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Automotive glossary: What is a Differential?

Definition of Differential: Also the drive wheels of a car must not be joined by an inflexible axle, is in bends the outer wheel has to cover a longer distance than the inner wheel, i.e., it has to have the possibility to turn faster. To manage this speed difference, the wheels of the driving axle are joined via a differential. In its most simple form, it permits a completely different speed of the wheels, so if one wheel spins, the other one stays idle. In order to control this, especially in cross country unwanted behavior, a differential lock may be installed or a limited slip differential used. Vehicles with four wheel drive also have to have a central differential installed between the two axles.

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