Which is better: Limited slip differentials vs. open (Which one Is Better?

Although the idea of the differential dates back to Ancient China, technological advances and modern design have made it possible for us to use them in our cars. It can be confusing to distinguish between different types of differentials. That’s why it’s important to look closer at two popular designs with this open vs. limited slip differentials review. 

Each one will be explained and highlighted with its advantages. You will be able to see all the available options. Let’s take a quick look at your question first.

What happens during slippage is what makes the difference between an open and limited-slip differential. The open differential sends power to the wheel that is encountering the least resistance and the limited-slip differential transfers power to the wheel with the most traction.

Although this may seem like a short answer to your question, it is only a small part of what is involved. Here’s everything you have to know about the differences between these two.

Índice de Contenido
  1. What does it mean to be Different?
  2. What exactly is an open differential?
    1. Pros of Open Differential
    2. Differential Open Cons
  3. What's a limited slip differential?
    1. Limit Slip Differential Products
    2. Limit Slip Differential
  4. Choose between limited or open slips – Which one is better?

What does it mean to be Different?

The outside wheels move faster than the inner wheels when your car is turning. It transmits power to wheels and allows them to travel at different speeds.

The drivetrain determines where the differential is located. For front-wheel drive vehicles, the differential and transmission are housed in a housing. This is known as the transaxle. A rear-wheel-drive vehicle puts the differential between two rear wheels. This is linked to the transmission via a driveshaft. A center differential and a transfer box are used to properly transmit power between four-wheel-drive or all-wheel drives. 

What exactly is an open differential?

Open Differential

Open differentials are the most common design, and come standard with all passenger cars. When the vehicle moves straight ahead, both sides gears receive equal force. Because the pinion gears aren’t turning, the ring gear spins both wheels.

The pinion gears will step in if one tire is not responding to the other. This allows the side gears to turn at different speeds. This design allows the vehicle to turn easily. This system was designed for use on dry roads.

Pros of Open Differential

1. Very low cost

Open differentials are the most preferred OEM option due to their low cost. The customer benefits from the lower costs of building vehicles.

In reality, most drivers don’t need the limited slip differential for the majority of driving conditions, so it doesn’t always make sense to include it on passenger vehicles. There’s no reason to increase the cost if the driver will never need it. 

2. Predictable

Most drivers are familiar with the operation of an open differential. The driver is familiar with the vehicle's behavior and knows what to expect.

Unlike the LSD, there won’t be any rear-end movement back and forth while traveling over low-traction surfaces. Open diffs spin the wheel instead of allowing for that movement. 

Differential Open Cons

  1. This product is not recommended for slippery surfaces

An open differential has one disadvantage: it doesn't respond well on slippery or uneven surfaces. You aren’t going to get good performance when driving on a slippery or uneven surface because the engine torque gets sent to the wheel with the least resistance.

The tire will start spinning freely if it is on the ground or ice, rendering the vehicle immobile. Also, tires can slip when there is a lot of acceleration. 

What's a limited slip differential?

Limited Slip Differential

Different clutch discs are used in the limited slip differential to prevent slippage. To increase resistance between two wheels, tension on the clutch discs increases if a wheel spins.  

While there are many kinds of limited slip differentials to choose from, all have the same fundamental principles. Your car might come with either a mechanical clutch LSD, or viscous SSD. 

Limit Slip Differential Products

1. Superior Traction

You can expect better off-road traction than the open differential. You will have better control because the LSD transmits power with traction to the wheels. 

You can still drive on slippery roads with limited slip. Low-traction conditions are safer with LSD. 

2. Superior Performance

The limited slip gives you a distinct advantage on roads and low-traction surfaces. However, the vehicle also performs well on roads that are regularly paved. It'll provide you with near-perfect traction every day.

That’s why today’s performance models come equipped with a limited slip differential. This option is available on models such as the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang, or the BMW M3 model. 

3. We wear less

This limited slip differential gives power to wheels with greater traction and takes away the slipper. With this design, there is far less wear to the tires because there’s no spinning.

Additionally, the axle shafts aren’t going to be stressed during turns. This will reduce wear and save you money. 

Limit Slip Differential

1. Very difficult to manage

It’s hard to predict how the LSD is going to respond to your driving situation. If you are traveling off-road across mud and rocks, you might have some wheels losing traction that won’t get a continuous supply of power.

The differential transfers extra power when different wheels lose traction. It could cause a pull sensation in the vehicle, which can be unpredictable. 

2. Designs that are different

There are many types of limited slip differentials. Your vehicle could be equipped with a fixed value LSD, speed-sensitive, torque-sensitive or an electronically-controlled version. 

A vehicle may have a different limited slip differential than another. The two vehicles may not feel the same, but you could be wrong. The new model may require some adjustment to drive. 

3. Additional cost

A vehicle equipped with a limited slip differential will incur an extra cost. The buyer will be responsible for this additional cost.

The good news is that you usually can add a limited slip differential (or a similar feature) to your vehicle for a very small sum. If offered by the automaker, some vehicles can be upgraded for as little as $900. The benefits that you get are worth the cost if your vehicle is used a lot off-road. 

Choose between limited or open slipsWhich one is better?

The open differential will provide all you need in most instances, particularly if your daily commute is limited to the local highway. This differential can help you save money and allow you to purchase a car that is affordable.

The limited slip differential is a good option if you drive a lot in bad weather or spend lots of time on the road. It is available as an optional option or as a standard feature on some vehicles.

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