It is a fairly well-known knock on the Toyota Tundra that it doesn’t come with a locking differential option. Many, many owners also knock the stock locking slip differential as being not so great. What can you do about it? We asked Carl Montoya with Just Differentials. Here is what we found out.
Just Differentials is one of the leading places to buy after-market locking differentials and LSD. He says they get asked so OFTEN about options for the Toyota Tundra, they came up with this standard reply:
As for traction, none of the 07+ Tundras come with an LSD (Posi), The factory “Electronic LSD” is just traction control, and is more “P.O.S.” than “POSI”. All Tundras can benefit from the increased traction that an aftermarket LSD or Locker will provide. Another benefit is strength. The Tundra uses a huge 10.5” diff that is much larger than any other ½ ton pickup produced. The problem is the factory Standard Open (non-posi) carrier is very weak by design, and has already failed in many stock pickups, this is all the more reason to add An Auburn Pro LSD ($545) or an ARB Air Locker ($1075) to the rear.
Editor’s Note: Without disputing Carl’s expertise, I have yet to hear of one single factory differential failure in 6+ years of running TundraHeadquarters.com. I’m not saying that the Tundra’s factory differential never fails (I’m sure it does), but I’d argue that characterizing it as “very weak” is incorrect. Methinks this standard reply is designed to generate sales, not necessarily reflect the pros and cons of the Tundra’s factory rear differential.
One of the big questions that comes up with these after-market systems is how new truck features like the Trailer Sway Controller would work. Montoya says: “The installation of a real mechanical LSD or Locking differential has no effect on the factory VSC, traction control (aka “Electronic LSD”). In fact it simply allows for real traction, thus making the interference of these systems much less often. Basically, there is no downside other than cost. ”
Montoya offered this additional information on differentials and their products.
Why Do You Want a Differential?
OEM differential is a standard “open” differential. This allows for smooth cornering as the outside tire must spin faster on corners as it travels a larger arc. The downside to this system is that when traction is lost, all of the power goes to the wheel with the least traction. This is a really big downside on a pickup truck since there is much less weight on the rear axle. With “creative” naming of the electronic traction control, the Tundra features what they call “Electronic LSD”. Utilizing the ABS braking system and wheel speed sensors, the brake is applied to the tire that is spinning faster, thus allowing the other tire to spin. Sounds great, but real world experience will tell otherwise.
What is the Auburn LSD?
The Auburn LSD is the most popular upgrade for the 2007 & Newer Toyota Tundra as it is inexpensive, very strong, easy to install and provides very good traction with no adverse on road handling characteristics or noises. Since the Auburn is a Limited Slip Differential, not a “locking” differential, it is much more suited for the average pickup truck owner. Traction is increased significantly, however it is not locked 100%, so may not provide adequate traction for heavy offroad use. LSD units are often referred to as “Positraction”. These are suitable for daily driving, even if you never leave the pavement. Also very helpful at boat ramps, snowy, wet, muddy conditions, etc. On the “Justdifferentials” 2007 Tundra I was unable to pull my boat out in 2wd with the oe “electronic LSD”. After installing the Auburn Pro LSD 2wd is no problem at the very same ramp. The Auburn also offers a much needed improvement in strength over the OEM open differential which we’ve seen many failures.
What is the ARB Air Locker?
The ARB Air Locker is a selectable locker that is actuated by compressed air. In unlocked mode the vehicle functions as it did before with an open differential. With the flip of the switch the rear differential can be locked 100%. This means that there will be power to both tires, no matter the situation. These are especially popular for off roaders, contractors, hunters, etc that drive on the road, but have more demanding off road needs than the average mostly highway driver. The downside to this system is added cost, as the unit is more expensive, but also that it requires an on board compressor. That said, they offer unmatched traction and strength. The ARB Air Lockers have been proven themselves in all conditions worldwide.
Sounds like a good after-market option for those wanting to have more control when driving their truck over different terrains. What do you think? Is an after-market ARB Air Locker or Auburn LSD on your wish list?
- ARB Air Locker for the Toyota Tundra
- The Auburn Pro LSD for the Toyota Tundra
- 2015 Toyota Tundra What to Expect – 2014 Shortfalls?
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