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What Does a Car Differential Do?

By Misty Thomas. Updated: January 20, 2017
What Does a Car Differential Do?
Image: pixabay

In modern vehicles there are more and more complex components which help you control the vehicle and keep the engine running efficiently. You have probably heard of a differential but you probably don't know what it does or how it works.

If you want to understand more about how this important component works and why it is necessary, OneHowTo is here to tell you just what a car differential does, and explain how a differential works.

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Differentials Work in Different Ways

Car differentials are located in many different places on a vehicle, depending on what type of vehicle it is. For instance, differentials help to distribute the power of your engine to the wheels correctly. The differential will help to guide the power to the wheels in a way that allows them to rotate at different speeds, which is necessary when you are turning a corner.

The differential also helps to act as a way to reduce the speed of the ring gear in the vehicle before it gets transferred to the axles, which increases the torque available. It does this by slowing down the rotation speeds before the power hits the wheels.

Why is a Differential Necessary?

In terms that everyone can understand, the differential is necessary for controlling the speed and turning of your car. The wheels of your car usually turn at different speeds for various reasons and without the differential, you could possibly lose complete control of your car as they would all be turning at the same speed. The differential can help to make sure that when you make turns of any kind, it will even out the turn so that the inside wheel rotates less than the outside wheel so you won't lose control.

Differentials of Different Vehicles

Pretty much all modern vehicles have differentials. Some have a very specific type in the front while having different types in the rear of the car. For vehicles that are all wheel drive, the differentials are located between each set of wheels in the center of each axle. This is to better balance out the turning of these cars where all four wheels receive power from the engine. All wheel drive vehicles need them in the front and in the rear to better control the turning radius and power of the car.

What Does a Car Differential Do? - Differentials of Different Vehicles
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Understanding How Your Car Works

It is very important to know all about your vehicle. You do not have to be a car expert, but it is very important to know what parts are the most important since you are driving the car. You can learn quite a lot by reading your owner's manual and also by doing internet research. You can also chat with your mechanic about differentials and find out what type are in your car.

With the knowledge that you now have about differentials, this is a good step to learning much more about your car. The more you understand about how your car works, the better equipped you will be to detect potential problems and understand how your car handles on the road.

If you want to read similar articles to What Does a Car Differential Do?, we recommend you visit our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

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What Does a Car Differential Do?
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