Trailer Tow damping with an electronic limited slip differential

Paper #:
  • 2017-01-1102

Published:
  • 2017-03-28
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Abstract:
An electronic limited slip differential (eLSD) system can be used to dramatically affect the behavior of a vehicle. These systems can be used as both traction and/or handling devices. An eLSD attempts to bring wheel speeds to the same rate, acting as a torque biasing device. In the case of a rear wheel drive vehicle, this can create understeer, which is desirable when towing a trailer. Towing a heavy trailer creates a unique situation where vehicle understeer is desirable because it reduces the risk of a vehicle and trailer jack knifing and creates a more stable vehicle train. To test the effect of an eLSD system certain benchmarks had to be established. The base vehicle must be measured, as well as various differential designs. The measurement system used was the SAE J2807 trailer towing specification. The final step is proving and measuring increased understeer gradient gained while utilizing an eLSD. During measurement of J2807 the eLSD system proved to increase the understeer gradient while towing a heavy trailer. This understeer effect increases as the torque across the eLSD clutch increases. To control this torque a tow damping logic was created, and triggered, by the detection of a heavy trailer. Further study indicated a positive effect of enabling this logic whenever a trailer was detected, vs when understeer was desired. Refinement of the detection and activation of the tow damping allows for optimization of vehicle performance with and without towing a heavy trailer.
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