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What Is Differential Fluid and What Does it Do?

Your car, truck, or SUV’s differential fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles depending on what your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. Most people don’t think about differential fluid; it isn’t on their minds like oil changes are. Still, this fluid is crucial to your automobile’s gearbox, which is why Righter’s Auto Repair offers differential services. Let’s talk about differential fluid and how it helps your vehicle every time you drive it.

What Is the Differential?

Your gearbox is officially called the differential. This part works with the driveshaft to translate transmission rotation to the drive wheels. You’ll find a variety of gears inside the differential, hence it’s other name “gearbox.” If you drive a vehicle where the drive wheels are located away from the transmission, i.e. on a different end of the vehicle, or if you drive a 4WD or AWD vehicle, you likely have a differential. In the case of the 4WD and AWD, you may have differentials on both the front and rear wheels. Check your owner’s manual to see if your automobile has a differential or differentials.

What Is Differential Oil?

Where there are gears there is friction. Enter differential oil to help prevent that friction. Gears run together, and the harder they work the hotter they get. As with your vehicle’s motor oil, differential oil lubricates the differential gears to reduce the friction they generate and, thereby, the heat. In fact, differential oil is a lot like motor oil with some differences. Differential oil is thicker than motor oil and it’s also more viscous. It sticks to the gears to coat them and penetrates the inner gear workings. Don’t think of differential oil as motor oil, however. They are classified separately and have different roles.

What Does Differential Oil Do?

As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, differential oil lubricates the differential gears. As the oil ages, it can break down and become less effective. Old, broken down, or even leaking differential oil can damage the gears. Common problems associated with failing differential oil include gears that overheat and lockup or gear breakage. This is why it’s important to check your owner’s manual to see if you have a gearbox and, if so, when you need to have a differential oil change. This prevents expensive automotive repairs, although we can repair and even replace your gearbox if it has been damaged.

Righter’s Auto Repair is located in Grand Ledge, MI, and we can be meet all of your automotive transmission needs, including differential oil changes.

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