Now that we know a little about differentials. Let’s grab our lunchbox and dive into lockers.
A differential can either be locked or unlocked. When a differential is locked the axle rotates both wheels at the same speed all the time. So there is no difference in wheel speed at any point. When a Differential is unlocked wheels can travel at different speeds. For example if we take a left hand turn with an unlocked differential, the inside (left wheel/ driver side) is going to rotate slower than the outside wheel (right wheel/ passenger side). This is because the outside wheel (right wheel / passenger side) has a further distance to travel.
There are two different types of lockers. Selectable and Mechanical.
Selectable Lockers are lockers that can be both locked and unlocked. The driver therefore can select which option to go with as they see necessary. So how can the selection be made? Good question. Selectable lockers can be electric, cable, or air powered.
Electric lockers- commonly referred to as E-Lockers send an electric pulse to lock or unlock the differential. This is commonly done with the push of a button form inside the vehicle.
Air Lockers- Use air to Lock or unlock the differential. The Air is usually supplied from air compressors mounted in the vehicle. That can be engaged with the press of a button from inside of the vehicle.
Cable Lockers - Lock or unlock the differential with the click of a lever. You can install a cable locker in both the front and rear axles. Uses a cable to lock or unlock.
Mechanical lockers are often times referred to as automatic lockers. Mechanical lockers do all the locking and unlocking without any instruction from the driver. At any time, one wheel can turn faster than the other, but never slower. No thinking required!
Check out this quick video.
Pros of selectable lockers:
- Good street characteristics
- Good for off-roading situations
- Tighter turning on the trail
Cons Of selectable lockers:
- Initial cost is more expensive than mechanical in most cases
- More moving parts (i.e. More maintenance)
- May require installation of air compressor, cable actuator, or wiring
Pros of Mechanical Lockers
- No user input required
- Initial cost
- In some cases no new gear setup required
Cons of Mechanical Lockers
- Harsh Road Manners
- Can be noisy
- No control of locking and unlocking