A limited slip will be an advantage in snow,sand or wet grass giving traction to both wheels. It containes clutches that eventually wear out. If a wheel is off the ground most power will go to the wheel off the ground. A better solution is a True Trac. This is a geared limited slip(no clutches). It will act better but still not like a locker. The automatic locker is best when a wheel is off the ground but very annoying on hard pavement. I believe the True Trac is an excellent choice that will be invisible until needed. I especially like one in the front axle. Once again completely invisible until needed.
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A locker is actually cheaper unless you go for one that requires actuation to engage...ARB, E-locker, Ox, etc.
The issue with LSDs(Limited Slip Differential) is the clutch-pack, it will wear out, eventually. They're pre-set for tension and require special lubricant for proper function.
More tension = less drivability, more function, more wear.
Less tension = more drivability, less function, less wear.
I had an XJ with the factory LSD(Trac-Lok). It was pretty capable. Still functioning at 70K when I rolled it. No idea what the pre-set tension was...
My WJ has the Vari-Loks, f/r. It's a clutch-pack LSD but only engages the clutch-pack when called upon = more drivability, more function, less wear(virtually none).
I've yet to have an issue with 150K+ miles.
The front and rear set-up on the WJ put the rear only on the XJ to shame but the rear only put open diffs to shame. (I also had an XJ w/ open diffs.)
Open diffs is what you have when you have an on/off locker and it isn't engaged.
LSDs cover the the gap between the extremes of driving situations really well. On the street, they do particularly well in the snow, ice and rain. In those conditions, an engaged locker could be a liability and opens are relatively inadequate.
Full lockers might put LSDs to shame when they're needed but, IMO, they're an everyday pain.
ARBs or E-lockers give you the capability when you need it but offer less than an LSD when you don't.
I don't want lockers of any kind. My new JK will have Truetracs, f/r. Mechanical LSDs with no appreciably wearing parts. It will always be engaged and functioning, similar to the Vari-Loks, but no special lube additives required.
I'll install 'em and fuhgeddaboudit.
You'll be doin' yourself a favor. It's the one modification everyone seems to overlook when wanting to make their Jeep more all around capable. They jump straight to lockers for the uncompromising delivery of power to both sides of the axle that's only desirable in a select and limited range of situations.
Limited Slip is not plug and play. A Limited Slip install requires checking and setting the gear pattern and differential shims. Some specialized tools and technical skills are needed for the install.
A LockRight type locker that installs in place of the differential spider gears is the cheapest traction option. It is plug and play, and can be installed the driveway with a simple assortment of hand tools.
As already suggested, a mostly stock and mostly street driven 4x4 should have a Limited Slip. If you are going to pay for a differential install, you should have a TrueTrac Limited Slip installed.
Lockers are not instant death on snow/ice, I have found my lockers to behave on snow/ice similar to the Limited Slip they replaced. Short wheelbase vehicles like a CJ or Wrangler may experience some odd locker behaviors, again making the Limited Slip a better choice.
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