A Guide through Differential Diagnostics

A Guide through Differential Diagnostics

Your vehicle is one of your major investments, meaning you have to ensure it remains in good condition. One way to do that is to schedule regular maintenance with a certified mechanic. That helps maximize the performance of your car and increase its lifetime. Differentials diagnostics is one of the main maintenance services you should seek.

What Are Differentials?

Differentials are essential parts of the car that sends power from the engine to the wheels through the transmission. They then manage how the car uses the energy and ensures your tires spin at different speeds.

This is usually important, especially when making a turn. Rear-wheel drives have rear differentials, front-wheel drives will have front differentials, while four-wheel drives will have front and rear differentials.

Some of the most common types of differentials include:

Open differential

This is the most basic and common type of differential. They split the engine’s torque into two energy outputs, making the wheels move at different speeds, with the inner wheel spinning slower than the outer wheel.

If one wheel has zero traction, the other one loses power to help it maintain the traction. Open differentials are mainly found in economy cars and family sedans.

Locking differential

Also referred to as the welded differential, this differential connects the wheels and makes them spin at the same speed. They use springs and clutches to activate a lock and send the same power to the wheels, regardless of the traction situation.

Because both wheels move at the same speeds, turning with this type of differential is a little harder. You can find locking differentials mainly in full-size trucks and off-roading vehicles like Jeeps Wranglers.

Limited-slip differential

These differentials are a combination of open and locking differentials. They transmit engine torque independently to each wheel, making them move at different speeds. However, in difficult road situations where a car with an open differential would slip, this differential automatically locks, preventing the slip.

People use limited-slip differential mainly in sports cars, performance cars, and some off-roading cars.

Torque-vectoring differential

This is the most advanced and complicated differential. It uses different electronics and sensors to get data from throttle position, rod surface, and steering system. They then use that data to activate electronically actuated controllers and clutches to deliver fine-tuned torque to every wheel.

They help quicken or slow down a vehicle’s rotation around corners. People mainly use them in high-performance all-wheel or rear-wheel-drive cars.

Signs of a Differential Diagnostics Problem

While you should get differential diagnostics often, some of the signs that you need to have it done immediately include:

Strange noises

While strange noises can indicate various problems in your car, whining sounds are mainly from a failing differential. It could also show that the differential is not well lubricated, indicating a leak in the differential fluids.

If you also hear a humming or grinding sound, it could be from grinding gears caused by a failing differential. You should take your car to the nearest repair shop because it could lock the rear wheels at any time.


If you notice vibrations that intensify as you accelerate, this is a sign that your differential has an issue. It means that your differentials’ universal joints are worn out, causing the driveshaft to vibrate.

Leaking differential oil

Normally, differential oil might look like engine oil, especially from under the car. However, you can differentiate by looking at where the leak is coming from. If the leak is directly under an axel, it indicates a differential oil leakage.

Ensure to get that fixed immediately to avoid further damage to the axels, transmission, diversion, and wheels.

Bad smells

Once differential oil goes bad, it becomes thick and starts to burn, which results in a strong burning smell.

Reduced handling capabilities

With a damaged or failing differential, you will notice that you have a hard time handling around corners.

Tire damage

If you notice outer tire wear or sidewall on your rear wheels, this indicates a damaged differential. This makes the wheels turn at different speeds, resulting in their wearing out.

Get the Best Differential Diagnostics in Sarasota, Florida

Ralph Transmissions is one of Sarasota, Florida’s best auto repair shops. They run the diagnostics and suggest the best repairs to improve the performance of your car, increase its lifetime, and ensure your safety.

They have been in the auto repair business for decades, giving the skills and experience to work on different differentials in different car models and sizes. They also work on imported and local vehicles, giving you the best results at affordable prices.

To get a free quote or make inquiries, contact them today.