The popularity of E-Lockers has increased dramatically ino the last few years as more people take to off-road driving for fun.”

IH Ford Superduty IN THE MUD

Often when driving down a logging road you encounter mud on one side of the road.

No big deal, you think.

You slow down and travel through it, only to find out you are losing traction and the wheel starts to spin. Before you know it, you are stuck. Now it’s a big deal.

Firstly, let’s look at why you find yourself in this predicament. It all comes down to the differential and I’m not talking about math but the differential on your vehicles axle.

The standard differential, or what is referred to as an open diff, is generally standard on most new trucks. The open diff holds the ring gear and a set of gears called spider gears. These spider gears are responsible for allowing a vehicle to negotiate a turn and allow the outside wheel to travel farther and turn faster than the inside wheel.

This type of open design works great for most of the pickup trucks on the road today. However, when a truck with an open differential meets loose gravel, or a wet section of the road, it directs power to the wheel with the least amount of resistance. The result is the wheel on the loose surface spins free, while the other wheel on the better traction surface provides little or no power. Limited Slip differentials are designed to “limit” the tendency of an open diff, and send power to a wheel that lacks traction, by redirecting the power to the other wheel. The Limited Slip differential will send power to both wheels equally when traveling straight, and when one wheel spins due to a lack of traction, the differential will automatically provide torque to the other wheel with traction. Limited Slip differentials limit the loss of torque to a slipping wheel through clutches, gears, and other methods, depending on the unit.

But it will not provide 100 percent lock up of the differential in extreme situations such as when a wheel completely loses traction. Limited Slips are recommended for vehicles driven daily and are used in many applications where traction is sometimes needed as in emergency vehicles. They are also ideal for front axles of 4×4 vehicles that are not equipped with front hubs that can be disengaged. A locking differential or “Locker” uses a mechanism that allows left and right wheels to “lock” to each other and turn at the same speed regardless of which axle has traction or how little traction a slipping wheel has. This means tractionpower can be sent to a wheel that may be planted firmly on the ground while the other wheel of the axle is completely off the ground.

In this situation, an open differential will spin the free wheel, sending absolutely no torque to the wheel in the ground. A Limited Slip in this situation will send some torque to the wheel on the ground but possibly not enough to provide any forward momentum. The popularity of E-Lockers has increased dramatically ino the last few years as more people take to off-road driving for fun. The lockers are activated by a switch inside the vehicle and are used on most modern 4x4s. The price range for the lockers is generally between $1,860 and $3,350 depending on the truck.

Contact: ian [dot] harwood [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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