Having the ability to lock your differential for rugged off-road driving is a desired trait in today’s off-road vehicles.
Since the addition of the locking differential in the Jeep Rubicon package, Rubicon sales have increased considerably.
Unfortunately, many drivers still do not understand when they should and should not use the lockers on their Rubicons.
They definitely should not be used full-time, as doing so could be a safety hazard or cause damage to your vehicle.
Learn the right way to use your locking differential so you can have more fun without endangering yourself or damaging your Jeep.
Rubicon Differential Lockers - What Is Their Role?
The lockers in a Rubicon locking differential lock the mechanism so it provides the same amount of power to each of the axles and wheels it powers regardless of the amount of traction each wheel has.
Locking differentials are preferred in 4WD vehicles used off-road or in low-traction conditions because it eliminates tire slip.
Power goes to all four tires evenly, even if one tire comes off the ground or loses traction.
Without the differential locked, a wheel that comes off the ground would get most of the power and spin in the air, while its mate would get minimal power.
When Should You Use Lockers on Your Rubicon?
To get the best traction in the most challenging conditions, you need to lock the differential on your Jeep Rubicon at the right times.
You may not need to keep your locker on everywhere you drive; however, it’s best to turn it on when:
===> Rock and Obstacle Climbing - By locking your differential, you will gain the extra traction needed to keep all four tires climbing without slipping.
The bigger your obstacle, the more important it is to have that control over what your differential and tires are doing.
===> Negotiating Rocky Trails - In the same way the locker keeps your tires climbing bigger obstacles, it can also keep you moving along safely and steadily on rocky and uneven trails.
It will prevent tire slip that could make rougher trails more difficult than they need to be.
===> Snow, Ice, Mud, and Slippery Surfaces - On soft or slippery surfaces, reducing tire slip is critical for maintaining good traction.
It allows you to keep all four wheels moving at the same speed without breaking loose and slipping.
To gain the most traction using them, turn the lockers on before you end up in a situation that your wheels could spin or one wheel come off the ground.
Learn to recognize these situations so you can lock your differential ahead of time and then power through with all four wheels working for you from the start.
When To Avoid Using the Lockers on Your Rubicon
As great as your Rubicon’s locking differential may be, you don’t want to use it all of the time as driving with your differential locked drastically affects your ability to steer.
To maintain a smooth ride in your Jeep, your tires need to be able to rotate at different speeds for negotiating curves; without that ability such as when the differential is locked, the ride is bumpier and steering harder.
With this in mind, avoid turning on the lockers on your Rubicon when:
===> Driving on Pavement - The reduced ability to corner as well as more difficult steering could become a safety hazard.
===> Driving Down Inclines - When negotiating hills off-road, it’s essential that you turn your lockers off when you get to the top of the hill and before you start to descend to retain full control of your steering.
===> Mid-Obstacle - Engage the lockers while already negotiating an obstacle or a challenging traction situation could result in bouncing, tire spinning, loss of steering control, or even axle damage.
You could inevitably make your traction problem worse or cause significant damage to the Jeep, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Rubicon Lockers - Use Them When You Need Them!
As desirable as a locking differential is, it’s important to know when to turn them on and when to keep them off.
Save them for when you really need them and you’ll save your Jeep, too!