Whether you have a front or rear differential is going to depend on the vehicle you’re driving. Front wheel drives have a front differential, rear wheel drive vehicles have a rear differential and 4 wheel / all wheel vehicles will have both a front and rear differential.
The differential is a component of your vehicles driveline axle that contains gears that play a pivotal role in how your vehicle makes turns. The differential is designed to help your vehicle maintain traction on the road surface when turning. The differential accounts for wheel speed during a turn allowing the outside wheel to rotate faster that the inside tire providing a smooth turn. Based on your vehicle, your differential my include additional functions.
Different types of differentials
- An open differential is the most basic differential you’ll find. It accounts for variations of individual wheel speed or slip, nothing else.
Limited Slip Differential
- Similar to the open differential, the limited slip provides the same function but also transfers torque to each wheel. During a hard turn, the limited slip differential will power the vehicle through turns without the tires slipping on the road surface.
- Locking differentials are often found on off-road vehicles, some performance cars that need to send equal amounts of power to each wheel. This feature allows for a “fixed axle” on your vehicle. Locking differentials will provide maximum traction providing a big benefit for off-roading or rock climbing.
Torque Vectoring Differential
- Also known as an active differential is the most advanced differential on the market. This differential uses sensors and electronics to gather road & car data then electronically adjust settings of the differential for maximum driving experience. These differentials are often found in rear wheel and all wheel drive vehicles such as BMW, Subaru, Audi’s and other high-performance vehicles.
No matter what differential(s) you have on your vehicle, maintenance should be a priority due to the complexity of the system. Learn more about servicing your differential here.
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