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The differential plays a critical role within a machine’s drive train by changing the direction of the power coming from the transmission 90 degrees to allow the axles to be driven. They also allow speed and torque differences between the left and right axles. When a machine is turning, the differential lets the outside wheel move at a faster speed than the inside wheel, allowing for easier turning and less wear on tires or tracks. The gears in the differential also provide speed reduction and torque increases.

Differential Key Functions

  • Transferring power coming from the transmission to the left and right axle shafts
  • Balancing the power accordingly to the demand of each wheel
  • Gears in differential further reduce the speed and increases the torque to drive the rear wheels
  • Transmit the power to the wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds
  • Gears in differential further reduce the speed and increases the torque to drive the rear wheels

Differential Components

  • Differential Assembly - Turns the spider and pinion gears that mesh with the side gears, turning the axle shafts
  • Pinion Gears - Transmits power from the spider to the side gears that are attached to the axle shafts
  • Side Gears - Splined to the axles and are driven by the pinion gears
  • Spider - Serves as the mounting for the pinion gears, and rotates with the differential assembly
  • Bevel Pinion Gear - Driven by the drive shaft
  • Bevel Ring Gear - Meshes with the bevel pinion gear, and is mounted to the differential assembly

Differential Types:

  • Standard
  • Limited Slip
  • No Spin
  • Locking

Maximize the Life of Your Differential

For any machine to be safe, reliable and productive, regular preventive maintenance is vital. It is the most cost effective way to keep your Cat® Differential operating at peak performance. If you take care of your differential the gears and shafts can last through multiple rebuilds and the overall differential life increases. Take a proactive approach by planning for scheduled maintenance and repair costs. When you plan, you save money and time, and who couldn’t use more of each? Read More