Difference Between Open Differential and Limited Slip Differential

Nowadays, people are talking more of differentials; it may be open differential or limited slip. But what is it exactly? Let’s take length and breadth of differential first. The primary function of a differential is to radiate engine power to all the wheels, which technically makes the wheel spin at different speeds. The engine torque is split into two different outputs and is adjusted according to the speed rotation of the wheels. So, when a car takes a turn, the inner wheel rotate slower as compared to the outer ones. It is so because the car can sense which one of the wheels need more traction.


Then there comes the notion of Open Differential and Limited Slip Differential. These both differentials are made to take care of separate operations. The Open Differential infuses the power into the wheels if they lose traction, whereas, the Limited Slip Differential limits the power to a particular wheel. It all depends on which terrain you are driving and what differential you are using. For 4WD, it’s different, and for 2WD, it’s again different.


Know more about them.

Open Differential

Mostly, the cars are equipped with the Open Differential because they are designed for running on the dry patches and city roads which are generally smooth and doesn’t require any extra efforts from the machine. But it certainly has its own limitations. The one thing that people often stumbles upon is when a tire loses traction, all the torque is supplied to that tire, which is apparently not true. In real, the sent torque is low, as the required torque is also low. Such a differential can cause the wheel to rotate in different directions, which will ultimately toss up some or the other issue. For instance, if two tires of a car lose traction, the one with no traction spins, while the other with traction doesn’t offer much. Thus the Open Differential out-turn equal torque to both the tires.

Open Differential

Interestingly, everything is not wrong about Open Differentials; they do have their say in the automobile landscape. On the same axle, an Open Differential allows different wheel speeds, which won’t let wheel spin when going around a corner. And if we see from the efficiency point of view, there is very less power loss as compared to other options available in the market. And the best things about the Open Differential is its cost-effectiveness.


So, if ever wondered why an Open Differential car can’t perform the perfect burnout, it’s because both wheels require the same power to break the rubber.

Limited Slip Differential

On the other hand, the Limited Slip Differentials churns out more traction as compared to the Open Differential. It employs the clutch to drive the tires and slips automatically on the turns.

The Limited Slip Differential is smart enough to sense when the wheel loses its traction and binds it with other through various methods. It doesn’t let the other wheel to spin in altogether different alignment. This way, the machine is pushed forward, even if one wheel has less traction. And when the ratio between rubber and the terrain breaks, there comes out the burnout; the true essence of a complete car.

The Limited Slip Differentials offers lifted traction in all weather conditions; be it loose gravel or the buttery snow. Also, there is no accelerated tire wear in terms of Limited Slip Differential. And if the machine is well taken care of, it will hardly make any noise when engaged. The Limited Slip Differential does have some disadvantages, which accounts for its inability to lock both axles properly. In a front axle machine, the Limited Slip Differential can also sometimes pull the vehicle in opposite sides.

The Bottom Line

Both these differentials have their own utility. One is designed to work in a controlled environment, and the other is way more flexible in tackling any kind of terrain. But both will only hit their purple patch when proper maintenance is exercised with right oil. And to keep the differentials in the perfect condition, there is an inevitable need to maintain the set of matching tires with required inflation.

#AutomenProTip: If you have an Open Differential machine, try not to do a burnout, it will only disappoint you. Shift to the Limited Slip Differential and feel the difference.