BMW smooth case gripper lsd 188K unit E46 E87 E90

BMW smooth case gripper lsd 188K unit E46 E87 E90


Automac are the BMW suppliers of Gripper LSD units in the UK 

Multiplated LSD units - choice of 8 or 12 plates and different ramp angles based on use together with a lifetime warranty
The 188k medium case smooth case as fitted to many later BMWs with traction control such as the 325 330 E46, E87 E98 1 series and E90 and others
RRP for lsd unit £1050+vat the cost of fitting and parts would be extra 

We are confident that for the money this is by far the best value for money for a BMW LSD based on price performance and the guarentee
Whilst based on the well proven multi-plate principle, these differentials embody unique features of detailed design which make them unusually progressive in action and extremely compact, such that they can be packed into applications where hitherto no LSD has been available.
Their performance and durability has been validated both by extensive testing and by successful usage on both track and stage.
They can be set up with varying amounts of preload to suit individual driver preference and particular conditions. In Rallying they offer the additional advantage that, in the event of failure of other transmission elements, e.g. a broken drive shaft (even at low levels of preload) they may still provide sufficient traction to drive out of a stage. Models are currently available to suit a number of popular applications, based on three sizes of largely standardized internal components. 
Designs for further applications are currently under development and requests to consider the feasibility of one-off designs are welcomed.
Current ramp angles available are 30/65, 40/65, 45/45.
We provide a professional fitting service by experienced motorsport engineer - the option exists to also change crown wheel and pinions at the same time
Vat included in selling price - fitting not included that can be quoted extra as other service parts may or may not be needed on your unit
Vat @20%

limited-slip differential (LSD) is a type of automotive differential gear arrangement that allows for some difference in angular velocity of the output shafts, but imposes a mechanical bound on the disparity. In an automobile, such limited slip differentials are sometimes used in place of a standard differential, where they convey certain dynamic advantages, at the expense of greater complexity.

Early history

In 1932, Ferdinand Porsche designed a Grand Prix racing car for the Auto Union company. The high power of the design caused one of the rear wheels to experience excessive wheel spin at any speed up to 100 mph (160 km/h). In 1935, Porsche commissioned the engineering firm ZF to design a limited slip differential that would perform better. The ZF "sliding pins and cams" became available,[1] and one example was the Type B-70 for early VWs.


The main advantage of a limited-slip differential is shown by considering the case of a standard (or "open") differential where one wheel has no contact with the ground at all. In such a case, the non-contacting wheel will receive 100% of the power while the contacting wheel will remain stationary. The torque transmitted will be equal at both wheels, and therefore will not exceed the threshold of torque needed to move the wheel with grip.

Basic principle of operation

Automotive limited slip differentials all contain a few basic elements. First, all have a gear train that, like an open differential, allows the outputs to spin at different speeds while holding the average speed of the two outputs to be equal to the input speed.

Second, all have some sort of mechanism that applies a torque internal to the differential that resists the relative motion of the output shafts. In simple terms this means they have some mechanism which resists a speed difference between the outputs by creating a resisting torque between either the two outputs or the outputs and the differential housing. There are many mechanisms used to create this resisting torque. The type of limited slip differential typically gets its name from the design of this resisting mechanism. Examples include, viscous, and clutch based LSDs. The amount of limiting torque provided by these mechanisms varies by design and is discussed later in the article.Torque split during operation

An open differential has a fixed torque split between the input and outputs. In most cases the relationship is:

  • Trq out_1 = Trq out_2 , where 1 and 2 are typically the left and right drive wheels.
  • Trq in = Trq out_1 + Trq out_2 .

Thus the wheels always see the same torque even when spinning at different speeds, including the case where one is stationary. Note, the torque split can be unequal, though 50:50 is typical.

A limited slip differential has a more complex torque split and should be considered in the case when the outputs are spinning the same speed and when spinning at different speeds. The torque difference between the two axles is called Trq d . (In this work it is called Trq f for torque friction). Trq d is the difference in torque delivered to the left and right wheel. The magnitude of Trq d comes from the slip limiting mechanism in the differential and may be a function of input torque as in the case of a gear differential or the difference in the output speeds as in the case of a viscous differential.

