Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby miniVan [OP] » February 3rd 2015, 4:27am

I was reading around about differences between open differentials and locking (g80) differentials, and came to the conclusion that open differentials would be safer at higher speeds especially on wet corners if someone is accelerating through a wet curve, because an open differential acts almost like a stability control system, meaning that the rear is less likely to throw itself off course. Open diffs are more likely to keep you on course even in slick conditions, since the wheel with traction won't overcompensate for the loss in traction with the other wheel, meaning that both wheels travel at different speeds on a curve even if one wheel looses traction. On the other hand with the locking differential, if the average driver (especially a driver who were to be inexperienced in maneuvering in bad weather conditions) were to accelerate heavily on a wet curve, with a locking axle, the rear end would fishtail and spin out more easily, since both wheels would lock and turn at the same speed on a curve with a locked axle. The only advantage to a locking axle I see, is that it gives an advantage when you start in slippery conditions off the line from a start, because the power is transferred from the wheel without traction to the wheel with traction, so that both wheels turn to free you from getting stuck. Whereas an open differential would have a harder time to move from a stop if one wheel does not have traction, since all the torque would go to the wheel without traction.

From what I understand (if I'm correct), it seems that an open differential is safer for the most inexperienced driver, since it would prevent fishtailing at higher cornering speeds compared to a locking axle that has a higher tendency to fishtail. Since locking differentials are more of an optional feature when buying cars, I see why open differentials are more of a standard feature, since they provide the most driving control and stability even for the most inexperienced driver who would not know what to do during low traction situations at high speeds. Personally, I would vote for an open differential that provides better traction and stability control on slick roads when cornering turns, than risking being thrown around on a turn from a locking axle that would only benefit me in a low speed traction situation if I were to be stuck in snow or mud.

I also understand that open differentials are the most simplest in that they are not as costly to repair, and are better on the tires especially when cornering (since the tires travel at different speeds on curves). It seems to me especially in this case, that a more simple mechanical design such as an open rear-end differential, is more reliable, efficient, and safer than something that's a bit more complex like a locking axle.

Although each type of axle provides it's own unique advantages and disadvantages, does anyone else prefer an open differential to a locking one?
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby chevymaher » February 3rd 2015, 5:17am

miniVan wrote:
Although each type of axle provides it's own unique advantages and disadvantages, does anyone else prefer an open differential to a locking one?

Ah No. Anyone who ever had a posi ever liked the open better.

As far as safety concerns. We are not dealing with 454 4 speeds here. These things are not exactly snapping the tires loose and spinning in circles.
If you going to get in trouble fishtailing with a posi. Your already in trouble with the open one. If you can't drive nothing going to help.

But the first time you need it and it is there you wonder how you lived without it. I got a locker aftermarket. When it locks it ain't playing and I have no trouble in rain on the corners. Snow you got to be careful it does get silly. But really if you can't drive you just shouldn't problem solved. A one wheel wonder your stuck. spin slowly toward the ditch. Then can't move and freeze to death. Or learn to steer and go home.

I can't stress enough if you can't handle a posi. Then you really can't drive at all and your dangerous as hell on the road anyway. If the back end coming out is a issue. Then your going way to fast and the front about to loose traction and your sliding in the ditch one way or the other.
The answer in slick conditions is never nail it and power out regardless of what your driving.
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby sfeaver » February 3rd 2015, 5:24am

A G80 posi wont lock when your over about 20 or so MPH. As for getting into trouble easier with a posi, well I don't think so. Going around a corner in snow from a stop, if you give it a little gas, will swing it around. But it usually will with an open diff too. Not getting stuck is worth it, just have to know how to drive. A little common sense, and a couple unexpected fishtails and you will be able to handle things just fine.
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby miniVan [OP] » February 3rd 2015, 5:54am

How are the AWD systems on these vans, is there a big difference when driving on snow between an open differential AWD system and locking differential AWD system? Wouldn't AWD perform better if all the axles are locked instead of open?
In other words, why would AWD be offered with open differentials, if locking differentials used with the AWD system would be more effective?
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby chevymaher » February 3rd 2015, 6:00am

Of course the more wheels pulling the better it does. AWD 4WD and posi have 2 wheels pulling and do the same. Posi just posi's doing it. Once you start adding posi to AWD you would have to try to get stuck. Bury it up to the frame so the wheels are just hanging.
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Meterpig » February 3rd 2015, 8:02am

I have a factory posi on my astro. It's great....all the time. My awd hasn't worked in some time. Through two storms...the axle has been helpful in getting unstuck.

