How Do I Tell If I Have a Limited Slip Differential?

by Nick Davis

The differential, located at the back of rear-wheel drive vehicles, directs engine power to your vehicle's rear wheels and allows them to rotate at different speeds. The differential also works along with the transmission to control that component's rotational speed. The differential keeps one of your vehicle's rear wheels on the road at all times, especially when making a turn or during bad road conditions. A limited slip differential sends power to both of your vehicle's wheels equally when traveling straight, as well as keeping one wheel on the road during turns, and when traction is needed.

Use an automotive jack to raise one side of your automobile's rear wheels. Place a jack stand under the side to support the automobile. Wear work gloves to keep your hands clean.

Jack up the other side and put a jack stand in place. Place your automobile's transmission shifter into "Neutral."

Spin one of the tires with your hand. If the opposite tire spins in the same direction, you have a limited slip differential.

Place your automobile's transmission shifter into "Park" before removing the jack stands and lowering your automobile.


  • If the opposite tire spins in the opposite direction, you have an open differential.

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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.

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