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Car encyclopedia

Differential

The differential takes the power (torque) created by the engine and transmits it to the drive axle(s), which makes the wheels rotate. When making a turn, the differential also allows the outside wheel to rotate faster than the inside wheel.

Symptoms of Wear or Failure

  • Clunking when you accelerate or shift between drive and reverse
  • High-pitched howling type of noise
  • Abnormal noise when turning
  • Drag when coasting down the road

Related Repair Advice

  • The differential contains gears and bearings that are lubricated by oil. Like all oils and fluids in a vehicle, it should be changed as recommended by the manufacturer, or more frequently if you use your vehicle to tow or carry heavy loads.
  • The correct fluid type should always be used when servicing the differential
  • Depending on the drivetrain, a vehicle can have up to three differentials. A 2WD system has one; a 4WD system has two; and an AWD system has three.

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