Snapshot: Eaton India now offers the Mechanical Locking Differential (MLD), also known as the M-Locker, for vehicles such as the Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Xenon, Safari, Storme and Aria. The MLD improves grip when it detects loss in traction.
Most folks buy SUVs for the high seating position and go-anywhere nature that such vehicles offer, for those moment when they can go off road and beat a traffic jam while the sedan and hatchback bunch wait behind one another in mile long traffic hold ups.
When you take your SUV off road, grip is paramount as sand, gravel, mud and other surfaces off road simply don’t have the same amount of traction that a tar/cement road gives your vehicle’s tyres. Loss of traction means you could get stuck in a sticky situation, with your SUV bogged down in sand, mud, gravel, etc.
Therefore, maximizing grip and traction under slippery conditions is what SUVs and for that matter all vehicles need. Now, that explains sedans and hatchbacks with all wheel drive (AWD) systems, doesn’t it? Coming back to SUVs, the four wheel drive layout is one way to channel engine torque evenly to all four wheels and improve traction.
Another way to further improve traction is by adding a mechanical locking differential (MLD) to your SUV’s rear axle. Eaton India now offers the MLD for SUVs such as the Tata Safari, Storme, Aria, Xenon and the Mahindra Scorpio and Getaway models. The MLD will be fitted onto the SUVs at Eaton’s service centers across India. Cost of each MLD will come up to about 23,000-25,000 rupees (variation on account of INR-USD exchange rate as the MLD is imported).
What does the MLD do?
The MLD’s function is to distribute torque evenly to both the rear wheels of an SUV. To maximize grip, the MLD intervenes when it detects one rear wheel rotating at a different rate than the other. Once it comes into action, the MLD ensures that both rear wheels of an SUV rotate at the same speed irrespective of ground conditions. The MLD does this by locking drive shafts of the rear wheels.
The MLD works at speeds under 20 Kph and once the speeds rise, the MLD automatically disengages. The MLD does this to prevent uneven tyre wear that would otherwise occur if the MLD remains engaged. At higher speeds, the MLD functions as a light bias Limited Slip Differential (LSD). Importantly, the Eaton MLD is compatible with ABS and electric stability program (ESP) equipped SUVs. Also, the entire operation of the MLD is completely automatic and requires no inputs/intervention from the driver.
Note: The Eaton MLD is compatible with Tata and Mahindra SUVs with an axle ratio/final drive of 4.1. For Tata SUVs, the axle ratio/final drive is indicated by the gearbox’s specifications: G-76,5/4.1, where 76 stands for gearbox type, 5 for number of gears and 4.1 for final drive/axle ratio.
CarToq can confirm that the current variants of the Tata Safari Storme, Xenon 4X4, Aria, the Mahindra Scorpio mHawk and the Scorpio Getaway 2.6 CRDe feature gearboxes with an axle ratio/final drive of 4.1. In other words, the Eaton MLD can be fitted to these SUVs. Both 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive SUVs can be fitted with an MLD.
MLD and warranty issues
Notably, Mahindra equips the Scorpio twin cab pick up truck (known as Getaway in India) sold internationally with the MLD as standard equipment. However, getting Eaton to fit a MLD onto the domestic variants of the Scorpio might attract warranty issues from Mahindra as Eaton, though an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for Mahindra, might not be authorized to operate on Mahindra vehicles. On a similar note, it remains to be seen what approach Tata Motors takes when an MLD is fitted onto its SUV range.
For more details on the MLD, you may get in touch with Mr Ashim Dhar, Eaton India, at ashimdhar (at) eaton (dot) com.