Personally...I think the driver should be able to Handle a little old locking axle.

Don't get me started on parents buying their new driving kids SUV's because they are "safer ".
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Lumpy » February 3rd 2015, 11:54pm

chevymaher wrote:
... If you can't drive nothing going to help.



The new Silverado pickups have (maybe optional) not only front and rear sensors to tell you when you're too close to the front or rear bumper, it also tells you when you begin to veer off course on the freeway.

Of course it's got blue tooth cellphone. So when you're out doing the boring, non-attention requiring act of driving a several thousand pound missile around at 20 over the speed limit, and disregarding every stop sign and traffic light in your path, you can have something to occupy your time.

Phone your BFF -

"Oh mah gawd! I'm like sooo bored just driving this thing. Let me scroll through sixteen-thousand satellite channels and see if there's some thumpin' trance music that I can turn up to about a thousand. That'll help me overcome this boredom."


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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Mmusicman » February 4th 2015, 1:56am

miniVan wrote:I was reading around about differences between open differentials and locking (g80) differentials, and came to the conclusion that open differentials would be safer at higher speeds especially on wet corners if someone is accelerating through a wet curve

Absolutely correct! Spinning one wheel while the other has traction is better than both tires losing traction.
Open diffs are more likely to keep you on course even in slick conditions, since the wheel with traction won't overcompensate for the loss in traction with the other wheel, meaning that both wheels travel at different speeds on a curve even if one wheel looses traction

Correct again.. for the same reason. At least one tire will track and stay on course.
On the other hand with the locking differential, if the average driver (especially a driver who were to be inexperienced in maneuvering in bad weather conditions) were to accelerate heavily on a wet curve, with a locking axle, the rear end would fishtail and spin out more easily, since both wheels would lock and turn at the same speed on a curve with a locked axle. The only advantage to a locking axle I see, is that it gives an advantage when you start in slippery conditions off the line from a start, because the power is transferred from the wheel without traction to the wheel with traction, so that both wheels turn to free you from getting stuck.

Correct again... same reason. Having traction on one wheel is better than no traction on either.
From what I understand (if I'm correct), it seems that an open differential is safer for the most inexperienced driver, since it would prevent fishtailing at higher cornering speeds compared to a locking axle that has a higher tendency to fishtail.

Agreed! (for inexperienced driver)
Personally, I would vote for an open differential that provides better traction and stability control on slick roads when cornering turns, than risking being thrown around on a turn from a locking axle that would only benefit me in a low speed traction situation if I were to be stuck in snow or mud.

Do NOT agree at all with your vote! Are you telling us you are a seriously inexperienced driver? Posi-traction ALWAYS trumps open differentials in my opinion. You are only going to risk a possible fishtail if you accelerate in a wet corner... but why would anyone do this? Even with an open rear you STILL risk the change of losing control.

Being stuck is a hopeless feeling. There is nothing more ridiculous than being completely stuck someshere with one tire spinning while the other side is firmly planted. Well, maybe more ridiculous is having one rear and one front tire spinning.. and STILL going nowhere!

But I will agree that an open differential is safer than a posi on a wet road. Of course, staying home is even more safer!

Take care
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Mmusicman » February 4th 2015, 3:07am

chevymaher wrote:Once you start adding posi to AWD you would have to try to get stuck.
Bury it up to the frame so the wheels are just hanging.

Yep! Been there.. exactly done that! :)

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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby dohcdave » February 4th 2015, 3:19am

researching the difference between the race lockers and the positraction of a stock differential might give you something more to chew on before you make a life altering decision like that
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Mmusicman » February 5th 2015, 2:03am

dohcdave wrote:...before you make a life altering decision like that

:o
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby chevymaher » February 5th 2015, 3:28am

dohcdave wrote:researching the difference between the race lockers and the positraction of a stock differential might give you something more to chew on before you make a life altering decision like that

Go big or stay home, build a amusement park ride. LOL
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Meterpig » February 5th 2015, 4:04am

The van itself is a death trap under any condition but straight down the road. A posi axle isn't going to change that.
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby chevymaher » February 5th 2015, 5:12am

Meterpig wrote:The van itself is a death trap under any condition but straight down the road.

Oh aren't you being a little hard on them? They handle like a Ferrari compared to a Robin.

