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An open differential allows both tires to spin at different speeds. This is perfect on dry pavement when the vehicle corners and the axles turn at different speeds, but it doesn’t work very well when one or both tires lose traction. In this situation, the tire with no traction spins, and the tire with traction does nothing. Open differentials are available as complete units, or as separate cases and internals, from both OEM and aftermarket manufacturers.
Find an open differential carrier for your specific application in our Differential Parts Guides under the “Cases & Internal Parts” section.
Limited-Slip Differentials generate more traction than the open differential. Most Limited-Slip Differentials, sometimes called posi’s or positraction differentials, use clutches to drive both tires, but allow the clutches to slip when the vehicle corners and the axles need to turn at different speeds. However, the Detroit Truetrac & Wavetrac® units act as open differentials but apply torque to drive the tire with the most traction.
Read more about our selection of Limited Slip-Differentials including Eaton Truetrac & Posi, Wavetrac, Auburn HP, Pro and OEM units
Find a Limited-Slip / Positraction for your vehicle in our Differential Application Guides
Locking differentials use various means to lock both axles so that both turn all the time. Automatic locking differentials disengage when the vehicle decelerates for corners. Selectable lockers allow the driver to engage the locking differential with a button. A locker ensures that both tires turn in all driving conditions. Lockers are ideal for more extreme off road driving. Learn more about our Locking Differentials including Detroit Locker, Lockright, ARB Air Locker, Eaton ELocker, Auburn Ected and OEM Units.
Find a Locking Differential for your vehicle in our Differential Application Guides
A spool is a solid carriers that does not allow axle differentiation. Both axles turn all the time. However, spools can’t disengage like a locker, so the tires will chirp when the vehicle corners. Tire wear will increase. Spools are most often used in racing applications, and occasionally in off road applications.
Find a Spool or Mini-Spool for your application in our Differential Application Guides
Open differentials are standard equipment on most vehicles. The "Open" differential does a great job of transmitting power and propelling the vehicle forward. The design also allows both wheels to travel at different speeds while cornering, without causing excessive tire wear. The problem with the open differential happens when one tire is on a low traction surface such as ice, snow or mud. The tire on the slippery surface will spin while the other tire provides no forward motion. The animation above shows an open front differential in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Differential upgrades that will provide power to both wheels are featured on this page.