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Dirty Diff

And for that matter, what is a differential? Power from your engine is transferred to the wheels through the differential. When you go around corners, the differential keeps power going to both wheels evenly without any hop-, skip-, or jump-ing. So this is a pretty important part of your car or truck, as you can imagine.

Gear oil is the life-blood of your differential in pickup trucks and rear wheel drive cars.  Good, clean gear oil keeps the bearings and gears from overheating and over-wearing. As the gear oil ages it loses its ability to lubricate and excess wear is the result. The picture above illustrates perfectly what can happen when the gear oil is neglected. The round, fuzzy shape near the top of the picture is the magnet. It has quite a collection of metal fragments from the bearings and gears. It won’t be long now before this diff is done.

Notice, also, the milky consistency of the oil in the pan. This differential has water contamination in it. This can happen naturally over time but more than likely this truck was used to back a boat into the lake more than once. The vent on the differential can only do so much to keep water out of your gear oil, which makes regular servicing important.

How often should I service my differential?

Always consult your vehicle’s service manual for the answer to this question. For most vehicles, however, service the differential about every 50,000 miles. You’ll want to use a good synthetic gear oil to maximize the life of your differential.

At Lake City Auto Care, we only use the best synthetic lubricants to keep your vehicle serviced and going down the road. If you don’t know for sure that your vehicle’s differential was serviced in the last 50k miles, then call for an appointment today.


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