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What a Differential Does, and When to Change Differential Fluid

If you are unfamiliar with the differential in your vehicle, you are not alone.  Many car owners have no idea where or what this part of the vehicle does.  As such, they have never even considered having the differential fluid changed. But this part of the car places an important role in ensuring that you get where you need to be, as smoothly as possible.

What is the Differential?

DifferentialThe differential, also known as the gearbox, is a part of the drive shaft.  It comprises a set of gears designed to multiply the torque from the transmission and send it to the rear tires. This then allows the tires to spin at two different rates. You may have one or two differentials.  This depends on whether your vehicle is a four-wheel drive, a front wheel drive or a rear wheel drive.

Anytime you have gears there is going to be grinding.  If ignored, these gears can become worn. More so, if the gear box is not properly lubricated, then the natural metal-to-metal contact will wear down the surfaces and create heat which can cause the breakdown of the fluid in the case. However, with the proper care and maintenance, you can protect the differential.

When Do You Need to Change Differential Oil?

How often the differential oil needs to be replaced depends on how hard you drive your vehicle. For most drivers, the differential oil should be changed between 60,000 and 80,000 miles. However, if you use your vehicle for towing, drive in muddy conditions, or drive it like you are competing in the Indy 500, then you will need to change it every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. To get the full use of your differential oil, opt for synthetic oil from your local AMSOIL dealer, The House of Syn. Synthetic oil is formulated to help you get the most from your vehicle, while extending the amount of time between oil changes.

Do I Have to Have the Differential oil Changed by a Mechanic?

The good news is that it is possible to take the DIY approach to changing the differential oil. But in many cases, you will need a lift. If your vehicle a low-clearance one, then you will need blocks to stabilize it. Keep in mind that the process can be a bit arduous so time and patience, will also help!

Basic Steps of Changing the Differential Oil

After putting the vehicle on lifts or jack stands, find the differential bolt. Loosen and remove it.

  • Give the oil time to drain out. Meanwhile, wipe off the drain bolt. When oil has drained, replace the bolt.
  • Find and remove the gear oil fill bolt.
  • Slowly pour in the gear oil; filling till it reaches the recommended level.
  • Reinstall fill hole bolt, being sure it is tightened.
  • Wipe off any excess oil on the case.

And there you have it! Your differential is ready to roll again.

If you have questions about the status of your differential(s), be sure to talk to your mechanic. They can check it out and let you know what, if anything, needs to be done.