Does a Limited Slip Differential Make a Difference? Exploring its Benefits and Performance

Have you ever wondered if adding a limited slip differential makes any difference in your vehicle’s performance? Are you considering upgrading your car’s drivetrain and curious about the benefits of this upgrade? If so, you’re in the right place.

Limited slip differentials are a popular modification among car enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. A limited slip differential is a device that’s designed to distribute power evenly between the two wheels of a car, helping to improve traction and stability on the road. But does it really make that big of a difference?

In this article, we’re going to explore the benefits and drawbacks of adding a limited slip differential to your car. We’ll take a deep dive into how limited slip differentials work, what types are available, and whether or not it’s worth the investment. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started!

Understanding Limited Slip Differential

When it comes to a car’s drivetrain, the differential is a crucial component that allows the wheels on each side of the vehicle to rotate at different speeds while maintaining traction. The differential enables the outer wheels to travel a greater distance than the inner wheels when taking a turn, helping the car maintain stability and control.

A limited-slip differential (LSD) is a type of differential that goes a step further in providing better traction and stability. Unlike a conventional open differential that simply directs the power to the wheel that has less resistance, LSD can send power to the wheel that has more traction, making it ideal for performance-oriented vehicles and off-road applications where maximum traction is needed.

  • There are two types of limited-slip differentials: mechanical and electronic.
  • Mechanical LSD uses a series of clutch plates, gears, or cones to create friction between the two wheels, preventing them from spinning at different speeds.
  • Electronic LSD relies on sensors, computers, and a complex system of hydraulics to monitor wheel speeds and distribute the power accordingly.

Although LSDs are commonly associated with high-performance sports cars, they can be advantageous for any vehicle that needs better traction and stability. That includes everything from family sedans to commercial trucks.

If you’re planning to invest in a limited-slip differential, it’s important to consider your driving needs, the type of vehicle you have, and the level of performance you’re looking to achieve. Ultimately, limited-slip differentials provide better acceleration, cornering, and overall performance, making them a worthy upgrade for any car enthusiast.

Types of Limited Slip Differential

In the automotive world, limited slip differential (LSD) refers to the type of differential that can prevent power loss by transferring torque to the wheels with better grip. There are different types of LSD available in the market, each designed to cater to specific driving needs. Let’s take a look at the different types of limited slip differential:

  • Torsen (Torque Sensing) Differential: This type of differential works by using worm gears instead of clutch packs. Unlike other LSDs, it does not allow for one wheel to completely lock up. Instead, it modulates torque to balance power to the wheels with the most grip. This results in a more predictable handling characteristic, but may not be as helpful in very low traction situations.
  • Clutch-Type Differential: This LSD uses a series of clutch packs to transfer torque from the spinning wheel to the one with better traction. Most clutch-type LSDs can be adjusted to be more aggressive or more relaxed, depending on your driving preferences.
  • Viscous Differential: A viscous LSD works by using a viscous fluid to “lock up” the LSD when wheel slip occurs. The benefits of this type of LSD are that they are wear-free, have no clutches to wear out, and are typically very smooth in operation. When one wheel slips, the viscous fluid heats up and becomes more resistant, effectively locking the differential and sending power to the wheel with more traction.


Choosing the right type of limited slip differential for your car depends on your driving style, budget, and the performance characteristics you want to achieve. When deciding which LSD to install, it is essential to understand the difference between the types of limited slip differentials available in the market so that you can make an informed decision.

Type of Limited Slip Differential Pros Cons
Torsen Differential Predictable handling, less wear and tear Might not be as helpful in low traction situations
Clutch-Type Differential Adjustable, more affordable Wear and tear on clutch packs
Viscous Differential Smooth in operation, wear-free Less predictable, needs to heat up to activate

Whether you’re racing or just seeking better grip on twisty roads, getting a limited slip differential is a smart upgrade for your car. By choosing the right type of LSD, you will not only improve traction but also achieve more predictable handling and better overall performance.

