Differentials lets a vehicle to turn effectively, reducing the speed of the inside wheel and increasing the speed of the outside wheel to giving smooth cornering. In order to keep the gears of the differential from overheating and breaking down because of friction, differential oil is used to help preserve critical parts. Differential work best when the gears of the differential are operating together smoothly.
How differential system works:
The differential redirects the power produced by the vehicle’s engine toward the wheels. The differential also handles the managing the rotational speed of the transmission and lets the wheels to spin and different speed to allow for better cornering. A car without a differential would have the wheels spinning at the same peed, forcing one to slip in order to corner. Front-wheel drive cars have one differential at the front of the car and rear-wheel drive car have one differential at the back of the car. Many four-wheel drive cars have three differentials, one for each axle and one to modify the speed of the wheels between the front and back of the car.
Common reasons why this happen:
- Old differential oil.Depending on the car, differential oil should be replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Old differential engine oil can pick up metal shavings which over time, could cause serious damage to the gears in the differential.
- Water in the differential oil.While it is had to have water enter the differential, it is a possibility, especially in off-road car that may travel through deep water. On top of the differential is a breather tube that lets hot gases to escape if required, cooling the differential. If the differential is submerged in water, the rapid temperature change may make the breather tube to let water into the differential. This will contaminate the oil and if left unchecked will create increased friction and may damage gears.
How it’s done:
The mechanic will raise the vehicle and check the differential for any leaks or superficial damage. In order to take out the contaminated oil, the mechanic must drain it from the differential.
If the mechanic feel that the oil is old, he or she will drain the oil and check to it to see if there are any metal filings that may have damaged the gears in the differential. Depending on the amount of metal shavings in the oil, the mechanic may want to check the gears for damage. The mechanic should then plug the differential and refill it will clean oil.
If the mechanic feels that there may be water in the differential oil, he or she will start by draining the contaminated oil. Oil with water in it typically looks gray and cloudy. The mechanic will then change the contaminated oil with fresh oil. He or she may also drain some fresh oil again to ensure all of the water has been removed from the differential
In the situation of all repairs, the mechanic will make sure that he or she changes the contaminated oil with fresh oil before leaving. The mechanic should also start the car and inspect the differential to ensure that there are no new leaks.
How important is this inspection and repair?
Contaminated differential oil, if left unchanged can potentially create more serious issues with the gears in the differential. Contaminated oil may contain metal shavings or water that will increase friction and may damage the teeth on the gears. If you notice any peculiar noises or sensations coming from the differential, you should stop driving the car and have it checked by a mechanic.