Modern cars use a variety of fluids for the lubrication of their many mechanical components. Since many of the parts are made of metal, they need heavy-duty oil capable of protecting the parts from damage because of overheating and metal-to-metal contact. Automotive lubrication fluids play a vital role in the overall performance and service life of a vehicle and can cause parts to become seriously damaged when they get low.
One of these kinds of fluids is the differential oil, equally commonly known as gear oil, that is used to lubricate manual transmissions and differentials. Since gear oil is about the equivalent of what engine oil is to the engine, it plays a very great role in protecting the differential and transmission, letting them to do their jobs safely and smoothly. When the fluids becomes dirty or contaminated it can put the parts that it is meant to protect at risk of accelerated wear and even permanent damage. Often, bad or failing differential oil will give any of the following 4 signs that can alert the driver of a potential issue that serviced.
- Vehicles that Exceeds Gear Oil Service Interval
All cars come with a maintenance schedule for its fluids and filters based on mileage. If the car has exceeded the recommended mileage for service of the gear or differential oil, it is highly recommended to have it replaced. Old oil may not offer the same level of protection as clean, fresh oil. Car components run using old or dirty oil may end up susceptible to accelerated wear or even serious damage.
- Whining Differential or Transmission
One of the signs most commonly linked with bad or failing differential or gear oil is a noisy transmission or differential. If the gear oil goes low or becomes excessively dirty, it can make the gears to whine or howl as they turn. The whining or howling is produced by a lack of lubrication and may increase in volume as car speed increases. A howling or whining differential or transmission should be checked as soon as possible in order to avoid the possibility of serious damage.
- Gearbox/Transmission Slipping Gears Jerking
Though a jerking transmission can be produced by a number of potentially expensive issues, it can equally be another sign of low gear oil levels. The differential or gear oil may be in need of change after reaching levels too low for proper operation of the transmission. Inspect your transmission fluid levels to see if the reservoir is too low and causing gears to grind and slip. If topping off oil levels doesn’t fix the issue, have your vehicle transmission inspected — it could be a symptom of a more serious problem.
- A burning Smell from Gearbox or Differential
A burning smell issuing from your differential or gearbox is another sign you need near differential oil. The smell may be issuing from oil leaking out of an old seal — you may even observe a reddish stain under your vehicle’s parking spot. The burning smell might also be a result of an overheating gearbox from poor lubrication. Too-old oil cannot lubricate moving components properly, causing the metal parts to burn oil from the high temperature. Having the differential oil changed may solve the problem, else, a gasket or seal replacement may be required.
Differential/gear oil is just one of the plenty important lubrication fluids that cars use in their normal operation. However, it is often one of the most forgotten fluids since it is not serviced nearly as frequently as others. For this particular reason, if you feel that your differential or gear oil may be dirty, contaminated, or has past the recommended maintenance schedule, have the car inspected by a professional technician. They will be able to change the differential/ transmission fluid where required.