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The 411 on 4x4s: Open Differentials vs. Limited Slip vs. Locking (and what the jargon means)

This post was originally posted by me on a different blog on Nov 7, 2011:

If you’re considering an overland vehicle and 4×4 capabilities are important to you, then you’ll probably be as interested in this topic as I was when I started really researching the capabilities of various types of 4×4 vehicles.

First, the caveat:  Some of this is new to me, so if you see any errors here please say so in the comments.

I’ll define an “all wheel drive” vehicle vs. a “4×4″ vehicle as the difference between having a “low” range.  A low range selector specifies different gearing in the transfer case, giving the vehicle many times more power due to the lower gearing.  So for example, certain models of the Honda Element are “AWD,” because it delivers power to all four wheels while a Jeep is a true 4×4.  (Speaking of Elements, if you want a cool camper option for an Element, check out the ECAMPER — but that’s off-topic for this thread.)  In this thread I’ll only be referring to true 4×4 vehicles.

What the jargon means: Open vs. Limited Slip vs. Locking Differentials

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