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With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Wilmington, North Carolina, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most folks in Wilmington, North Carolina 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 Wilmington customers. So it’s not uncommon for people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.
Call Atlantic Car Care at 9107941390 for information about differential service, or stop by our Wilmington, North Carolina auto center at 21 New Bern Street 28403.
To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Wilmington 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. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Wilmington, North Carolina 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 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 manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.
Your Wilmington, North Carolina technician at Atlantic Car Care 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 Atlantic Car Care service advisor can look up the manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual. Give us a call at 9107941390 for more information about your differential service.
One Wilmington automotive service issue that doesn’t get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don’t get talked about very much around Wilmington, but they’re very important. First let’s define what the driveline is:
Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.
That’s not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you’re not moving. So we need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we’re going to have to over simplify a bit.
If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call: Atlantic Car Care 21 New Bern Street Wilmington, North Carolina 28403 Call Us at 9107941390
Let’s start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.
So, driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot to see if it’s torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner’s manual or check with your Wilmington service advisor.
On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Wilmington have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. You’ve probably heard the term ‘u-joints‘. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected.
The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axel is damaged or leaks, the axel will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Wilmington service advisor for intervals.
Now let’s go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.
Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don’t work well on dry pavement when they’re in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.
Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is required as well as service to the center and rear differentials.
Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There’s a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So you need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.
The bottom line is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner’s manual. Your Wilmington service advisor can answer any questions you’ve got. If this is the first time you’ve heard some of this stuff – it’s time to ask someone at Atlantic Car Care if any of it needs to be done now.
Here at AutoNetTV, we have viewers, like you, from all across the country who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we’re asked is: What is a differential and what does it do? You may have been told your differential needs service, or seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service covers a lot of things, so let’s first talk about what a differential does.
As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track – the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don’t hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels – which is why they’re often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they’ll last.
All vehicles have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is often called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you will have a differential in the front and the back – and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.
Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your vehicle manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed.
Differentials are hard working mechanisms, and, along with the gears in a manual transmission, need to be serviced regularly with high-quality, replacement fluid. Your Wilmington automotive service advisor can give you more information as to when your next differential service is recommended. You can also ask if they have a record of when the service was last completed.
As with most service intervals, if you are driving under more severe conditions, you will want to service your differential more frequently. “Severe service” conditions are defined in most owners’ manuals, and include: frequent starts and stops, short trips, cold weather, hot weather and towing. All these conditions add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Also, off-roading in North Carolina can be especially hard on differentials, especially if you cross streams. Proper service will extend the life of your gears and keep them running more smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit http://www.atlanticcarcare.com/contact-us for more information.