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Torq Masters R160 Locker - Product Review

So ever since Torq Masters Industrie’s released their locker for the Subaru R160 rear diff, many people have been asking me on my thoughts on the locker so now that I have been using the locker for a few months, here are my findings.

So first of all the Torq Masters locker is built for a Subaru R160 rear diff, which is the standard diff found on most modern Subaru’s. There are two versions of the R160 with a one bolt and five bolt versions and Torq Masters has a locker available for both versions.

The locker is also an automatic diff locker and does not rely on electricity or air to lock up which significantly decreases the costs of the setup and simplifies the installation. You can read more about the Torq locker here.

Now on my vehicle I chose to use the whiteline solid rear diff mounting bushing which I installed as I had heard stories of stock bushes allowing the diff to flex too much and stop the locker from locking in some circumstances. Adding solid bushings are a compromise however as you gain performance and sacrifice comfort with more noise and vibrations felt. In my case I can’t feel a lot of difference between the factory bushings and the whiteline ones in terms of noise or vibration, with an exception of the diff being a lot more noticeable when it binds up on road, but more on that later.

Now I must say the locker works exceptional off road! When I first had the locker installed, I parked my forester with one wheel cocked high in the air while off roading, took a picture, jumped back in and crawled out of that position without even spinning a wheel, which is very impressive for a Subaru! The locker provides so much extra confidence, knowing that those rear wheels are locked and ready to take on the next obstacle!

While the locker does provide extra confidence off road, there are a few things you should consider before purchasing your own.

As the locker is an automatic diff locker, with the Torq Masters R160 locker design, it tends to ratchet when you take the car around corners. While this stops the diff from locking up around corners and makes it drivable for your day to day commute, this ratcheting can be very loud and annoying as the diff will click loudly every time you take a corner. Putting this into a real life situation, when you turn to exit a petrol station (Gas station for my US readers), the diff clicks very loudly, and everyone seems to turn their head looking at your car. While some people will like the attention, I would prefer the locker to be quiet.

Good news is that you can make the locker a little quieter, firstly by using a thicker oil such as a conventional 85W-140 oil as recommended by Torq Masters, and I have heard people overfill their diff which also decreases the noise. Another thing to note is that adding a guard to your diff will amplify the noise of the ratcheting so that is another thing to consider.

Another big change you will have to make with the Torq locker is your driving style. Unless you want the locker to lock up mid corner you should take corners gently, applying very little throttle until you have exited the corner, so a little change to your driving style is required.

The last thing I want to talk about is how the locker responds to a locked centre diff.

In early testing with Australian distributer Subieliftoz, we tested a Torq Locker unit in a standard SF forester that had the standard 4kg centre differential. We found that when a front wheel is cocked in the air, all power is sent to the wheel with least resistance, leaving the wheel in the air spinning and the car unable to move forward. This also meant that the standard 4kg centre diff wasn’t able to keep the 50/50 split in that situation, and not allowing any power to the rear wheels. To overcome this issue, in an automatic (4EAT transmission only) you can add the centre diff lock switch mod which will allow the centre diff to be locked and carry power to the rear wheels. Unfortunately I have never driven or owned an automatic Subaru, so I don’t know how to perform this modification.

In my manual forester however, I was able to overcome this issue by installing a heavy duty 20kg centre diff which keeps that 50/50 split heaps better than the standard 4kg unit.

Playing around with a locked or heavy duty centre diff with the rear locker has unfortunately revealed a new issue. On road when taking sharp corners, the locked centre appears to cause the driveline to bind up, causing the rear locker to occasionally lock up resulting in random jolting as the car corners. This is quite uncomfortable and can’t be very good for the CV’s…

Overall, I think the unit does exactly what it is designed to do. It’s a product that’s designed to improve off road performance, so you have to sacrifice some on road comfort at the end of the day. The audibility of the locker is a little too loud for comfort and is definitely something you will have to consider before buying or get used too if you own one, however the unit works fantastic off road and with the heritage of a reputable company like Torq Masters industries I believe you will have very few issues from this quality unit.

While it’s fantastic that Torq Masters brought the first Subaru locker to the market, I hope this opens the pathway for other manufactures to produce purpose built Subaru lockers that you can turn on and off like an ARB air locker or Harrop E-locker, while being more expensive, these may suit those after a more daily drivable

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