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The first two changes most people make to their 4x4s are bigger tyres and a lift kit. However, once they've achieved the desired look, they discover that even with aggressive tyres, their truck still gets stuck in the fun stuff because only one front and one rear axle tyre appear to be turning. Nothing is broken; it's simply that if your 4x4 has open differentials, all you can bet on is spinning those two tyres even with four-wheel drive.

You'll need some type of limited slip, or better yet, a locking differential in the front and rear axles to properly appreciate the capabilities of four-wheel drive. That way, you can be confident that all four tyres will transmit torque to the ground and bring you over and through the rugged terrain. So, how can you choose amongst them when there are more possibilities than ever before? Follow along to learn which combination is right for you.

Open Differential Advantages: What's New Although it may be difficult to believe, the open differentials found in most 4x4s have some advantages. Of course, after you've driven a 4x4 with a locker, you'll want to toss this list out the window since traction is so addicting!

*With the exception of abuse, an open differential is unlikely to damage an axleshaft or fail or wear out.

*They are smooth and predictable in all terrains. When one tires spins, the stationary tire acts like an anchor to keep the 4x4 from fishtailing.

*Tires won't wear out as fast because there is very little scrub when the vehicle goes around tight corners.

*An open differential is a lightweight piece, so reciprocating weight is low, and that means quicker acceleration.

*Use as a front differential when 4x4 has a rear locker and no power steering.

*They're free.

*They can be welded up solid for a poor man's spool, or upgraded with a Tractech EZ Locker or a Powertrax Lock-Right.


Is a Spool for You?With everyone jumping on the extreme off-road bandwagon, spools have become far more popular over the last five years. Their low cost, unmatched strength, and full-race mystique have driven their popularity. But they're not perfect-and they come with some serious drawbacks. A spool is basically a steel collar that splines both axleshafts together with a flange to bolt the ring gear onto. Very simple to be sure, but this differential replacement is too hard-core for 99 percent of street-driven 4x4s. Spools are suitable for competition vehicles, and some trail-only rigs where strength, consistency, and low weight are key. On pavement, a spool will chirp the tires around every corner, punish axleshafts, tear up tires, and make you wish you had saved up for a selectable locker. Plus a spool will have you fishtailing in your driveway when the pavement gets icy or wet. We know some of you didn't want to hear that, so if you still can't decide whether a spool is right for you, consider this: Over the last three years we've put spools in a Jeep, a Bronco, and two fullsize Dodges. We've been happy with the spool in each application when driving off-road, but it's no coincidence that we pretty much stopped driving any of those four 4x4s on the street. That's a pretty strong argument that spools are no good for a daily driver.

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