Updated at: 20-07-2022 - By: Lucas

Driving a car with a faulty differential can be quite dangerous. Many drivability issues can be avoided by drivers who are aware of the warning signs and symptoms of a faulty differential.

The wheel systems of a car are handled to a large extent by the differential of that vehicle. The engine wheels receive power from the transmission and engine via the differential.

A differential, as opposed to having all four wheels revolve at the same speed, improves the precision with which a car may be driven. After noticing some odd noises or sensations from your wheels, you should have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic right away.

A faulty front differential can lead to an accident if you keep driving. A back differential is standard on all rear-wheel-drive automobiles. These vehicles have transaxles, or front differentials, installed.

Rear and front differentials are standard equipment on all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles. Regardless matter the type of differential in your automobile, you should always check to make sure it is functioning properly.

Does a faulty differential prevent you from driving?

With a differential, you can drive, but be aware of the potentially catastrophic consequences.

At the point of abruptly ceasing, the damages can be more severe. However, the short answer is no, you cannot drive with a broken differential. The entire drivetrain system will be damaged if you drive with a faulty differential.

What are the symptoms of a bad differential?

Driving With Bad Front Differential (2)

As with many other mechanical components, a faulty or malfunctioning rear differential may show signals to alert the driver.

Excessive noise

It doesn’t matter if it’s the rear or the front differential that fails; the noise it makes will be annoying. As the vehicle slowed down, accelerated, or around a bend, the noises gradually changed.

Carriage or axle bearings that have worn out or been damaged are to blame for a whining or buzzing noise coming from the vehicle. When it makes a howling and whining sound, worn out pinion and ring ears or worn or damaged gears are the most common causes.

When a pinion and ring are worn or scored out of alignment, they are more likely to fail.

Additionally, a clunking sound will be heard when shifting from parking to driving if the pinion and ring have too much backlash or clearance.

You can use a telescope to determine if the noise is coming from a real axle or a differential by focusing on the noise.

The axle must also be inspected for possible damage caused by a failing rear axle bearing when the differential needs repair or service. A faulty rear axle will typically make a lot of noise.

Differential Failure due to lack of lubrication

To begin, check for any signs of leakage in the rear differential gasket. The next step is to inspect the back region for leaks. It is possible for the pinion gear seals to leak, which will cause oil and debris to accumulate below and between the seals and the brake system.

Differential overheating

Overheating differentials are caused by insufficient lubrication, worn out gears, backlash between the pinion and ring, and excessive preload while towing a big load or trailer. The most obvious indicator of low braking fluid is that the differential begins to heat up.

Challenges in handling the wheels

If you’re having trouble controlling the wheels, it’s more likely to happen in a corner. The differential and other surrounding elements, including the universal bearing and propeller, should be checked if this occurs.


Differential difficulties commonly manifest themselves as vibrations. In this case, automobiles are involved. The differential should be checked if there is any vibration.

What might happen if you drive with a bad differential?

Driving With Bad Front Differential (3)

Driving with a defective differential increases the likelihood of further damage, and the situation could get worse if you abruptly stop. In addition, the entire drain system for the hard disk will be harmed.

What makes a differential go bad

It is possible for a differential, which is a simple mechanical device, to malfunction. They consist of:

  • Lack of oil
  • Using the wrong oil type
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Driving recklessly

How long can you drive with a failing or noisy differential?

A poor differential can be driven with, but only for a short period of time. Between 10 days and 10 years is the most common time frame you can utilize it for. This is very dependent on the state of the bearing. Although it’s necessary to replace the differential as soon as possible if its condition is worse.

What happens when your differential goes out while driving?

When a car’s differential fails, odd noises will be heard. It’s normal for the engine’s noises to go louder or quieter as you increase or decrease the vehicle’s speed.

The drive shaft will vibrate if the universal differential joints fail or wear out during driving. Vibrations are amplified when you press the gas pedal to speed up the vehicle.

The vibration will be exacerbated if the differential fluid spills.

How much does it cost to fix a differential?

Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, fixing differentials might cost anywhere from $200 to $400. Some cars may require $400 to $800 in repair expenses if they are severely damaged and need to be dismantled or overhauled.


Most drivers have differential problems at some point. A number of causes can lead to them, including a lack of oil, a rash of driving, and using the improper oil.

Symptoms such as vibration and noises can be caused by them. Here are some suggestions for extending the life of your rear differential. Use only the appropriate oil and perform an oil change on a regular basis to keep your vehicle in peak condition.