The viscous coupling is known mainly as a driveline component in four wheel drive vehicles. Developments in recent years, however, point toward the probability that this device will become a major player in mainstream front-wheel drive application. Production applications in European and Japanese front-wheel drive cars have demonstrated that viscous couplings provide substantial improvements not only in traction on slippery surfaces but also in handling and stability even under normal driving conditions.
This paper presents a series of proving ground tests which investigate the effects of a viscous coupling in a front-wheel drive vehicle on traction and handling. Testing demonstrates substantial traction improvements while only slightly influencing steering torque. Factors affecting this steering torque in front -wheel drive vehicles during straight line driving are described. Key vehicle design parameters are identified which greatly influence the compatibility of limited-slip differentials in front-wheel drive vehicles.
Cornering tests show the influence of the viscous coupling on the self steering behavior of a front-wheel drive vehicle. Further testing demonstrates that a vehicle with a viscous limited-slip differential exhibits an improved stability under acceleration and throttle-off maneuvers during cornering.