to admit, when I first heard about these new Aussie Lockers, I was as
skeptical as the next guy. Through some discussion here on the Toyota
section of the Pirate4x4.com BBS, Bill Cole from TORQ Masters - the US
distributor of the Aussie Locker - agreed to send me a unit for testing
and review. I was more than happy to do it!
glance, you probably have the same response that I had when I opened the
box. Yes, this locker is of similar design to others already on
the market. Bill was quick to address this by explaining that there are
several design improvements that he felt made his product superior to
similar ones. I noted his claims, and resolved myself to see if
what he said would hold true under installation and testing.
I received for testing was designed for the common Toyota 8"
differential found in the most popular Toyota trucks and 4Runners.
We would be installing it in the rear of a 1987 Toyota 4Runner ( with
a solid axle swap & 37" MT/R's) that had been previously running
a welded rear differential.
several things upon first examining the contents of the box. The
first thing I noticed was the installation instructions and product documentation.
WOW! There was no small 4-5 page installation "overview"
written by lawyers and technical writers. What the Aussie Locker
comes with is a set of installation instructions that are written in clear
detail and read like you want instructions to read! This kind of
information is appreciated, and should help the shade-tree mechanic who
wants to install this locker at home feel very confident after reading
through their instruction book.
that aside, I took a good look at the locker itself. All parts arrived
clean, precise, and bench assembly showed that all parts fit together
bore you with the details of the actual installation - this is intended
as a review of the product, not an installation guide. However I
will mention that we found it necessary to clearance the stock differential
"window" somewhat to have enough room to install the locker
into the differential case. This seems due to casting variances
in the differential itself, and took only a few minutes with a dremel
to resolve. Other than this slight delay, the locker was easy to
install, and took only a few hours at a leisurely pace.
to the testing!
we had the Toyota 3rd member installed, everything hooked back up, and
fluids added, it was time to take it for it's first drive. Pulling
out of the shop, you could already see the locker was working, leaving
slight rubber scuffs on the concrete.
outside and in the grass, we were met with a single loud "pop"
when turning to the left, then one more when turning to the right.
We were initially concerned, but I am willing to bet these noises were
only the initial operation of the locker without the differential fluid
having fully lubricated all surfaces of the locker.
testing was done with several miles of road driving. Even the first
turn out of the driveway showed evidence that TORQ Master's claims of
reduced operating noise were correct. Where some other lockers have
a noticeable "click" when turning, the operation of the Aussie
Locker was barely audible. Highway operation was similarly up to
TORQ Master's claims of a smooth operation and ride, with no jerks or
dangerous darts when getting on and off the throttle. Needles to
say, after years of driving this vehicle with a welded rear differential,
the owner was very pleased with the manners of the Aussie Locker and commented
that he may actually enjoy driving it on the street again.
be honest, I wanted to see what this locker could take off road.
A small group of us set out to test the locker on some obstacles at a
local off road park, on one of their off days.. Out testing included
loading the rear axle on steep rocky climbs, ledges, and loose debris.
At times, the rear of the vehicle hopped, coming down hard with tires
spinning. Not once did the locker make a single noise of complaint,
and always firmly locked both tires together when it should.
turns and switch-backs were another setting where the vehicle owner was
extremely happy with how the locker performed. It unlocked when
needed for turning, but always gave the locked traction when needed for
tacking the obstacles. Again, I have to re-state that throughout
the operation of the locker, only someone looking to hear the sound of
the locker's teeth ratcheting would be able to hear a sound from this
locker - it is truly that quiet!
after a month of trail and road use, the Aussie Locker is still performing
flawlessly. Road use is still virtually noiseless, and on the trail
the locker does it's job wonderfully.
TORQ Masters has a winner with their Aussie Locker. They have taken
this type of locker and made it better than before. Ease of install,
quiet operation, and very reasonable cost combine to make the Aussie Locker
a very attractive differential locking device. And don't think that
the Toyota 8" locker is their only offering, they already have
lockers available for several popular differentials, and are rolling out
product for new ones on a regular basis. You can order directly
from their web site on the link below.
TORQ Masters and their Aussie Locker are names you will be hearing more
about in the near future!