Detroit Truetrac Vs Locker: Which One Should You Install?

Making the right decision in terms of choosing the right differential for your ride is vital. It will make a huge difference in your vehicle and have a great impact on your experience and performance in different driving conditions. When it comes to a rear diff, the first question that comes to our mind is, which one should I choose between Detroit Truetrac vs Locker?

Well, the Detroit Truetrac and locker are very different from each other. Mechanically, functionally, and based on their usage, they target two different types of drivers.

If you are a rock crawler and like to go for off-road driving and drag racing more often, the Detroit locker is for you. Otherwise, the Truetrac is a versatile option for daily drivers who like to go for smooth rides on streets, strips, and racing.

In this article, we’ll try to compare these two differentials and give you an idea of which one suits your style of driving better.

Detroit Truetrac VS Locker: What Are The Factors To Consider?

People get confused oftentimes while upgrading their rear diff. Traction-adding differentials (TAD) are an important part of the vehicle. Lockers can equally distribute the power to both tires to turn them equally by locking up the differentials.

There are many different types of TADs available on the market. Whether it is lockers or limited slips, each has its own limitations and weaknesses. They include a higher price, damage-prone quality, excessive noise, capability of biasing torque, and difficulty in handling.

It all comes down to your preferences and needs. The Detroit Truetrac and Locker are comparable in certain characteristics, but that doesn’t mean that the one with more advanced technology and more features will match your needs. 

Let’s dig deeper into these.

How Does Detroit Truetrac Work?

The Detroit Truetrac is not a traditional locker. It is, in fact, a limited-slip design for the automatic gear type. This helical gear style functions as an open differential in normal driving conditions and allows the wheels to spin at the necessary speed.

In a truetrac, the clutch is replaced by helical gears to bias torque. The moment you accelerate the vehicle (torque is applied), the six internal helical gears silently and seamlessly combine, distributing an equal amount of torque to the wheels in the back to maximize traction.

With the help of the gear system, when the traction of a wheel is more or less, an increased amount of torque is transferred to the wheel with high traction. The Detroit Truetrac can deliver up to 3.5x more torque to the high traction wheel.

Many professionals believe that the truetrac is a powerful and efficient front differential in rock-climbing vehicles. They are considered one of the most practical and effective replacements for open front differentials. 

Eaton 225S10 Detroit Locker
Example of Detroit Locker: Image source: Amazon

How Does The Detroit Locker Work?

Detroit Lockers are undoubtedly the most well-known true locking diff. The differentials are renowned for their dependability, tough design, and ability to transfer an equal torque split over any terrain. They can give 100 percent locked-up performance over any terrain.

When torque is applied in any direction, the Detroit locker locks the axles together, forming a spool. The differential automatically unlocks through a speed-sensitive complex system when the vehicle reaches a turn, allowing the wheels to go around the edges at various speeds. Once you start to drive straight again, it locks the system automatically.

Which One Has The Better Design?

The Detroit locker has a complex design. It is used in an open gear set. The locker has distinctive internal parts, including internal gears, side gears, and pinion gears. The parts can wear out after a heavy workload.

 In the center of the locker, there are two steel plates for each axle, which are spring-loaded and have massive edged claws. They help to engage and disengage a similar spider block in the center.

Due to its complex design and several parts, you will need to replace it after some years. Nonetheless, the Detroit locker costs more than the Detroit truetrac.

A Truetrac doesn’t need any additional maintenance like a specific oil lubricant or friction modifier, unlike a conventional clutch-type differential. The consistency of its performance is impressive since the parts are at no risk of wearing out.

There are many versions of Truetrac with two, three, and four pinion gears. On bigger axles, the increase in pinion gears helps to distribute heavy loads.

There will be no additional risk of a worn-out clutch because the truetrac does not use one. That makes them less prone to repair.

Eaton 913A481 Detroit Truetrac
Example of Detroit Truetrac: Image source: Amazon

Which One Has The Better Performance?

The Detroit Truetrac and the Detroit Locker have no similarity in terms of performance. They both act differently under different circumstances.

The Detroit locker is an amazing traction device, but there are some things that you might consider before getting one. The sound that it produces during reengaging is annoying, and they are more costly and chunkier.

If you consider its performance in off-road driving and drag racing, you might want to buy it. It’s a monster when it comes to providing real raw force traction.

The Detroit Truetrac, on the other hand, performs smooth, noiseless, and efficient as a limited-slip unit when used in a daily-driven vehicle that frequently encounters slick surfaces.

 It is a universal product for everyday driving while providing you with enough traction for a drag race and off-roading also.

But the traction is never sufficient enough for regular drag racing and extreme off-roading. Your axles won’t be fully locked, especially when one wheel is off the ground.

The helical gear design with a differential of 8.8 does not have an adequate surface area in the gear to withstand the pressure loads caused by frequent clutch drops while using slick tires.

Detroit Truetrac VS Locker: Comparison Table

TraitsDetroit TruetracDetroit Locker
MechanismLimited-slip type differentialAutomatic Locker Differential
PerformanceImproves wheel traction, which improves driving and control.Usually locked while driving straight and equally transmits torque to both wheels.
FunctionOpen Differential TractionPure Brute force traction
DesignNo replaceable parts in the interiorHas internal and side gears and pineal gears.
UsageDaily drives on streets, strips, and racing on tracksOff-road and Drag racing

Detroit Truetrac VS Locker: Which One Is The Winner?

For us, there is no winner in this competition. Both these diffs work amazingly well in their respective fields.

If you are an off-road enthusiast who likes to crawl rocks with pure brute force traction and also loves doing drag races frequently, the Detroit locker is ideal for you. It is never suitable for a regular drive on smooth surfaces.

 There are many options for Detroit lockers available on the market. Check out this link to get our recommended Detroit locker.

If you’re a daily driver, the Truetrac is a game changer. It will provide enough traction for regular drives, racing, or mild off-roading. It will save you money and make your driving more comfortable. Check out our recommended Truetrac at this link. You can choose the size according to your vehicle.


Is Detroit Truetrac better than Locker?

Detroit Truetrac is an excellent option for the rear diff. In extreme weather conditions, including mud and snow, they perform exceptionally well. During regular driving, they perform more smoothly and more effectively than lockers. It is also easy to maintain.

Is Detroit Locker a good option?

Detroit lockers are good options for off-road driving and drag racing. They provide full traction and act as a true locker.

Which company makes better Truetrac?

Eaton makes good-quality Detroit Truetrac differentials that are easily adaptable to many vehicles.

Is the Truetrac differential suitable for drag racing?

No, Truetrac differentials are not suitable for drag racing. The gear surface area is not spacious enough for the helical gear in an 8.8 differential to withstand the pressure. Detroit locker is the best option for drag racing.


Now that you have an idea of how both these traction adders are built and how they perform in different circumstances, you can easily choose one according to your needs. We can understand that it is never easy to choose the right rear diff for your ride.

But before you install one, ask yourself what your purpose is. If you get the answer to it, you’ll get the winner of Detroit Truetrac vs locker simultaneously. Do not look for the ones with better features and more power.

The only factors that should come into play here are your driving style, the performance you want in your driving, and your satisfaction. Go for a limited-slip type Detroit Truetrac if you want to drive frequently on-road with pleasure. And, for drag lovers and hardcore off-roaders, Detroit locker is a one-stop choice.

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Hi, I am Ashley Kiser a professional automotive blogger. I have worked in the automotive industry for over 5 years. I am passionate about cars and love sharing my knowledge with others. I hope this blog will help you make the best decisions when it comes to your car.

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