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In automobiles, a differential couples the input shaft to the Pinion, which in turn runs on the Crown wheel of the diff. This also works as reduction gearing to give the ratio. On rear wheel drive vehicles the diff may connect to half-shafts inside an axle casing or drive shafts that connect to the rear driving wheels. Front wheel drive vehicles tend to have the pinion on the end of the main-shaft of the gearbox and the diff is enclosed in the same casing as the gearbox. They have individual drive-shafts to each wheel. Older 4x4 vehicles and tractors usually have a solid front axle, the modern way can be a separate diff and driveshaft arrangement for the front. The differential gearing allows the outer drive wheel to rotate faster than the inner drive wheel during a turn. This is necessary when the vehicle turns, making the wheel that is travelling around the outside of the turning curve roll farther and faster than the other. Average of the rotational speed of the two driving wheel equals the input rotational speed of the drive shaft. An increase in the speed of one wheel is balanced by a decrease in the speed of the other.

A differential consists of one input, the drive shaft, and two outputs which are the two drive wheels, however the rotation of the drive wheels are coupled by their connection to the roadway. Under normal conditions, with small tyre slip.

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