There are three types of differentials that a vehicle could have; open differentials, locking differentials and limited slip differentials. The function of any differential is to transmit engine power to the wheels. This is how wheels can rotate at various speeds. While an open differential would still power the wheels if they’re losing their traction, a limited slip differential would limit the amount of power that is sent to a particular wheel if it is losing traction. It does this by electronically activating the brake for that one spinning wheel. This can have its pros and cons, depending on the type of terrain you’re driving the vehicle.
Top 5 Advantages of a Limited Slip Differential
Below are the top 5 advantages of using a limited slip differential.
- Off-Road Traction – Compared to an open differential, you will get better off-road traction with a limited slip differential. This is due to the limited slip differential transmitting power into the wheels which have traction to them.
- Paved Surfaces – As good as limited slip differentials are off-road, they are even better on paved surfaces. The performance will be excellent as the traction is near perfect. It should be a smooth driving experience whenever you’re on a paved surface.
- Less Tire Wear – Since the limited slip differential can take power away from a wheel that is losing traction and give more power to other wheels with traction, this helps prevent too much wear on the tires.
- Less Axle Shaft Wear – The axle shafts won’t have too much stress and pressure put on them during turns because they have the ability to rotate at various speeds. This means they won’t get worn down as much.
- Not Too Expensive – A limited slip differential will not be a terribly costly upgrade to make on your vehicle. Most people spend between $600 and $1,200 to get this upgrade, which is not a lot if you think about it. These differentials are suitable for regular vehicles, so you don’t need a high-performance vehicle to enjoy it.
Top 3 Disadvantages of a Limited Slip Differential
Below are the top 3 disadvantages of a limited slip differential.
- Lack of Full Power to Wheels – If there is a wheel with traction, the limited slip differential won’t be able to power it completely. It will always have to transmit a small amount of power to the wheel that doesn’t have traction, even though it has taken a lot of power away from it. Therefore, it can’t give transmit 100% power to just one wheel.
- Traction is Hard to Manage – You won’t always be able to predict what the traction is going to do when you’re on rough terrain with rocks, mud, and sand on it. While the limited slip differential will send some power to the wheels losing traction, it won’t be a continuous supply of power. Once other wheels start to lose traction, the differential will transmit more of the power over to them. As a result, the vehicle could end up being pulled to just one side.
- Not all the Same – A limited slip differential won’t be the same in every vehicle that has it. Some will be able to control various elements differently, such as the durability levels and the wheels. Therefore, don’t get used to one kind of limited slip differential and think it will be the same in another car that has one, because it won’t.
A limited slip differential is suitable for both regular vehicles and 4x4s. It is not the best to use on terribly rough terrain if you’re going off-road, but it can still provide you with a comfortable driving experience on dirt or paved roads.