Have you seen the wheel(s) of a car spinning, but the car itself is not moving? Why does it happen?
- 02 Sep 2019
The reason is the existence of a differential in the car.
As you may already now the wheels of the car are moving with different speed in turns. The wheels on the outside go a larger distance, than the ones on the inside. However, both wheels are driven from the same motor. This is possible thanks to a gear mechanism called differential. It distributes the power from the motor to the wheels
The issue is that when one of the wheels has less traction than the other. For instance if the wheel is on ice or gets stuck in a whole. In such cases all of the power from the motor goes to the the wheel with less resistance - the one with less traction. This results in the wheel that has traction with the road not moving and hence the car is not moving.
Why should we put such a mechanism, when it causes troubles?
Actually engineers has thought of a lot of different solutions that prevent automobiles to get in such trouble situations. The most common is the locking mechanism. There are a lot of constructions that result in locking the differential. They does not allow the wheels to rotate with different speeds and this forces the motor to transfer power to both wheels.
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