Differential Repairs & Services

What is a Differential On a Car?

In order for your car to turn properly—no matter if you have a front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive car or truck—differentials are crucial. Differentials are mechanical devices in your drivetrain that use gears to split engine torque two different ways, allowing each output to rotate at different revolutions per minute (RPMs).

As the last stop for your engine’s energy before reaching your wheels, differentials slow the rotational speed of the transmission while allowing your wheels to spin at different speeds. Differentials typically sit between two wheels on the front or rear axle, between both sets of wheels on the center axle, or on all three axles.

Note: Part-time four-wheel-drive vehicles don’t have a differential between the front and rear wheels on the center axle. When these types of vehicles engage four-wheel-drive, all four wheels are locked together so each wheel spins at the same speed.

The wheels that receive power on your vehicle need the ability to rotate independently while you turn, as the wheel on the inside of your turn travels a shorter distance than the wheel on the outside of your turn. Without differentials, the wheels on your vehicle would be locked together and forced to spin at the same speed—making it extremely difficult to turn while placing a tremendous amount of force on your axle components.

Because differentials are critical to your vehicle’s ability to turn, it’s important to recognize problems that could be occurring and when you should bring your car or truck to Kennedy Transmission. Fortunately, your local Kennedy technicians are here to help you identify differential problems and repair them from the ground up. Below, you will learn about common car differential problems and the ways our team can fix your differential issues.

Car Differential Problems

Common symptoms of car differential problems include a whirring noise while you are decelerating, gear whining, and rumbling or whirring noises when you are going over 20 miles per hour. Like many complex systems in your vehicle, simple issues with your differential can snowball into major complications if left untreated.

Driving your vehicle with a damaged differential is dangerous, as it will make your heavy car or truck difficult to turn or cause your wheels to lock up—two symptoms that could put you in a dangerous situation if you’re in traffic.

Differential Diagnosis

At Kennedy, if we suspect there might be a problem with the differential in your car or truck, one of our certified technicians will perform a complete differential diagnosis. That includes checking the fluids, ensuring the pistons and gears are in good shape, and test driving your vehicle to look for signs of where the problem is. Our team will take a close look at multiple differential components, including your:

  • Carrier bearings
  • Pinion bearings
  • Pinion-bearing preload
  • Pinion-gear tooth
  • U-joints
  • Wheel bearings
  • Cornering gears
  • Transfer case
  • Driveshaft
  • Differential lubrication

Replacing Differential Fluid

The fluid in your vehicle’s differential plays a vital role in keeping the ring gear, pinion gears, and axle bearings lubricated and cooled. Our technicians at our transmission shops recommend changing your differential fluid every 15,000 to 30,000 miles for preventative maintenance. If your vehicle is in need of differential fluid replacement, don’t hesitate to stop by a Kennedy location near you to keep your system properly lubricated.

Rebuilding your Differential

Kennedy is a leader in complete automotive differential rebuild services. If your vehicle requires a complete differential rebuild, all your differential components are dismantled, carefully inspected, and replaced if necessary. Using only the finest quality parts, our knowledgeable technicians can get your vehicle’s differential running smoothly and safely.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with Differential Repairs at Kennedy

Kennedy Transmission Brake & Auto Service is the number one destination for all your automotive differential services and repairs in Minnesota. Our shops maintain a wide range of differential components for all types of vehicles—allowing us to get started on repairs right away without having to wait for shipped parts. Take the turn toward a smoother ride in Minneapolis. Call Kennedy today for differential maintenance and repairs.

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