How Differentials Work

The mechanisms that are used in order for the vehicles to work in a proper manner are fascinating for most people. Although they may seem quite complicated if you break them up in sections they are a lot easier to understand as they are based on the basic principles of physics. Today we are going to discuss the characteristics of a differential as well as the way it work. If you are interested in knowing how differentials work, read the following lines. We hope that you will find this information useful.

In order to understand how differentials work picture a car running in a circle. The outside wheels spin faster than the ones on the inside because they have to travel a greater distance in the same period of time as the inside ones. In order to understand this concept you can analyze a basic wagon. Since the wheels can move freely, they all travel at different speeds in order to cover the necessary distance. When the automobile industry started to develop, the wheel system was pretty rudimentary. Only one wheel was connected to the engine and the rear wheels turned separately. Due to the fact that only one wheel was receiving the engine power the road traction was very weak. In order to solve this problem the rear wheels needed to be connected together while in the same time maintain their ability to move at different speeds.

The differential was created in order to solve the problem of the wheel connections. It is based on a simple principle that uses a device in order to move the wheels at the same speed when the car is traveling in a straight line but also allows them to move at different speeds when the car is making a turn. This is a simple explanation of why a car needs a differential. However the differentials used in modern cars serve various purposes: they aim the power generated by the engine towards the wheels, they slow the transmission’s rotation speeds before it reaches the wheels and they allow the wheels to spin at different speeds. Cars have one differential between the front wheels, one between the rear wheels and one in the center between the front and rear wheels.

In order to understand how differentials work you should use a sketch of the gears and pinions system. This system contains a crown wheel, a half shaft, a sun gear, a planet pinion, a driving pinion and a transmission shaft. When the car is traveling on a straight line the transmission shaft makes the crown wheel turn thus translating the rotating motion the half shafts. In this scenario the planet pinions don’t spin. However when a car is making a turn, the planet pinions spin accordingly to the crown wheel while in the same time turning the sun gears. This motion delivers an uneven distribution of speed to the wheels.