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Old 04-20-2011, 11:19 PM   #1
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How exactly does the axle locker work

How exactly does the axle locker work on a rubicon? Iím confused. If your jeep is in 4 wheel drive then all wheels are locked in 4 wheel drive, correct? Then if you hit the axle locker and lock up the rear axle what happens to the front axle? Is it not still in a 4 wheel drive mode or, does it disengage the front axles 4 wheel drive capability? What?

How exactly does that work?

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Old 04-20-2011, 11:26 PM   #2
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i think you're overthinking..

when you engage 4wd, your transfer case starts powering the front axle..
When you engage a locker, you lock gears in the differential so both tires on that axle will spin regardless of traction..

With an open differential power will go to the tire with least resistance.. this is fine for dry pavement, as both tires will equally resist. Any situation with loss of traction this becomes a problem.. Imagine a situation where you have tire up in the air with no traction at all, that tire will spin, the tire that is on the ground with full traction will not. Locking them will allow both to spin the same regardless.

Hope this makes sense..

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Old 04-20-2011, 11:29 PM   #3
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When you place any vehicle in four wheel drive depending on the axle setup it essentially becomes a two wheel drive vehicle. One rear wheel and one front wheel work together. In the Rubicon's case when you flip the axle lock once, it locks the rear axles together so that it is not an open diff. and both rear wheels spin together. When you hit the axle lock button a second time the front axles lock together just like the rear. Both front wheels will work together. When the axles are locked, it is a true 4 wheel drive vehicle. When they are not and the Jeep is placed in 4 wheel drive it is essentially 2 wheel drive. When the transfer case is placed in 2 wheel drive it is essentially a 1 wheel drive vehicle.
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:44 PM   #4
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OK, I see the advantage to locking the axle. Now tell me the disadvantage. Must be something or else they would stay locked right? Thanks...
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:51 PM   #5
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Turning, inside wheel and outside wheel, move at slightly different rates. If locked they move at the same, fine on trail, loose gravel, wheels off ground, etc, not fine on road. Things will jump around if locked on hard traction surface.
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:56 PM   #6
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its just like driving on dry pavement in 4wd (AWD is another story though).. you'll bind the gears.. basically its the reason to have a differential, when you turn the inside tire follows a much shorter path than the outside tire, so they travel a different distance. Therefore they have to spin at different speeds..

HowStuffWorks "How Differentials Work"

^Has a pretty good graphic showing it
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:00 AM   #7
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Cool, makes sense. Thanks! So when unlocked power shifts from wheel to wheel according to resistance?
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:10 AM   #8
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yep essentially.. once a tire loses traction, power will be transferred to that tire, causing it to just spin.. the other tire with traction will get no power.

There are other setups that try to negate this, a limited slip differential or torque sensing differential (different names include: LSD, Torsen, Positraction) have extra parts inside the diff to figure out which tire DOESNT have traction and sends power to the tire that does..

Heres a good resource too:
http://auto.howstuffworks.com/differential3.htm
make sure to hit next page, as it talks about the different types of limited slips.. and locking diffs too i believe
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:36 AM   #9
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ok, so bascally the 4wd mode low and high is limited slip, with more torque in the low. locking the axle creates a no slip differential, correct?

When pressing the lock button it will lock the rear axle in a no slip mode with the front still in a limited slip mode and when you press it again the front axle locks in a no slip mode with the rear going back to a limited slip mode?

You can transfer no slip from rear to front but, not both locked at the same time, correct?
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Old 04-21-2011, 11:48 AM   #10
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You only will be Limited slip if your jeep is equipped with it. You can also lock both axles at the same time, there is no issue with this.
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:14 PM   #11
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Open differentials and limited slips are two totally different subjects. An open differential only allows one wheel to power the vehicle down the road EXCEPT when traveling in straight line motion, then the power is spilt 50/50 between both of the drive wheels until turning a corner or slippage occurs. Then power is transferred to the wheel with less traction.

A limited slip uses a clutch type system so that when slippage occurs on one of the drive wheels the other wheel will receive partial power to assist in forward movement.

In the case of the Rubicon it has lockers in both the front and rear differentials which allow the driver to lock both of the rear axle shafts and both of the front axle shafts together giving you true 4 wheel power. All 4 wheels will spin when in 4 wheel drive and both axles locked.

