How does a differential work?

We all know how a car turns. With the help of steering wheel (duh!). But the steering handles the front part of the car (Taking forklift as an exception). But what about the rear? Well, all hail the Differential!

Ever seen the underside of the truck on the highway? Yup, the big sack hanging at the rear is called the differential.

 

truck_in_india_-_overloaded
No! Not this sack!

 

A differential is used at the rear for rear driven wheels. If the car is a front-wheel drive, it is mostly embedded into the trans-axle placed in the front bay.

 

1536px-hypoid_gear_set_in_a_rear_differential_2013-07-22_12-42
The whole mechanism!

 

The differential follows the most basic idea. In a turn, the outer wheel covers more distance than the inner wheel.So, if both the wheels are not independent, then the inner wheel will start slipping as the outer wheel will rotate faster.Thus, a differential makes them independent in case of a turn but still keeps on transferring power in the same turn or in a straight line.

How Differential Steering works

Amazing, isn’t it? That’s why the automotive industry is famous – the sheer intelligence that is rrequired to tackle the smallest and tiniest detail.

 

dumontdunes_2005-04-25_paddle-tire
No differential here!

 

However, the above-explained differential is just the open type of differential. Imagine now, if one of your driven wheels (the powered ones), gets stuck in a pit of mud or a puddle of water. That wheel has no traction left at all.

Since that tyre is easier to rotate, all the power of the engine will now be sent to that wheel. No power will be sent to the wheel which actually requires it to get out of the muddy situation.

This is where the locked differential steps in. A locked differential just connects the two independent tyres and sends the same power to both of them. And voilà! Your car is free from nature.

mitsubishi_pajero_in_off-roading
Set me free!

 

Open versus Locked Differential

This comes up with another problem. What if you forget to pop back open the differential. That’s going to put some heavy work on the inner tyre which will wear off soon if you take turns in a locked up differential.

 

arb_air_locking_differential_rlh
No! Not this locking!

 

No worries then. Automotive geeks to the rescue. The R&D industry. They came up with the Limited Slip Differential (LSD).

Some heavy information right? Give that grey matter of yours a rest, and then we will continue!

I want to be high on more information!

 

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