Does the Toyota Sequoia Have a Locking Differential?


The Toyota Sequoia is a car that is more than it appears. Despite being an SUV, this vehicle has a powerful engine and a set of differentials that make it perfect for off-roading. It is a powerful tool to have at your disposal.

The Toyota Sequoia comes equipped with a manual limited-slip differential that operates in sync with the vehicle’s four-wheel-drive capabilities. The limited-slip differential strengthens the Sequoia’s agility to handle rough roads and sticky situations.

Here’s some information that can give you a little bit of insight into what this feature means for any owner of a Toyota Sequoia. Once you know the vehicle’s capabilities and limits, you’ll be able to use it to its full capacity.

Mechanical Differentials

The first thing that we need to do to understand what the Toyota Sequoia’s differential has to offer is to learn what a mechanical differential is. A mechanical differential is one of the fundamental parts of how a car’s wheels turn. The engine, which can produce only a limited amount of turning power (called torque) must rotate at least two wheels in order for the car to move. A differential operates to control the rate that these wheels turn to give the car the power and efficiency it needs for different situations.

A mechanical differential can be described as a gearbox placed between the powered wheels on a car. Some cars, like the Toyota Sequoia, are able to power the turning of all 4 wheels on their car. Thus, it has two differentials, one between the front wheels and one between the back wheels.

These differentials have several gears which connect with one another to allow opposite wheels on the car to spin faster than one another. This is done by mounting one gear on another gear in such a way that the second gear is perpendicular to the first. By setting these two gears on different, yet connected, axles, the axle shafts that the wheels spin on can take the same power from the engine and spin at their own rates.

Now, you might be wondering why a device such as this would be necessary. The answer is that differentials exist to reduce damage to the tires. For example, when you are performing a turn, the wheels on the car that are on the outside of the turn are being made to travel a further distance. If these wheels were connected on the same axle, the inside wheel would be forced to turn just as fast, grinding itself into the ground and wasting power.

To avoid this, a differential divides the axle that the wheels spin on and uses a combination of gears to let each wheel operate at the appropriate speeds.

Limited Slip Differential

To keep your car prepared for any circumstances, there are a few different kinds of differentials. The first kind is an open differential. This type of gear setup connects each wheel to the engine in such a way that they each receive half of the engine’s power. This makes the car easily manage turns and other smooth situations. However, if each wheel only has access to half of the power, the car could have trouble in off-roading situations.

One of the powered wheels could get stuck (trapped on slick ice, sand, or in the air) and the car would only be able to use half of its power to force the car onwards while the other wheel spins away uselessly.

The opposite sort of differential is called a locking differential. A car equipped with a locking differential is capable of locking the two wheels on an axle together when in these rough situations. With the axle locked, none of the power in a car is lost.

A car with one of the wheels stuck doesn’t face the problem of half of the engine’s power going to a useless wheel; the wheel with traction has one hundred percent of the car’s torque to take advantage of. However, most of the time the locking differential would not be used because it would cause problems for the car while on the road.

To get the best of both worlds, the Toyota Sequoia comes with what is called a limited-slip differential. This function can be manually switched on by the driver and functions similarly to a locked differential. The limited-slip differential allocates the majority of power to the wheel that has more traction while still powering the other wheel an appropriate amount.

For example, if one wheel of your car is on a firm, rough surface and the other is on a slick surface (like ice), the engine will give the wheel on the slick surface a small part of the power (enough that the wheel helps to leverage the car’s release) while the rest of the power goes to the wheel with better contact.

Four-Wheel-Drive

In addition to the limited-slip differential on the Toyota Sequoia, it also has four-wheel drive capability. The car does not use the four-wheel-drive system in every situation, however. The turning of all four wheels is recommended to be used in rougher circumstances to propel the car through difficult terrain.

Four-wheel drive (abbreviated as 4WD) has a few different settings, including 4Hi and 4Lo. 4Lo is a setting that powers all four wheels of the car with a low and steady amount of torque. This setting is ideal for hauling a heavy load or ascending inclines, as it gives your car a lot of leverage and hauling power.

The car will move at slower speeds, but the force that it can offer is impressive. It’s similar to pedaling uphill with a bike. You might move more slowly, but you’re generating a lot of power with each wheel rotation.

The other setting, 4Hi, is the setting that has the limited-slip differential engaged. This setting offers a lot more traction and versatility and is best used when traversing rough terrain.

Overall, the Toyota Sequioa is a great SUV that has impressive solutions to all of the problems that a car can face. Whether you are hauling or on a rough patch of ground, the Sequoia’s differential will give you all of the leverage that you need.

Will Turner

Will has an absolute passion for 4x4s and loves discovering all of the small details about each model. Will joined the Four Wheel Trends team in early 2021 and has been a valuable contributor ever since!

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