Detroit Truetrac Vs Locker: Difference & Which is better for install?

Choosing between a Detroit Truetrac and a locker for your vehicle’s differential depends on your specific needs, driving style, and the type of terrain you encounter. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to understand the comparison to make an informed decision.

Detroit Truetrac Vs Locker

Comparison Table:

Features –Detroit TruetracLocker
Differential TypeLimited-Slip Differential (LSD)Locking Differential
EngagementSmooth and progressiveAbrupt and immediate
On-Road HandlingExcellent for paved roadsMay cause understeer and handling challenges on roads
Off-Road PerformanceGood, especially in moderate off-road conditionsExcellent, ideal for extreme off-road terrains
Snow and IceSuitable, provides traction in slippery conditionsEffective, but can be challenging on icy roads
MaintenanceLow maintenance, no clutch packsMay require more maintenance due to clutch or gear wear
Noise and FeedbackGenerally quietCan produce clunking sounds during engagement
Selectable OptionNo (always active)Yes (some models are selectable)
Ideal UseVersatile for mixed on/off-road useExtreme off-road, rock crawling, and heavy-duty off-roading
CostModerateCan be expensive depending on the brand and features
Traction ControlProvides moderate traction controlProvides maximum traction control

Difference Between of Detroit Truetrac Vs Locker?

Short Brief in Detroit Truetrac:

The Detroit Truetrac is a type of LSD. LSDs allow some degree of wheel speed differentiation, which is helpful for on-road handling and in situations where you need traction on one wheel while the other has less traction. Truetrac provides smooth and progressive engagement, making it suitable for daily driving, especially on paved roads. It’s not as aggressive as a locker.

While the Truetrac can handle off-road conditions reasonably well, it might not provide as much traction as a locker in extreme off-road situations, such as rock crawling or deep mud. Truetrac is excellent for driving in snowy and icy conditions because it allows for some differentiation between the wheels, preventing tire chirping and loss of control.

Truetrac differentials require minimal maintenance compared to lockers, as they don’t have many moving parts. Read: How Much To Lift A Jeep?

How Does Detroit Truetrac Work?

The Detroit Truetrac is a type of limited-slip differential (LSD) that is designed to provide improved traction and handling in various driving conditions, both on and off-road. It operates on a helical gear principle, which sets it apart from other LSD designs. Here’s how the Detroit Truetrac works:

Helical Gear Design:

The key feature of the Detroit Truetrac is its helical gear design. Inside the differential housing, you’ll find a set of helical gears. These gears have angled teeth that are cut in a helix shape. This design is different from traditional LSDs, which typically use clutch packs or cone clutches to control wheel spin.

Limited Slip Functionality:

The helical gears in the Truetrac allow for a limited amount of differentiation between the two drive wheels. When you’re driving in a straight line or making gentle turns, the gears mesh smoothly, allowing both wheels to receive power. This provides excellent traction and stability on both dry and wet roads.

Progressive Locking:

As one wheel begins to lose traction and starts to spin faster than the other, the helical gears gradually bind together. This progressive locking action transfers more torque to the wheel with traction. It’s important to note that this locking action is not as sudden as a traditional locker (which fully locks both wheels together), making the Truetrac more suitable for on-road driving.

Smooth Operation:

The progressive locking of the Truetrac provides smooth and predictable handling characteristics. Unlike some other LSDs, it doesn’t create the jerky or abrupt behavior that can be encountered with certain locking differentials.

No Clutches to Wear Out:

Unlike LSDs that use clutch packs to control wheel spin, the Truetrac’s helical gear design doesn’t rely on friction materials. This means there are no clutches to wear out over time, resulting in less maintenance and longer-lasting performance.

Off-Road Performance:

While the Detroit Truetrac is not as aggressive as a full locker when it comes to off-road performance, it still provides significant benefits in challenging conditions. It can transfer power to the wheel with traction, helping you navigate uneven terrain and slippery surfaces effectively.

Snow and Ice:

The Truetrac is well-suited for driving in snowy and icy conditions. It allows for some differentiation between the wheels, preventing tire chirping and providing better control.

Short Brief in Locker:

Lockers, like the Detroit Locker or an aftermarket air or electric locker, completely lock both wheels together when engaged. This provides maximum traction in off-road situations. Lockers are ideal for challenging off-road terrains where you need both wheels to spin at the same speed to maintain traction. They excel in rock crawling, deep mud, and extreme off-road conditions.