Benefits of having limited slip differential

One of the essential components of a vehicle’s drivetrain system is the differential. It is the component that enables the wheels to rotate at different speeds, which is necessary for turning corners. The standard differential used in most vehicles distributes power evenly to the wheels, which can be problematic in certain situations.

The limited slip differential (LSD) is an alternative to the standard differential. It is designed to improve traction and give the driver more control over the vehicle. There are several benefits of having an LSD in your vehicle, including:

  • Better Traction on Slippery Surfaces: LSDs are designed to transfer power to the wheel with the most grip. This means that in slippery conditions, such as rain, snow, or ice, an LSD will provide better traction and prevent the vehicle from losing control.
  • Improved Acceleration: When accelerating quickly, the LSD will keep both wheels engaged, ensuring maximum traction and better acceleration.
  • Increased Stability: In high-speed turns, the LSD will transfer power to the outside wheel, improving stability and preventing the inside wheel from losing traction.
  • Reduced Wheel Spin: LSDs reduce the amount of wheel spin, which can save on tire wear and increase fuel efficiency.
  • Off-Road Capability: LSDs can also be beneficial for off-road driving, where traction is critical. In situations such as rock crawling, an LSD can provide enough torque to keep the vehicle moving forward.

Types of Limited Slip Differentials

Limited slip differentials are available in several different types. Each type has its own unique characteristics and is designed for specific applications. The most common types of LSDs are:

  • Torsen Differential: Torsen is short for “torque sensing.” These differentials use worm gears to transfer power to the wheel with the most grip. They are known for their durability and efficiency and are often used in high-performance vehicles.
  • Clutch-Type Differential: Clutch-type LSDs use friction plates to transfer power. When one wheel begins to slip, the friction plates lock together, transferring power to the wheel with more grip. These differentials are often used in front-wheel-drive vehicles.
  • Viscous Differential: Viscous LSDs use fluid to transfer power. When one wheel begins to slip, the fluid creates resistance, transferring power to the wheel with more traction. These differentials are often used in all-wheel-drive vehicles.


Overall, the limited slip differential is an excellent addition to any vehicle. It improves traction, acceleration, and stability and can be beneficial in a variety of driving conditions. With several different types to choose from, LSDs can be tailored to fit the specific needs of any driver.

Type of LSD Advantages Disadvantages
Torsen Durable, Efficient, Good for High-Performance Vehicles Expensive, Not Ideal for Extreme Off-Road Conditions
Clutch-Type Reliable, Cost-Effective, Ideal for Front-Wheel-Drive Vehicles Requires Maintenance, Can Be Noisy or Unpredictable
Viscous Smooth Operation, Good for All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles Less Durable, Can Overheat in Extreme Conditions, Expensive

When considering upgrading your vehicle’s differential, it is essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type of LSD. This will help you choose the right LSD for your needs and ensure that your vehicle performs optimally in the conditions you expect to encounter.

How Limited Slip Differential Reduces Wheel Spin

Limited slip differential (LSD) is a type of differential that helps control wheel spin and improve traction in slippery driving conditions. With conventional differentials, when one wheel loses traction, it will spin while the other wheel remains stationary. This can result in power loss and reduced handling of the vehicle. LSD evenly distributes the torque to both wheels and reduces wheel spin, resulting in better acceleration and handling.

  • LSD improves traction
  • LSD reduces wheel spin
  • LSD distributes torque evenly to both wheels for better handling

There are different types of LSD available in the market. One of the most common types is a clutch-based LSD. It uses a set of clutch plates to distribute torque between the two wheels. When one wheel starts to spin, the clutches engage and send more torque to the wheel with better traction. This helps reduce wheel spin and improve stability.

LSD is particularly useful in off-road driving and racing, where traction is crucial. It can also be helpful in everyday driving conditions, such as in wet weather and snow. LSD improves the overall handling of the vehicle and reduces the wear and tear on tires.

