch side, while the solid contact side barely moves. While the majority of OEM vehicles are equipped with an open style differential, there are options for those of us who might be known to mark our territory with a rubber stripe.

Limited slip differentials operate in a manner opposite an open system. When a limited slip diff senses that a wheel is spinning, it will automatically transmit more power to the wheel that has more traction. These differentials will not divert 100% of the power to one wheel though. Limited slip differentials work well in nearly all vehicles where traction may be occasionally needed. I am sure you have heard the term “PosiTraction” used in place of limited slip, that originally was used by GM years ago and has become a generic term associated with a style of product, much like Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Q-Tip.

Speedway Motors carries a variety of differentials to suit your needs. Limited slip, open, and locking differentials, we should have what you’re looking for. To check out our selection, Click Here. Happy Shopping!

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