If you’ve ever had your car serviced at a Buda auto shop, the mechanic may have mentioned something called the differential. The differential is part of your drivetrain, which sends the power from your engine down through your wheels. There are several types of differentials, and this can cause confusion for some drivers. To help clear up the situation, the ASE-certified technicians at Christian Brothers Automotive Buda are here to tell you all about the different types of differentials.
Torque-vectoring differentials use additional gear trains to fine-tune the torque delivered to each drive wheel. Torque is the force used to rotate your wheels around the axle of the car. A torque-vectoring differential is helpful because it can slow or quicken the car’s rotation around a corner. Unfortunately, they’re heavy, complex and aren’t great for fuel economy. You can find this type of differential in the BMW X5 M or the Lexus RC F.
An open differential splits the engine torque into two outputs, each of which is able to rotate at a different speed. This means your wheels can rotate at two different types of speed. The downside of this is when one tire loses traction; the opposing tire will also experience a torque reduction. These differentials can usually be found in vehicles like family sedans and economy cars.
If your car has a locking differential, the connected wheels always spin at the same speed. This is important for larger vehicles that navigate rough terrain. The main downfall is that if the differential is locked on a high-grip surface like pavement, then turning the vehicle can be very difficult. Locking differentials can be found in Jeep Wranglers and most full-size trucks.
Limited-slip differentials combine open and locking differentials, though it usually functions as an open differential. However, it will automatically lock when slipping occurs. It’s important to note limited-slip differentials only lock up after the wheel slip has already occurred. The lock-up can be achieved one of three ways – a viscous fluid, a clutch park, or a complex gear train. These can be found in sports vehicles like Nissan 370Z and the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
If you believe there may be a problem with your car’s differential, or another part of the drivetrain, bring it in to Christian Brothers Automotive Buda near Kyle, Texas. Call our Buda auto shop today for an appointment, and discover the nice difference!