What is Differential Lock (Diff Lock)?
Many of us drive our vehicles unaware of the internal mechanisms outside the visible parts of the vehicle they use. You may not know what most things in your car are doing, what they do. Differential and differential lock is one of them. A vehicle’s differential transmits engine torque to the wheels at different speeds without losing engine torque.
A differential-lock is a mechanism used to prevent the movement of the front and/or rear differential. The differential lock connects the differential gears and forces the vehicle wheels to rotate at the same rate. When a vehicle is cornering, each wheel must be turned at different speeds. In order to turn the corner, the outer wheels must travel more than the inner wheels. While turning a corner, the differential works by sending more power to the wheel that encounters the least resistance.
In other words, it chooses the wheel to which the engine power will be transferred most easily. This operation is quite normal on flat surfaces. However, when the normal road conditions are exceeded, this situation creates some problems in terrain conditions.
What Does Diff Lock Do?
Especially if you are driving on a bumpy or slippery road, we may encounter at least one wheel in the air. Staying in the air means that the wheel encounters the least resistance. Therefore, the differential will send most of the power to the airborne wheel. Therefore, the wheel with the traction that potentially kicks us out will be weak and the airborne wheel will continue to spin in vain.
In such cases, the differential lock will come into play. Whether it is in your vehicle as a factory or if it has been installed later, the lock is activated and ensures that the wheels to which the differential is connected turn evenly. Thus, the extra rotation of the idle wheel is prevented and it is ensured that the wheel is fully seated to allow us to get out of the roughness. Many real off-road vehicles have a differential lock.
Let’s remember the work the differential does when cornering under normal conditions. This also applies to off-road roads. Therefore, we only need to use the differential lock when our vehicle loses traction, ie one wheel is in the air or on a slippery road. Apart from that, the use of the differential lock prevents the differential from doing its original job. Activating the differential lock on asphalt and similar smooth roads can cause expensive damage to the differential and axle. You don’t need the differential lock on most off-road riding.
In shallow bumps, it will solve your job to come back and try again, get into the bum from different angles, or put a few stones. However, the off-road experience with a modern vehicle with standard or optional differential lock provides invaluable enjoyment and extra safety. It allows you to overcome the bumps and navigate the nature you are in without getting off your vehicle. So have fun in the field and get the most out of that differential lock. But remember to disable the differential lock when you’re still on the asphalt.