Honda VTM-4 Archives - Transmission Digest
Where Did the Differential Go?

Traditionally, all motor-vehicle final-drive elements (differentials, or rear ends) have consisted of a ring and pinion, with the ring gear mounted on a differential carrier. The differential carrier contained a set of side gears splined to the drive axles and a set of pinion gears allowing the side gears to rotate at different speeds.

The differential is necessary because the outside wheel on an axle has to cover more distance in a turn than the inside wheel. This means that the outboard wheels must rotate faster than the inboard wheels; hence, the “differential” in wheel speed.