Have you ever wondered what the deal is with all the jeep lockers and ideas behind them?
Well, if you are part of the category of people that have never driven an off-road vehicle, we can literally say that you are in for a real surprise.
They take this game to a new level as they open up so much the capability and opportunity for you and for your four-wheel drive.
You will easily see that such device will turn you into an off-road pro/guru without realizing it.
This has been proven several times as off-road vehicles don’t get stuck that easy anymore once such devices are installed.
We have all struggled at some point with open differentials, but these traction devices are a game-changer.
The way they are designed will help you will see everything from a different perspective once you use them.
Throughout last week we have spent over 48 hours doing our research and understand which products are the best lockers for your off-road vehicle. Let’s take a look below.
Table of Contents
- 1 5 Best Lockers For Jeep JK Review
- 1.1 USA Standard Gear (SL D30-27) Spartan Locker
- 1.2 Yukon Gear YDGGM8.5-3-30-1 Duragrip Differential
- 1.3 Eaton 912A585 Detroit Truetrac 27 Spline Differential
- 1.4 Aussie Locker XD-13027 Axle Spline Locker
- 1.5 Detroit Locker 913A481 Trutrac Differential
- 1.6 What Are Locking Differentials (or lockers)?
- 1.7 Why Are Lockers So Important?
- 1.8 What Type Of Locker To Use? Most Common Choices?
- 1.9 Maintenance Free Lockers
- 1.10 Differences Between The Standard (open) Differential And Limited Slip Differential
- 1.11 Does The Locking Differential Help in Snow And Mud?
5 Best Lockers For Jeep JK Review
USA Standard Gear (SL D30-27) Spartan Locker
USA Standard Gear is one of the biggest players on the market for standard lockers, as they develop and produce a wide variety of gears and axle products. This also includes lockers suitable for off-road vehicles, and people really seem to be amazed with the performance.
The SL D30 – 27 model might be perfect for anyone as it’s one of the most affordable products from their list when it comes down to the great performance.
Given the fact that it was originally designed for off-road usage, the way the traction will get upgraded once this is applied can be felt within minutes. It significantly improves the strength over stock differentials.
Throughout the research, we have learned that this model is made from 9310 steel, and it features (as listed in the title) 27 spline axles.
At the same time, the devices is heat treated and ensure a precision cut teeth, fitting the Dana 30 differential.
Yukon Gear YDGGM8.5-3-30-1 Duragrip Differential
The Yukon Gear & Axle group has been on the market for long enough to ensure that their mindset is strictly based on providing quality parts that go above and beyond expectations. They use state-of-the-art software to design the gear as a guarantee that they will build only long-lasting devices.
Any customer that has used Yukon Gear previously is happy with the durability of the axles as they are made of high strength components.
At the same time, our research helped us see that their quality control is one of the best we have ever looked at.
The Dura Grip is a perfect piece that provides smooth transfers and applies a maximum twisting force to the wheels. We have loved this piece once we have tried it as it makes it easier getting deeper in the mud without getting stuck.
This model has been assembled in the USA and it has been made out of forged 4320 steel internals.
It is also fully rebuildable, features 30 spline axles, and ensures a clutch style positraction.
We have also been happy to see that it comes with 1 year warranting for the 2.73 rations and up models.
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Eaton 912A585 Detroit Truetrac 27 Spline Differential
The company is another major player that has been on the market for over 100 years now, which obviously shows us that they know that to do. They infrastructure and technology experience took the automotive to a different level and the Detroit Truetrac is crucial for people looking for proper quality.
This model has been designed mainly as the first helical gear differential,
eliminating the need for wearable parts and establishing a maintenance free traction.
Detroit Truetrac is a tough, smooth and also quiet part that can be easily applied to your vehicle.
It ensures 27 spline differential for Dana 30, and it doesn’t require any friction modifier additive as it is a maintenance free traction system. Although it is imperative that the oil is changed every now and then (depending on the mileage).
Our research for this jeep lockers review showed us that it drives great on the street,
and on the front axles, it takes about 100ft lbs for differential motion between the front wheels.
Aussie Locker XD-13027 Axle Spline Locker
Over the past years, Torq-Masters really showed us that their vision in precision automatic locking differentials establishes a certain level of trust with customers. They have been manufacturing lockers for a while now, and throughout the years even more people switched over to their products.
