How Does A Differential Work?

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You love cars. That's why you're here, right? Well just because you love the automobile, it doesn't mean you completely understand how one works.

Yes you get the basic concepts of spark, combustion, the transmission altering gear ratios, and the difference between all and four-wheel-drive. Do you know how many of the individual parts actually do their job? If not, today is your lucky day for at least one of those parts. It's time to learn how a differential keeps your car moving forward.

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This video from 1937 does an amazing job of distilling what appears to be a rather complex topic into something that's quite easily understandable. It all starts with a visual lesson of why a differential is necessary, as the wheels on your car aren't always moving at the same speed. In a turn, the outside wheel needs to move faster than the inside wheel. This isn't possible when both wheels are directly bolted to the same axle. Enter the differential.

The visual guides here should allow you to easily process what's going on underneath the skin of your car. Though the lesson dates back to 1937, the actions and effects are all the same. Sure, there are a handful of different kinds of differentials in use today, but the underlying principal is all the same for mechanical differentials.

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So sit back, listen up, and learn a bit more about the thing you love.

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