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Differential Output Seal Replacement Costs and Repairs: The Complete Guide! 

Preventive Strategies

Differential output seal replacement costs range from $258 and $314. The part itself is only $46, while labor cost ranges from $212 and $268. 

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Your vehicle's differential outputs seal is responsible for preventing any oil leaks from the differential. It is crucial to have a certain oil level inside the differential to maintain a smooth axle rotation and prevent any overheating.

Over time of use is expected for the seal to break down and the differential oil to escape. In that case, you must take immediate action and repair it before causing major damages to important components in your vehicle.

This article provides you with all the necessary details you need to know about the differential output seal replacement costs. We will highlight the main symptoms of a bad differential output seal, and we will indicate rough cost estimates for different vehicle types.

Towards the end, we will provide you with step-by-step guidance on saving on differential output seal replacement costs by doing the job yourself. 

What is the differential output seal, and what does it do? 

Before we dive into the details about the differential output seal, it is very important to understand how the power transmits from the engine to the transmission.

When your vehicle's engine produces power, this power goes into a straight line through the crankshaft until it reaches the transmission.

For the transmission to make the wheels move, the received power must be shifted by 180 degrees. Thanks to the differential who's responsible for shifting the engine's power by this degree.

Now the differential itself has an axle shaft that connects between the differential and the wheels.

This shaft is continuously moving inside the differential. For the shaft to move freely without any friction issues, it must be filled or moving inside a certain oil or fluid. This oil is responsible for providing the lubrication for the axle shaft to prevent any friction and any overheating issues.

Without sufficient lubrication, the axle can overheat and cause significant damages to the gears, bearings, and probably the engine itself.

Luckily, the differential has an output seal which prevents any oil from leaking outside the differential.

See how crucial is the role of this small component the output seal? Over time of use, the output seal might experience some damages resulting from the engine's oil leak.

If that happens, your vehicle is not drivable, and you must stop driving it and have a professional mechanic inspected to resolve the problem.

In some difficult situations, you might not even be able to drive your vehicle, and it must be towed to the mechanic instead. 

Note: Unfortunately, there's no way to know how much oil you lost from your vehicle's differential because it doesn't have a dipstick where you can test it.

Thus, any sign of all leaks must be taken seriously, especially those coming from the differential. 

How much does it cost to replace a differential seal? 

According to RepairPal.com, you can replace your vehicle's Google differential output seal for between $258 and $314.

This range can be split between labor and parts costs as follows:

  • The part itself is only $46 
  • The labor cost ranges from $212.00 and $268 

As you've noticed, labor cost is a measure component in the differential output seal replacement costs. Thus, you might need to evaluate the situation about whether you should go to a dealership or a repair shop.

As we all know, dealerships have the most and highest pay rate, and therefore, by choosing a dealership, you can save a lot on labor costs. It is very important to balance between getting a good deal versus receiving low-quality work. Sometimes not all small repair shops have experienced mechanics who understand your vehicle's make, model, and year. Thus, there is a high chance that other damages might be introduced to the vehicle just because they don't have the necessary skillsets.

Some people attempt to replace their differential output seal. While that is a wise decision to save on labor costs, you need to make sure that you have all the necessary skill sets before messing up with your vehicle. It is known that any DIY does not work the first time, and therefore, there is a high chance that major damages might be introduced just because you don't have the experience.

Let's take a closer look at some of the common differential output seal replacement costs by vehicle type

Car Type Differential Output Seal Replacement Cost
2009 Dodge Nitro $119.86
2009 GMC Sierra 1500 $487.41
2012 Scion xb $258.96
2013 BMW 328i xdrive $289.38
2009 BMW 328i $347.02
2010 Ford Mustang $501.54


Is a rear differential leak serious?

Yes, a rear differential leak is very serious. Imagine your vehicle's axle is running inside an area that does not have any allocations. Thus, old metal components will be in continuous touch with each other, introducing a lot of heat to your vehicle.

Heat is the primary enemy to any vehicle, whether it's affecting the engine, the transmission, or any other component. Thus, leaving a vehicle with a bad differential output seal can cause significant damage is not only for the part itself but also for the surrounding components, which might lead to measuring component damages like engine failure or transmission damage. 

Can I drive with a leaking axle seal? 

The short answer is it depends. Depending on the severity of the leak, you might drive your vehicle for a short distance. However, most automotive experts recommend not driving a vehicle with a leaking axle.

As we already mentioned, your vehicle must have a certain level of fluid inside the differential. When the seal leaks, this fluid will continuously be dropping, and therefore, even if you start with few to no problems, you can end up with major damages in a short time. 

