Car Differential: An expert's overview

Car differential is usually associated with four-wheel drives. It controls the external facet of the drive. A good differential system shows its effectiveness while passing through a curve. Every automobile has three drives:

  • The main drive is the engine
  • The secondary drive is the gearbox
  • The final drive is the differential

This article will unveil important facts about the final drive, which is the differential. The car differential is a component that links the wheels. It is very important to get a good differential system that is intact from its manufacturers. Do ensure to check it is active. German cars usually have good differential systems considering their durability and effectiveness in navigating through curves.

The Functions of a car differential system.

  • It controls the rotation of the rear wheel.
  • A car differential enables a vehicle to take a turn or make a curve effectively
  • It stabilizes a vehicle when it passes through a curve.

The symptoms of a bad car differential

The symptoms of a bad car differential
  • A typical symptom occurs when there is an abnormal noise in times of turning the vehicle.
  • When there is an issue with any of the differential components, the components of the differential include bearings, shaft, gear teeth, sun gear, crown wheel, etc.

How much does it cost to replace a differential?

Replacing the entire differential component is usually very expensive. They are a lot of components that make up the differential system. They include the bearings, shaft, gear teeth, sun gear, and crown wheel, etc. Fixing all the components of the differential system is going to be expensive.  

The cost of fixing the differential varies depending on the quality of the vehicle. Some vehicle's differential cost $200, other vehicle's differential cost $600.If it is a problem with leakage, you need to buy a seal and fix it on the vehicle. Buying a seal will prevent the lubricant from seeping out.

This purchase will cost a small amount of money. If the problem is with the crown wheel, you have to replace the entire differential component. This replacement will help you to ensure the durability of the differential.

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Common questions about car differential (FAQ)

What is the principle of differential?

It works with a rotational principle because it spins or revolves. It rotates on the air space or quota. Once the differential is disconnection from the engine to the wheel, the main drive and the secondary drive will transmit power.

The final drive, which is the differential, will not transmit for the vehicle to move. At this point, you will be accelerating the vehicle, but it will not move.

Assembled differential

Why do you need a differential?

A differential is essential for the effective movement of a vehicle and its durability. It also helps to make an effective curve when taking a turn. With a good differential, you can take a turn with ease.A good differential system will stabilize a vehicle when you go through a curve at high speed in a route unknown to you.If you have a bad differential system, you might summersault.

What is the difference between car differential and transmission?

The car differential is a mechanical component, while the transmission is a system. Transmission is when two things meet to diffuse power. The difference between both is little.

What does a differential do when a car is cornering?

When a vehicle is cornering, which entails passing through a curve or taking a turn, the differential stabilizes the motion. In most cars, the effective part of the differential in the rear. When passing through a curve, you turn on the front differential and the steering control. Then, the differential rotates the rear-drive to maintain the same level of speed without slipping.

How do you know if your car needs differential fluid?

There will be an abnormal noise from that axis, especially when driving on gear three or four. Gear one and two is secondary drive transmission. At gear 3 or 4, the differential takes effective motion. It enhances the momentum of the car. The differential helps the car stabilize while driving and makes you more comfortable when moving.

Do I need differential service on my car?

The differential lasts for a long time and does not need servicing. You should ensure that at the due time, you replace the differential fluid. If you notice an abnormal noise or leakage on the wheels and the fluid is dripping, you must replace the seals and refill the fluid to the maximum level.

What causes a car differential to break?

 Rear Differential Repairs

A break to a car's differential can occur due to some mechanisms like material handling, quality control, and material failure. A material can fail at any time. The differential consists of the addendum and dedendum teeth. If any of them breaks, it will cause the differential to fail.

The differential also consists of bearings that rotate. If any of them fails due to excess friction, it will cause the differential to break. You cannot pinpoint what could be a direct cause of a differential breaking. No one will bring out the component and hit it with an object.

The materials used in building the differential are prone to expiring under usage or motion. It has a duration where it is bound to last, but they wear out due to them transmitting kinetic energy to heat energy.

Does changing car differential fluid make a difference?

Yes, it makes a great difference. When the viscosity in the fluid is high, the differential will last for a long time.  When the viscosity is low, it means the fluid's texture has dropped. It will no longer lubricate the differential. It will let friction come into the differential. Draining out the old fluid and putting a new one will enhance the differential.

Can you drive with a bad car differential?

Yes, you can cover some distance. It is worthy of note that the differential does not completely break down. The only case of a complete breakdown is when one of its components is broken.

If a component in the differential breaks, you will not be able to drive the vehicle. Your vehicle will give you a warning sign that there is an issue with the differential. When you get a warning sign, you can drive the vehicle to a nearby technician to fix it.

Can I drive with a broken front differential?

 Broken car differential

No, you cannot drive a vehicle when your front differential breaks. This damage has to do with the transmission. When the rear shaft shuts down, it cannot transmit power.  The differential links the wheels in a vehicle; if it breaks, you cannot drive it. This inability to drive is because the transmission will not take place.

What happens if you do not change the car differential fluid?

The differential fluid is the lubricant that helps in getting rid of excess friction in the differential system. Without the fluid, the differential component can become damaged due to excess friction. A quality differential fluid can last for 5 to 10years.

Using a differential fluid of less quality will serve for a short period. Negligence of the differential fluid will cost you more damage. Always ensure to check your fluid after the stipulated period and replace it. Changing the fluid when the viscous is low will makes the lubricant more effective.

How long does a differential last?

A quality differential can last for a long time. It can stay up to 5 to 10years.

Can you fix a rear differential?

Yes, you can fix it. Please take it to a technician to have it fixed.

What happens if the rear differential goes out while driving?

When this happens, transmission cannot occur. Therefore, you cannot drive the vehicle. The vehicle will be towed and taken to a technician to fix it.

What does a bad car differential sound like?

It sounds like a humming noise.

How do I quiet my car differential?                                                              

You cannot quiet your differential when it is having problems. However, you can only replace it.

How do you know if car differential fluid is low?

There is no specific gauge for checking if the differential fluid is low. At intervals, go to a car dealer shop where you can check the lubricant. There are two points associated with the differentia; the feeding point and the discharge point. The car dealer will open the feeding point and check the level of fluid. It is the manual gauge. There is no electronic gauge for checking the differential fluid.

Can I drive with a rear car differential leak?

Driving with a rear differential leak will only damage the differential more unless the vehicle is driven to a short distance.

How hard is it to rebuild a  car differential?

A differential unit comprises many components that include the shaft, bearings, etc. You must assemble the internal and external components. It takes a lot of time and materials to rebuild a differential.

Can I fix my car differential myself?

No, consult a technician.

Best practices

The lubricant in the differential lasts long but in the space of 3 to 4 years. Take your vehicle to a technician to test the viscosity of the lubricant and if it needs change.  As a car owner, if you notice fluid at a point at parking your car, take it to a technician let them have it checked to know where the fluid is coming from.

Furthermore, the leak may be a brake fluid leak or something else. You should read our article on brake fluid and how to change your brake fluid. Leakage of fluid can result in excess friction to the differential system.

The differential system does not work well with friction present. Understand the model and design of your vehicle and the kind of fluid that goes with it. Perfect knowledge of this will help you sustain the life of your car's differential.

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