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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Meterpig » February 5th 2015, 5:14am

Yeah, I am a little hard on it. The van has taught me to be a much better driver. :)
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Coaster » February 5th 2015, 6:03am

geez i think the van is solid on the road, plus it warns me way before i would lose it. i can feel the *** end get loose long before it lets go unlike my pickup
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby Lumpy » February 5th 2015, 7:03am

I can corner at a little over 20 Mph and I'm lifted 11 inches +. I'll check and see if I've died.


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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby SafariPR » February 15th 2015, 5:54pm

miniVan wrote:I was reading around about differences between open differentials and locking (g80) differentials, and came to the conclusion that open differentials would be safer at higher speeds especially on wet corners if someone is accelerating through a wet curve, because an open differential acts almost like a stability control system, meaning that the rear is less likely to throw itself off course. Open diffs are more likely to keep you on course even in slick conditions, since the wheel with traction won't overcompensate for the loss in traction with the other wheel, meaning that both wheels travel at different speeds on a curve even if one wheel looses traction. On the other hand with the locking differential, if the average driver (especially a driver who were to be inexperienced in maneuvering in bad weather conditions) were to accelerate heavily on a wet curve, with a locking axle, the rear end would fishtail and spin out more easily, since both wheels would lock and turn at the same speed on a curve with a locked axle. The only advantage to a locking axle I see, is that it gives an advantage when you start in slippery conditions off the line from a start, because the power is transferred from the wheel without traction to the wheel with traction, so that both wheels turn to free you from getting stuck. Whereas an open differential would have a harder time to move from a stop if one wheel does not have traction, since all the torque would go to the wheel without traction.

From what I understand (if I'm correct), it seems that an open differential is safer for the most inexperienced driver, since it would prevent fishtailing at higher cornering speeds compared to a locking axle that has a higher tendency to fishtail. Since locking differentials are more of an optional feature when buying cars, I see why open differentials are more of a standard feature, since they provide the most driving control and stability even for the most inexperienced driver who would not know what to do during low traction situations at high speeds. Personally, I would vote for an open differential that provides better traction and stability control on slick roads when cornering turns, than risking being thrown around on a turn from a locking axle that would only benefit me in a low speed traction situation if I were to be stuck in snow or mud.

I also understand that open differentials are the most simplest in that they are not as costly to repair, and are better on the tires especially when cornering (since the tires travel at different speeds on curves). It seems to me especially in this case, that a more simple mechanical design such as an open rear-end differential, is more reliable, efficient, and safer than something that's a bit more complex like a locking axle.

Although each type of axle provides it's own unique advantages and disadvantages, does anyone else prefer an open differential to a locking one?



I have a G80 in my safari and definitely one of the best mods I did to it and no probles in highway and heavy rain. In my opinion open diff are more dangerous to drive in wet pavement in corners than the g80 , or the posi in my C5 (dont remember right now the name) because one you get out from the slippery area the car will trow you to the left as the right tire will grip vs a g80 will shift power to the weel with less slip. :2: also many posi sistem work diferent...... If you weld your posi or have a lockright posi does will be dangerous in corners at high speed. Thats why a
I only compared the g80, open diferential and the one in my vette LSD
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Re: Open Differential vs Locking Differential

Postby TECHLINETOM » December 3rd 2020, 5:01am

A little something I wrote up for newbs @ work.
Different Differential Differences




Open Differential (one wheel peel, peg leg)
(The most common factory installed type)


Does not limit the slip of the low traction tire.

Allows differentiation around corners.


Limited Slip (Posi, Trac Lock, Sure Grip, Saf-T-Track,Gov-Lock,
Eaton Posi, Detroit Tru Track, and Auburn)
(The most common optional factory installed differential type)


Uses clutches or binding of gears to limit the slip of the low traction tire.

Allows differentiation around corners.


Locker (Detroit Locker, Lock Right, No Slip Traction System, Spartan Locker)
(very rare from the factory)


Uses ratcheting gears to lock both axles together.

Allows differentiation around corners.


Spool and Mini Spool (Never factory installed)


Positively locks axles together

Does NOT allow differentiation around corners.
TECHLINETOM
Fueling (Empty tank)
Fueling (Empty tank)
Posts: 4
Joined: October 2020
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Van Model Year: 1994
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: 2WD Conversion Van


 
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Rear-End Forum
Rear-EndA differential is a device employing gears capable of transmitting torque and rotation through shafts. Essentially the differential allows each of the driving wheels to rotate at different speeds in the rear axle.
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