Additionally, LSD can be advantageous for vehicles with higher horsepower and torque, where wheel spin is more likely to occur. It is also a popular aftermarket upgrade for many sports cars and trucks.

Limited Slip Differential Benefits
Improved traction and stability
Better handling and acceleration
Reduced wear and tear on tires
Advantageous for vehicles with high horsepower and torque
Popular aftermarket upgrade for many sports cars and trucks

In conclusion, LSD is an essential technology that reduces wheel spin and improves traction, making it a valuable addition for off-road driving, racing, and everyday driving in slippery conditions. It helps distribute torque evenly to both wheels, resulting in better handling and acceleration. Additionally, it reduces tire wear and tear and is a popular aftermarket upgrade for many sports cars and trucks.

Difference between limited slip differential and locking differential

When it comes to improving the performance of your vehicle, selecting a differential that better fits your driving style and conditions can make a significant difference. However, with all the options available, it’s easy to get confused about the difference between limited slip differential (LSD) and locking differential (LD).

  • Functionality: While both LSD and LD distribute power between the wheels, they operate differently. LSD transfers power from a spinning wheel to a wheel with better traction, allowing them to rotate at similar speeds. LD locks both wheels together, ensuring equal torque and rotation.
  • Driving Conditions: LD is best-suited for challenging off-road terrains, rock-crawling, and extreme situations where maximum traction is a must. On the other hand, LSD performs well in slippery or gravel-strewn roads, wet or icy conditions, and racetracks.
  • Risks: While LD provides maximum traction and helps you get out of sticky situations, it can lead to instability and uneven wear and tear on tires, causing overheating and damage. Thus, it’s crucial to use LD only in specific conditions. LSD, on the other hand, is less aggressive and more consistent in power transfer, limiting the risk of tire damage.

Ultimately, choosing between LSD and LD depends on your purpose, driving habits, and conditions. While LD may seem appealing, it may not be the best choice for daily driving or other situations where it can compromise safety and stability. LSD, on the other hand, provides more versatile and consistent performance overall.

Understanding the differences between LSD and LD is crucial for making an informed decision about your vehicle’s differential system. Make sure to consult with a mechanic or a differential expert to determine which differential type is best for you.

When to Use Limited Slip Differential

If you’re a car enthusiast or racer, you may have heard of limited slip differential (LSD). It’s a type of differential that distributes torque between two drive wheels in a way that maximizes traction and minimizes wheel slip. LSDs can be useful in certain driving scenarios, but they’re not always necessary or practical for every car. Here are some situations when an LSD might be a good choice:

  • Performance Driving: LSDs are commonly used in high-performance cars like sports cars and racecars. When you’re driving aggressively, such as taking sharp turns or accelerating quickly, LSDs provide better stability and control than standard differentials. They help ensure that both wheels are receiving power evenly, instead of one wheel spinning out and losing traction. With an LSD, you can make more precise maneuvers and maintain better control of the car.
  • Off-Road Driving: If you frequently drive off-road, an LSD can be useful for maintaining traction on uneven surfaces. When one wheel loses traction, the LSD automatically transfers more torque to the wheel with better traction. This can help prevent the car from getting stuck or losing momentum.
  • Snowy or Wet Roads: LSDs can also be beneficial in slippery conditions like rain, snow, or ice. By distributing power evenly between the two wheels, an LSD can help prevent the car from spinning out or sliding off the road. This is especially important if you live in an area with frequent inclement weather.

While an LSD can be beneficial in certain situations, it’s not always necessary or practical for every car. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to install an LSD:

  • Cost: LSDs can be expensive, especially for high-performance cars. Depending on the type of LSD and your car’s specific needs, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for an LSD and installation.
  • Driving Habits: If you only use your car for commuting or routine driving, an LSD may not be necessary. While LSDs can improve performance and handling, they’re not always noticeable in everyday driving situations.
  • Maintenance: LSDs require more maintenance than standard differentials, including regular fluid changes and inspections. Make sure you’re willing to commit to this additional maintenance before installing an LSD.


