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Front vs Rear 4WD Lockers

Front vs Rear 4WD Lockers

Few people buy a serious 4WD without at least an aspiration to head one day off road. Most 4WD class vehicles in dealerships today cater to these casual 4×4 drivers.

But what if you are a serious off-road enthusiast? What if you want or need a vehicle that can handle the toughest terrain consistently, and the standard limited-slip differential just won’t cut it?

You need a locking differential.

Benefits of a Diff Locker

Locking differentials, or diff lockers, are upgrades to your vehicle’s differentials that allow you to increase the traction of your tyres and drive train in extreme conditions.

When turning a corner on bitumen, the left and right wheels on an axel will travel different lengths, requiring them to spin at different speeds.

The inside wheel in a corner travels slower, covering less distance. This means power needs to be reduced to this wheel while more power is given to the outside wheel. A differential is the gear setup that distributes the power, mechanically increasing the power to the wheel with the least resistance (the one that needs to spin fastest).

But what happens when you are running half in mud, inconsistent sand or over uneven, ridged terrain? These scenarios often create situations where one wheel is offering less resistance, from being in the soft stuff, and a unlocked differential will give more power to this wheel.

A diff locker allows the driver to disable the differential, distributing the power to both wheels evenly. You will have continual traction, be able to carry lower speeds, and climb your way out of the toughest terrain Western Australia can throw at you.

Front vs. Rear

Upgrades can be expensive, more so when your prized 4WD comes with two or more differentials. So where is best to put a diff locker?

After asking around our team, we all agree the rear axle is the best spot for your 4WD locker. This is because:

  • The traction improvement from any diff locker will be exceptional. Rear installation won’t be too different from installing in the front only.
  • Lockers on the front differential can cause torque steer. The front end is responsible for steering as well as power delivery. If both wheels are getting equal power, the car won’t want to turn because that requires different wheel speeds. Your ability to navigate turns in the track will be lowered, as well as your stress on components increased.

What if the manufacturer provides a limited slip differential?

If the rear limited slip helps, great! The case for installing in front is much stronger now. However, most limited slips we find don’t provide the benefits of a full lock, if yours doesn’t, it may be better to skip the limited slip entirely with a full diff locker.

Hard core 4WD setups will definitely feature both front and rear diff locks. However, to maximise bang for buck when upgrading, we recommend getting the work done on the rear differential to maximise control and traction.

Want to be able to trust your vehicle to get you through the worst the outback has to offer? Upgrade your differentials today with the WA Diff Centre, Perth’s most trusted 4×4 upgrade workshop. Contact us today.