Differentials are the key components that let the wheels rotate at different speeds in your car, especially when you are putting a sharp corner or making a turn on the highway. There are differentials in every vehicle that you will see on the road, showing that it is a key part of every automobile and the car’s proper working.
Just like an engine, the differentials need lubricating to keep it running smoothly and safely. In order to keep the differentials from creating too much friction and running smoothly, the differential fluid will need to be changed occasionally to keep them in working order.
When changing the differential fluid, the overall differential fluid change cost averages between $80-$150 for the rear and $70 to $130 for the front change, coming in at a total price of between $150-$280 for the differential fluid change cost.
Differential Fluid Change Function
This procedure is pretty simple and really shouldn’t cost you much at all, no matter what kind of vehicle you have or what mechanic you bring your car to. This process is just a matter of taking out f the old differential fluid and replacing it with new differential fluid, aka why it is called a differential fluid “change.”
In some cases, you might need new gaskets, increasing the total differential fluid change cost. However, even with these added expenses, the costs are still minimal and are going to be much less costly than other heavy-duty repairs or replacements that you might have done on your car in the past.
The process of taking out the old differential fluid and replacing it with the new fluid might be different depending on what specific kind of vehicle you have. The fluid reservoir might be in different places on some vehicles, meaning that you should know where this is before starting the procedure if you do it yourself.
Your vehicle might also use a synthetic differential fluid, which can slightly affect the total differential fluid change cost compared to other types. Since various kinds of oils and lubricants can be used inside of your vehicle, you have to keep this in mind when averaging your differential fluid change cost.
Benefits of Differential fluid Change
Ensuring you check your differential fluid and change it when it is getting too old or before it causes damage is key to enhancing your car’s lifespan. Getting the old fluid out of your car can ensure it runs smoother and prevents any damage to the gears, which would make the differential fluid change cost much higher than just changing the oil itself.
Your differential and the connected parts to the differential will work together better and last longer, saving you money on future car repairs. Since this isn’t a time-consuming repair job and isn’t complicated, getting it done when you need to can save you a lot of money and time in the future.
Steps of a Differential Fluid Change
Check for Clean Fluid
The mechanic will first start checking the differential fluid levels and making sure the fluid is clean or seeing if it is contaminated. If your differential fluid is contaminated, then it will certainly need to be replaced. If you do not drive your car that much or just use it occasionally for longer drives, it might not be necessary to change the fluid as much if you use your car every day to drive to work.
Check for Leaks
In addition to analyzing the status of the differential fluid, the mechanic will also check for leaks. When a mechanic examines the differential fluid, since the parts contain hoses and tubes within the entire system, the mechanic will automatically check for any issues within these hoses or tubes, like cracks, splits, or holes.
Remove the Drain Plug and Housing Cover
Further, the mechanic will then take out the drain plug or fluid housing cover, determining if a new gasket might need to be installed at this point and time in the process. The gasket seals the differential housing and is usually made out of cork, rubber, or an oil-resistant silicone. If the gasket needs to be replaced, the mechanic will do it at this point. Then the new oil will be poured into the reservoir to help lubricate the internal parts.
As you can see, the replacement of the differential fluid process is pretty simple. It does not require a lot of time or energy from you or the mechanic, meaning the overall differential fluid change cost will be lower compared to many other repairs and replacements done in your vehicle.
Differential Fluid Change Timing
You need to make sure you keep up to date with the necessary repairs and replacements for your specific vehicle type. If you are unsure when to get work done or replace certain parts, refer to your manual that comes with your vehicle. If this doesn’t state, then go to your local mechanic and ensure he puts you on a correct schedule for checking all parts and repairs to make sure you get them done when they are supposed to.
Your vehicle manufacturer will probably tell you when this process of changing your differential fluid needs to happen, but if they did not inform you or do not remember, you can just reach out and ask them yourself. You might need the fluid to be changed more often than recommended depending on how and when you drive and what kind of car you have.
Symptoms of a Faulty Differential Fluid Change
There won’t be any signs or symptoms that you need the differential fluid change to happen in your car immediately. The only real sign that you will see with your car is that the gear oil will look contaminated, thick, or dirty. The appearance of contaminated oil fluid means that it needs to be changed sooner rather than later. If you wait too long, it can easily damage other components and dramatically increase the total differential fluid change cost.
