© 1997-2007 H. Pietschmann
|How does limited slip work?
Should you get the limited slip option?
When buying a new vehicle I would always go for the limited slip (LS) option. It is better to have it than not have it - even though it does not do too much for you. But if "a little" could make the difference between stuck or driving - "a little" can be just perfect. I have it on my Grand Cherokee and know it helps reducing wheel spin during easy to moderate off-road use.
If off-road gets tougher, LS is not enough. All my serious off-road trucks have ARB lockers front and rear. There is no substitute for true differential locks.
How does limited slip (LS) work?
Clutch packs inside the differential create additional resistance. This resistance is always present. It is called preload. So, whenever one side wants to start rotating faster than the other, this additional resistance (in addition to the traction present at the wheel) has to be overcome before a tire can spin.
Traction and preload together have to be high enough to keep tires from spinning but low enough to still allow tires to rotate at different speeds in a turn. Since the preload has to be kept low enough to allow safe cornering the slowing effect on wheels that want to spin is marginal. It works in easy off-road conditions and on mildly slippery roads. For serious off-road use and very slippery roads (snow, ice) limited slip is not powerful enough.
Remember, it limits slip but it does not prevent it completely. Only a differential lock can do that.
Here is a home remedy for spinning tires: Two separate parking brake levers for each rear brake. You could selectively apply more and more power to the spinning side until the other side will start moving the vehicle again.
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