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Differential and drive axle principles and service


Differential and drive axle functions

The differential and drive axle assembly performs the following functions:

Transmit torque from drive shaft to drive axles and rear wheels
Transmit torque at a 90 degree angle
Provides a gear reduction between the drive pinion and drive axles.
Split driving torque between the two wheels
Allows drive wheels to turn at different speeds when turning corners.
Supports the Chassis, drive axles, and differentials
Provides the means to attach the suspension system brake assemblies, and drive


Differential and Drive axle components

The major components of a differential and drive axle assembly include:
Differential drive pinion yoke (flange) connects drive shaft to differential ring
Drive pinion: transmits torque from drive shaft to differential ring gear
Ring gear transmit torque from drive pinion to differential case
Differential case transmits torque from ring gear to differential pinion shaft
contains differential pinion shaft; differential pinion gears, and axle side gears.
Differential case side bearings: Support differential case in axle housing
Differential pinion shaft: transmit torque from differential case to differential
pinion gears.
Differential pinion gears: transmit torque from differential pinion gears to axle
gears, allow axle gears to turn at different speeds when cornering.
Axle side gears: transmit torque from differential pinion gears to drive axles
Drive axles: transmit torque from axle side gears to drive wheels
Axle housing supports and contains the differential assembly and drive axles and
support the chassis

Operating principle of differential and drive axle

When driving in a straight line the two half shafts rotate at same speed. The differential
bevel gears do not rotate, but move round together with the differential casing. They do
not act as gear wheels in this situation, but merely distribute the drive equally between
the two differential side gears.
When the vehicle is driven round a corner, the outer wheel on each axle has to cover a
greater distance than the inner wheel. Because of this, the road wheels and therefore the
differential side gears in the differential rotate at different speeds. This is possible
because they are only connected together by the differential bevel gears (pining ears)

5mm (0. Special hypoid gear oil is employed. have helical from of teeth generated from the center of the crown wheel. Hypoid gears: are being widely used in differential nowadays the pinion axles is placed below the crown wheel center line this results in a lower propeller shaft. Torsional stress due to driving and braking torque Shear stress due to the weight of the vehicle Bending stress due to the weight of the vehicle Tensile and compressive stress due to cornering forces Types (1) Semi-floating :.which turn on their own shafts and run round the differential side gears to equalize their speed differential. There are three types of differential gears. 3. The tendency to shear is avoided by gradually increasing the shat diameter. Thus we see that the inner end of the half axle shaft transmits only the turning torque and no other force to this end and is therefore called floating. V Types of gear axle shaft The axle shaft transmits the drive from the differential side gears to the rear hub. 4. (2) Fully floating :. This arrangement is least noisy. A backlash of 1. The inner road wheel continuous to transmit power uniformly and there fore to grip the road.006 in ) is recommended for light vehicles such gears are noisy but cheap to produce Spiral bevel gears. The outer end has to take bending stresses due to wheel wobble. wheel skid and wheel rotation the axle has to take the total weight of the vehicle. It consists of an independently mounted hub which . VI Drive pinion and ring gear types and operation (Deals sethi) The differential drive pinion and ring gear are a matched set and should not be interchanged with gears from another set. The shaft is subjected to: 1. (1) Straight bevel gears: These types of gears have tapered teeth originating from the center.e lower chassis height reduction in tuned height and bigger pinion gears can be employed. The clearance between the two teeth of the drive pinion and crown wheel is adjusted by shims or distance pieces. but revolves more slowly by the same amount as the outer wheel revolves faster. Spiral teeth increase the tooth pressure necessitating a heavier type of oil. Such axles are used in light vehicles cars and light commercial vehicles. i.The shaft will have to resist all the stresses mentioned above. 2.This is generally fitted on commercial vehicles where torque and axle loads are greater. The various types may be compared by considering the stresses the shaft has to resist. Taper roller bearings inside the axle housing support the half shaft. The inner bearing supports the final drive unit.

The driven gear set is attached to the differential case. the case being supported by bearings in the differential housing in a manner similar to the differential discussed previously. It consists of a single bearing mounted between the hub and the casing. hard material must be used to with stand the various stresses. the other wheel can not deliver torque. any alternative between the two may be regarded as a three quarter floating shaft. the shaft may be with drawn without jacking up the vehicle. so the construction is very strong studs connecting the shaft to the hub transmit the drive and when the nuts on these studs are removed. A medium carbon alloy steel containing such elements as nickel. In this type of differential the drive pinion meshes with the ring gear assembled to a straight shaft on which there is a reduction drive gear set.rotates on two bearings widely speed on the axle casing. (3) (VI) Axle shaft materials A tough. When one wheel slips on ice. All turning effort goes to the slipping wheel. a limited slip differential is used in many cars. The main shear stress on the shafts is relieved but all other stresses still have to be resisted. To sum up the standard differential delivers maximum torque to the wheel with minimum torque to the wheel with maximum traction. Limited slip differentials ( Crouse 6th ed) The standard differential delivers the same amount of torque to each rear wheel when both wheels have equal traction when one wheel has less traction than the other. Gear reduction is obtained between the drive pinion and the ring gear and also between the reduction gear sets. chromium and molybdenum is the usual chose. To provide good traction even though one wheel is slipping. . This arrangement relives the shaft of all stresses except torsional. It is very similar to the standard unit but has some means of preventing wheel spin and loss of traction. Three quarter floating:. some large trucks use double reduction differentials. The reduction drive gear set drives a driven gear set that has a greater number of gear teeth.Having defined the semi and fully floating shaft. Double Reduction differentials ( Crouse 6th ed) To secure Additional gear reduction through the differential and provide a higher gear ratio between the engine and the rear wheels. for example. resist spline wear and provided good resistance to fatigue.

