What Is a Differential and Do You Have One?

Posted January 15, 2017 9:10 AM

With front-wheel drive being so common these days in , , the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most drivers don't even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don't need to be serviced for years, so it's understandable that it's not something on the top of customers' minds. It's not uncommon for drivers to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

Call Dipietro Tyre Center in at  for information about differential service, or stop by our , , auto center at , .

To better understand what a differential does, think about our local high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It's a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the , area weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds (1,400 and 2,800 kg) – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.

The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So vehicle manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

The professionals at Dipietro Tyre Center will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then they’ll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Dipietro Tyre Center service advisor can look up the vehicle manufacture's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual. Give us a call at  for more information about your differential service.

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