What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Rear Differential

Have you noticed vibrations or peculiar noises coming from your car? It’s possible that your rear differential must be damaged or defective. 

Your vehicle’s rear differential is a crucial component that allows your car to go in the right direction. This is made possible by handling the wheel system perfectly. In other words, the differential transmits power from the engine and the transmission to each wheel. The rear differential ensures proper control of your vehicle and allows the driver to drive in the direction he wants. 

Any defect in the rear differential indicates bad news and lots of repair for your car. So, let’s look at some of the symptoms that show your vehicle’s differential is not working properly. This way, you will be able to figure out when the rear differential gets worn out and get them fixed on time.

Defective Rear Differential: Symptoms You Must Notice

Like any other component, a defective differential gives away signs to notify the car owner about the issue at hand. By understanding the symptoms, you will be able to get it repaired immediately and save a lot of money.

If you ignore the warning signals and keep driving around with a faulty differential, you may end up causing serious accidents. The symptoms include:

1. Vibrations

If you start noticing unusual vibrations coming from the rear wheels of your vehicle, it indicates your differential has worn out. These vibrations tend to increase in intensity when you speed up and decrease when you slow down.

These early signs are an indication that you must visit a local mechanic and get the differential repaired after a thorough inspection. 

2. Overheating

The rear differential tends to get overheated if you’re using the wrong type of oil. This can happen even when the differential fluid level decreases below the required levels. The other reasons why your differential might get overheated are:

  • Lack of lubricating fluid. 
  • Worn out or damaged gears. 
  • Overloading. 
  • Too much bearing preload. 

3. Fluid leaks

In certain cases, the joints connected with the differential get worn out or crack, causing the lubricant to leak. Here you will notice a pool of lubricant fluid underneath the rear end of your vehicle after you have parked for a long time. 

4. Gear grinding

If the differential is faulty, your vehicle’s gear system will slowly start to wear down over time. You will also notice the grinding gears making a humming noise that gets even louder when you suddenly press down the accelerator or brake.

To top it off, these worn-out gears create a weird motion while spinning the drive shaft. Once you notice these warning signs, it is best to inspect your differential and transmission to figure out the issue early on.

5. Makes weird noises

Irrespective of whether your vehicle is using a front or rear differential, it will start making humming, whining, or whirring noises when it gets damaged. These noises tend to gradually increase while turning around a corner, accelerating, or pressing down on the brakes. 

The whining noises are an indication that there is something wrong with your differential and must be lubricated properly. Using the wrong type of oil that contains impurities can also prevent the differential parts from being lubricated well.

This will cause the gears and metallic parts to grind together to make annoying noises. The best way to fix this is to take your vehicle to the local auto repair shop and get it repaired immediately. 

How To Prolong The Lifespan Of The Rear Differential?

Now that you’re aware of the symptoms you need to look out for if your rear differential fails, let’s find out how you can increase the lifespan of this key component.

Use the right oil

While servicing, take note to use only the recommended oil instructed by the manufacturer. Using the wrong type of oil can cause issues, which can further escalate if you have no plans of changing it. 

Regular fluid change

One of the most important ways to extend the lifespan of your differential is to change the differential fluid regularly. This fluid is more viscous than the motor oil, so you need to change it when it reaches between 30,000 to 50,000 miles. 

Drive safe

As the rear differential is located underneath the vehicle, either at the front of the rear end, you need to drive carefully to avoid damaging it. Take extra care when you hit the rough terrains to keep the differential from hitting on the rocks and causing leakages. 

Is It Possible To Repair The Rear Differential On Your Own?

One of the main issues regarding faulty differential is determining whether you need to repair or replace the entire rear differential. You will notice one wheel starts spinning at a higher speed even when you drive normally.

Another major indication is that your vehicle starts vibrating, especially when you take turns even at a steady speed. Once you diagnose the issue at hand, you will be able to figure out whether simple repair work will do or if you need a replacement. 

Repairing the rear differential is a complex task that requires specialized tools to get the job done properly. An average car owner might find it difficult to identify the damage or even fix the repairs. But if you are skilled, you can fix it on your own. Or else, it’s advisable to get the right diagnosis and repair works done by a professionally skilled mechanic. 

Final Thoughts

Even before your differential breaks down completely, it’ll give you hints by making whirring noises, or you start noticing leaks under your vehicle. If these signs are ignored, each extra mile will cost a huge amount in repairs down the lane. Also, if any of these symptoms go unnoticed, the differential will break down completely, leading to serious accidents. 

The engine power doesn’t reach your wheels when the differential fails, or the differential gets completely locked up. These issues will keep you from having proper control over your wheels.

Based on the road conditions and the speed at which you are driving, you may put your life at risk. So, when you notice any of the symptoms discussed above, it is advisable to get this key component fixed by a professional mechanic soon. 

Liam

Hi, I'm the initiator and writer of this blog. Cars were and will be my first love, and my favorite hobby, that's why I decided to start this blog and write about my discoveries and techniques to improve my cars or repair them.