Comparing Limited Slip Differentials, Helical Gear vs Plate Diffs

Car Drifting

Limited slip differentials(LSDs) are a crucial component of modern cars, particularly in high-performance models. They improve traction and handling, especially in situations where one wheel may be slipping or losing traction. LSDs come in two main types: helical gear and plate differentials. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two types and their respective advantages and drawbacks.

How Helical Gear LSDs Work

Helical Gear

Helical gear LSDs use gears that are angled to provide resistance to movement between the two wheels. When one wheel loses traction, the gears on that side rotate faster, creating friction that helps transfer power to the other wheel. Helical gear LSDs are known for their smooth and quiet operation. The lack of servicing required is a significant advantage; once installed, only regular oil changes are needed. 

How Plate LSDs Work

Plate LSDs
Plate LSDs use a series of clutch plates to transfer power between the two wheels. When torque is applied to the differential, these clutch plates are compressed, creating friction that helps transfer power to the wheel with better traction. Plate LSDs are generally more effective than helical gear LSDs in extreme situations, such as high-performance driving scenarios where one wheel may have significantly less traction than the other. However, plate LSDs can be noisier and harsher in their operation. They also require more maintenance, as the clutch plates can wear out over time and need servicing.

Choosing the Right LSD for Your Car

The choice between a helical gear LSD and a plate LSD depends on the application and the specific needs of the driver. Helical gear LSDs are typically a good choice for street cars, track day cars, and other vehicles where smooth and quiet operation is important. They offer reliable performance with minimal maintenance, making them ideal for everyday driving and occasional spirited driving on paved roads.
On the other hand, plate LSDs are better suited for drift cars and other high-performance vehicles where extreme traction situations are more common. They provide superior performance in scenarios where one wheel may be airborne or have significantly less traction, such as during aggressive cornering or off-road driving. The trade-off is that plate LSDs require more frequent maintenance and can be noisier during operation.

The Importance of LSDs in High-Performance Cars

Limited slip differentials are an essential part of high-performance cars, significantly enhancing traction and handling. A properly chosen and installed LSD can make a substantial difference in a car’s performance, particularly in challenging driving conditions. Whether you are building a street car or a race car, understanding the differences between helical gear and plate LSDs will help you make an informed decision that meets your driving style and performance needs.


In conclusion, limited slip differentials come in two main types: helical gear and plate differentials, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Helical gear LSDs offer smooth and quiet operation with minimal maintenance, making them ideal for street and track day cars. Plate LSDs provide superior performance in extreme traction situations, making them suitable for drift and high-performance vehicles, albeit with more maintenance requirements. The choice between the two depends on your specific application and driving style. Regardless of your choice, a well-selected LSD can greatly enhance your car’s traction and handling, improving your driving experience.

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