What Types of Differentials Exist?
Different types of vehicles use various types of differentials, depending on what they are designed for. A typical family sedan, economy car or minivan likely has an open differential. If a vehicle is stuck in snow or mud, and one wheel spins freely while the other doesn't move, it likely has an open differential.
Off-road vehicles and pickup trucks often have locking differentials. Locking differentials ensure the same torque and speed to both drive wheels.
Limited-slip differentials are a hybrid of open and locking differentials. They function as an open differential most of the time. And when wheel slip occurs, they then automatically operate as a locking differential. Limited-slip differentials are typically found in sports cars.
Electronically controlled limited-slip differentials are typically found in Corvettes, Ferraris and Cadillacs. These differentials are controlled by a sophisticated computer and adjusted hundreds of times per second to control oversteer and stabilize your vehicle.