Differential Locks

Preamble about Diff-locks – just a warm-up before the serious stuff
(most UK/European Syncros seem to have both – Clive)

Nobody here in the USA has diff locks in the front. VW was afraid that old ladies would pull these and that they would then crash on the highway. I sell front diff lock kits here to Americans so they can add them. My kind cost 1/3rd of what you would pay to buy these kits from VW in Europe, so everybody here is happy to have these.

A syncro without diff locks is a sorry thing — one of the worlds truly great vehicles but crippled off road. The reason the syncro really needs those diff locks vs. other off-road vehicles is that it does not have the axle articulation of other vehicles, and so one wheel is more likely to come off the ground on uneven terrain than your average 4×4 (this maybe considered debatable –Clive). When that happens, you either lock the axles up or you are stuck.

Adding the diff lock to the rear is an expensive undertaking because it is part of a gearbox rebuild. Adding the diff lock to the front is relatively painless. I sell kits for $400 for the locking components and an extra $165 for the parts that go up to the dashboard.
So the cheapest way to add a diff lock to a vehicle that had none before is to add it to the front and then put the lock in the back later when you are having your transmission rebuilt anyway. But the front diff lock has the disadvantage that steering is considerably impaired vs. the one in the back, so it is more tricky to use the front.

At transmission rebuild time, it is also a good idea to think about changing your ring and pinion gears to accommodate an increase in tire size. Mailing costs between UK and USA are not particularly high in most cases. I have customers in Germany, and it is still less expensive for them to buy through me than from their local dealer or parts outlet.

Derek DrewNew York, NY & Washington, DC

90 Syncro Westfalia seen off-road at http://users.rcn.com/derekdrew/Syncro_Madness_Area.htm

Note: most valuable Vanagon sites on the planet (for owners) are:

http://gerry.vanagon.com/cgi-bin/wa.exe?S1=vanagon target=”_blank”

My refrigerator article

All About 16″ Wheels And The CV-900.htm

How To Live With Heavy List Volume–Mail Filters

My article that shows how to deal with insurance companies

To view Wolfgang’s incredibly informative wheel article

To view Tim Smith’s incredibly useful gearing calculator

To view two articles about how to think about improving your gears at transmission rebuild time

Article 1
Article 2

To view an overview article about choices in larger sized tires see

My article about belt protectors and CV joint protectors

Syncro owners who drive off the road (deliberately!):

You only get to change your ring and pinions once every 10 years because that’s how long the average syncro transmission goes before its next rebuild. If you want bigger tires and more ground clearance start planning your higher number ring and pinion sets right now so you can take advantage of your next trans rebuild.

Clive Smith – Club80-90 – 2002

Reproduced with kind permission of Steve Schwenk – Syncro.org