High-Performance Differentials, Axles, & Drivelines C1113

Topics: Powertrain & Propulsion

Every automobile has a differential and most have axles, yet the exact function of these is not common knowledge. This comprehensive seminar introduces participants to the function and interfaces of axles and their individual components. As we modify cars for street performance or all out race applications, it is important to know the trade-offs in the drivetrain system. The theory and practice of axle systems is introduced along with a hands-on style approach to repairing and modifying axles for high performance applications. For this hands-on approach, actual hardware will be reviewed in an informal setting.

The seminar begins by defining the axle fundamentals and operation followed by an in-depth review of original equipment axles, differentials, torque bias, hypoid gears, and rebuild steps. The different manufacturing and service techniques required for different gear architectures is also reviewed. The seminar concludes with a unique applications-specific workshop and industry trends discussion. Upon completion of the seminar, attendees will have a working knowledge of axles, hypoid gearing, and differentials (open and limited slip), along with typical performance enthusiast modifications for race teams and weekend warriors.

The book, "High-Performance Differentials, Axles, and Drivelines," by Joseph Palazzolo is included in the course materials.

Learning Objectives

By attending this seminar, you will be able to:

  • Identify vehicle specific axle types
  • Evaluate the differences between open and limited slip differential (LSD)
  • Distinguish between the different torque transfer characteristics of the different LSD technologies
  • Identify how to correctly set and adjust bearing preload and hypoid contact patterns
  • Describe how to assemble and disassemble a differential
  • Explain the steps to set-up a new gear set and bearings
  • Recognize the difference required between typical passenger car applications and high-performance, race style axles

Who Should Attend

This seminar is intended for automotive engineers and mechanics who are working in the driveline area. This also includes performance shop mechanics and race teams that are modifying axles for specific on and off-road applications. Any performance-minded amateur, professional racer, or race team would also benefit from attending this seminar.


Basic mechanical background and familiarity with automobile drivelines is preferred.

You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.

  • Axle Fundamentals
    • Lube flow
    • Venting
    • Housing reaction loads
  • Axle Housing Types
    • Beam axles - Banjo / Salisbury
    • Independent axles
    • Quick change axles
    • Axle tubes
    • Axle shaft retention methods
    • Common axle identification
  • Axle Rebuild
    • Common axle problems
    • Axle disassembly
    • Component inspection
    • Axle Reassembly
  • Differentials
    • Theory and practice of open differential
    • Factory installed limited slip differentials
    • Torque bias ratio explanation
    • Teardown and rebuild process
    • Review preload and friction modifier
  • Aftermarket Differentials
    • Review advantages and disadvantages of the following:
    • Open differentials
    • Limited slip differentials
    • Spool and mini-spools
    • Locking differentials
    • Helical differentials
    • Viscous control differentials
    • Torque Vectoring
  • Hypoid Ring and Pinion Gears
    • Gearing fundamentals
    • Spiral bevel review
    • Hypoid
    • Review face milling vs. face hobbing
    • Review how to correctly set-up gear set
    • Review correct contact pattern
    • Importance of bearing preload and how to set
    • Break-in procedure
    • Tire size, speedometer accuracy
  • Axle Shafts
    • Primary function
    • Materials
    • Spline details
  • Driveshafts
    • Driveshaft considerations
    • Universal joint: Replacement; Sizes; Retention methods
  • Pinion Angle
Joseph Palazzolo

joe_palazzoloJoe Palazzolo is Director of Business Development and Electrified Product Strategy at Dana Incorporated’s Light Vehicle Drive System business where he is responsible for managing business development for electrified systems and guiding the strategy for electrified products. Previously, Joe was at GKN Automotive where he held roles of increasing responsibility, including chief engineer for geared products. Prior to that, he was a development engineer and technical fellow at other automotive suppliers.

Mr. Palazzolo holds more than a dozen patents and is an award-winning author of two books, High-Performance Differentials, Axles & Drivelines and How to Rebuild the Ford 8.8 and 9-inch Axles. He also wrote three chapters in the Automotive Engineering Encyclopedia. He maintains the ASE certified Master Technician and Undercar Specialist certifications, has chaired the SAE All-Wheel Drive Standards Committee, and has been an active SAE member since 1990. Mr. Palazzolo was a recipient of the SAE Forest R. McFarland Award for distinction in professional development and education in 2007. In 2010, he achieved the SAE Master Instructor designation and continues to maintain this in his three seminars, which he has been teaching globally since 1999. In 2013, he reached the SAE Fellow membership grade which recognizes his technical and professional accomplishments to the industry.

He has designed, built, campaigned, and supported various race cars and teams for both professional and amateur racing organizations. His scope of work has been inclusive of the entire vehicle but also focused on competitive, high-performance drivetrain systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cleveland State University and a master’s degree in Automotive Engineering from Lawrence Technological University. He has received numerous patents for his work and creativity in advancing mobility systems.

CEUs: 1.3

Format: Classroom

Event ID: LM043

Location: Troy, Michigan

Session Info:

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Fees: $1,349.00

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