Lockers can negatively impact on-road handling because they don’t allow any differentiation between the wheels. This can lead to understeer and a more challenging driving experience on paved roads. Lockers typically engage abruptly, which can be jarring and might require more skill to handle in certain situations. Lockers generally require more maintenance than LSDs due to their complexity and more moving parts.

Read: How Much Does a Jeep Wrangler Hard Top Weigh?

How Does The Detroit Locker Work?

The Detroit Locker, also known as a “No-Spin” or “Automatic Locker,” is a type of locking differential used in vehicles to provide maximum traction in off-road and low-traction situations. Unlike limited-slip differentials (LSDs) that allow for some differentiation between the wheels, a Detroit Locker fully locks both drive wheels together when engaged. Here’s how it works:

Fully Locking Mechanism:

The Detroit Locker contains a mechanism that locks the two axle shafts together when torque is applied to the differential. This means both wheels turn at the same speed, regardless of the traction conditions.


When you apply power to the wheels, such as when accelerating or driving in off-road conditions, the Detroit Locker engages automatically. This engagement can be abrupt and noticeable, particularly when making sharp turns or transitioning between driving conditions.

On-Road Handling:

One significant limitation of a Detroit Locker becomes evident when driving on paved roads. Due to its complete wheel locking feature, it has the potential to cause understeer during turns since the inside wheel is unable to rotate at a different rate than the outside wheel. As a result, it is less suitable for on-road driving when compared to limited-slip differentials or open differentials.

Off-Road Performance:

Where the Detroit Locker shines is in off-road and low-traction situations. By fully locking the wheels together, it provides maximum traction to both wheels, ensuring that power is distributed equally to both sides, even if one wheel is in the air or on a slippery surface. This makes it highly effective for rock crawling, deep mud, and other challenging terrains.

No Maintenance:

Detroit Lockers are known for their durability and simplicity. They have no clutches or friction plates to wear out, making them relatively maintenance-free.

Noise and Feedback:

Due to its design, the Detroit Locker can produce clunking or banging noises when engaging and disengaging, especially in tight turns or when transitioning between power and coast. This is a normal characteristic of this type of locker.

Selectable vs Automatic:

Certain lockers are designed to be selectable, enabling you to manually activate or deactivate them as required. This grants you improved control over the locker’s engagement, allowing you to determine precisely when it should be in use.

In contrast, automatic lockers, such as the Detroit Locker, activate automatically when torque is applied and disengage during coasting or reversing without the need for manual intervention.

Choosing the Best Option:

Driving Style:

Consider your typical driving style. If you mainly drive on paved roads with occasional off-road adventures, the Detroit Truetrac or a similar LSD might be a better choice. If you’re an avid off-roader and off-road performance is crucial, a locker could be the way to go.


Think about the type of terrain you’ll encounter. If you frequently drive on challenging off-road terrain, a locker is likely the better option. For mixed or predominantly on-road driving, an LSD like the Truetrac is more suitable.

Budget and Maintenance:

Lockers are usually more expensive to purchase and maintain. Consider your budget and willingness to invest in maintenance when making your decision.

Tire Size:

Larger tires can put more strain on your differential. If you’ve upgraded to larger tires, you might want to consider a more robust differential solution, such as a locker, to handle the increased stress.

Ultimately, the choice between a Detroit Truetrac vs locker depends on your specific needs and priorities. It’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option and determine which one aligns best with your driving requirements.

FAQs –

Q. Is a Detroit Locker stronger than a Truetrac?

In terms of absolute strength, the Detroit Locker is generally considered stronger than a Truetrac due to its full locking design. However, the choice between the two should depend on your specific needs and intended use.

Q. Is a Detroit Truetrac a locker?

No, a Detroit Truetrac is not a locker but rather a limited-slip differential (LSD). It offers some wheel speed differentiation for improved on-road handling compared to a locker.

Q. What are the benefits of Truetrac?

The benefits of a Truetrac include improved traction and stability in various driving conditions, both on and off-road. It offers smooth and predictable operation, reduced tire wear, and minimal maintenance compared to some other differential types.

Read: Can You Drive a Jeep without Doors on the Highway?

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