Sully’s Auto Repair

Providing Huntington Beach car owners with quality automotive services and repairs since 2003

Sully’s Auto Repair - Providing Huntington Beach car owners with quality automotive services and repairs since 2003

What Is A Differential And Do You Have One?

With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Huntington Beach, CA, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Huntington Beach car owners 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 Huntington Beach customers. So it’s not uncommon for motorists to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

Call Sully’s Auto Repair in Huntington Beach at (714) 841-1245 for information about differential service, or stop by our Huntington Beach, CA auto center at 17152 Palmdale Ln. 92647.

To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Huntington Beach 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 Huntington Beach motorists. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Huntington Beach, CA 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 essential 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 auto manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

Your friendly Sully’s Auto Repair service professional 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 Sully’s Auto Repair service advisor can look up the car maker’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual. Give us a call at (714) 841-1245 for more information about your differential service.

Differential Service At Sully’s Auto Repair

Here at AutoNetTV, we have national viewers, like your neighbors in Huntington Beach, 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 by your Sully’s Auto Repair tech that your differential needs service, or seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service at Sully’s Auto Repair 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 on Buena Park freeways. 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 in Huntington Beach have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is sometimes called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. Huntington Beach drivers with a four-wheel drive vehicle 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. Talk to your friendly Sully’s Auto Repair service specialist if you are not sure about your recommended schedule.

Differentials are hard working mechanisms, and, along with the gears in a manual transmission, need to be serviced regularly at Sully’s Auto Repair with high-quality, replacement fluid. Your Huntington Beach 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 in the Buena Park area, you will want to service your differential more frequently. “Severe service” conditions are  defined in auto manufacturers’ owners’ manuals, and include: frequent starts and stops, short trips, cold CA weather, hot weather and towing. All these factors add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Also, off-roading in CA can be especially hard on differentials, especially if you cross streams. Proper service at Sully’s Auto Repair will extend the life of your gears and keep them running more smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit http://sullysautorepairhb.com/contact.html for more information.