Scratching your head? Don't worry, if you don’t know what a differential is – you will in a moment. That fact is that if you drive a car anywhere in Los Altos, CA, you have a differential. Whether your vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, you have a differential. You might even have two or three.
Not surprisingly, a differential’s job is to compensate for differences. Specifically the differences in wheel speed when turning. For instance, imagine taking a corner near your Los Altos, CA home. Your inside wheel has a shorter distance to travel than the outside wheel as you turn the corner. That means that your outside wheel has to turn faster to keep pace with the inside wheel.
The differential allows the wheels to turn at different speeds while still providing power to your vehicle. Without a differential, our tires would scrub and hop along the pavement during turns like the early cars.
Ever noticed the big bulge in the middle of the rear axle on trucks? That’s the differential. Rear-wheel drive vehicles have a differential in back. Most four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs will also have a similar differential on the front axle. Front-wheel drive vehicles’ differential is called a transaxle because it combines the differential and transmission in one unit. An all-wheel drive vehicle will have a differential or transfer case that adjusts for speed differences between the front and rear drive wheels.
It can seem a little complex to some Los Altos drivers - but you can see that all of the engine’s power is routed through your differentials. They’re strong enough to handle the work, but- we've said it before - they need to be properly lubricated in order to stay strong. So from time to time, you need to have your differential serviced at Allied Auto Works. The used fluid is drained and replaced with clean fluid. Some auto manufacturers advise certain differentials to have special additives installed.
Get your differential serviced at our Los Altos automotive center:
Allied Auto Works
2073 Grant Road
Los Altos, CA 94024
Recommendations for the time and mileage interval for servicing your differential, can vary greatly by vehicle. A front-wheel drive vehicle’s transaxle will need servicing more frequently than the rear differential on a pick-up truck, so check with your Los Altos, CA Allied Auto Works service advisor or your auto manufacturers owner’s manual for recommendations.
How and where you drive in Los Altos will have an impact as well. If you drive on dirt roads or through streams around Los Altos, CA, you’ll need to service the differential much sooner than if you always stay on expressways.
Here at AutoNetTV, we have national viewers, like your neighbors in Los Altos, who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we're asked is: "What is a differential and what does it do?" You may have been told by your Allied Auto Works service specialist that your differential needs service, or seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service at Allied Auto Works covers a lot of things, so let's first talk about what a differential does.
As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track - the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don't hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow on Los Altos interstates. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels - which is why they're often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they'll last.
All vehicles in Los Altos have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is sometimes called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you will have a differential in the front and the back - and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.
Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your auto manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed.
Differentials are hard working mechanisms, and, along with the gears in a manual transmission, need to be serviced regularly at Allied Auto Works with high-quality, replacement fluid. Your Los Altos service specialist can give you more information as to when your next differential service is recommended. You can also ask if they have a record of when the service was last completed.
As with most service intervals, if you are driving under more severe conditions in the Los Altos area, you will want to service your differential more frequently. "Severe service" conditions are defined in most owners' manuals, and include: frequent starts and stops, short trips, cold CA weather, hot weather and towing. All these factors add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Also, off-roading in CA can be especially hard on differentials, especially if you cross streams. Proper service at Allied Auto Works will extend the life of your gears and keep them running more smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit contact-us for more information.