The rear differential is an important car part which performs the function of directing the engine power at the wheels. This gear system is placed at the back of rear-drive cars. Whenever an automobile takes a turn, the wheels need to rotate at different speeds. It is the differential that controls the rotational speed of the wheels. It not only transmits power from the engine to the wheels but also allows them to rotate at differential speeds. It slows down the rotational speed of the transmission for the last time before it hits the wheels of the vehicle. If this device is not functioning properly, you may hear unusual car noises especially when you turn corners. The cost of a rear differential varies depending on the make of the vehicle. While the cost of repairing a rear differential could be anywhere between $600 to $2,000, cost incurred in repairing or replacing it may again vary depending on the model and also the type of differential.
The cost of repairing a damaged differential repair could be anywhere between six hundred dollars to a couple of thousands. The repair cost will depend on the type or the make of the vehicle. It will not only depend on the type of vehicle you own but also on the extent of damage or the nature of the problem. The cost of repairs would definitely vary depending on the extent of damage to this gear system. There are different types of differential mechanisms. The commonly used mechanisms are locking differential and limited slip differential. Car repairs are required immediately in case of problems in the limited slip differential mechanism.
Rear Differential Problems
The basic signs that indicate a damaged differential are unusual car noises. If you hear humming, squeaking or growling noises as your vehicle turns, you must get it checked. The differential is a complex piece of machinery with many gears and teeth entwined in each other. The orientation and positioning of these parts is important. So is the need for added lubrication. Any fault in the same could result in improper contact between the gear teeth, thereby causing friction and damage. In the initial stages, it is the contact between the gear teeth that causes the humming sounds. The repair cost would be significantly high if this problem is ignored. It could seriously damage the ring and the pinion.
The noise could also arise from the drive shaft universal joints that join the transmission to the differential. Damage to these universal joints could be the reason behind the stress on the differential. If the U-Joints are damaged, the gears would have to work harder and are bound to get worn-out. Damaged universal joints could give rise to vibration especially at high speeds. The vibration could either be felt throughout the vehicle or may be restricted just to the floor. One may also hear squealing noise on accelerating. Another problem is leakage of rear differential fluid. If the fluid levels drop substantially due to the leakage, it could give rise to noise. Problems could also arise if low power is transmitted to the wheels especially when one accelerates the vehicle. If you hear any such noises, you must get the differential replaced or repaired.
The key to minimize the rear differential cost is to have some idea about the type of sounds that may be coming from the damaged differential. Many a time, people ignore the noise, confusing it with regular tire and engine sounds. This is the case if the sound coming from the differential is in the nature of humming rather than wheezing and moaning. With the passage of time, increased friction from the unattended differentials could cause the humming sound to change into a growling sound.
According to automobile experts, tire noises change with the surface on which the vehicle is being driven. This is in contrast with faulty differential noise which remains constant despite the drive surface. In case the differential is damaged, noise is heard only when the vehicle takes a turn. You must understand that the differential is a very complex piece of machinery. It is advised that such problems must be brought to the immediate notice of a qualified car mechanic.
As mentioned earlier, the repair cost varies depending on the vehicle make and the extent of damage. While fixing up the fluid leakage would suffice in some cases, at times repair cost could go up due to damaged pinions and gear teeth. A vehicle that is well-maintained should have a fault-free differential for at least a few hundred thousand miles.
This was some information on differential repair and maintenance. I hope that this article provided you with a good idea on the probable causes of differential problems along with ways to identify faulty differentials.