Nov 20 2015

The Role of a Differential in a High Performing Car

c7fbc2b2-5d01-4f58-9e11-aab64d06e27dThe automobile is a complex creature that requires many different parts working in synchrony to keep it moving along. Automatic cars take all guesswork out of the driving process and make it easy to forget the complicated system taking place, but it’s important to understand the inner workings of your car so you can ensure timely maintenance and proper attention to detail in the case of a repair. What Are Differentials? A car’s differential actually allows the tires to rotate at different speeds. While this may sound bizarre, it’s actually a critical aspect of a car’s performance on sharp turns. Why Are Differentials Important? Plop yourself back in 11th grade physics class and try to imagine a car making a turn. The car’s inside wheels will travel a shorter distance than the outer wheels, meaning they need to travel at a lower speed through that turn as well. Without the differential, the wheels would be locked together and unable to move at different speeds, leading to difficult turning that would require one tire to slip on the road. When Does a Differential Need to Be Serviced? People who trade in for a new car every few years have probably never needed to worry about the differential, since it is a time-based repair, but purchasers of used cars must pay close attention to the condition of the differential. The gear oil on the differential contaminates like regular lubricating oil and must be similarly replaced to maintain stable oil and avoid wear and tear on the gears. This could occur anywhere between 12,000 and 50,000, although waiting until the last minute at mile 49,997 probably isn’t the best idea. Your local auto center can run a differential diagnostic test to evaluate the condition of your car’s differential and inform you of any needed service to ensure the wheels of your car can move freely and give you the grip and you need on those windy roads.