Car mechanics reveal that the most overlooked maintenance item in every vehicle is change of differential fluid. The reason is that owners don’t know when and how frequently to replace differential fluid. Motor oil is on top priority list, so neglecting differential oil that keeps your car operating can cause you an array of costly issue overtime.

Understand the differential’s working

Differential helps to distribute vehicle’s power uniformly across each wheel. The difference of each wheel turning is accommodating, so it got its name ‘differential’.

For example, when you turn the car’s two wheels, the outer part is longer than the inner side. The car’s differential will make the outer wheel turn faster without loss of control or skipping or hopping to match the pace of inside wheel. Thus, you don’t encounter a bumpy and shaky ride but a smooth turn.

Types of differential

Open differential

  • The engine torque gets split in two outputs.
  • Allows all the wheels to rotate even at different speeds.
  • Loss of traction in one tire can affect the opposing tire also.
  • Open differential is seen in economy cars and family sedans

Locking differential

  • The connected wheels will spin at the same speed always.
  • Vehicle turning is very hard.
  • Seen in full-sized trucks and jeeps

Limited-slip differential

  • Hybrid form designed from a blend of locking and open differentials.
  • Functions like an open differential.
  • When slipping occurs locks automatically.
  • You can see them in sports vehicles.

Torque – vectoring differential

  • Extra gear trains are used.
  • The torque delivered to every drive wheel is fine tuned.
  • Capable to slow or quicken vehicle rotation round corners.
  • Complex, heavy, and low performance with respect to fuel economy.
  • Used in BMWs or Lexus

Each differential displays its own challenges. An expert mechanic will understand how to service the front or rear differential appropriately.

How to care for car differentials?

Differentials are a part of drivetrain on every truck and car. It does not matter, if you drive a 4-wheel drive SUV or a 2-wheel drive car. Differential oil change is crucial just like an engine oil.

Metal to metal connection can wear the surface and create heat due to friction. This inevitably weakens gears and causes failure. Checking and changing differential oil saves a big headache in the middle of a road.

Make sure to use premium quality differential fluid because they are filter free and the components may experience unwanted friction resulting in substantial damage to the differential.

Oil changing can be a messy task but can be conducted on your own.

  • Remove the drain plug or housing cover. First place a plastic cover on the ground and a wide catch pan over it.
  • Drive the car for some time to heat the oil.
  • Unscrew a couple of housing bolt and with a screwdriver gently open the cover a little. Stinky oil will gush out. Allow the oil to drain completely before removing the cover.
  • Wipe everything – the gears, housing, and wet side of housing cover. Never use harsh cleaners but use light abrasive pad to clear surface.
  • Bolt cover with sufficient clamping force using torque tool.
  • The differential oil’s capacity and weight to be used is provided in the manufacturer’s manual, so read it and follow the instructions of filing it.
  • Install the plug and torque as specified.

Now, you can drive the vehicle thousands of miles without any worries!

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