Differential

Differential

Auto Repair Differential

Differential

When you are driving, and your car makes a turn to the right, the tires on the right make the turn slower than the tires on the left. This is because the left tires have farther to travel in order to turn the corner. This is the same when you turn left, except in that case your right tires travel farther. Because of this, the tires rotate at different speeds and independently of each other to avoid any slipping and to keep the required power as the vehicle makes a turn. 

If you aren’t familiar with what a differential is, it is the set of gears on the vehicle that allows the wheels to spin independently, while also having the wheels powered separately by the drivetrain of the vehicle.

Rear and Front Differential

Some cars have one differential, while others have two. A rear-wheel drive car relies on engine power to move the tires in the rear, which means there is only a need for one differential and it is in the back of the car. However, if you have a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, the engine has to emit power to all of the wheels, so you have two differentials: one in the front and one in the rear. For those who instead have a front-wheel drive vehicle, you will typically have a transaxle which acts as both the differential and transmission. 

Open, Limited Slip, and Torque Vectoring

There are a few different designs when it comes to the differential, but they all fall into three broad categories. We’ll discuss their differences below.

  • Open Differential – This is the traditional type of differential, and it has a simple, durable design. A pinion gear works with the ring gear to send power to both axles with a second set of gears. The only real negative with this type of differential is that if slipping occurs, power will be pushed toward the wheel with the least amount of grip.
  • Limited Slip Differential – In a limited slip, a clutch is installed in the differential to avoid the problems associated with the open type differential. This will lock the left and right axles together if some slipping begins to happen.
  • Torque Vectoring Differential – This is the most modern type of differential. It uses various sensors to decide what wheel should have the most power. Clutches and electronic controls then direct that power there.

Differential Fluid

The differential is like many other vehicle parts, in that it has many different parts within. These include bearings and gears. A lubricant known as differential oil keeps all of these gears and bearings running smoothly and transferring power throughout the differential. The rear differential, front differential, and limited slip differential all need this lubrication to keep the drive components at a proper temperature.

Symptoms of Differential Troubles

Many things can happen that might make the differential stop working as it should. This might occur if a bearing comes loose or if the differential fluid becomes thin and causes a metal part to grind on another metal part. Problems can also occur due to normal wear and tear. If any of the following symptoms are happening in your own vehicle, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a mechanic, like the ones at Kwik Kar Richardson.

  • A skipping or banging when turning corners
  • High pitched howling noise while accelerating
  • Clunking sound that persists
  • Rumbling noises in a car traveling at over 15 MPH
  • Whirring noises when the car is under 15 MPH or decelerating

If any of these things are happening in your car, you probably have a problem with the differential. It’s a good idea to visit a technician as soon as possible for an inspection. One of the mechanics at your favorite auto shop can take a look at your suspension and steering components, which includes looking over the differential.

Services Required for the Differential

One of the most important aspects of caring for the differential is ensuring that the oil is changed on a regular basis. The good news is that, unlike motor oil, you don’t need to do this very often. In most cases, you can expect to require an oil change for the differential once every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. You should check your owner’s manual for exact specifications, or ask your vehicle technician.

How Differential Oil Is Changed

Your mechanic at Kwik Kar will determine the type of differential that your vehicle has and whether it employs a drain plug. The vehicle will be set up on ramps or stands, and the drain bolt will be removed. At this time, the oil will drain out of the differential. The mechanic will replace the bolt and clean up any oil that has spilled out onto the case. 

After this, the mechanic will open the fill bolt and pump the correct type of oil into the differential until it is adequately filled. Next, they will put the fill bolt back in place, tighten it up, and clean up any debris or oil. At that point, the change will be complete and the job done, unless there is something else required at your visit.

Learn More About Differential Servicing

If you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned in this article, you would be best off to see a local mechanic to ensure things are running the way they should. Here at Kwik Kar Richardson, we’d be happy to answer any of your questions or set up an appointment. 

You can reach us by phone at 972-644-1851 or email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.