# How A Differential Works And Types Of Differentials

1244 words - 5 pages

Without a differential an automobile is very dangerous and ineffective, it is likely that your automobile will last about half its intended lifespan and will also create huge difficulties in turning. The differential is a key part of an automobile’s drivetrain, it allows the vehicle to effectively maneuver turns and cornering. Different differentials approach the goal of increasing a vehicles maneuverability around corners and in sticky situations with different mechanical approaches; there is an ideal differential for snow and ice, dirt and offroading, and for street driving.
To understand why an automobile needs a differential one must first have a basic understanding of physics and geometry. The driven wheels on a car are the wheels that are given power through the engine and transmission, on a rear wheel drive it is the rear wheel and on a front wheel drive it is the front wheels (How Differentials Work). When cornering a turn the driven wheels of a vehicle go in an arcing path, an arc is part of a circle and because the outside wheel (the wheel opposite the side of the car in which the direction you are turning) is further from the turning point than the inside wheel. Because of the larger distance from the turning point the outside wheel must travel farther than the inside wheel. You must take notice that the equation for speed is distance divided by time, so one can infer that the outside wheel must travel the farther distance in less time than the inside wheel, meaning it must travel faster than the inside wheel, to keep the wheel from sliding and ruining the tire and putting stress on the driven axle (Halderman). There are four different types of differentials that deal with this issue very differently: the open differential, the limited slip differential, the spool differential, and the selectable and automatic locker differentials. The open differential balances the torque between both wheels, the limited slip provides more torque to the wheel with more traction, the spool provides no difference in torque and acts as a welded differential, and the locker differentials act as a spool when driving straight but like an open differential when turning or when the driver wishes it to (BC4x4.com). The different methods of torque distribution by differentials determine which differential is best for certain driving conditions.
Ice and snow gives an automobile a specific low traction situation to maneuver and each differential handles snow and ice differently. The Limited Slip has an advantage in the snow because if one wheel is spinning because of a lack of resistance from snow or ice then the limited slip puts an extra amount of torque to the wheel with traction to get the automobile out of the skid. The open differential is not good for situations like these because the differential cannot give more torque to a wheel with more traction. The Torque is always balanced so if one wheel has little traction and is receiving...

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