How to Effectively Utilize a Limited Slip Differential in a Drift Car?

April 7, 2024

When it comes to drifting, mastery of your vehicle’s mechanics is key. A little nugget of engineering prowess that can give you an edge on the circuit is understanding and effectively utilizing a Limited Slip Differential (LSD). For those who may not know, an LSD is a type of automotive differential that limits the difference in rotational speed between the output shafts. In layman’s terms, it ensures that both wheels are pushing your vehicle forward with equal force. This piece of equipment plays a crucial role in mastering the art of drifting. We shall delve into the mechanics of an LSD, how to use it in a drift car, and the techniques best suited for LSD equipped vehicles.

Understanding the Mechanics of a Limited Slip Differential

To utilize a LSD effectively, it is fundamental to understand how it operates.

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The LSD works by distributing the engine’s torque evenly across both wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds. This is especially important when cornering, as the inside wheel travels a shorter distance than the outside wheel. The difference in rotational speed could cause the inside wheel to lose traction and spin, which could lead to instability and loss of control. The LSD helps mitigate this problem by transferring torque away from the spinning wheel to the wheel with the most traction.

The operation of an LSD is based on the principle of mechanical torque biasing. It employs a series of clutches and gears, which engage when there’s a difference in wheel speed. The clutches provide resistance, redistributing the torque to prevent wheel spin. This mechanism gives the LSD-equipped car superior traction and stability when compared to a regular differential.

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The Role of a Limited Slip Differential in a Drift Car

Now that we understand the mechanics, let’s see how an LSD impacts the performance of a drift car.

In drifting, the end goal is to slide the car laterally through corners while maintaining control. This requires a great deal of balance and car control, which the LSD aids in achieving. It allows for better control during drifting by ensuring that both rear wheels are providing equal power, aiding in initiating and maintaining a drift.

When a drift is initiated, the car’s rear wheels need to break traction with the road. An LSD provides the necessary torque to both wheels, allowing them to lose grip and start the car’s slide. During the drift, the LSD continues to supply equal power to both wheels, maintaining the drift and allowing the driver to control the car’s direction and angle of slide.

Techniques for Drifting Using a Limited Slip Differential

To utilize an LSD to its full potential in a drift car, certain techniques and driving strategies need to be implemented.

Firstly, to initiate a drift, the car must be driven aggressively into a corner at high speed. As you approach the corner, turn the steering wheel sharply in the direction of the turn, then quickly in the opposite direction. This maneuver, known as a flick, causes weight transfer in the vehicle, helping to break traction and start the drift.

Following the initiation, the throttle should be applied aggressively. This will cause the LSD to lock up, providing equal power to both wheels and maintaining the slide. Control of the drift is maintained by modulating the throttle and making small adjustments to the steering.

Another technique to initiate a drift involves using the handbrake. As you approach the corner, pull the handbrake to lock up the rear wheels and break traction. Release the handbrake and apply throttle to maintain the drift. The LSD will ensure that both wheels are getting equal power, enhancing control during the drift.

Choosing the Right Limited Slip Differential for Your Drift Car

Not all LSDs are created equal. There are different types of LSDs, each with their own unique characteristics and best-suited applications.

The three main types of LSDs are: 1-way, 1.5-way and 2-way. The numbers represent the number of directions in which the LSD will lock up. A 1-way LSD locks up under acceleration, a 1.5-way LSD locks up under acceleration and partially under deceleration, and a 2-way LSD locks up under both acceleration and deceleration.

For drifting, a 2-way LSD is generally preferred. It provides the most predictable behavior since it locks up under both accelerating and decelerating forces, giving the driver more control over the car’s behavior.

In conclusion, understanding and effectively utilizing a Limited Slip Differential can give you a significant advantage in drifting. With a good grasp of its mechanics, the right techniques, and the suitable LSD for your car, you’ll be able to drift with more control and precision than ever before.

Maintaining Your Limited Slip Differential

Keeping your Limited Slip Differential in top condition is essential for retaining the edge it gives you in drifting.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to change your LSD oil regularly. This oil lubricates the gears and clutches in the differential, reducing friction and preventing heat buildup, which can damage these components. The frequency of oil changes will depend on how often and how aggressively you use your car. An aggressive driver using their car on a daily basis may need to change the oil every 5000 miles, while a less aggressive driver might only need to do so every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

Another important aspect of LSD maintenance is checking for any signs of wear or damage. This can be done during oil changes. If the oil is dark or has metallic particles in it, this could indicate wear on the gears or clutches. In this case, you should have your differential inspected by a professional to determine if any parts need to be replaced.

If you notice any changes in the performance of your LSD, such as difficulty maintaining a drift or an increase in wheel spinning, this could also indicate an issue with the differential. Again, have it inspected by a professional.


Drifting is an exhilarating motorsport that requires mastery of your vehicle’s mechanics. The Limited Slip Differential is a crucial component in any drift car, providing improved traction and control during a drift. By understanding the mechanics of an LSD, choosing the right type for your car, utilizing the correct techniques, and ensuring regular maintenance, you can greatly enhance your drifting performance.

Whether you’re an experienced drifter looking to fine-tune your skills, or a beginner just getting started, knowledge of the LSD is an essential tool in your arsenal. This guide has provided you with the necessary information to understand and effectively utilize a Limited Slip Differential in a drift car. So get out there, and let the rubber burn!