Detroit Locker Vs Truetrac: Notable Differences

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Picking the right differential for your car is quite important, especially when you’re looking out for what you’d use for a long time. Detroit Locker and Truetrac are the two common options to choose from, and they are pretty different from each other. But what’s the difference between Detroit Locker vs Truetrac?

These are two differentials from the same manufacturer, Detroit; the Locker differential is often costlier and suitable for cars that do the “hard jobs,” while the Truetrac differential just fits in for everyday use on any vehicle.

Well, that’s just a highlight of the difference between Locker and Truetrac differentials. There are pretty other things you’d love to know about these two, and they’re explained in this article.

What is Detroit Locker?

Detroit Locker is a seemingly automatic differential that locks automatically when driving in a straight line and unlocks when you want to turn. When this differential locks, it sends all available torque to the wheels, giving your vehicle more power to go through any terrain.

Lockers have high “strength density,” which is why they can handle high levels of power (torque), regardless of the axle shafts they are installed to. However, due to the high power handling of the Locker differential, the connected axle shaft is usually what breaks down in the long run.

Since the Detroit Locker differential is a 100% automatic differential, it is not advisable to have it installed in the front axle – for on-road usage; you can have it done on a rugged vehicle meant for off-roading.

Notwithstanding, Detroit Locker is one of the most dependable locking differentials in the market globally.

What is Detroit Truetrac?

Put simply. The Detroit Truetrac is a “more flexible” differential, a helical-gear style, limited-slip differential designed to maximize traction on the wheels and improve on-road driving.

Truetrac works in a unique way – transferring the torque from the wheel that has lost traction to the one with the most traction.

That is to say, Truetrac detects when one of the wheels has lost traction (or has low traction) and is continuously spinning (rotating), so it transfers the lost traction to the higher traction wheel – until the other wheel (which had lost traction earlier) regains traction for the differential to start working normally again.

Detroit Truetrac was the first helical-gear differential, and it’s quite a good one. It functions as an open differential under normal driving conditions, allowing one of the wheels to rotate at a faster or slower speed as necessary. Truetrac comes with helical-shaped gears, and it’s suitable for different applications.

Detroit Locker Vs Truetrac: Notable Differences

PerformanceOptimal in straight-line drivingOptimal in on-road daily driving
MechanismAuto-locking differentialOpen, helical-gear style differential
Internal DesignThe gears can be used in an open gear setFrictional-based, no internal gear is replaceable.
ApplicationMajorly off-road terrainsOn-road, racing, and sports.
CostMore expensiveAffordable


The performance of these differentials is quite distinctive, even though you can use both of them on different cars. However, Truetrac typically offers smoother performance when you’re not driving on off-road terrains, while Locker provides a much better performance driving through rough (off-road) paths.

Put simply, Detroit Locker gives the best performance in straight-line driving; it sends all the torque to the wheels and opens up its internal components when the tires are spinning faster or at slower speeds as needed.  

On the flip side, Truetrac performs better in everyday driving conditions (on-road) – functioning as a regular/open differential.

Design and Function

Detroit Truetrac is designed as a helical-gear, limited-slip worm differential that functions as an open differential in normal driving conditions. Detroit Locker is designed as an automated “ratcheting” differential for tougher driving conditions, especially on rough/rocky terrains.

A Locker differential would keep both wheels spinning even if one has lost contact with the terrain (hanged on the air), whether in reverse or forward driving.

Truetrac differential would transfer lost torque from the wheel that lost traction to the other wheel that still has traction, so traction on one wheel becomes higher and more forceful.


Detroit Locker can be opened and the internal components accessed for maintenance and repairs, but Truetrac can’t be opened, which makes it a bit difficult to repair a failed Truetrac unit.


Many people would prefer Detroit Locker for off-road tours and Truetrac for on-road adventures. This is simply because Detroit Locker is quite noisy when engaged, and Truetrac is quieter and smoother.

What More?

On average, Detroit Locker is more expensive than Detroit Truetrac; if you’re an off-road enthusiast, the Locker differential would be your best bet; anything else, it’s best to go with the Truetrac differential; both Locker and Truetrac are products of the same brand, Detroit.

There are other types of differentials, anyways, but mainly, the choice is always between a locking differential and an open differential. Hopefully, this article clearly answered your questions about Detroit Locker vs Truetrac differential. Enjoy the rest of your day!

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