The rear differential controls the rear pair of wheels so they can rotate at different speeds, which allows your vehicle to travel smoothly and keep traction on the road. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you have a rear differential. Front-wheel drive vehicles have a differential that is located in the front of the vehicle. The rear differential is located on the back of the vehicle underneath the car. On these types of vehicles, the drive shaft engaged the differential through a crown-wheel and pinion which is mounted on the carrier of the planetary chain that forms the differential. This gear is what helps to change the direction of the drive rotation and the gasket is what seals the oil in.
The rear differential gasket requires lubrication to keep the part running smoothly. The lubrication comes from the differential/gear oil. Every time you replace the fluid or it is changed, the rear differential gasket is changed as well to ensure it is properly sealed. The oil in the in the differential should be changed about every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, unless your owner’s manual states otherwise.
Over time, the gasket can become damaged if a gasket breaks and the oil runs out. If this happens, the differential could become damaged and the vehicle will be inoperable until the differential is repaired. If you keep your rear differential gasket maintained and lubricated, there is less chance of your differential becoming damaged. Yet, if you do suspect a problem with your gasket, a professional mechanic can diagnose and replace the rear differential gasket in your vehicle.
Since your rear differential gasket can break or leak over time, it is important to know the symptoms so you can stay on top of maintenance. This way, it is more of a straightforward repair than an extensive one like replacing your entire differential.
Signs that your rear differential gasket needs to be replaced include:
- Fluid leaking under your rear differential that looks like motor oil but smells different
- Grinding noise when you turn corners because the fluid is low
- Vibrations while driving due to a fluid leak
Make sure your rear differential gasket is properly maintained to keep your vehicle in good working condition.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Differential Gasket Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.