Explaining the Rear Differential

The differential allows the drive wheels to rotate at different speeds in turns without the wheel binding or hopping. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is on the rear axle. You’ve seen that bulge in the middle of the axle when you’re behind a truck.

Differential oil, also called gear oil, is used to lubricate differentials. It’s importance is similar to the importance of engine oil for the engine. It plays a vital role in protecting the differential and transmission, allowing them to function safely and smoothly.

Differential fluid becomes dirty and contaminated after time. Continuing to drive with contaminated fluid is risky as it can put unnecessary wear on components, leading to permanent damage. Changing gear oil should be considered a routine maintenance item on your vehicle.

How much does it cost to fix a differential?

Typically differential repair requires a few hours of labor and may start from $200. The cost may vary if gears are required and/or a new gear set may be required.

Signs your differential needs service:

  • Whirring noise only when decelerating.
  • A howl or whine during acceleration over small or large speeds.
  • Rumbling or whirring at speeds over 20 MPH but changes while turning.
  • Regular clunking sound every few feet or when starting to move.
  • Steady vibration that increases with vehicle speed.

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