Differential Repair

What is Differential Repair?

Differential repair consists of removing the rear differential cover, replacing any components that are worn out of damaged, resealing the differential case cover and adding new differential fluid. a differetnial being repaired


A differential repair is different from a differential rebuild in that only components that have failed or are worn out are replaced during a repair. A rebuild would instead have all its consumable components evaluated and/or replaced. 


How Much Does It Cost To Repair A Differential?

A differential repair can cost from $200-$400 for minor repairs. However, more major repairs where differential gear components need replaced can cost more. The actual cost will depend on the vehicle type and the components that require replacing. The cost of repair however, is still cheaper than replacing the differential. This answers our next questions:


Is It Worth Repairing A Differential?

In almost every scenario of a damaged differential, it is more cost effective to repair a differential than to replace it. A new replacement differential, if available, comes at a high cost. Oftentimes, the differential housing does not need to be replaced and a repair simply involves replacement of internal components. In extreme cases, even a damaged housing can be repaired. If in doubt, contact an expert like Houston Rebuilt Axles and discuss your options. 


What Are The Symptoms That A Differential Needs Repair?

A differential repair can be required for a variety of reasons. The symptoms experienced will depend on the issue the differential is experiencing. For a list of the symptoms a differential can present, see our troubleshooting rear axle problems page.


Can You Drive With A Broken Differential?

It is not recommended to drive a vehicle with a broken differential. Depending on how severe the damage to the differential is, it could be very dangerous to drive the vehicle. Minor differential defects such as worn wheel bearings are more tolerant to driving for a short time, however major defects could cause the vehicle to lose control. 


What Causes A Differential To Need Repair?

Differentials need repair for two main reasons:


  • Firstly, a differential has many components that simply wear out with use. These include all the rotating components within the differential housing. As these components are expected to wear out in time, these are considered consumable components. 
  • The second reason is through lack of regular maintenance. This can cause any of the same components to wear out prematurely. A well maintained differential should have an expected lifespan for its components, however, without regular maintenance the expected lifespan will most likely not be achieved. 


Who Can Repair A Differential?

Whenever possible, a differential repair should be done by a differential specialist or differential rebuilder. Even minor repairs such as wheel bearings are replaced improperly leading to near immediate failure of the differential. In these cases, the differential will require repair again meaning more time without your vehicle. Furthermore, a differential specialist typically will inspect the differential for other potential problems and ensure it is within specifications. repaired differential installed


Can I Use A Differential Repair Kit?

Although rebuild kits may seem convenient, having the components to repair a differential is only half the battle. Installation is the most important part as improper installation leads to failure of the new components and possibly damage to the original components. Differentials are all about specs and tolerances. A differential will fail when components are installed incorrectly leading to added cost for yet another repair. 


Does A Differential Leak Need To Be Repaired?

A differential leak should be repaired as it is an indication that the seal of the differential cover is failing and the leak will just get worse. A leaking differential will lose differential fluid meaning the lubrication within the differential is not sufficient leading to increased friction and excessive component wear. Remember that fluid can also leak at the wheel hubs, again due to failing seals. 


differential leak

Can You Drive A Vehicle With A Differential Leak?

It may be necessary to drive a vehicle with a differential leak such as taking it for repair. If the leak is slow, you can drive the vehicle but ensure the fluid is not running low. If required, top up the fluid and then drive it to the repair shop. A major leak may be too serious to allow driving the vehicle and only lead to more serious differential damage.


How Do You Know A Differential Seal Is Leaking?

A leaking differential is characterized by a seeping dark fluid usually at a joint between two components such as the differential housing and differential cover. More major leaks can create gear fluid puddles under the differential of the vehicle when stationary. a leaking differential cover


How Long Does A Differential Repair Take?


When done by an experienced differential repair specialist, a differential can be repaired within a regular work day assuming all the required components are at hand. Rebuilds may take longer if there is machining required but repairs are usually much quicker.


When Should A Differential Be Replaced Instead Of Repaired?

A differential only needs to be replaced once the differential housing is beyond repair. With so many options for factory and aftermarket components available, repairs are both the most cost effective and environmentally friendly option. 


Why Do Differential Seals Fail?

Seals fail over time as their sealing components get hard or disintegrate. Another reason they can fail is due to improper installation or removal of components around them. 


Houston Rebuilt Axles Differential Repair Service

If you think your axle may need repair, contact us at Houston Rebuilt Axles for expert advice and a first class repair service and get back on the road with confidence in your vehicle.