There are a lot of drivers in Reno who are due for a differential service but had never heard of a differential before. With front-wheel drive being so common in Nevada these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Reno folks don’t even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for years, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the top of your mind. It’s not uncommon for people in Reno to not know they have a differential, let alone know that it needs service.
For a better understanding of what a differential does, think about a track at any Nevada high school. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. Arranging the starting lines like that compensates for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.
The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside vehicle wheel and the outside wheel in a turn because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.
It’s a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds (1,400 and 2,800 kg) – trucks even more. Power from the engine goes through the transmission to the differential which routes it to the drive wheels.
That’s a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Special additives are required for some kinds of differentials. Those additives break down over time. Manufacturers recommend intervals for when to replace your differential fluid.
Your knowledgeable Wayne’s Automotive Center service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He’ll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.
Your Wayne’s Automotive Center service advisor can look up the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual.
At Wayne’s Automotive Center, we’ve been providing quality automotive service for our valued Reno customers since 1984. If you need to schedule differential maintenance or any other automotive service, give us a call at 775-356-6996.