Automotion Reno

Servicing Northern Nevada Car Owners since 1975

The Automotion Guide To Servicing Your Differential

Differential? What’s that? And what’s it for? I’ve been told by my tech that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They’re not uncommon for Reno car owners. A lot of us in Reno don’t know what a differential is or what it’s for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it’s more critical to the operation of your sedan than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your sedan tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back, and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the sedan drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That’s why important preventive maintenance for your sedan needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner’s manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your friendly Automotion service specialist. Automotion can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold Reno weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your car care routine, and your differential. Check your owner’s manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Sparks, hot or cold Nevada weather conditions, and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle’s differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross Nevada streams or waterways, it is essential that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Reno auto repair shops. A smooth ride for Sparks auto owners is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.

Differential Service At Automotion: Viva la Difference

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Every sedan on Nevada interstates has a differential, and it is vital to the proper operation of the vehicle, but most Reno car owners don’t have a clue what it is.

The differential compensates for differing wheel speeds. For example, when you turn, the inside tire on the turn travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel. So the inside wheel of the sedan must move at a slower speed than the outside wheel. Without a differential, the wheels would hop and scrape while turning.

Differential Service At Automotion: Vive ala Difference Have you ever seen the large bugle-shaped object in the middle of the rear axle of a truck? That’s the differential. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located on the back axle. Four-wheel drive vehicles and SUV’s have differentials on both the front and the rear axle.

You might expect that the differential is located on the front axle of a front-wheel drive vehicle. You’d be right. But the differential is called a transaxle on a front-wheel drive vehicle because its location allows it to be combined with the transmission.

In an all-wheel drive vehicle, an additional differential or transfer case is located between the front and rear axles. Differentials are strong: They have to be because of the essential job they do. But those tough parts need proper lubrication. You don’t want your differential to seize up. That results in expensive damage to your sedan.

So you need to have your sedan differential serviced regularly. It’s not a complicated job. At Automotion in Reno we’ve been servicing differentials for 37 years. The used lubricating fluid is simply drained and then replaced. Some vehicles require specific additives in the differential fluid; your Reno service center will ensure you are getting what your sedan needs.

The intervals in time or mileage for servicing your differential vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Check with your owner’s manual or Automotion to find out how often your sedan differential needs to be serviced.

Generally, however, front-wheel drive vehicles need their differential serviced more often than rear-wheel drive vehicles. Also, if you spend a lot of time off-road or on Sparks area dirt or gravel roads, or if you drive through water, you will need to service your differential more often than the standard recommendation – check with your friendly Automotion service specialist.

Preventive maintenance for your differential is good car care that can spare you costly repair bills. Knowing what your differential is and how it operates is essential and will help you understand why this is good auto advice. Remember, take care of your sedan, and it will take care of you.