In MOST conventional 4 wheel drive vehicles you have an open differential in both the front and rear differential. When you place this vehicle in 4 wheel drive you essentially only have a 2 wheel drive vehicle meaning one front wheel and one rear wheel help to power the vehicle. When placed back into 2 wheel drive you essentially have ONLY one drive wheel powering the vehicle.
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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When you place any vehicle in four wheel drive depending on the axle setup it essentially becomes a two wheel drive vehicle. One rear wheel and one front wheel work together.
While a lot of people think that's the case when they see just one front and one rear tire spinning, that's not actually what is happening. With equal traction, all four tires are pulling evenly. And no matter how much traction each tire has, the differential is still delivering the same amount of torque to each tire, spinning or not.

It's when a tire loses traction that the torque the engine can generate drops to such a low level that it can only spin the tire with the least amount of traction. That gives the false impression that the non-spinning tire is not receiving any power. The non-spinning tire is just not receiving enough power to spin it since it has better traction than the tire that is spinning does because it requires less power to make it spin.

Always (always always!!) both wheels on the differential are receiving an exact 50:50 split of the torque. Yes, that is true... even though we keep hearing/reading that is not true. Whether the axle is open or has a limited slip differential installed, the differential magically splits the torque passing through it exactly 50:50 to the left and right wheels.

Here's an article I wrote on torque and 4x4 years ago, sorry it's so wordy but it's not an easily explained subject. 4x4 & Torque answers

Here's another article from HowStuffWorks at HowStuffWorks "How Differentials Work"

Page four of that article is where it confirms the differential always splits the torque 50:50 no matter what the conditions are:

Per the article on the How Stuff Works website: "The open differential always applies the same amount of torque to each wheel. There are two factors that determine how much torque can be applied to the wheels: equipment and traction. In dry conditions, when there is plenty of traction, the amount of torque applied to the wheels is limited by the engine and gearing; in a low traction situation, such as when driving on ice, the amount of torque is limited to the greatest amount that will not cause a wheel to slip under those conditions. So, even though a car may be able to produce more torque, there needs to be enough traction to transmit that torque to the ground. If you give the car more gas after the wheels start to slip, the wheels will just spin faster."
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:01 PM   #13
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So, when raining, is it better to have the Jeep in 4High or left in 2WD, particularly with regards to turns and turning?
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:09 PM   #14
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Even when it's raining hard, you should always remain in 2wd on pavement with the part-time type of transfer case that the Wrangler has. Pavement, even when it's wet, has too much traction for a part-time transfer case and it will cause jerky steering, crow-hopping, etc. if you drive on pavement in either 4Hi or 4Lo. The reason is the Wrangler's 4x4 part-time system mechanically locks the front and rear axles together so they must turn at the same rpms. While that works fine offroad in low traction situations, it doesn't work on pavement because it won't allow the front tires to rotate faster than the rear wheels as they must do for making any kind of a turn. The front tires rotate faster through a turn or curve than the rear tires do and the Wrangler's part-time 4x4 system won't alllow that to happen.

Only a full-time 4x4 system like is available on the non-Wrangler models (Grand Cherokees, Liberties, etc.) can be driven in 4x4 on pavement. That is because they have a center differential that allows the front tires and rear tires to rotate at different rpms needed to turn left or right.
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:15 PM   #15
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I feel so much smarter now lol. Can wrangler forum just become an online university? I spend most of my class time on here anyway lol
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:20 PM   #16
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I feel so much smarter now lol. Can wrangler forum just become an online university? I spend most of my class time on here anyway lol
I wish I could get a degree in Wranglerforum Skills lol
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:28 AM   #17
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I just got schooled. Seriously, this shit is more confusing then sinuses and tangents.
Got a 13 moab with the REAR ONLY locker option, with towing package and 3.73 gearing.
My sticker also says it has limited slip differential. How does the locker work?
Can I use the locker in 2wd or only in 4wd or only in 4wd hi or only 4wd low?

This shit is baffling and the owners manual has no mention of it. It does not teach me how to use the locker.

I did get the open diff vs limited slip diff. But I don't get the locker thing.

The other day it snowed here in dc and was in the Best buy parking lot wanting to do donuts. The jeep was in 2wd and I turned on the rear locker. The light lit up on my dashboard. And I did donuts. BUT, I cannot tell the handling difference between regular 2wd donuts or locked 2wd donuts.

Anybody care to add anything, comment, or call me a dumbass?

