What are lockers on a Jeep? Off-Roading Game Changer or Just Hype?

What are lockers on a Jeep?

An image of a locker - What are lockers on a Jeep?
What are lockers on a Jeep? Image source: Jeep Runner blog


You might assume that your Jeep Wrangler evenly distributes power to all four wheels when it’s in four-wheel drive, but that’s not the reality.

To navigate challenging terrain, power is distributed unevenly.

While this can be advantageous for off-roading and tackling rough terrain, it can become a drawback when you find yourself stuck in mud.

For avid off-roaders and Jeep enthusiasts, this situation is all too familiar.

However, there are methods to guarantee that all your tires receive equal power when necessary.

Let’s find out what Jeep lockers are.


What Are Lockers On A Jeep?


Jeep lockers are axle enhancements that effectively lock the left and right wheels together.

This enables them to rotate at the same speed with an equal distribution of torque, regardless of the conditions they encounter.

What Are Jeep Lockers?

Your Jeep comes equipped with an open differential, also known as a conventional differential.

The differential automatically directs engine power to the wheel with the least traction.

Unfortunately, this can lead to getting stuck in many situations where traction is crucial.

If you engage in off-roading activities such as navigating steep hills or rock crawling with your Jeep, a locker becomes an essential component.

Now that you have an understanding of what Jeep lockers are and how they operate, you may be considering installing them in your Jeep.

However, you might be uncertain about which axle locker is the best choice, as there are numerous types of Jeep axle lockers available.

While all these lockers serve the same purpose, each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

In the following sections, we will provide information on the various types of lockers you can consider when customizing your Jeep’s differential.

Different Types of Jeep Lockers


Jeep Spool Lockers


A spool represents the polar opposite of an open differential.

Essentially, it consists of a single shaft connecting one wheel to the other.

This results in both wheels moving in unison, at the same speed and in the same direction.

While this configuration is highly effective for off-road traction, it comes at the cost of poor handling.

Spools are typically installed on vehicles designed exclusively for off-road use or for drifting purposes.

If you use your vehicle as a daily driver, it’s strongly discouraged to have a spool installed.

The spool can lead to extremely challenging handling characteristics on the road.


Jeep Automatic Lockers


Automatic lockers, as their name implies, have the capability to switch automatically between a locked and open differential.

In an ideal scenario, they function as open differentials on regular streets and roads, and then engage the lock mode in off-road conditions.

However, there can be instances where automatic lockers don’t always adhere to this script and may act unpredictably.


Jeep Selectable Lockers


Selectable lockers are designed for experienced off-roaders who have a solid understanding of how lockers function and when to activate them.

These lockers provide drivers with the ability to choose when to engage or disengage them.

We strongly recommend that individuals learn how to use selectable lockers before installing them in their Jeep.

They are well-suited for daily driving Jeeps that frequently hit off-road trails on the weekends.

Selectable lockers are also beneficial for off-roading beginners who are in the process of learning the ropes.

That’s because they allow for a better comprehension of lockers and differentials.

When not engaged, they function as an open rear, and when engaged, they provide a fully locked axle.


Jeep Lunchbox Lockers


A lunchbox locker represents the most budget-friendly choice.

It requires a simple replacement of the spider gears within a standard open differential.

However, it comes with a significant drawback: it generates substantial noise and tends to ratchet frequently, particularly during cornering.

Despite these drawbacks, it remains a robust locker offering exceptional performance both on and off the road.

Its cost-effectiveness has endeared it to many users.

If your objective is to invest in a long-term solution lasting two to three decades, it’s advisable to save up and purchase a dedicated locker.


How Do I Know If My Jeep Has A Locker?


The simplest method is to consult your owner’s manual, which provides this information in the specifications section concerning the axles.

Your owner’s manual offers a clear and concise overview of your vehicle’s inclusions and exclusions.

Another approach to determine if your Jeep is equipped with a locker is to inspect the underside of the vehicle.

Which Jeeps include lockers?

  • The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: Both front and rear lockers are standard features on the Jeep Rubicon.
  • The Jeep Wrangler X: Lockers are not included as standard on the Wrangler X but can be added as an optional upgrade.



Frequently Asked Questions


Do I Really Need Lockers On My Jeep?


Differential lockers serve as invaluable offroad tools, particularly on challenging trails, during rock crawling, and when trying to free a stuck vehicle.

Lockers enhance your capability to traverse exceptionally tough terrain and provide an initial means for self-recovery if you find yourself stuck.

It’s worth noting that lockers are incredibly potent, and improper usage can result in severe vehicle damage.


What Is The Difference Between 4WD and Lockers?


4WD can evenly split power front-to-rear, but it cannot distribute it side-to-side within an axle.

This results in torque still going to the wheel with the least grip on each axle.

To resolve this issue, you require a locking differential, which compels both wheels on an axle to rotate at the same speed.




In conclusion, Jeep lockers are crucial axle enhancements that ensure equal power distribution to both wheels, enhancing off-road capabilities and traction.

Understanding the various locker types and their pros and cons is essential when customizing your Jeep’s differential.

Lockers are valuable tools for conquering tough terrains and challenging situations, but their potent capabilities require responsible use to avoid potential vehicle damage.

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