The carrier assembly, also known as the axle carrier assembly or simply differential carrier assembly, is the group of components that includes the differential casing, differential bearings, and differential assembly. For the reasons explained above, it is common to confuse the carrier assembly with its components. For example, for many, the two images shown below correspond to a carrier assembly.
This section will introduce the different types of carrier assembly, which should not be confused with the types of car axles explained in our article Where To Buy Used Axles And Not Get Scammed.
Front carrier assembly. As the name implies, this type is located at the front of the vehicle and is commonly called the transaxle.
Rear carrier assembly. This type is located at the rear of the vehicle and is what most people confuse with the rear differential.
Center carrier assembly. It is in charge of transmitting the power and torque coming out of the transmission to the front and rear carrier assemblies. It is also known as the transfer case.
As mentioned earlier, the heart of every carrier assembly is the differential. For this reason, it is a good idea to briefly mention the most common types of differentials.
Open differential. It is the least complex of all. It is quite common on rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
Limited-slip differential. This type of differential uses clutches and plates within the differential to prevent one of the wheels from slipping during hard cornering. Locking differential. This type of differential is common on 4×4 vehicles and some sports cars. Through the use of special mechanisms, it distributes the same amount of torque between the two wheels of the axle.
Active differential. This is the most advanced type of differential as it uses computer-controlled sensors and actuators to distribute torque to the wheels in real-time.