How To Quiet Differential Whine (To Enjoy A Peaceful Ride)

Hey there, gearheads! You know that sound your car makes when you go around a tight corner? That’s differential whine. 

And while it might not seem like a big deal, it can actually be pretty annoying. Especially if you’re trying to listen to music or talk on the phone while driving. 

But don’t worry – In this post, we’ll show you how to quiet differential whine, so that you can get back to enjoying your drive. Read on to learn more!

What Is a Differential Gear

A differential is a power-split mechanism that compensates for speed differences between its two outputs. That is why one also speaks of differential gears. 

This balance is necessary for automobiles because all four wheels – at least two of which are driven – turn at different speeds when cornering. Not having a differential would lead to considerable tension and tire slip, especially in tight bends. 

This effect becomes clear with quads or karts, in which driven rear axles usually lack differentials. A differential allows the two driven wheels to rotate at different speeds while still powered by the same engine. 

This is necessary because when cornering, the wheels on the outside of the turn need to travel a greater distance than the wheels on the inside. Without a differential, the engine would supply twice as much power to the outside wheel, resulting in tire slip and decreased traction.

Differentials are an essential component of any vehicle with more than one driven wheel, and they play a vital role in ensuring safe and efficient operation.

How Does A Car Differential Functions

The left and right wheels of the car rotate independently. When you turn the steering wheel, the left and right front wheels move in that direction and turn a curve.

The left and right rear wheels on the same axis move the same way as the front wheels when turning a curve.

The distance between the front and rear wheels changes between the inside and outside of the curve, and the distance traveled outside is slightly longer, causing a speed difference between the left and right wheels.

At this time, the role of the differential is to absorb the speed difference between the inside and outside of the curve while transmitting the force from the engine to both the left and right wheels so that it can turn smoothly.

It is called a differential because it controls the power from the engine while absorbing the deviation in speed.

The function of the differential when going straight

When going straight, there is no difference in rotation between the left and right wheels, so the force from the propeller shaft is transmitted to the ring gear, the pinion gear revolves, and the same rotation is transmitted to the left and right side gears.

The function of the differential when turning

When the steering wheel is turned and the car starts to turn, it is the differential function when turning to give a deviation to the rotation of the left and right drive wheels.

It slows down the inner wheels, increases the outer wheels, and allows them to run at different speeds, turning smoothly.

The pinion gear, which is a part of the differential, plays an important role.

The pinion gear in the differential case, which only revolves when going straight, rotates on its axis when turning, giving the left and right wheels a difference in rotation and transmitting the driving force from the engine.

Reasons Why Differential Makes Noises

There are many reasons for differential noises. The most kind of noises you will find are roaring, singing, and grinding.

The roar of the axle drive indicates defective storage of the gears. Singing or howling is easier to identify. However, it can have several causes. It may be one of the camps again. But the backlash of the planetary gear inside the axle differential housing can also be the cause. It is even possible for the gearbox to run dry or almost dry.

Then there is the possibility that the transmission is not adjusted correctly. The assignment can also be based on a defective wheel bearing and defective tires on the axle to make it difficult. If the latter sources can be ruled out, vehicle age, any maintenance backlogs, and operating conditions play an essential role. If the differential starts to sing or whine after an oil change, it may be the wrong oil or the wrong oil viscosity.

A grinding noise is the most dangerous, as it can mean that metal filings have gotten between the gears. This, in turn, indicates a relatively high abrasion. The change the gears of the planetary gear would be pending.

How To Quiet Differential Whine (8 Easy Steps)

As you already know, the differential gear is the essential part of the vehicle, and it is not a single part but a complete mechanism. Also, there are several reasons for differential noises. So, it is not a very easy job to make the differential quiet with a single fix. You have to go through several steps of diagnosing, getting ready, and fixing. And the steps we’ve organized below will help you through the process of how to fix a differential. Do do not miss out on any of them. 

Step 1: Gather The Tools

Before starting the process, you must keep all these tools ready, so you do not have to run here and there when working.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Jack Stand
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillip head screwdriver
  • Ratchet And Socket set
  • Pan(to catch the dripping oil)
  • Gasket scraper
  • New gaskets
  • Tire jack
  • Differential oil
  • Wrench(torque)
  • Valve seal remover
  • Oil(Rear-end)

Step 2: Diagnose The Noise

After gathering the tools, keep them aside and move toward the most vital step of diagnosing the reason. There are different kinds of noises caused by different issues. Find out which kind of noise your differential makes from the descriptions below.