There are plenty of reasons to choose their lockers, and the Aussie XD-13027 ensures a long-lasting experience.
This model is classed as the most advanced automatic precision locker available on the market at the moment.
Even though competitors provide similar models, this ensures 100% traction performance compared to the ~50% we get with a posi or LSD.
All their lockers have been specifically designed for fitting any open differential, but we need to keep in mind that this one does not work in posi or limited slip carriers.
It also features 27 axles for Dana 30 and it is not compatible with Dana 30a. At the same time,
the installation doesn’t require a ring or pinion setup.
It can be done by simply removing the spider gears and replacing them with the locker gears. The spider gears are reusable.
We classed this model one of the lockers for jeep tj as the manufacturer ensures a certain level of reliability that will take our experience to a new level.
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Detroit Locker 913A481 Trutrac Differential
As we have previously discussed Detroit Truetrac, this is another helical-gear style performance differential that will help you improve your wheel traction. Once installed it enhances the driving and handling characteristics especially for off-road usage.
To understand how this model works, you can look back at any other standard or open differential and see that this allows one wheel to spin either slower or faster.
When we have this installed and encounter any terrain changes that will affect traction, the gear separation forces will ‘turn on’ and transfer the twisting force to the high-traction wheel.
Once we get back on the normal ground the differential will also get back to normal.
After extensive research, we have decided that from our point of view this Detroit Locker model is one of the most affordable and suitable products we have reviewed so far.
Even though it is very similar to other models out there, it ensures reliability and durability on a scale that’s crucial in this field.
What Are Locking Differentials (or lockers)?
Lockers – or locking differentials – have been developed mainly for helping drivers provide a better stability to their vehicles as they overcome the limitation of a standard (open) differential.
The fact that they essentially lock both wheels on the same axle will give the vehicle more power to get out of mud or other slippery surfaces.
There are still plenty of people that do not understand the reason their vehicles get stuck or can’t move on slippery surfaces.
That is the reason we wanted to provide the best devices we consider worthy alongside plenty of handy information helpful in fixing certain issues.
In the first paragraph of this article, we mentioned that they are a real game-changer for people that encountered issues with their motion.
That was true indeed. The way your 4×4 rig will perform once a locking system is installed will that the experience above and beyond expectations.
These systems provide real advantages in traction over standard open differentials.
however, they can be felt only slippery surfaces or surfaces that change the traction under each wheel.
Below we have mentioned more relevant information about the devices that will help the traction in your vehicle.
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Why Are Lockers So Important?
There are many people that attribute their performance into the mud to two simple perspectives: getting big or huge tires, and a bigger engine.
Even though, not everybody understands the reason for getting stuck into the mod, although it is quite simple.
We are positive that tires, horsepower, and the suspension literally have nothing to do with someone that gets blocked in the mud.
Was it a mystery how sometimes only one wheel is spinning in an off-road vehicle? Well, the answer is simple:
if your jeep or other 4×4 vehicle has an open differential, it won’t actually send power to all four wheels when one of them loses traction.
Without lockers, the engine could simply turn the 4×4 run into a one or two-wheel experience.
Getting lockers will not only improve the traction in the mud, but it will also turn your baby into a real wheeling beast in an off-road environment.
This is the main reason Rubicon uses Tru-Lok differentials on the front and rear axles – to ensure a pleasant and lasting drive.
For most off-road vehicles we will have to install lockers ourselves and there is plenty of stuff we need to consider before making the right choice.
Even though we don’t talk about rocket-science or using the right atoms, we have to keep in mind that there are a wide variety of lockers as well.
They can range from the spool to mini-spool, air, electric, limited slips, low lockers and obviously the Lincoln locker.
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What Type Of Locker To Use? Most Common Choices?
Automatic lockers are made by popular brands as Detroit Lockers. They are simply amazing due to the durability and ability to maintain a 50/50 torque spec.
This type engages the lockers while the vehicle is going straight, but once you start to the corner, they automatically disengage to enable your vehicle to be easily handled (without spinning). The advantages are great, but not everyone will go with them.
Air lockers are used mainly by the entire professional off-road scene, and they have proven reliability throughout the years.
There are loads of advantages such as the fact that they allow you to change the traction level at a flick of a switch instead of using an inconsistent automatic system.
You can get instant traction when needed and all the open differential features in one.