With part time four wheel drive.Operation (Crouse 10th ed ) A limited slip differential has clutches or lones in the case when a wheel spins. the spring force pushes out ward on the side gears to help provide a quicker locking action. the plates are forced together. the front axle is engaged automatically as soon as the rear wheels begin to spin. This permits the outer wheel to turn faster than the inner wheel. Transfer cases in Automotive vehicles are classed as full time or part time with a full time transfer case. The transfer case is an auxiliary transmission mounted in back of the main transmission. Four Wheel drive (4WD) Purpose of the transfer case (the auto book) The purpose of the transfer case is to give the vehicle the ability to drive only two wheels or to drive all four wheels. The advantage of four wheel drive (4WD) is that all four wheel driving. and travel over muddy or snowcovered roads. Engine power can flow to all four wheels. the vehicle is able to travel over roads or terrain in which a car with two wheel drive would get stuck. Four wheel derive and the transfer case (Crouse 10th ed & auto book ) Many utility vehicles. enough force is released to allow the clutch to slip. As the car round a curve during normal driving. A vehicle with four wheel drive can go across fields. . The friction plates are splined to the the side gear and rotate with it. This locks the case to the side gear and transmits torque to the axle shaft and wheel. the clutches or lones lock the case to the differential side gears. The steel plates have tangs that fit in to the case. Both axles now turn at the same speed. and a few cars have four wheel drive. the engine power is divided and transferred to both the front and rear differentials. Each multiple disc clutch is made of a series of alternating friction plates and steel plates. Most limited slip differential have preload springs between the side gears. the transfer case shift lever must be moved to engage or disengage the front differential. When the clutch engages. climb steep hills. some trucks. A transfer case is required on vehicles with four wheel drive. This prevent differential action. ford shallow streams. By shifting gears in the transfer case.

and turns the shift knob on each wheel to engage. To disengage the front wheels from the axle shafts.e auxiliary drive axle is engaged by shifting the transfer case.Manual locking hubs are used with part time four wheel drive. Now when the driver gets in to the vehicle and shifts the transfer case in to four wheel drive. These are splined to the transfer case output shafts for the front and rear axles. However this type of part time four wheel drive is seldom used. the driver stops the vehicle. . 2) Automatic Locking hubs To avoid having to stop the vehicle to engage and disengage the hubs. so the spring pushes the sliding gear in to mesh with a gear splined to the outer end of the axle shaft. and the front axle drive shaft reduced fuel economy and tire life result along with increased engine and transfer case wear. To engage the front wheels. In addition. One solution is to connect the drive axle shafts to the drive wheels through locking hubs. In two wheel drive. A single speed transfer case usually has 1:1 ratio. To unlock automatic locking hubs. the front wheels drive along with the rear wheels. shifting the transfer case puts the vehicle in four wheel drive. gets out. The single speed transfer case can divide the power and deliver it to either axle or both axles. some vehicles have automatic locking hubs. This reduces vehicle speed while greatly increasing the low speed torque available. The four modes of transfer case operation are obtained by moving two sliding gears.5:1. If the wheel hubs are splined directly to the spindles on the outer ends of the axle shafts. The other axle i. and turns the hubs to disengage. gets out. Looking hubs (Crouse 10th ed ) In Four wheel drive vehicles power flow to one axles i. High range in the transfer case provides direct drive. When the transfer case is in four wheel drive. the two speed transfer case has a low range and a high range the driver can select either two wheel drive or four wheel drive in high range. or low range with four-wheel drive. the front axle shafts back drive the ring gear and pinion. on some models drive the vehicle back ward for a few feet. They are engaged and disengaged by the driver. the driver stops the vehicle.e the main drive axle all the time.Automotive transfer cases are also classified as single speed or two speed. This rotates the cam. stop the vehicle and shift two wheel drive then. neutral. the hubs lock automatically as power flows through the front wheel axles. or a gear ratio of 1:1 low range usually produces a gear reduction of about 2. 1) Manual Looking hubs :.