Car Care Tips

What Is A Differential And Do You Have One?



With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Appleton, Wisconsin, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Appleton motorists 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 mind for our Appleton customers. So it's not uncommon for auto owners to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

Call Tuffy Tire & Auto Service Center Appleton in Appleton at 920-954-8500 for information about differential service, or stop by our Appleton, Wisconsin auto center at 2940 E. College Ave 54915.

To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Appleton high school track. 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. That's to compensate 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 wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It's a very important function for us Appleton car owners. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Appleton, Wisconsin area weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those critical parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.

The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that breakdown over time. So vehicle manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

Your friendly Tuffy Tire & Auto Service Center Appleton technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then he'll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Tuffy Tire & Auto Service Center Appleton service advisor can look up the auto maker's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual. Give us a call at 920-954-8500 for more information about your differential service.

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