The Four Types of Car Differentials Explained

The Four Types of Car Differentials Explained

Open Differential

  • Splits the engine torque into two outputs
  • Allows the wheels to rotate at different speeds
  • When one tire loses traction, the opposing tire will also lose power
  • Found in family sedans and economy cars

Locking Differential

  • Connected wheels always spin at the same speed
  • Turning the vehicle can be very difficult
  • Found in Jeep Wranglers and most full-size trucks

Limited-Slip Differential

  • Combination of open and locking differentials
  • Usually acts as an open differential
  • Automatically locks when slipping occurs
  • Found in sports vehicles like Nissan 370Z and the Mazda MX-5 Miata

With a limited-slip differential, the lock-up can be achieved one of three ways – a viscous fluid, a clutch park or a complex gear train.

Torque-Vectoring Differential

  • Uses additional gear trains
  • Fine tunes the torque delivered to each drive wheel
  • Can slow down or quicken the car’s rotation around a corner
  • Heavy, complex and low-performing for fuel economy
  • Found in the BMW X5 M or the Lexus RC F

Each type of differential has its own challenges, and it takes an expert in automotive repair to understand how to best service your unique car. Fortunately, the experienced auto repair experts at our Independence auto shop are trained to handle every type of differential on any kind of car or truck – even foreign and luxury cars!

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 Independence. We’ll take a look and make sure everything is operating properly. Call our shop near Blue Springs, Missouri to make an appointment today, and discover the nice difference!