The torque delivered to the outputs is

  • Trq 1 = ½ Trq in + ½ Trq d for the slower output
  • Trq 2 = ½ Trq in – ½ Trq d for the faster output

When traveling in a straight line where one wheel starts to slip and spin faster than the wheel with traction torque is reduced to the slipping wheel (Trq 2 ) and provided to the slower wheel (Trq 1 ).

In the case when the vehicle is turning and neither wheel is slipping the inside wheel will be turning slower than the outside wheel. In this case the inside wheel will receive more torque than the outside wheel which can result in understeer.

When both wheels are spinning at the same speed the torque distribution to each wheel is

  • Trq (1 or 2) = ½ Trq in ±(½ Trq d ) while
  • Trq 1 +Trq 2 =Trq in .

This means the maximum torque to either wheel is statically indeterminate but is in the range of ½ Trq in ±( ½ Trq d ).


Several types of LSD are commonly used on passenger cars.

  • Fixed value
  • Torque sensitive
  • Speed sensitive
  • Electronically controlled

Fixed value

In this differential the maximum torque difference between the two outputs, Trq d , is a fixed value at all times regardless of torque input to the differential or speed difference between the two outputs. Typically this differential used spring loaded clutch assemblies.

Torque sensitivity

This category includes helical gear limited-slip differentials and clutch, cone (an alternative type of clutch) where the engagement force of the clutch is a function of the input torque applied to the differential (as the engine applies more torque the clutches grip harder and Trq d increases).

Torque sensing LSDs respond to driveshaft torque, so that the more driveshaft input torque present, the harder the clutches, cones or gears are pressed together, and thus the more closely the drive wheels are coupled to each other. Some include spring loading to provide some small torque so that with little or no input torque (trailing throttle/gearbox in neutral/main clutch depressed) the drive wheels are minimally coupled. The amount of preload (hence static coupling) on the clutches or cones are affected by the general condition (wear) and by how tightly they are loaded.

Clutch, cone-type LSD

The clutch type has a stack of thin clutch-discs, half of which are coupled to one of the drive shafts, the other half of which are coupled to the spider gear carrier. The clutch stacks may be present on both drive shafts, or on only one. If on only one, the remaining drive shaft is linked to the clutched drive shaft through the spider gears. In a cone type the clutches are replaced by a pair of cones which are pressed together achieving the same effect.

One method for creating the clamping force is the use of a cam-ramp assembly such as used in a Salisbury/ramp style LSD. The spider gears mount on the pinion cross shaft which rests in angled cutouts forming cammed ramps. The cammed ramps are not necessarily symmetrical. If the ramps are symmetrical, the LSD is 2 way. If they are saw toothed (i.e. one side of the ramp is vertical), the LSD is 1 way. If both sides are sloped, but are asymmetric, the LSD is 1.5 way. (See the discussion of 2, 1.5 and 1 way below)

An alternative is to use the natural separation force of the gear teeth to load the clutch. An example is the center differential of the 2011 Audi Quattro RS 5.

BMW have used clutch type differentials for years and are also used on race and rally cars old and new and is the preferred style by most tuners and performance specialists

As the input torque of the driveshaft tries to turn the differential center, internal pressure rings (adjoining the clutch stack) are forced sideways by the pinion cross shaft trying to climb the ramp, which compresses the clutch stack. The more the clutch stack is compressed, the more coupled the wheels are. The mating of the vertical ramp (80–85 C° in practice to avoid chipping) surfaces ina one-way LSD on over run produces no cam effect or corresponding clutch stack compression.

2-, 1-, and 1.5-way LSD

Broadly speaking, there are three input torque states: load, no load, and overrun. During load conditions, as previously stated, the coupling is proportional to the input torque. With no load, the coupling is reduced to the static coupling. The behavior on over run (particularly sudden throttle release) determines whether the LSD is 1 way, 1.5 way, or 2 way.

