Understanding Limited Slip Differentials: Helical Gear Vs Plate Diffs - What Are The Differences?

Limited slip differentials, or LSDs, are an important component of modern cars, particularly in high-performance models. They allow for better traction and handling, especially in situations where one wheel may be slipping or losing traction. LSDs come in two main types: helical gear and plate differentials.

Helical gear LSDs work by using gears that are angled to provide resistance to movement between the two wheels. When one wheel loses traction, the gears on that side will rotate faster, creating friction that helps transfer power to the other wheel. Helical gear LSDs are known for being smoother and quieter than plate LSDs, but they do have some drawbacks. They are generally less effective at transferring power in extreme situations, such as when one wheel is completely off the ground or when there is a significant difference in traction between the two wheels - off roading or drifting. Another big advantage of geared diffs is the lack of servicing required. There are no servicable parts so once it is fitted all you need to do is change the oil.

Plate LSDs, on the other hand, use a series of clutch plates to transfer power between the two wheels. These clutch plates are compressed when torque is applied to the differential, creating friction that helps transfer power to the wheel with better traction. Plate LSDs are generally more effective than helical gear LSDs in extreme situations, but they can be noisier and harsher in their operation. They can also wear out more quickly than helical gear LSDs. The clutch plates will need to be serviced and do require maintenance.

So which type of LSD is best for your car? It depends on the application. Helical gear LSDs are generally a good choice for street cars, track day cars and other vehicles where smooth operation and quiet operation are important. Plate LSDs are better suited for drift cars and other high-performance vehicles where extreme traction situations are more common. Ultimately, the decision comes down to your specific needs and driving style.

In conclusion, limited slip differentials are an important part of high-performance cars, and they come in two main types: helical gear and plate differentials. Each type has its own advantages and drawbacks, and the choice depends on the specific application. Whether you're building a street car or a race car, a properly chosen and installed LSD can make a big difference in your car's traction and handling.

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