Differentials - Buyer's Guide

Differentials - Buyer's Guide

Your differential transmits power to your vehicle's axle shafts, while allowing the wheels to rotate at different speeds. This independent motion is important because your tires travel different paths as your vehicle turns. Most vehicles come equipped with a standard "open" differential, which works great for everyday street driving because it allows for maximum slippage when turning. Unfortunately, this setup has major shortcomings when it comes to off-road and performance driving. To remedy these shortcomings, a variety of differential options are available, including limited slip differentials, lockers, and spools. Each of these differentials offers its own unique traction attributes geared towards a particular type of driving condition.


Differential Breakdown

  • Open Differential: This is the common OEM configuration, which offers the best drivability, street performance, and value for non-performance street driving conditions. These differentials are not preferred for off-road or performance applications, because they lack the strength and traction needed for off-road and performance conditions.
  • Limited Slip Differential: These types of differentials distribute power to the axle with the most traction. They offer increased strength over OEM units and are a great choice if you’re looking for extra traction while still retaining street performance.
  • Selectable Lockers: These differentials offer the driver the street performance of an open differential with the strength and traction of a spool. The unit remains an open differential when not engaged, but can be turned into a full locker upon engagement by the driver for those situations when maximum traction is required.
  • Automatic Lockers: Automatic Lockers lock and unlock based on traction conditions without any input from the driver. They typically are locked in most instances and will only unlock when one wheel is required to spin faster in cornering. These offer increased strength and are great for extreme off-road use.
  • Spools: Spools offer maximum traction, strength, and value. Both wheels are locked together 100% of the time, which does not allow for slippage during cornering. As such, these are recommended for extreme off-road and performance applications and are not recommended for the street.
Auburn Limited Slip
Auburn Limited Slip Differential The Auburn Gear H/P Series Limited Slip is a smooth, street-friendly, limited slip differential assembly that uses a preloaded, tapered cone-type clutch system to provide unbeatable on- and off-road performance. The Auburn comes with a no-questions-asked, four-year replacement warranty through Auburn Gear.

Auburn Limited Slip
Auburn Pro Series Limited Slip Differential The Auburn Gear Pro Series Limited Slip is a very aggressive, yet still street-friendly limited slip. The Pro Series uses the same preloaded cone clutch system, but with a much higher preload rating than Auburn Gear's standard LSD. This unit still comes with Auburn Gear's four-year replacement warranty.

Auburn Ected Locker
Auburn Ected Locker The Auburn Ected is a user-selectable differential that allows you to choose between Limited Slip and Spool option. This unit functions as a limited slip when in normal mode, but can be switched into a spool, locking both axles together for 100% traction.

Ox Locker
Ox Locker The Ox Locker is a unique locking differential that goes from open to locked with the click of a knob. There are no leaking air hoses or compressors to maintain. All parts are precision-machined from billet steel and aerospace alloys.

PowerTrax No-Slip Automatic Locker
PowerTrax No-Slip Automatic Locker Lose all the noise of that ratcheting-style locker without losing any of the performance! The No-Slip Traction System still uses side gears and couplers with teeth similar to the Lock-Right. But, special speed-sensing devices allow the teeth to lock and unlock fully, without any ratcheting or clicking. There are no clutch discs or friction plates to wear out either! The No-Slip provides 100% traction when driving straight, but fully unlocks during cornering, allowing for easy steering and reduced wear. It installs easily into your carrier. Most of the time, the carrier can remain in the vehicle during installation. The PowerTrax No-Slip Automatic Locker is made of Zytanium, a 9310 carbonized steel, for high strength and durability.

Detroit Locker by Eaton
Detroit Locker by Eaton The Detroit Locker by Eaton is the most rugged positive locking differential, and most widely available for axles from 3,000-70,000 lb. capacity. This is an ideal choice for severe operational conditions. Detroit Lockers provide the highest amount of traction available and will never let a wheel stop turning! There are no parts to wear out and no special lubricants required. You may hear and feel "backlash" going from drive-to-coast, as reversing torque flow resets the components.

Detroit TrueTrac Limited Slip by Eaton
Detroit TrueTrac Limited Slip by Eaton Detroit TrueTrac's proven helical gear design eliminates the need for wearable parts, resulting in maintenance-free traction. This limited slip differential is recognized for its toughness and for its smooth and quiet operation. The TrueTrac is engineered to work efficiently in front and rear applications. The power transfer is so smooth, it literally goes unnoticed by the driver, even in the front axle. This is ideal for front applications and high-performance applications.

Eaton Posi Limited Slip
Eaton Posi Limited Slip The Eaton Posi is an ideal way to gain traction in trucks that see mild, off-road use or need added traction due to performance enhancements. With carbon disc clutch packs, preloaded by a central spring assembly, the Eaton Posi delivers chatter-free transfer of power to both tires, while maintaining a mild, on-road handling characteristic.

Eaton E-Locker
Eaton E-Locker The Eaton E-locker differential's electromagnetic locking mechanism is the next generation of differential technology. Its ease of installation, reliability, and push-button activation delivers smooth and consistent performance. The E-locker differential is a great addition for towing and off-road performance.

Lock Right Locker by PowerTrax
Lock Right Locker by PowerTrax The PowerTrax Lock-Right Locker is the original locking differential that can be easily installed in existing case assemblies without any special tools or setup equipment. It has been widely used in demanding, off-road applications that require extreme traction output and high strength.

ARB Air Locker
ARB Air Locker The ARB Air Locker is a pneumatic locking differential that uses air to facilitate the locking of both axles. This action converts your differential from a conventional open to a full-spool type axle, supplying 100% power to both wheels to keep you going through the worst terrain. A separately purchased ARB onboard air compressor is required to activate air lockers.

G2 Spools
G2 Spools Looking for ultimate traction and a reduction in weight? Full spools provide maximum traction by connecting both axles together and eliminating any differentiation between them. These spools are machined from billet 4140 and heat treated to handle hardcore abuse. G2 spools are not recommended for street use.

G2 Mini Spool
G2 Mini Spool G2 Axle and Gear Mini Spools are CNC-machined from 4130 billet steel to provide you with an economical traction device without the cost or setup difficulties associated with other traction devices.