Limited slip differentials can provide improved traction and handling in certain driving scenarios, especially for high-performance cars, off-road driving, and slippery conditions. However, they’re not always practical or necessary for every car. Consider the cost, your driving habits, and the maintenance required before deciding whether to install an LSD.

Type of LSD Features Benefits Disadvantages
Viscous LSD Hydraulic fluid-filled coupling Smooth operation, low noise, improves traction in slippery conditions Not as durable as other LSD types, can overheat under extreme conditions
Torsen LSD Mechanical gear system Efficient power transfer, minimal slippage, low maintenance Expensive, can be difficult to install
Clutch LSD Friction plate system Adjustable, allows for different levels of lockup, good for high-performance driving Requires frequent maintenance, can generate heat and noise

The type of LSD you choose will depend on your specific driving needs and budget. Viscous LSDs are often the most affordable, while torsen and clutch LSDs are more expensive but offer improved performance and durability. Consider the features and benefits of each type before making a decision.

Maintenance of Limited Slip Differential

Proper maintenance of a limited slip differential is essential to maintain its functionality and prolong its lifespan. Here are some tips on how to take care of your limited slip differential:

  • Regularly check the differential fluid level and quality. The oil needs to be changed regularly to prevent overheating and ensure proper lubrication. The limited slip differential requires a specific type of oil, usually a synthetic gear oil, so make sure you use the recommended oil type for your specific make and model.
  • Inspect the differential seals for any leaks or damage. A worn or damaged seal can cause the oil to leak out, which can lead to a lack of lubrication or contamination of the oil.
  • Check the differential for any signs of wear or damage such as chipped or worn gears, excessive play, or abnormal noises. If there are any signs of wear or damage, it may be necessary to replace the differential or some of its components.
  • Always consult the owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule and follow it accordingly.
  • Consider upgrading to higher quality parts if you plan to use your vehicle for high-performance driving or off-road activities.
  • When replacing any parts of the limited slip differential, remember to use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts or high-quality aftermarket parts.
  • Make sure to drive the vehicle gently when the differential is cold, as aggressive driving can lead to premature wear and tear.

Proper maintenance of the limited slip differential is critical to ensure its proper operation and extend its lifespan. By following these maintenance tips and referring to your owner’s manual, you can help prevent costly repairs and breakdowns.

Does Limited Slip Differential Make a Difference FAQs

1. What is a limited slip differential and how does it work?

A limited slip differential is a type of differential that distributes torque between two wheels on the same axle, allowing both wheels to turn at different speeds. It works by using friction to prevent one wheel from spinning faster than the other.

2. How does a limited slip differential improve traction?

A limited slip differential improves traction by evenly distributing torque between the two wheels on the axle. This means that if one wheel loses traction, the other wheel will still be able to apply torque to the road surface, allowing the vehicle to continue moving forward.

3. Does a limited slip differential improve handling?

Yes, a limited slip differential can improve handling by distributing torque evenly between the two wheels on the axle, which can help to prevent understeer and oversteer. This can result in better cornering, improved stability, and better overall handling.

4. Can a limited slip differential be installed on any vehicle?

A limited slip differential can be installed on most vehicles, but it is typically found on high-performance or four-wheel drive vehicles. However, not all vehicles can accommodate a limited slip differential, and it may require other modifications to the drivetrain.

5. Is a limited slip differential worth the investment?

If you are looking to improve your vehicle’s traction, handling, and overall performance, then a limited slip differential can be a worthwhile investment. It can also improve your vehicle’s resale value and may even lead to lower maintenance costs in the long run.


Thanks for reading our article about whether or not a limited slip differential makes a difference. We hope that this information has been helpful in shedding some light on this important aspect of vehicle performance. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. And don’t forget to visit us again for more informative articles about all things automotive!