What are the main symptoms of a bad differential output seal?  

Like any other component in your car, the differential output seal will let you know that it's going bad before it even does or before it gets very complicated.

There are very common symptoms of differential output seal, which includes: 

  • Oil leak 

The most obvious symptom of a bad differential output seal is an oil leak. Sometimes this oil leak might be very small to the level that you won't see any drips, and your best guess would be looking at the component itself and seeing some wet signals.

On the other hand, if the leak is bad, you might see some oil puddles under your car.

Oil dripping or oil puddles is a hugely serious issue, and you must not drive this car. Otherwise, you will introduce significant damages to major components. 

  • Howling, whining, or grinding noises 

If your differential is running on very low oil level in some difficult situations, you might start hearing some grinding and whining noises.

These noises are usually coming from the rear part of your vehicle, and it's most likely due to insufficient lubrication as the excellent is moving inside the differential.


You will notice that this grinding and whining noise is increasing as you accelerate.

If you've confirmed that the problem is coming from the differential, you're under serious problem, and it must be taken care of immediately!

How to replace your vehicle's differential output seal? 

Are you ready to save on labor costs? How about getting trained on replacing your vehicle's differential output seal?

A great idea would be to replace the seal by yourself. However, you want to make sure that you are comfortable enough to replace it without causing any damages to your vehicle.

Although repair costs can be very high, the repair might require a certain mechanical skill set level. Otherwise, you might introduce some damages to major components in your car.

Here's a quick summary of what needs to be done to replace a differential output seal: 

  • Ensure that the problem is coming from the seal. Before you replace the seal, you want to make sure that you did the right inspection and confirm that the seal needs replacement. 
  • Get your vehicle ready and remove the old differential seal. Since you're going to be working under the vehicle, you need to use a Jack, Jack stands, and wheel chocks to raise the vehicle properly. 
  • Remove the vehicle's wheels 
  • Remove the axles. Removing the axles requires certain steps that depend on your vehicle's automaker. Good guidance would be to start with your vehicle's owner's manual to see how we can remove it safely without causing any damages to surround components.
  • Take out of the faulty differential outer seal. Once you remove it, make sure to clean the inside of the differential before installing the new seal.
  • Put in the new differential output seal. Make sure to refer you to your vehicle's owner's manual when selecting the right seal that matches your vehicle.
  • Add some oil to lubricate the axles before re-installing it inside the differential. 
  • Add necessary oil that your vehicle lost while the seal was damaged.
  • Put back the vehicle's wheels and tires before lowering your vehicle and testing driving it.
  • That's it! You should be good to go! 

Is it worth fixing the differential output seal issue? 

The exact answer to this question depends heavily on your vehicle's own circumstances And the severity of the leak.

For example, if the seal leak is minor, it might be worth fixing this car and installing or repairing the old seal.

On the other hand, if your seal leak is very major, you might need to step back and evaluate the entire situation.

In the evaluation, you need to consider other damages in your car. For example, asks yourself: are there any major problems in the transmission? How about the engine? Are there any missing components?

Another thing to consider is the total repair cost. You need to evaluate whether repair costs are getting close to 75% or more from your vehicle's value. If that's the case, automotive experts suggest that it's never recommended to fix this car, and instead, you should sell it and use the payment towards a better brand new or used vehicle. 

In some situations, we get so attached to our vehicles that we can't let them go. However, there are circumstances where you need to push hard on yourself and sell this car. You'll be surprised by how many decent vehicles are available in the used car market. Thus, give yourself a chance and expose yourself to other choices. 

The bottom line

The differential output seal is a crucial component in your vehicle. Without it, you might end up with very low differential oil, which might cause significant damages to your vehicle.

Over time of use, it is not surprising to deal with a damaged or broken differential output seal. Thus, you need to fix it to prevent huge complications immediately.

If you got to a stage that it's not worth replacing or fixing your vehicle's output seal, it might be the right time to sell this car and use its payments towards a better vehicle.

You might be asking yourself: who will accept a damaged vehicle? Well, you are at the right place!

Cash Cars Buyer will accept your vehicle despite its type or condition. We will provide you with the top dollars representing the maximum offers you can get around your area. Not only that! We will also provide you with free tooling no matter where you are living around the United States. 

We will remove your car within one to three days from a quick conversation with our team. If you're interested, we can even remove your car the same day! Our company is its money for our car removal company that works evenings, weekends, and the same day. 

Our process is very straightforward and doesn't require any previous skill sets in car selling. All that you need to do is to give us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer

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