Specifically, the car’s differential can be damaged if you don’t change the dirty fluid out, since it can cause the differential to be contaminated and not run properly over time. The sooner you get the fluid changed out, the better chance you will have to keep your differential working well and have a long lifespan.
Differential Fluid Change Intervals
You should pay attention to certain intervals when getting the differential fluid change done in your vehicle. The front differential fluid should be changed at around 25,000-mile intervals while not waiting any longer than 30,000 miles. If your front differential has a transaxle, then you might need to change the fluid every 20,000 miles instead of waiting for the extra 5-10,000 miles.
In this case, with your car, the transaxle will need to be replaced after you drain the old differential fluid and will need to be replaced when you add the new differential fluid after the change. Since this is more complicated than just a simile liquid change, you should bring your car to a mechanic to have this process done.
Rear End Differential Fluid Change
If you are just going to get the rear differential fluid changed and need to estimate the rear differential change cost, then the best place to figure out how much this will be and the appropriate interval is to check the owner's manual for your specific car. Most car manufacturers state that you should get the fluid change every 30,000 miles, even though some cars or manufacturers let you go up to 50,000 miles between changes.
Like any other automobile component, you will need to take care of your rear end differential. One important aspect of servicing this specific part of your car is the lubrication, which is directly affected by the differential fluid. The gas within the differential needs always to be coated in gear oil to lubricate the gears and the parts that work with the gears, like the bearings.
However, as we know, the fluid will break down over time and get contaminated. Between the metal filings and the breakdown of the fluid, the gear differential fluid must be changed during the interval that we specified. This differential fluid change can also prevent any damage to the interior gears, like the pinion gear and ring gear.
During this rear differential service at the auto shop, your mechanic will have to clean any of the old differential fluid found in the differential cases. Cleaning out this old fluid and doing the differential fluid change can help enhance the longevity of your car.
Next Steps of Differential Fluid Change
If you try to do the replacement job of the rear differential fluid change yourself, you should have the proper knowledge and tools before setting out on this mission. You will need to have the right materials, like a large pan to catch the fluid leaking out from your car or the gear oil.
Once you have drained the fluid into the pan, make sure you have a place where you can discard this contaminated oil safely and securely. This way, the auto repair shop or hazardous waste disposal site will know what to do with the hazardous materials and liquids that do not help your vehicle.
Lastly, make sure to clean the contaminants off the other components within your car affected by the differential fluid. If you have to install a new gasket since the old one will be worn out and dirty.
Sample Differential Fluid Change Costs
In order to figure out the best way to save the most money on your differential fluid change and how much you are probably going to pay to fix this issue in your car, we have some sample differential fluid change costs of the most popular cars on the market today.
One of the least expensive cars for differential fluid change is the Toyota Corolla and Camry. The labor costs for these two vehicles are between $5 and $57, while the parts come in at only $32-$72, making the total around $77-$129.
Even though they are still very minimal in terms of overall cost, some of the more expensive repairs are the Honda CR-V and the Chevrolet Silverado. For those cars, the cost of the parts remains the same at between $32 and $72, while the labor is slightly more expensive, coming in at $63-$80 for the total differential fluid change cost.
Front Differential Fluid Change Cost
As we mentioned earlier, the cost of replacing your differential fluid will be a little bit more expensive than getting your oil changed. The price of the front differential fluid change differs from that of the rear differential fluid change cost. When just changing the front differential fluid, it will range from around $70-$130, with the average labor being $40 to $60 and the estimated parts average cost being $30 to $70.
Rear Differential Fluid Change Cost
If you are just changing the rear differential fluid, the estimated overall cost is a little more expensive, coming in between $80-$150 as an average for all vehicles. The labor cost for the rear differential fluid change cost is between $50-$70 and the cost of the parts is around $30-$80.
Keep in mind that when changing the differential fluid, the overall differential fluid change cost averages between $80-$150 for the rear and $70 to $130 for the front change, coming in at a total price of between $150-$280 for the differential fluid change cost.
Knowing the average price of the differential fluid change cost in your vehicle can help you keep costs low in your car and prevent any unnecessary repairs or replacements. By noticing the signs and symptoms of a faulty fuel or oil system, you can keep the overall differential fluid change cost as low as possible when fixing symptoms in your car.