Background car news Tech

How does a differential work? – Video

September 7, 2022

Air conditioning, seat belts and airbags and disc brakes… in the top lists of best car inventions ever, the differential is rarely, if ever, to be found. Remarkable, because without a differential, driving would be really (life) dangerous and unpleasant – unless there were purely straight roads.

From the past

This is because a differential allows the wheels on either side of the driven axle to turn separately from each other. Without this ingenious system of gears, both wheels would always rotate at the same speed; something you’d rather not have when taking a turn – where the inner wheel naturally rotates slower than the outer wheel – but also, for example, when driving on (strongly) uneven terrain.

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Explanation of differential in unique video

Anyway, how exactly does it work and why does it offer so much utility? If so, be sure to check out the video below that Chevrolet made in the distant past to explain this rather complex, but indispensable mechanism in a childishly simple way. By now, the amiable black and white video production is 85 years old, but we still haven’t been able to find a more modern alternative that maps out the workings of the (conventional) differential better and more enjoyably audiovisually. Watch and shudder!

How Differential Steering Works (1937)