Which is Better the Jeep E-Locker or The Air Locker?

As an off-road driver is quick to learn a locking differential means the difference between driving over many terrains and being stuck in the mid. The locking differential gives your wheel the power they need to get you out of tough situations.

Personal preference and driving situations make it possible for the e-locker to be best at times and for the air locker to be best at times. 

To determine which locking system is going to be best for your vehicle you have to understand the features of the systems and then consider where you drive the most.

Looking a little deeper into the options will help you decide which is best for your driving style.

The Basics of Differential Lockers


The differential helps you to maintain control when you are driving. If you are turning a corner the outside wheels have farther to go than the inside wheel does. The differential adjusts the speed of rotation for each tire so that the tire that is easiest to turn gets the greatest power.

This power adjustment allows you to turn the vehicle smoothly and maintain the ultimate control of the vehicle.

If you are driving on off-road surfaces, you might encounter a surface that allows your wheels to slip. You might even have one wheel that is not making precise contact with the surface you are driving on. If this happens then the wheel that is easiest to turn is the one that is not making ground contact.

At a time like this, the wheel that is making contact with the surface has power reduced and the wheel that is basically doing nothing gets the extra umph.

Times like this are when a locking differential helps you to get better control. The locking differential evens out the amount of power that each wheel has so the wheel making ground contact has enough power to help the vehicle propel forward.

The locking differential helps people drive on off-road surfaces to maintain control. If the differential was always locked into place it would not be helpful and it could possibly make driving harder for you.

Review: An open differential is one that allows each wheel to turn at a different speed. A locked differential allows both wheels on the axle to turn at the same speed.

Locking a Differential

The locking mechanism of the differential is controlled by manually turning a switch when you need to give both wheels the same powerful force.

Jeep Air Locker

Jeep Air Locker Installing

The air locker controls the wheel’s powers almost instantly when it is engaged. The real drawback with this system is you have to have a C02 tank or air-compressor connected to power it. 

That means the cost of the air locking system is rather expensive. To install this system you could have to shell out $1500 or more. Doing the work yourself is not an option unless you are very experienced with the differential and how to work on them.

Jeep E-locker

Eaton E-Locker Jeep Installing

One of the best things about the Jeep e-locker is that it works off of 12-volt power and does not require a compressor. The e-locker does use roller cams and that can be a problem at times.

When using the roller cam the e-locker is delayed in actually locking the differential until a degree of rotation of the tires is completed. That means it takes longer for the wheels to be locked together to create an even distribution of speed.

With the press of a button, the system is engaged and working for you. 

Comparing The Two

Instantaneous lockingNoYes
Most reliableYesNo
Compressor requiredNoYes
Works fasterNoYes
Requires outside power source

Manual switch requiredYesYes

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Diff Lock is Best?

If you want an immediate lock when the switch is engaged the airlock is best.

Are Air Lockers Worth It?

The instant engagement these provide is worth the extra cost.

What Are E Lockers For?

To lock the differential and provide both wheels with the same amount of power and speed.

How Reliable Are ARB Lockers?

These lockers are very reliable and long-lasting.

Final Thoughts

Locking differentials are off-road drivers’ greatest tool. By locking the differential you can get out of tight spots and cover worse surfaces without needing help from your friends. The differences between the air version and the e-version are focused mainly on how quickly they work and how much they cost to have installed. Your personal preferences will be the main deciding point between the two.

Jeep Related Articles
1. Reasons Why A Jeep Wrangler May Not Start
2. How Far Can You Drive a Jeep If You Do Not Have The Key Fob?
3. How Much Does It Cost to Add Lockers to a Jeep?

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