Take Some Time This Morning To Understand How A Differential Works

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Earlier this year I, while I was giving rides in a C7 Corvette at a racetrack, I was asked if I could give a stunning young blonde a ride around the course. Naturally, I agreed, because every middle-aged man in a Corvette wants a girl who looks exactly like that one sitting next to him. Even if we’re both wearing helmets for the whole time. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that she was a BMW auto mechanic who knew quite a bit more about cars and engines and welding and whatnot than I did.

This video was on her FB page this morning. If you don’t understand how and why a differential does what it does, it will be of nontrivial assistance. You can skip forward to the three-minute mark if you just want the gritty details.

As for my friend — I’d like to tell you that she’s single and just waiting for some nice young man to win her heart by doing something totally romantic, but of course she’s dating some handsome young bastard. Them’s the breaks!

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Budda-Boom Budda-Boom on Oct 02, 2014

    I've always appreciated a woman who knows cars.

    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Oct 02, 2014

      Any woman possessing even a passing knowledge of the physics & mechanics behind limited slip differential is going to be a real spinner..err..keeper.

  • JMII JMII on Oct 02, 2014

    I kept waiting for something to explode or transform. Then I realized this was not a Micheal Bay General Motors film :) Great old film! I learned how differentials worked by building them out of LEGO. Same with pistons, crankshafts, steering racks and suspension. LEGO has several sets that make functional model cars in which these mechanical principals can be explored. I thought they even made a set with a simple 2 speed transmission.

    • See 1 previous
    • Drzhivago138 Drzhivago138 on Oct 02, 2014

      Have you seen the pneumatic engines some crazy talented AFOLs have built on youtube? Lego has made all sorts of pneumatics, gears and even sets with linear actuators that almost approximate real hydraulics, but nothing compared to what some of these guys have dreamed up. Some of them even have automatic transmissions made with rubber bands!

  • Sco Sco on Oct 02, 2014

    Sweet! I just changed the fluid in my differential last weekend -may have been it's first change ever (RWD '74 Peugeot 504), now I know why. The arrangement on a FWD car is somewhat different no?

    • See 2 previous
    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Oct 02, 2014

      There are a wide variety of ways that FWD cars package things. From the transmission and diff in the motor's oil sump and sharing the engine oil like on an original Mini, to chain-driven separate transmission under the engine with a mostly sort-of separate diff like a Saab 900, to the transmission on the end of the engine with the diff behind like on a VW Golf to every variation in-between.

  • Carrya1911 Carrya1911 on Oct 02, 2014

    A similar video on how manual transmissions work can be found here: http://youtu.be/JOLtS4VUcvQ