  1. Whining Noise: If your differential is equipped with improper gears or the ring has been damaged, it will make the high-pitched whining noises.
  2. Clicking Noise: As you know, there are many teeth in the gear shifts, and they get chipped sometimes, which impacts their smooth movement causing clicking noises.
  3. Whirring Noise: This kind of noise results from worn-out pinion bearings. And sometimes the bad ring cause this king of whirring noises. This type of noise you can feel at low acceleration.
  4. Grinding noise: the grinding noise is an emergency sign to check the differential gear. It is caused by the metal abrasion between the gear teeth and or broken teeth. If not adequately fixed, your differential gear can break.
  5. Clunking Noise: there are many metal parts inside the differential gear, and they need differential oil to run. If the oil expires or dries up, you will hear this clunking noise.
  6. Increased Vibrating Noises: The vibrations noises from the diff is normal as it ages. However, if your diff excessively vibrates before changing according to time, you must check it. Mostly you will feel the vibration when running at full speed.

Step 3: Prepare the Vehicle For Inspection

Once you are prepared with the tools and initially determine the cause of the noise, it is time to prepare the vehicle for further inspection. As the diff gear remains below the vehicle, you will need a proper space to work on. 

So, place your vehicle on a jack stand, or you can place it on the ramp if you have one in your garage.

Step 4: Change the Differential Oil

How often you should change the differential oil depends on your vehicle type. So, the owner’s manual provided by the maker can help you determine how often you should change the fluid and double-check that the differential fluid is at the right level. 

As soon as you realize that it is already too late, you need to drain the fluid and replace it with fresh fluid. You should do this as soon as possible. The noise coming from the trunk will no longer be an issue after applying this solution. And, never forget to use the best oil to quiet differential.

Step 5: Change the Gasket

You will need to replace the gasket once the oil fluid has been drained and small pieces of metal have been discovered. This will be necessary to ensure that the vehicle functions appropriately. 

To accomplish this, the cover plate will need to be removed entirely and inspected to determine whether it contains any defects.

If the howling sound emanating from your motor vehicle is unusually loud, the only solution available to you is to replace the gasket. 

Once the component has been replaced, you will no longer hear the noise. If the differential leaks, you will also need to replace the gasket located in the differential. There may be a brown liquid on the ground that you should keep an eye out for. 

Step 6: Replace the Damaged Or Chipped Parts

It is in your best interest to replace any components that have sustained damage; for instance, you should replace them if the pinion shaft or ring gear, the bearings, or the seals have sustained damage. It is an efficient way to address the issue of noise coming from the wheel bearings in your vehicle. 

Step 7: Wash the Case And Lubricate The Axle Shafts

It is essential to clean the case as the rear differential seal regularly becomes obstructed with dirt and dust. A brake cleaner and a clean carpet are useful tools for cleaning the rear differentials located under the vehicle.

Lubricating the axle shafts is an essential maintenance task. Gear oil is applied to both the rear axle and the steering axle to keep the gears turning smoothly. This is done so that you can also use the rear axle for steering.

Step 8: Give The Vehicle A Test Drive

Give the car a spin to see if it meets your needs. To settle the differential, it is often necessary to replace either the seal or the differential fluid. 

After you have finished all the steps, you should give the vehicle a test drive to see if the noise is still there. When there is no longer any noise coming from the device, the problem has been fixed. 

If, on the other hand, the noise does not stop, it is probably time to take the vehicle to a garage so that you can repair it, or you should get in touch with an experienced mechanic. There is a possibility that the problem lies with one of the other differential components. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of oil do I put in rear differential?

Ans: You can put 2 kinds of oil in the differential gear. The mineral oil and the synthetic oil. The mineral one is filtered directly from crude oil, and the synthetic one is made in the lab.

How often should I change my rear differential fluid?

Ans: Experts recommend changing the differential fluid every 30000 to 60000 miles. However, it depends on the type of vehicle you have. So, check the manual provided by the manufacturer to make sure when you have to change the oil.

How much does it cost to change differential gears?

Ans: If your differential gears need a repair, they can cost you around $300-$600. If you need new diffs, then it’s gonna cost you about $1200-$1500. And if the whole differential needs to be replaced, the cost can rise to $5000.

Why is my differential howling?

Ans: there are two main reasons for differential howling. One is when the pinion bearing of the differential is torn off it howls. Also, the low differential oil level can cause howling.

Can you drive with a noisy differential?

Ans: Yes, you can drive a noisy differential. But it is not recommended by the experts to drive a vehicle with a noisy differential. It can worsen the condition of the diff and can cause accidents or raise the fixing costs.

Conclusion

We’ve covered the basics of what a differential is and how it works. Next, we looked at some of the reasons why they make noise and how to quiet differential whine. 

Finally, we showed you how to maintain your car’s differential gears properly. Now that you know all there is to know about these essential gears, go out and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge! 

Remember to keep up with regular maintenance so that your car runs smoothly for years to come.

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