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Differential

By Andy Y, January 20, 2009

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 a Bad or Failing Differential

  • 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

Differential 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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