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Old 01-21-2003, 11:42 AM   #1
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split differential or locking differential

What is the difference in the split differential or the locking differential we have been told several different things by different dealers. Some tell us it is the same thing. Anyone out there know the answer.

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Old 01-21-2003, 01:09 PM   #2
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I have heard a 2 speed rear axle called a split differential, but these are in heavy trucks. A locking differential is not something you want on the street pulling a trailer. You are going to get a positraction or standard axle, that's the only choice in carriers on modern light trucks. Tell them to use the nomenclature used by the manufacturer, it will be less confusing and more accurate.


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Old 01-21-2003, 02:21 PM   #3
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I have a "Locking" type rear end in my truck. The GM option designation is "G80". I do not think you can get "Positraction" rear ends in anything over a 1/2 ton rating. No problems towing with it. 74Argosy24MH, why would one not want a "Locker" for towing?
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Old 01-21-2003, 03:01 PM   #4
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we have a locking rear end on our yukon xl, very similar to the unit you are looking at. We have the 3.73 rear end, 5.3 engine, and a 1/2 ton truck 2wd truck. We also have traction control and air ride.

It's my understanding, when one rear wheel slips under 30 miles per hour, the other wheel will take over and provide power to both rear wheels. I have found this to be very helpful in getting out of any trouble with snow or mud in the NE.

Traction control is a different animal, the computer takes over the truck in a power skid or slip and applies brake or backs off the power to straighten out the vehicle. I have found that in snow conditions on the highway, the accerator will back off to eliminate any slip, It's scarey to discribe but it really works well.

Air ride is a little compressor that keeps the vehicle level in all conditions, towing, hauling, or otherwise. I like it. We have over 60,000 on our truck, about 15,000 towing and everything works as if new.

Good luck on your decisions

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Old 01-21-2003, 03:02 PM   #5
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split differential or locking differential

I don't know about its availability since the redesign, but my '99 GMC K2500 (3/4 ton 4 x 4) Suburban has the optional rear locking differential. It is one option that I wouldn't be without whether the vehicle is for towing or just pleasure use - - all of my rear wheel drive vehicles have locking rear differentials (posi-track for GM, Twin Traction for Studebaker, the MOPAR designation escapes me for the time being). The locking differential can really make a difference in traction and confidence in inclement weather.

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Old 01-21-2003, 04:48 PM   #6
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When you go around a corner the tire on the outside has to turn faster than the inside tire. A true locker can't do this because the two axle shafts are locked together and you get a ton of push.

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Old 01-22-2003, 07:48 PM   #7
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I have also heard that a locker in the rear is not recommended for towing but they are referring to a unit like the Detroit Locker which locks both axles when going forward. With extra weight on the rear bumper, tires are less able to slip if one is slightly taller than the other. Stress builds up inside the unit and you have excessive wear. My son's '90 4X4 K1500 truck has a rear G80, my past '92 4X4 K1500 Z71 had a G80, my wife's van has a G80 and my '01 Chevy 2500hd has a G80. These are classified as lockers but lock when one wheel spins 100 rpm faster than the other. A governor locks the axles together at this point. After around 20 mph, the unit unlocks again so that you do not have the stress buildup inside. Think about it, do you want to be on ice with both rear axles locked up and hit the gas a little harder than you wanted to? Next thing you know, you are in a slide and in the ditch. When you take a turn, the locker will unlock since the tire on the inside of the turn is moving slower than the outside tire. If you stay on the gas while making the turn, the clutches will wear faster so you are better off coasting around a sharp turn or at least letting off the gas. You can tow safely with a G80 locker and do so with confidence. Go to for a demonstration on the Chevy installed units if that is what you have or are thinking about.


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