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I have a 1990 Toyota pickup, and I noticed when I got stuck in some sand that only the passenger side back tire spins, while the driver's side does not. Any ideas why?

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Add more detail, please. Can you move the wheel by hand? Or is it when the engine is on, and gears are engaged, only one side is working (if you had it on stands)? –  theUg Jun 28 '13 at 5:41
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The wheel spins fine when driving, but im not sure if its being moved by the engine. I noticed when i got stuck in some sand that only one side was spinning. –  Andrew Jun 28 '13 at 18:11
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your truck is most likely equipped with an open differential. This is a normal condition. A few vehicles are equipped with what is called Posi-Traction, Sure-grip or locking differential. These differentials are equipped with internal clutches that spin both rear tires when moving in a straight line. When going around a turn the clutches release allowing the tires to turn at different speeds.

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I didn't consider this for my answer. –  Juann Strauss Jun 28 '13 at 12:23
    
+1 for open diff, I assume he is talking about a hard acceleration/brake stand scenario. –  Mike Saull Jun 28 '13 at 15:31
    
The wheel spins fine when driving, but im not sure if its being moved by the engine. I noticed when i got stuck in some sand that only one side was spinning. I looked around more and the differential is stock so that could be the case. –  Andrew Jun 28 '13 at 18:12
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Your handbrake may not be disengaging properly. I don't know the car, but if you have drum brakes, it may be that they were incorrectly set, which means your brake is always partially engaged.

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