Updated at: 06-08-2022 - By: Lucas

The differential is a critical component of a car. There are many drivers who are unaware of its existence, and those who are aware, do not give it any weight. Care must be taken to keep the differential in good condition.

What does a car differential do?

Distribution, transformation, and transmission of rotation are the primary functions of the differential. In a nutshell, the differential is responsible for transferring engine torque to the tires. Torsion of two elements with differing angular speeds can be provided via the differential.

With each revolution of the device’s wheel, the other wheel begins to rotate counterclockwise. The driveshaft, on the other hand, must be restrained. Each of the satellites is like a gear in this scenario, rotating on its own axis. When the engine is started, shifted into gear, and shifted out of gear, the driveshaft begins to rotate and convey the angular momentum of the wheel.

As a result, one wheel slows down while the other speeds up during a turn. Sliding will not occur as a result of this. In addition, each wheel rotates at a pace that is safe for the vehicle to travel. In a straight path, no special steps are required. An same ratio of rotation is transmitted to each wheel by the differential in this scenario.

When driving on a slippery terrain, a side skid may occur due to the low clutch force applying on the towing wheel, which results in a wasted rotation of the vehicle’s towing wheel.

Differentials, on the other hand, have essentially no drawbacks in current automobiles. When it comes to differentials, strict adjustment, either manually or mechanically, is what defines their design. A system of directional stability and stabilization is also supplied on current cars, which optimizes the torque.

Where is the differential located?

Car Differential Cost

In the transfer case of AWD (all-wheel-drive) vehicles. FWD Four Wheel Drive in the axle housing of 4×4 vehicles (front or back). In the transmission of vehicles with front-wheel drive Used in the rear axle housing of cars and trucks that only have rear-wheel drive.

Differential types

Differential types for automobiles are based on planetary gearboxes, which employ a unique transmission. A variety of devices can be used in this situation:

  • conical
  • worm
  • cylindrical.

Between the wheels or the axles, the most common form of car differential is a worm differential. Additionally, there are the following two forms of differential to be discussed:

Symptoms of a bad car differential

It’s possible to see signs of differential failure.

  • Excessive noise level;
  • Leaks of the lubricating fluid;
  • Strong knocks and bumps in the transmission.

Checking the crankcase temperature is the best course of action in most circumstances when you hear noises coming from the engine. The ideal temperature range is between 55 and 60 degrees Celsius (131 140 degrees Fahrenheit). In this situation, you should examine the crankcase’s oil supply and quality to see if the temperature is above specified levels.

Checking the differential if the noise persists after you’ve verified and rectified the crankcase problem is an option. Bearings and gear teeth may be to blame for the problem. The differential can be fixed by adjusting or replacing it.

How to check a bad car differential?

There is a simple method for determining if a differential is failing. In order to get started, you’ll need some tools and a helping hand.

As soon as you have the transmission in neutral, use the jack to raise the vehicle off the ground. Alternate the direction of the wheel’s rotation. While you’re at it, have your aide turn the opposite wheel. You can tell if the differential has issues by looking at the type of rotation it undergoes. The differential is working well if you can rotate the wheels in different directions without encountering any complications, such as loud knocks or squeaks.

If the wheels only move in one direction and you can hear knocks and noises in the opposite direction, then the differential is obviously broken. It’s best to seek help from a car service if you can’t figure out the problem yourself. You may rely on a team of highly trained mechanics to detect the problem and fix it in a short period of time.

What are the causes of a bad differential?

Car Differential Cost-3

The satellite axis is the most commonly worn component. Those who enjoy high-speed driving are more likely to notice this early on. There are various steps to the damaging process in this scenario.

  • Bad lubrication quality of nodes. It is no secret that during extreme braking, classic lubrication schemes lose efficiency, which is why satellites do not have enough oil;
  • Overheating of the working units. Due to overheating, the hardness of the outer layer of the satellite axis decreases, which causes rapid wear;
  • Failures. Over time, failures occur that lead to a change in the position of the differential elements. As a result, the key components of the device will damage. In situations where the wear level reaches a critical point, the axle is broken and the gears fall out of the differential. For this reason, the integrity of the transmission compromised.

To keep the differential in peak condition, the owner needs to keep an eye on it. It is well-known that not only the engine oil, but also the transmission fluid, must be checked. The integrity of the oil seals and other seals may be affected if you don’t notice a fall in the oil level in time. Damage to the differential and satellites could occur as a direct result.

Can the car differential be repaired?

Yes, that’s the quick answer. If necessary, the unit is disassembled to analyze the condition of its components before the repair may begin. You can save money on differential repairs if you pick the right business, according to experience.

Can the differential be disabled?

That’s a question that some drivers inquire about. Cross-country driving is made easier by this vehicle component. The differential ensures that the power unit’s rotational torque is distributed evenly to the wheels. Basically, disabling the differential reduces the car’s ability to travel over long distances. For wheel-drive vehicles, this is an option.

How much does it cost to repair or replace the car differential?

Front and rear differential repairs will cost varying amounts depending on what needs to be done. The differential fluid seals are typically all that need to be replaced in the vast majority of cases. This easy repair can cost anywhere from $180 to $400, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

Between $450 and $800 is the expense of removing the differential and doing a thorough inspection.

If you need a total differential replacement, you may expect to pay anything from $1,000 to $6,000. There is a big difference in price between a new and a used differential because of this choice.