Limited Slip Differential

Limited slip differentials lock two wheels together while traveling in a straight line. While cornering it allows for the outside wheel to rotate faster than the inside by overcoming the tension of its clutch.

Limited slip differential illustrated.

A clutch type differential is the most common, consisting of two sets of multiple disc clutch packs located on each of the two side gears. These clutch packs have friction plates splined to the side gear, interlaced with steel plates that have tabs locking them to the differential case.

In order for the outside wheel to turn faster, the wheel must overcome the tension of its side gears clutch pack. The more tension on the clutch packs, the more resistance while cornering, and the more torque while going forward.

The initial tension required to compress the clutch packs is provided by a spring. Shims are used to adjust the tension on these packs. This keeps the side gears and axles locked to the differential case. In order for a set of friction plates to slip, this tension must be overcome.

The differential fluid needs to be serviced at recommended intervals. Special fluids are used to compliment the engagement and release of the limited slip components. In time, the friction material wears and the splines and tabs become rounded. Differentials are designed to provide smooth cornering. While cornering, the symptoms of a worn or damaged differential become most apparent.