Details About Differentials

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
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4.7 out of 5 stars

Katie Melton
Katie Melton

5 out of 5 stars

posted 4 days ago

I have nothing but good things to say about Tom's Auto! I had stopped by before and they helped with my windshield wipers, free of charge and without having been a paying customer before. That's just one example of many--they are incredibly professional, friendly and trustworthy, and they've 100% earned my business for life. They seem to genuinely want to help their clients, and to educate them on the problems. I've NEVER had a report with photos from any car-related company...ever! I love that I found a local business I can support, that I can trust and that's only a few minutes away 🙂 Thank you!

aliyah a
aliyah a

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 week ago

My car is older, a 2005 PT Cruiser and from what I was told by a previous mechanic not the easiest to work on. Tom's has kept it running very good since I started taking it there, much better than before. The professionalism and customer service are top notch as well. Never had one interaction that I could say was off or bad. And I love the lockbox option for your key if you have to pick up your vehicle after hours. I've lost my back up key so the lockbox was a lifesaver. Call or email them when you need something done. You'll be happy you did.

Lawrence Reid
Lawrence Reid

5 out of 5 stars

posted 2 days ago

They were really great with their Covid set up/ distancing and cleaning measures as well as great communicating with me. Great experience all around.

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!!