Credit goes to Bill from www.dieseltraders.com.au who helped us clarify some of the technical details in this article.
The Role of the Differential
This is a quick article that discusses how to engage your Kubota’s differential lock and why you might want to do so. But first, we must understand what the role of your Kubota’s differential is, and why we can get into a situation were we lack adequate traction.
When you turn the steering wheel to make a turn, the inside tires travel a shorter distance than those on the outside – they are traveling at different speeds. The differential equipped on your Kubota allows your tractor to turn because it lets the rear tires rotate at different speeds. Without it, handling your Kubota would be very difficult and wear or damage to the tires and drive train would likely occur.
Your Kubota is equipped with a non-limited slip or open center differential – that is, your differential will favor the wheel that is easiest to turn. This allows us to steer around, but, it also means is that if one wheel starts to loose traction or comes off the ground completely, the differential will send most of the engine’s power to that free wheel. Traction is lost.
What does Locking the Differential Do?
Most Kubota tractor’s have the ability to lock the rear differential. This simply locks both rear wheels together and drives both of them simultaneously without the possibility of one side free wheeling. The differential is no longer favoring the wheel easiest to turn – it is sending power to both. Note – the engine’s power is not increased, but, the power it is generating is better used because your Kubota has a better grip and is not freely spinning.
How to Engage the Differential Lock
You engage the lock by stepping down with your right heel onto the differential lock pedal. If the tractor is not running and the gears in the differential are not turning, the pedal will not depress fully. During normal operation that pedal will depress fully and engage the lock providing that boost in traction.
When to Use the Differential Lock
Because the differential system on your Kubota allows the rear tires to turn at different speeds, locking the differential should only be used when traveling in a straight line. If you lock the differential and then attempt to turn, you put extra strain on the differential lock, possibly leading to its or another component’s failure.
You should lock your differential whenever additional traction is required – like in slippery or snowy conditions or when you are bogged down in the mud. Although additional traction that the differential lock provides is handy, it is a good idea to use the lock only when necessary and for short periods. The planetary gears in the differential generate more heat and when the lock is engaged, so do not just drive around with the differential locked during normal work.
Service Department Vic