The disadvantage of using air lockers such ARB ones is that they require an air source for being able to operate the locker.
That, unfortunately, takes the price-range to a different level as you need an airline and compressor to make it function.
Either way, the ARB air lockers makes one of the best choices for both front and rear axles.
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Maintenance Free Lockers
Within the products we have listed above we have also mentioned a couple that comes with a great feature – maintenance free.
The reason we have chosen these products is that, aside from being automatic, it saves us a lot of time and cost from maintaining them.
There are people that are positive that these devices will provide a less-lasting experience compared to other types of lockers.
However, that is not the case as they are still durable products. Usually, a locker differential has always been developed to provide a great experience and to be reliable.
Note – even though some products come with this feature it is still recommended for the oil to be changed every now and then, depending on the mileage. We personally say that every ~3-5k miles the oil change is required.
Differences Between The Standard (open) Differential And Limited Slip Differential
To make it easier to understand, let’s think about a circumstance where a vehicle that is fitted with standard differential moves straight on a specific surface.
The left wheel is on a surface that’s got a good traction level while the other one sits on a slippery track.
Well, in the standard differential the left and right axle rotations are completely independent which makes it harder to suppress force.
For example, the standard differential will make the wheel spin inexpensive speed while the good traction wheel will have a low speed transmitted to it.
In a nutshell, the high power is supplied to the slippery wheel (right) and the low-power flow is sent to the good traction wheel (left).
This is when the vehicle is stuck and we have to ring up some friends to give us a hand.
Obviously, another way to overcome it is to limit the way axles work and take the relative motion on the side and limit it between the left and right axle.
Limited slip differential
This one has been specifically designed for avoiding situations similar to the one above.
Before we go deeper in its constructional features, we need to know that the most used LSD technology is actually the clutch pack.
Apart from the basic components that can be found in a limited slip differential, this includes a serial of friction and steel plates plucked between the side gear and the casing. For better understanding, the friction discs are basically locked with the side gear so this way the movement includes them both at the same level.
The way the magic works
With steel plates, it is a different story as they are having external tabs and are suitable to fit in the case groove for allowing them to rotate at the same time with the case.
Also, if any of the clutch pack assemblies is well pressed, the frictional force within will make them move as a single solid unit.
Are you following so far? If yes, moving forward, most of the casing is directly passed to the corresponding axle through the well-pressed clutch pack.
This includes both the steel plates that are locked with the case and the friction discs locked in a side gear.
These being said it is pretty obvious how it works. The space between the side gears is fitted with a preload spring that will always give a trusted force and will press the clutch pack together.
At the same time, given the fact that one wheel is on a high traction surface, the torque that’s sent to it will be higher.
This will make the trust force higher as well on that specific side.
Since one wheel is on a high traction surface the torque send to it will be higher so the trusted force will also be higher on that side.
Does The Locking Differential Help in Snow And Mud?
To be fair we have got tired of hearing how the driving skills make the biggest difference while driving in different weather conditions (including snow).
It is imperative to say that it is an important factor, however, we think that the vehicle technology weighs more importance.
In our admittedly innocent opinion, yes – the tires are the ones that matter in the snow and not the driven wheels, but also the way they spin.
As we have mentioned at the beginning of the article, the importance of a locking differential will be understood at the moment you install one.
People that have never driven an off-road vehicle think that the skills matter the most, even though the vehicle can’t resist bad weather conditions.
Throughout the article, we have shared several points showing that using devices to spread the power of the wheels into all wheels and not in the slippery one will give us more control.
We have always shared a huge interest in automotive, so having the chance of researching the best locker for jeep jk out there has been a great opportunity for us.
We have managed to learn how the system works, how it can be installed and nonetheless how we can make the right choice.
These devices have become even more popular nowadays and manufacturers seem to develop better technologies that will ensure a better off-road experience.
No one is looking for driving an off-road vehicle as some drive a GTR on to a race track, however better traction will always be embraced.
From our point of view, these are the 5 best jeep lockers available on the market and the review was based on performance, affordability, and durability.
Throughout this article, we tried to ensure relevant information that will help people like you make the right choice (no matter the circumstance).
We hope that we accomplished this and we would appreciate your feedback.
We wish you good luck with your choice and we are sure that after reading our review you will feel more comfortable while choosing your product. Either way, enjoy and drive safe!