Limited Slip Differential Explained

Reader question:

We live in an area that has a lot of rain and snow and sleet and all of that stuff and are thinking of getting a new car. We’ve already figured out some of the safety features we want to pay extra for, but one of them is called limited slip differential. What is this?


Good question.

Before I can explain that to you, it’s necessary to explain what a differential is in the first place. It’s basically a box between each set of wheels that has a set of six gears. What it does, is it functions to give these wheels the ability to go at different speeds but the same kind of power. Why do wheels travel at different speeds? They don’t always, but in situations like turn making this definitely comes up. The wheel on the outside spins more rapidly than the one on the inside, and that is where the differential comes in.

When a car is running straight forward,each wheel in a set gets fifty percent of the power that the differential dishes out. Whenever the vehicle makes a turn or has to perform any other unusual action, this ratio changes. Whenever the power needs to be changed over, the power in the slower wheel is decreased by the same amount that it is increased in the faster wheel.

But what happens if one of the wheels freezes up, or becomes suspended in the air? The differential sees it as though it is no longer there, and gives the other wheel one hundred percent of all the power. This lack of balance can make for very dangerous conditions. If you have limited slip differential, though, this is all fixed up. It comes with clutches that give part of the power to the wheel that’s out of service and part to the other wheel, so you don’t lose your balance on the road.

Click the large arrow in the center of the image below to play video of a Dodge truck without limited slip and why you want to have it.



Fashun Guadarrama.

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."