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Locking differential on a 2wd vehicle

The following question will soon be academic with traction control becoming more and more commonplace, but:

How much would a locking differential help a 2wd vehicle that’s stuck in the mud or snow?

I would go for a solenoid operated by a momentary switch you have to hold down.
Plus enabling only when the vehicle is stopped.
That would eliminate the chance of it being used at the wrong time.

A low cost/weight alternative to awd & 4wd?

Has this ever been offered as an option?

Interesting question. Wouldn’t that be like a high-tech “positive traction” differential? Are you thinking RWD, FWD, or both?

With limited slip differentials available, why go to the added expense for a locking one?

Agree; a limited slip differential makes all the difference. I had a RWD Caprice with Positraction and it got me out of some real bad snow and mud situatiions. You can probably buy one from a wrecker or online somwhere. Plenty were sold in the past.

I had a 4wd Suburban in Anchorage with Posi, and I rarely found myself switching to 4wd.

I once had a 2WD Ford Ranger with “positraction.” As long as one rear wheel had traction the truck would go.

On the downside, when the rear wheels spun, they usually both spun, and the rear end would step sideways very quickly.

Is such a differential even available (an electrically controlled locker) ??? For what vehicle?? Who makes it? How much money??

You might start your search here:

mleich: both fwd & rwd

texases: a locker could be cheaper and simpler than an lsd with its disks etc.

To some of the other ‘regulars’ here: it was just a hypothetical question, don’t get too worked up!

Hypothetically, a couple of bags of “Traction Sand” and reduce the rear tire air pressure a little produces the same results for a net savings of about $725…

Way back, the true off-road Jeep fanatics would simply weld their spider gears and achieve solid axle performance 100% of the time…Front differentials were ALWAYS left open however…

A lot of really practical ideas are going by the wayside I feel, because the driving public has dummied down in proper usage.

A manually operated differential can be extremely hazardous on the front in fwd (that’s why you won’t see them there), and potentially bad on the rear in rwd if left on and driven by an inexperienced driver. If you think an open differential fish tails, it is nothing compared to a locked differential when both rear wheels loose traction on ice. An open differential has one tracking wheel remaining even though it has less ultimate forward traction.

Because of the added safety of a computer controlled system, I feel on road driving is much safer with these nearly as effective systems though at low speed off road only conditions, manual lockers are preferred by most. Operating these manual systems can also severely reduce the life of the rear differential if use improperly. All things considered, let the big boys and genuine off roaders on specialized vehicles use them; the rest of us should be content with traction control systems.

My 4Runner has an electronic off road version that allows down hill assist in off road conditions that are impractical with most manual lockers. This is good for we off road wannabee weaners and safer if we “forget” where we are and what we are driving.