Details About Differentials

Differential gear

What are they, and what does it mean when they need to be replaced?

What do differentials do, exactly?

A differential set of gears allows you to go around a corner without your wheels skipping. Meaning, the way the gears turn on a curve keeps your wheels on the ground.

The differential has a set of gears inside of another set of gears that allows one wheel to spin faster while the other one’s going slower as you take a corner or sharp curve. They help you to smoothly go around the corners and provide power to turn the wheels from the driveline.

How do you know when a differential is going bad? 

Sometimes we can tell by the color of the fluid, it will start to change. We may also notice small flecks of metal around a magnet that is usually mounted on the inside. 

For you, the driver or passenger, you’ll hear a noise coming from the wheels that sounds like a “whir-whir-whir-whir”.

Awareness is what will help you

Some people will get used to the new noise instead of bringing their car in to be looked at. Then, they’ll continue to drive the car and tune out the noise it’s making.

When a technician gets in the car with them to do a little road test, the tech will be able to hear the differential problem immediately.

How expensive is differential repair?

Differentials, for the most part, are fairly maintenance free as long as you’re changing fluids regularly. We see a lot of service work on differentials, but not a lot of repairs. Service has to do more with maintaining your fluids and making sure there are no leaks.

Expense for differential repair can increase if you have a noise coming from the tire areas. It will get even higher if you ignore or tune out those noises. If you go too long, then you may end up doing damage to the gears… and when you do damage to the gears, then it gets very expensive. 

When you discover a fairly new noise and bring it in, we can get in there and just replace the bearings, rebuild it, and put it back together. It’s not horrible. The point here is not to let it go for too long. It’s an important part of the vehicle and it affects many other parts and systems in your car.

Your safety on the road is so important. We want to be the team that takes care of your car.

Schedule your next service with us today.

Our Reviews

Tom's Automotive Service
Reviewed from Google

4.6 out of 5 stars

Willie Wood
Willie Wood

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 week ago

We have used this facility several times since our move to Seattle and have been pleased each time. On this visit, we had some minor pre-trip items for them to address, which they did promptly and at no charge. They advised me on some other issues, and we really trust their judgment. Very pleasant people!

Fes Naqvi
Fes Naqvi

5 out of 5 stars

posted 3 weeks ago

Great service and a great crew. Best in West Seattle!

Ren S
Ren S

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

I had some troubles with my car and Tom's was more than happy to take a look. Staff was extremely easy to communicate with and flexible with scheduling.

https://www.facebook.com/toms.auto/videos/10155784313208735/

This is a video of an axle that goes into the front differential of a four wheel drive vehicle. There should be no movement but as you can see here there’s quite a bit. No bueno!!