A 2-way differential will have the same limiting torque Trq d in both the forward and reverse directions. This means the differential will provide some level of limiting under engine braking.

A 1-way differential will provide its limiting action in only one direction. When torque is applied in the opposite direction it behaves like an open differential. In the case of a FWD car it is argued to be safer than a 2-way differential.[5] The argument is if there is no additional coupling on over run, ie a 1-way LSD as soon as the driver lifts the throttle, the LSD unlocks and behaves somewhat like a conventional open differential. This is also the best for FWD cars, as it allows the car to turn in on throttle release, instead of ploughing forward.[5]

A 1.5-way differential refers to one where the forward and reverse limiting torques, Trq d_fwd, d_rev , are different but neither is zero as in the case of the 1-way LSD. This type of differential is common in racing cars where a strong limiting torque can aid stability under engine braking.

 Geared LSD

Geared, torque-sensitive mechanical limited slip differentials use helical gears or worm gears to rather than the beveled spider gears of the clutch based differentials. As torque is applied to the gears they are pushed against the walls of the differential housing which creates friction. The friction resists the relative movement of the outputs and creates the limiting torque Trq d .

Speed-sensitive differentials limit the torque difference between the outputs, Trq d , based on the difference in speed between the two output shafts. Thus for small output speed differences the differential’s behavior may be very close to an open differential. As the speed difference increase the limiting torque increases. This results in different dynamic behavior as compared to a torque sensitive differential.

The viscous type is generally simpler because it relies on hydrodynamic friction from fluids with high viscositySilicone-based oils are often used. Here, a cylindrical chamber of fluid filled with a stack of perforated discs rotates with the normal motion of the output shafts. The inside surface of the chamber is coupled to one of the driveshafts, and the outside coupled to the differential carrier. Half of the discs are connected to the inner, the other half to the outer, alternating inner/outer in the stack. Differential motion forces the interleaved discs to move through the fluid against each other. In some viscous couplings when speed is maintained the fluid will accumulate heat due to friction. This heat will cause the fluid to expand, and expand the coupler causing the discs to be pulled together resulting in a non-viscous plate to plate friction and a dramatic drop in speed difference. This is known as the hump phenomenon and it allows the side of the coupler to gently lock. In contrast to the mechanical type, the limiting action is much softer and more proportional to the slip, and so is easier to cope with for the average driver. Viscous LSDs are less efficient than mechanical types, that is, they "lose" some power. In particular, any sustained load which overheats the silicone results in sudden permanent loss of the differential effect.[6] They do have the virtue of failing gracefully, reverting to semi-open differential behavior. Typically a visco-differential that has covered 60,000 miles (97,000 km) or more will be functioning largely as an open differential;[citation needed] this is a known weakness of the original Mazda MX-5 (a.k.a. Miata) sports car. The silicone oil is factory sealed in a separate chamber from the gear oil surrounding the rest of the differential. This is not serviceable and when the differential's behavior deteriorates, the VLSD center is replaced.

Gerotor pump

This works by hydraulically compressing a clutch pack. The gerotor pump uses the housing to drive the outer side of the pump and one axle shaft to drive the other. When there is differential wheel rotation, the pump pressurizes its working fluid into the clutch pack area. This provides a clamp load for frictional resistance to transfer torque to the higher traction wheel. The pump-based systems have a lower and upper limits on applied pressure, and internal damping to avoid hysteresis. The newest gerotor pump based system has computer regulated output for more versatility and no oscillation.


