Do you have to go through both rough and smooth terrain conditions? If you do, getting a lunchbox locker for your vehicle can be a great way to make things easier. Don’t know anything about it? It’s okay; I am here to help you out with it.
A lunchbox locker is an after-market replacement part for your vehicle to improve performance. It’s a locking mechanism that fits into your stock differential carrier. There variety of lockers out there, and they all have their unique functionality; this is just one of them.
Now, don’t worry too much because I will go through a complete overview of lunchbox lockers. I will also tell you the installation method of it by the end. So, stay with me to know all about this crucial improvement part of your vehicle.
How Does a lunchbox locker Work?
So, what does a lunchbox locker do, how does it affect your car? Well, there are several things to go through here. I will try to take you through them as simply as I can so you understand the proper use.
Usually, with your open stock differential, you get power in the wheel that has less traction. Now, this may take you through all the plain regular roads without any issues. You won’t have any trouble going through those roads.
But as soon as you start driving on different terrains and keep switching between smooth and rough terrains, you will begin to feel why it is bad. With the imbalance in power between the wheels, you will have less control over your car in such conditions.
With a lunchbox locker, the power of your car splits between two wheels. It doesn’t consider which wheel has less traction or more traction. This way, there is no power imbalance in the car wheels. Now, let’s get a bit more technical and see the working process of the lunchbox locker.
When you see a lunch box locker, it will have different parts and gear. There is an oval-shaped hole in a lunchbox locker that accommodates the center pin. Whenever torque applies, the pin gets forced to move. This, later on, locks the axle gears and cam gears through a push on the cam gears.
As soon as you stop applying any torque, the pin doesn’t push anymore and gets back in its original place in the oval hole. This results in a ratcheting noise due to the cam gears spinning past axle gears. This noise is the signature of lunchbox lockers.
So, that’s how a lunchbox locker works for your car. To make things simple for you, I have to say that if you have a truck or 4-wheeler and drive on different terrains, you should get a lunchbox locker. This will drastically improve the performance of your car over the stock differentials.
Lunchbox locker overviews
If you are still struggling with it, then let’s check out two popular lunchbox lockers you can find out there. Going through these should summarize the benefits and drawbacks of replacing the stock differential in your vehicle. Let’s get going.
Spartan Locker for Dana 44 Differential with 19 Spline Count
There are different types of lockers you can find out there; spartan locker is one of them. The off-road performance of your car goes up by a lot when you install this one. You will get better control of your car on rough terrains with this one over any stock differential.
The next great thing about getting a lunchbox locker is the price you get. You get an excellent grip on your car with the least possible cost. And the upgrade is completely worth the money you pay for it or maybe even more than that. Whether it’s the parts or the installation, you can save up quite a lot over a, let’s say, air locker.
One great thing about this locker, in particular, is its low ratcheting sound. Usually, lunchbox lockers have an issue of loud ratcheting sound which can be annoying for some. But this one eliminates that quite a lot, so you don’t need to worry about the worst part of a lunchbox locker on this one.
Just like any other lunchbox locker, this one is also straightforward to install. This helps in reducing the cost of installation by a lot. Also, it doesn’t take too much time to install the part in your car.
When you install this on your front axle in a two-wheel drive, you get excellent results. It’s a superb jeep lunchbox locker that doesn’t completely stop your car, unlike many other lockers out there. So, altogether it’s a great one to grasp for improving your car performance by a lot.
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Dana 35 Powertrax 2311-LR
Here is another option that can elevate the performance of your car by a lot. It’s a substantial upgrade over any stock differential. The build quality of this is quite impressive with the hardened steel construction. This ensures that it won’t wear out as quickly as other cheaper ones would.
This one comes with center pins in the package, so you don’t have to look for them separately. That adds to the convenience of buying this over other lockers.
And if you want to use the stock pin, you have that option as well. So, there is nothing to worry about the center pin at all.
Unlike many lunchbox lockers, this one has a great feature of unlocking before cornering. It has got such mechanisms that prevent this one from locking up at a crucial point.
This leads to better control over your car on the road, which is the whole purpose of installing this part. Also, to get this feature, you don’t need to be concerned about installing this on the front or the back.
Now, something that may annoy you is the classic ratcheting noise of lunchbox lockers. It has got that loud annoying noise of the locker that you can’t get rid of. Every time you turn corners, you will get that sound.
Keeping that noise issue aside, you get a significant boost in the performance of your car with the least money spent. It’s an excellent value for money improvement part for your jeep or vehicle. With this one installed in your car, you won’t have to worry about driving on different terrains at all.
As you can see from the two different lunchbox lockers, it’s quite effective in improving performance. Indeed, there are drawbacks to them, but they are worth it for sure. It’s the cheapest way to get that kind of grip control in your car.
So, if you are having trouble controlling your car on rough terrains, getting this replacement part can help you a lot. There are other types of lockers that help in different cases, but nothing beats this one when it comes to affordable upgrades.
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How to install a lunchbox locker
A great thing about lunchbox lockers is that they are pretty easy to install. You may get intimidated as a beginner if you have never done such kind of work. But once you see it happen, you will learn how to do it. So, it’s that simple.
Now, the installation process usually involves replacing the spider gears from the stock carrier. Your lunchbox locker is just a replacement of spider gears on the stock carrier, so you won’t have to rest the backlash during installation. You don’t need to remove the differential either.
So, you simply remove the spider gears and replace them with the new lockers, which should be good. Before you do that, make sure you have assembled the locker itself. You will get a complete instruction manual with the particular locker you buy.
It may be easy, but there are some things you should keep in mind when installing it. The first one is to try not to move the carrier while removing the spider gears. This will allow you to complete the whole installation without having to remove your carrier for your differential.
However, it may feel a bit too tight at times. In that case, you will need to remove it. Don’t force it too much, as you can break that part very easily. And the next tip is to assemble the locker beforehand if it needs any assembly. Usually, you will get an instruction manual with pictures to assemble the locker, just like in Spartan lockers.
Lastly, if you don’t know what you are doing, then opt for professional help. It’s a very easy installation that doesn’t take too much time. So, you won’t need to worry about the labor cost for this one either.
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To sum up, getting a lunchbox locker in your car is one of the most affordable upgrades you can get. And if you are a driver who drives on different terrains, then this upgrade will surely benefit you a lot. But before you go through that, make sure to check different options available out there so you can get the best solution for your needs.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.