How Often Should I Change My Differential Fluid?

Oil, coolant, and transmission fluid are three of the major fluids your vehicle requires to operate correctly. Most owners are aware of these services and take care of them on time, based on manufacturer recommendations. However, these aren’t the only fluids in your vehicle that you need to keep an eye on. 

Differential fluid is one of these often-forgotten services that still play a massive role in your vehicle. In this article, we’ll cover what differential fluid is, what it’s used for, and how often owners should consider replacing theirs. 

What is Differential Fluid

Before we cover the fluid within it, let’s go over what a differential is for the uninitiated. 

When a vehicle takes a corner, the outside wheels will cover a farther distance than the inside wheels. This becomes problematic, as the wheels will struggle to turn effectively when fighting each other during the process. 

This is where the differential comes into play, which allows each side of the axle to turn independently of the other. Without a differential, the wheels cannot maintain proper traction and begin to slide along, causing the vehicle to rotate its back end out. 

Inside view of a Dodge 4x4 differential
Dana60Cummins, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Differential fluid is what keeps this process going smoothly. While the various gears within the differential allow the axles to rotate at different rates, it requires a lubricating fluid to mitigate friction and overheating. This is the same principle that allows your transmission to shift smoothly, as transmission fluid provides the same lubrication and temperature control in the complex internals of your gearbox. 

A differential without the proper amount of fluid will cause the gears to grind together, leading to friction that can cause dangerous heat buildup. These symptoms will often take the form of metallic grinding noises, spinning tires through corners, whining sounds, and possible damage to the sidewall of your tires. 

How Often Should I Change My Differential Fluid

So now that you know the importance of differential fluid, how often should you have your fluid replaced to keep your vehicle driving properly?

There’s no set-in-stone answer for differential service frequency, however, it’s best to have yours completed between every 30,000-50,000 miles. Failing to service it or waiting too long may lead to expensive mechanical issues in your differential and drivetrain. 

Cost of Differential Fluid Flush

Although it depends on a variety of factors, you can expect to pay between $100-$150 to have your fluid flushed and replaced. It’s a relatively inexpensive service, yet provides massive benefits in handling, reduced tire wear, and a comfortable driving experience.

The exact number will depend on the make and model of the vehicle, the type of fluid needed, and the shop where the service is being performed. 

Differential Services at Borst Automotive

If your vehicle is in need of a differential fluid, or you’re experiencing similar symptoms, trust your vehicle to the ASE Certified technicians at Borst Automotive! Our team has extensive Give us a call today or schedule online at any of our four locations in Arizona. We have two shops located in Tucson, one in Mesa, and one in Phoenix!

Borst Automotive is here to help when you need it. Give us a call, schedule an appointment, or stop in today!