An electronic-limited slip differential will typically have a planetary or bevel gear set similar to that of an open differential and a clutch pack similar to that in a torque sensitive or gerotor pump based differential. In the electronic unit the clamping force on the clutch is controlled externally by a computer or other controller. This allows the control of the differential’s limiting torque, Trq d , to be controlled as part of a total chassis management system. An example of this type of differential is Subaru’s DCCD used in the 2011 Subaru WRX STi. Another example is the Porsche PSD

Electronic systems: brake-based

These systems are alternatives to a traditional limited slip differential. The systems use an open differential paired with various chassis sensors such as speed sensors, anti-lock braking system (ABS) sensors, accelerometers, and microcomputers to electronically monitor wheel slip and vehicle motion. When the chassis control system determines a wheel is slipping the computer applies the brakes to that wheel. A significant difference between the limited slip differential systems listed above and this brake based system is the brake based systems do not inherently send the greater torque to the slower wheel.

BMW's Electronic Limited Slip Differential used on the 2012 535i is an example of such a system.

Differentials & limited slip differentials (LSDs)

Firstly, some definitions...

differential is a mechanical device which allows a flexible division of drive between wheels to allow cornering

limited slip differential (LSD) is a device which automatically reduces the loss of drive which can result from spinning wheels on one side of an axle. 

Spinning wheels are most likely to result from cornering while on the gas, pulling away from a stand still or accelerating in a car with lots of power

Now a little more depth...

Differentials - an introduction

Before understanding why a limited slip or locking differentials are important, first we'll briefly need to touch on why we need a differential in the first place. In simple terms, a differential is a device which allows for the differences in wheel speed which naturally occurs when a car turns a corner.

As the inside and outside wheels of a car turn in different radius corners, and thus need to rotate at different speeds (with the outside wheels travelling faster). However at least two of the wheels will also need to be linked to allow the car to be two wheel drive. Consider a front wheel drive car with the two front wheels linked together with no flexibility, such as with a solid axle between 

In this case a certain amount of tension would build up when cornering as the outside wheel tries to rotate quicker that the inside wheel (due to the bigger arc it must go through). Eventually this tension would relive itself with a wheel skipping over the surface, or with a drive shaft snapping. This situation is obviously not a good one, so differentials where invented 

As you can see, a diff is essentially a combination of cogs which work together to turn the wheels. It looks complicated, but it uses simple mechanics to allow the two wheels to rotate at different rates.

How a differential works:

The drive from the engine rotates the large yellow crown wheel (1), which is attached to the smaller blue cogs (2). These planetary gears can rotate freely, but work together to turn the green side gears, which are connected to the half shafts (3). If one wheel needs to rotate faster than the other, the green cogs permit this to happen. Simple really!

Limited slip differentials

Differentials work by allowing a flexible distribution of drive between the wheels on an axle, which allows for the different rates of rotation while cornering. However this flexibility is also the differential's weakness, as it will always allow drive to 'escape' via the easiest route. So if you are turning a corner while hard on the gas in a powerful car, you can find that the inside wheel starts spinning (due to the weight transfer leading to less grip), and you lose the ability to put power down on the road via the outside wheel. This isn't good, especially if you're trying to put in a good time on the track, and this is why the limited slip differential (LSD) was invented. The differentials shown in the diagrams above are known as 'open' diffs which means they have no mechanism to prevent this drive loss. The first LSDs connected the two half shafts together with a clutch pack allowing a limited amount of clutch slip between each side of the axle. This allowed for the relatively small differences in rotation while cornering, but prevented violent wheelspin from just one of the wheels which could lead to loss of drive.

Types of limited slip differential

Today there are a variety of differentials which can reduce unwanted wheelspin on one side of an axle, which is prevented using either viscous, mechanical, hydraulic and electronic systems. A simplified example of a clutch type LSD is illustrated in Diagram 4 below. Many race bred cars have LSDs fitted as standard, especially powerful front wheel drive cars which are more prone to wheelspin while pulling out

the simple open differential has been fitted with a clutch (1). This clutch prevents the two blue side gears from freely rotating independently which can help in the occasions when drive loss would be an issue, however there is enough flexibility in the system to allow small differences such as when cornering. Clutch packs such as these as usually held together by a spring, which automatically keeps the clutch tight even when it has worn down. The strength of the spring determines how aggressive the LSD becomes.

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