When bringing your car or truck in for repair, you may hear the term “differential”. The differential is part of your drivetrain, which connects the power from your engine to your wheels. There are several types of differentials, and it can be a little overwhelming to try and understand each one. Fortunately, you only need to know about the type of differential your vehicle uses. Today, the ASE-certified technicians at Christian Brothers Automotive Green Oaks are breaking down the different types of differentials, and explaining what you need to know about them.
An open differential helps your wheels rotate at different speeds by splitting the engine torque into two outputs. This is a standard type of differential. The downside of this is when one tire loses traction; the opposing tire will also experience a force reduction. These differentials can usually be found in cars like family sedans, and economy cars.
With a locking differential, the connected wheels always spin at the same speed. This is beneficial for off-roading, as your wheels will be able to keep up with each other. However, 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.
Most of the time, a limited-slip differential functions as an open differential. When slipping occurs, the differential locks, like a locking differential would. The problem with limited-slip differentials is that they lock up after the wheel slip has already occurred. These differentials can be found in sports vehicles like Nissan 370Z and the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Using additional gear trains, torque-vectoring differentials fine-tune the torque delivered to each drive wheel. Because torque is the amount of energy being sent to the wheels, this differential can slow or quicken the car’s rotation around a corner. Unfortunately, they’re heavy, complex and aren’t that great on fuel economy. You can find this type of differential in the BMW X5 M or the Lexus RC F.
To learn more about your car’s differential, or to schedule a drivetrain inspection, bring your vehicle into Christian Brothers Automotive Green Oaks. Call our Arlington auto shop for an appointment today, and discover the nice difference!