Understanding When Differential Repairs Are Needed

Some motorists may hardly think about the differentials in their cars until a malfunction occurs. Such car owners often incur costly diff repairs that would have been minimised if they had taken action as soon as indications of a problem manifested. However, not many car owners can tell that the diff is developing a problem. This article discusses some of the signs that should prompt you to take your vehicle for diff repair.


You should immediately take your car to a repair shop when you notice that vibrations are coming from its diff. These vibrations will often come from the rear of the vehicle. They can point to a number of possible problems in the diff. For example, the differential gears may have failed, or the bearings in the diff could be having a problem.

Contaminated Oil

Do you change the diff oil by yourself? Observe it closely for any form of debris, such as metal particles. Such contaminants may be an indicator that you took too long to change the oil. The debris may have also entered the system as you topped or replaced the worn oil. Worn diff bearings or gears can also cause the oil to have debris in it. Another possible cause of debris is the use of the wrong type of diff oil. The wrong oil can fail to protect the diff components from metal-on-metal contact. This can cause the components to spall. The wrong oil can also break down prematurely and form sediment.


The check engine light can go on when the diff is overheating. You can confirm that the problem is with the differential when nothing is amiss with the engine oil and coolant levels in the car. The diff can overheat when it is low on oil. It can also overheat if you used the wrong kind of oil when you topped up the fluid. Defective seals can also cause the diff to overheat.


Diff noises can take one of two forms. First, the diff may make noise when you are driving straight. This can be caused by low fluid level, dirt in the fluid, worn gears/bearings or misalignment in the pinions and rings. Diff noises can also occur when the vehicle is turning. This is usually caused by a worn diff casing or defective diff gears.

As you can see, the symptoms of car diff defects can be caused by a variety of factors. It is therefore unwise for you to attempt to fix the problem on your own if you lack the necessary skills. Contact a diff repair expert for a proper diagnosis and repair of your car.