Why Changing Differential Fluid Matters: Breaking it Down for Grads of Auto Repair Courses


The mechanical difficulty of making sure a vehicle travels around a corner safely should not be underestimated. It may seem like one of the simpler tasks which a car has to do, but regular maintenance is needed to make sure that it can continue to do so safely.

The differential helps with cornering, and the differential fluid makes sure that it keeps on working. Here’s a breakdown of what it’s all about:

What Is the Differential and Where Can It Be Found?

When a car travels around the corner, the inside wheel is travelling more slowly because it has less distance to cover. The differential works its magic by allowing the wheels to move at different rates. The round-shaped object is found under the back end of the vehicle in rear-wheel drive, and it’s part of the transmission housing in front-wheel drive.


The differential makes sure a car’s wheels can move at different rates when going around a corner

Four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles need differentials at the rear, front, and middle, so these kinds of cars and trucks might require a bit more maintenance by grads from auto repair courses. Differential fluid refers to the oil that lubricates the ring and pinion gears, which work to get the right amount of power sent to each wheel. This fluid makes sure that the metal components avoid wear, giving drivers a far more pleasant journey.

Learning How to Replace Differential Fluid During an Auto Mechanic Course

Mechanics must be aware from the start that differential fluid carries a strong and sometimes unpleasant smell. Make sure that you have suitable work clothing to take on this task. Driving the car for a few minutes beforehand is a good idea, as it allows the oil to warm up.

Secure the vehicle on jack stands or ramps, and find the drain bolt on the differential. Make sure you have a suitable container underneath to collect the old oil, before you then loosen and remove the bolt. The oil will then drain away, and the bolt can be re-fastened once complete. Some differentials may not have a drain plug, so the housing cover will have to be removed. This can make the job a little bit trickier, but grads of an auto mechanic course are still prepared for this task.

Next you must remove the gear oil fill bolt. Its location in the underbody means it’s not possible to pour the differential fluid straight in. A pump must be used to slowly refill it with high-quality oil until the fill hole can’t take any more. After that, it’s just a matter of re-securing the bolt and wiping away any excess residue.

Regular Differential Maintenance Is Important for the Health of a Vehicle

Differential fluid lasts much longer than many other types of vehicle oil, but maintenance periods can vary widely. Estimates range from 19,300 to 80,400 km between fluid replacement, so it’s important to keep an eye on recommendations from individual manufacturers. Regular maintenance is particularly important for off-road vehicles, where the differential is being put under more pressure.

The type of differential fluid used depends on the year, make, and model of the vehicle, and is usually noted in the vehicle handbook. High quality oil will make sure the differential continues to provide a smooth and safe journey for your customer.

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