School me please, Am I doing something wrong? Am I gonna fuck up the jeep? Is that bad in any way?
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:48 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by MOABLTY View Post
I just got schooled. Seriously, this shit is more confusing then sinuses and tangents. Got a 13 moab with the REAR ONLY locker option, with towing package and 3.73 gearing. My sticker also says it has limited slip differential. How does the locker work? Can I use the locker in 2wd or only in 4wd or only in 4wd hi or only 4wd low? This shit is baffling and the owners manual has no mention of it. It does not teach me how to use the locker. I did get the open diff vs limited slip diff. But I don't get the locker thing. The other day it snowed here in dc and was in the Best buy parking lot wanting to do donuts. The jeep was in 2wd and I turned on the rear locker. The light lit up on my dashboard. And I did donuts. BUT, I cannot tell the handling difference between regular 2wd donuts or locked 2wd donuts. Anybody care to add anything, comment, or call me a dumbass? School me please, Am I doing something wrong? Am I gonna fuck up the jeep? Is that bad in any way?
What Locker is in your rear?

I have ARB Lockers front and rear and I can lock only the "front" or only the "rear" in any position of the transfer case. If you have the stock rubicon lockers you are limited to only engaging them in 4Lo from the factory.
Now I am not going to bring up the burnouts in a parking lot deal. But I have locked only the rear and done some pretty good slides in the sand. The reason it should help in something like a slide is that the inner tire is going to loose some traction and there fore less power is put to the outside tire. With the axles locked both tires will have the same amount of power to each wheel and there will be no loss in traction.
I dont really know the difference between Limited Slip and Open other than the fact that the limited slip has a clutch of some sorts inside that helps get power to the tire with least traction to the one with the most. Someone else is going to have to explain that one and then Im going to learn something :/
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Old 12-13-2013, 01:53 PM   #19
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I can't tell you what locker I have. No idea. The truck is a 2013 Moab. Stock it doesn't come with lockers. I ordered the rear only locker option from factory. It is called Tru-Lock Locking rear axle and it cost $1500. The window sticker also states Anti-Spin differential rear axle.
In the cabin I have the locker button in the same spot where the rubicon has the disconnect and the locker buttons.
My question again is how does it work? Only in 4wd low or it works in all other configurations? I can push the button in 2wd and the light comes on in the cluster display "rear lock".
I did not replace the lockers myself nor added after market lockers, this came from factory.
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Old 12-13-2013, 02:23 PM   #20
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my all time favorite video for explaining how a diff works.

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Old 12-13-2013, 03:12 PM   #21
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Maybe things have changed with the latest Wranglers but to the best of my knowledge, there are no true lockers available for any Wrangler except for the Rubicon.

The only optional traction enhancing option available that I am aware of for a non-Rubicon rear axle is a Tracloc limited slip differential. Rubicon lockers have a push button that enables them, limited slip differentials do not have any kind of a push button control.

Edit: After re-reading your post again, it appears that you do have a real rear locker. If so, how cool. I'll post a link to what lockers are & how they work tonight after I get home from work.
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Old 12-13-2013, 03:22 PM   #22
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Maybe things have changed with the latest Wranglers but to the best of my knowledge, there are no lockers available for any Wrangler except for the Rubicon.

The only optional traction enhancing option available that I am aware of for the rear axle is a Tracloc limited slip differential. Rubicon lockers have a push button that enables them, limited slip differential do not have any kind of a push button control.
In some of the new JKs like the moab edition there is an option for a locking rear axle. It confused me a while back when I read someone talking about a non-rubicon with a rear factory locker so I researched it and found out. By researching I mean I went to the build your own jeep on their website and found the option


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Old 12-13-2013, 07:34 PM   #23
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:00 PM   #24
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Ok, so what you are saying is, if I find myself in a situation that the engine will only power the wheel that requires the least engine torque, if I apply the brakes to the point that the engine has equal resistance in both wheels I will have both wheels powered?
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:18 PM   #25
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Applying braking force to the wheels increases the amount of torque generated by the engine which is delivered equally to both sides. The engine can only develop (send) the amount of torque it requires to get a tire spinning. Once a tire starts spinning, that stops the engine from developing any more torque which can prevent the other side from getting enough torque to keep or get you moving. So if you step on the brakes, that means the engine has to work harder to get a tire spinning which means it is sending more torque to both sides at that point.

And a key point about differentials is that they always (!) split the torque 50:50 equally to both sides. That may be hard to believe but it's true.

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