The Weekend is here and your idea of fun is to take your lovely new 4×4 off the beaten track. The off-road is the ideal playground for your vehicle as it tests the strength of its off-road capabilities. A test between machine and nature, with both wrestling each-other to the inch of their lives. But what happens when one of them is victorious. You either go home happy, feeling like a king returning from a conquest of foreign lands or you have a sinking stuck in the mud kind of feeling (quite literally). To avoid this bitter experience, there are a number of things that you should keep in-mind before buying your next offroader; and torque is definitely one of them.
Most off-road vehicles come with oodles of torque. Before we understand how it helps your large SUVs and 4×4s to move forward let's first understand what torque really is. Torque is a measure of the amount of force acting on an object causing that object to rotate; or to put it in simpler terms, torque is the amount of turning (rotating) power your vehicle has. Now that we have understood torque, how does it help rotate the four wheels of your car? And, is more torque necessarily better? For instance let's say your car comes with 200 foot-pounds of torque. Take a torque wrench (found in most hardware shops) and then apply a force of 200 pounds. As a result you would have 200 foot-pounds of torque on display. The difference between torque and horsepower is that torque is the ability of your car to do work; horsepower is the rate at which it does it.
A limited slip-differential also know as diff, is a mechanical device which is connected to the drivetrain of your vehicle.
The diff uses this torque which it collects from the drive train and distributes it equally between all four wheels. In the event of one of the four wheels getting stuck, the diff will temporarily disable power to this wheel and transfer this power to the remaining wheels which have better traction. Thereby limiting the capacity of that one wheel to spin out of control while the other three wheels have better grip. This feature allows vehicles (especially the off-road type) to tackle tracks easily and enhances their off-roading capabilities.
The two pictures above show a car with and without a limited slip differential. Notice the tread pattern on the image below which indications traction from all four wheels.
Automatic limited slip-differential
Initial the limited slip-differential came in its mechanical form, but over the years manufacturers have developed the limited slip differential and come up with automatic (ALSD) versions of the same.
The ALSD works in tandem with the traction control system to reduce wheel spin in much the same way a manual one does. However the ALSD uses the cars onboard sensors to overcome the common flaws of locking, enabling your car to apply more traction when you most need it.