A Faulty Diff May Lock Your Rear Wheels [opinion]

There are some situations that occur over which we may have little control for example, when the vehicle locks its rear wheels while you are driving at a very high speed.

Have you ever imagined what you would do or how you would protect yourself and the vehicle if it suddenly happened to you? You don’t want to know because the vehicle would go absolutely out of control. One has to be really equipped with defensive driving skills to be able to handle such a terrifying situation.

So, the main question here would be how does one ensure they don’t find themselves in such a situation?

The answer is simple. Before the vehicle differential, or ‘diff’ as it is sometimes referred to, locks itself, there are so many failure symptoms it exhibits that can be detected. The vehicle’s differential is the tube – with a prominent bulge in the middle – that runs from one rear wheel to the other, in rear traction vehicles. Four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles have two diffs, one at the rear and the other at the front.

Many a time, noises from the differential are ignored by motorists, yet they may ultimately lead to the causing of locking of the rear wheels. Problems in the differential can be detected in the following ways:

Unusual noises from the differential area whenever you are driving. Generally, noises in the vehicle should be an eye-opener and never be taken lightly for they could be an indicator that the vehicle is experiencing a problem. One just needs to have it examined by an experienced mechanic because with time the cause of noise may grow and lead to a worse problem.

Broken axle shaft or faulty axle bearings in the differential. In case this happens, the diff will make a lot of noise, and as time goes by, the propeller shaft may come loose or run unevenly. This will cause more problems to the internal parts of the differential. The broken axle shaft could damage the diff oil seals and the oil ends up leaking out. Eventually, the diff would run without any lubricant, causing further major damage.

Oil leakages on the rear wheel, brake caliper and the brake rotor are detected whenever there are noticeable traces of oil on the wheels or in the wheel drum after you remove the tyres.

Should you notice leakages around the wheels, avoid driving through high levels of water because the vehicle could have leaking seals which may allow in water. This could cause rust, preventing the smooth running of the diff. Replace the oil seals immediately to prevent further damage.

Also, periodic servicing of the diff would prevent an expensive rebuild, replacing of the diff ring and the pinion gears that do easily get broken due to the lack of enough lubricant in the diff.

Robert Kato is a mechanic

Source : The Observer

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