GIC Car Clinic Differential Repair & Maintenance

If you have ever sat behind a large truck in traffic, you may have noticed a large, round object underneath it. And if you did, you probably just assumed that is was a component only found on large trucks, SUV’s or other tow vehicles. That large, pumpkin shaped component is called a differential and even if you don’t drive a truck, your vehicle has one. What does a differential do? When you turn a corner in your car, the outside wheels have a longer distance to travel than the inside wheels. This means that the outside wheels have to turn a bit faster to keep up with the inside wheels and ensure your car turns the corner without hopping or dragging one wheel behind it. The differential ensures that this happens and that your vehicle takes turns effortlessly and safely.

Whether you have a front or rear wheel drive vehicle, your car is equipped with a differential. Rear wheel drive vehicles have a differential mounted in the rear on the axle. Front wheel drive vehicles have their differential inside the transaxle. And, if you have an all-wheel drive vehicle, your car will have both front and rear differentials as well as a transfer case to help compensate for speed differences between the front and rear.

Obviously, differentials are built to be strong and to handle a heavy load. That is, as long as they are properly maintained and serviced. Differentials contain fluid that cools and lubricates them. This fluid must be kept at a certain level and it must be changed periodically. If your fluid level is too low, your differential will run hot and wear prematurely. Your manufacturer will have included fluid requirements, levels and replacement schedules in your car’s owner’s manual.

Even with routine maintenance, your differential could wear out and need replaced. One of the first warning signs of this is a noise coming from your axle area. If this noise is ignored, it could lead to differential failure and you could lose control of your vehicle if the differential seizes up. Not only could this damage your differential, it could also damage your axle, driveshaft or transmission.

If you are unsure as to when your differential was last serviced, bring your car to GIC Car Clinic today and let a qualified professional inspect your differential including your u-joints as well.