Remanufactured Differentials

What is the difference between used, rebuilt and remanufactured differentials?

The difference is whether the differential is rebuilt using OEM parts. A remanufactured differential uses higher quality parts compared to a rebuilt differential.

Although many people use these terms for both, they are, in fact, very different products:

Used Differentials

What is a used differential?

Used differentials: This refers to a differential that was in use. They will have wear and tear associated with them. How much wear and tear on the used rear differential will depend on the vehicle’s mileage. Also, loading is also a consideration. We define the loading of a differential in a few ways. First, as actual weight in the vehicle such as a heavily loaded truck bed. Second, differential loading occurs during hard acceleration or towing of heavy objects such as RV trailers. Used rear differentials may be tempting as a rear differential replacement but they also come with other caveats when compared to a remanufactured or rebuilt rear differential.

Characteristics of a used differential

used differentials at a junkyard

A used differential often has an unknown history and thus could be a bargain low mileage stock replacement. But, a used rear differential is also very often a differential that is taken off high mileage vehicles. They can also take it off a highly loaded vehicle with significant wear and tear. They may also have been sitting in a junkyard for quite a while before purchasing.

Where do used differentials come from?

A used differential taken from a vehicle comes with some potential issues. For example, the vehicle could have been in an accident or has a fault not worth repairing. This could be a rear differential or rear axle. A fault not worth repairing is usually from a higher mileage vehicle. That differential may have lower mileage, but during the collision, may have damaged the differential.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a used differential?

The benefit of a used differential is that it is significantly cheaper than purchasing a new differential replacement. 

The drawback of a used differential is that it is a gamble on whether it works correctly and if so, for how long.

Rebuilt Differentials

What are rebuilt differentials?

A rebuilt differential is a used differential that has been rebuilt with new parts. These parts replace any worn or damaged parts on the used differential.

How is a differential rebuilt?rebuilding a differential with exposed gears

During a rebuild, a technician will disassemble the differential and inspect the components to find any signs of wear and tear. This involves measuring tolerances and components to ensure they are within specification. If not in specification, they are machined or replaced to bring components back into their factory tolerance. The technician will use their expertise and knowledge in differentials. They can determine which components need to be replaced. Replacing worn components means the differential will have an extended lifetime. This will then bring it closer to a new replacement.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a rebuilt differential?

The benefits of a rebuilt differential include a significantly lower cost than that of a new replacement. This is mainly due to only replacing components that need to be replaced. Also, they may come with a warranty and thus will provide a long life of trouble-free operation.

custom Ford 9" rebuilt differential carrier axle

The only drawback of a rebuilt differential is based on how well it was rebuilt. This includes the skill of the technician performing the rebuild and the quality of the components used in the rebuild. An inexperienced technician may not rebuild a differential with the same care and precision as an experienced rebuilder. Also, unfortunately, many differential rebuilders use low-quality aftermarket components. These are not of the same quality as the original manufacturer’s components.

How do you ensure you get a quality rebuilt differential?

Rebuilt differential warranty Symbol

An experienced rebuilder will build a quality rebuilt differential. They will use components with OEM quality or higher quality replacement components. An axle that doesn’t come with a warranty like the warranty from Houston Rebuilt Axles, is likely not a high-quality rebuild. You should avoid these rebuilds as it will cause you problems down the road. A warranty is a sign of faith in workmanship and components and should be sought for rebuilt components of any type.

Rebuilt Truck Differentials

Rebuilt truck differentials are not that different from rebuilt differentials in other vehicles. Many differentials were used on both light-duty trucks and passenger cars. The differences that existed (if any) were usually related to the gear ratio. Passenger vehicles typically ran the engine at lower rpm at highway speeds. But, truck differentials would provide more low-end torque but with lower top speeds.

Heavy-duty trucks use more heavy-duty differentials for use as work vehicles. These differentials develop higher towing capacity and load bearing than small passenger vehicles.

Truck differentials also came in a large variety and often were options on new vehicles. These included clutch-type locking differentials, hydraulic locking differentials, and standard/single-pull differentials.

Rebuilding truck differentials is a specialty of Houston Rebuilt Axles. In fact, it’s our most common service. As specialists, we are fully equipped to rebuild truck differentials. Whether light-duty, heavy-duty or dually-equipped vehicles we can help you. We also work on all the major American brands including GM/Chevrolet Truck Differentials, Dodge/Chrysler Truck Differentials and Ford Truck Differentials.

Why Rebuild Truck Differentials?

Much like any differential, eventually, the truck differential components will wear out. In fact, trucks that see heavy loads will need a differential rebuild sooner than those not under heavy use. A rebuilt truck differential is more cost-effective than a replacement. At Houston Rebuilt Axles, we use OEM or better replacement components. Also, our warranty gives you peace of mind that your rebuilt truck differential was built with confidence and by specialists in the field.

Remanufactured Differentials

What is a Remanufactured Differential?

Remanufactured differentials are used differentials that have been rebuilt to factory specifications. They also have been rebuilt to factory tolerances using OEM components. As factory components are what was used in the original build of the differential, the specifications remain the same. This means the lifespan of the differential should be the same as if it were new.

remanufactured Differential

How does a remanufactured differential differ from a rebuilt differential?

A remanufactured and rebuilt differential is very similar. A remanufactured differential uses OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) components. This ensures the quality of the differential will be the same as if it were new. Tolerances and specifications will still be inspected. This ensures they are within factory specifications.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a remanufactured differential?

The benefits and drawbacks of a remanufactured differential are tied together. This is because remanufactured differentials use OEM components which tend to be a little more expensive. Yet, the differential rebuilt with OEM quality components will last longer. This is in comparison to a differential rebuilt with cheap aftermarket replacement components. This ends up resulting in a superior product.

Guide to choosing between used, remanufactured or rebuilt differentials?

In addition to the benefits and drawbacks listed above for each type of differential, you may also consider the purpose of a differential. Also, you should consider where the differential will come from.

  • A remanufactured differential would be the best choice for a factory replacement. These are good for daily drivers as they retain the factory quality and lifespan of an original replacement without added cost. person thinking about a choice
  • A rebuilt differential from a reputable differential rebuilder is also a great choice. But, make sure they use OEM quality replacement components. For applications beyond factory use a rebuilt differential may be a better choice. For example, applications such as off-road, race or custom applications. This is because it can be rebuilt with very high-quality components to withstand more wear and tear.
  • A used differential can be a good choice for low-budget replacements but be aware that it may need a rebuild right away or soon. This adds to the cost and inconvenience of removing the differential and replacing it again following the rebuild.

What type of differential rebuilds do Houston Rebuilt Axles do?Wheel Bearing

Houston Rebuilt Axles remanufacture differentials with a combination of OEM spec components and higher than OEM quality components. We remanufacture our differentials with higher than factory components. This includes Timken bearings and seals that exceed factory specifications.

wheel bearing hub & sealWe will remove all the components from the housing. Also, we inspect both the housing and components to ensure factory tolerances. For anything out of specification we machine or replace it.



What is the cheapest way to rebuild a differential?

money puzzle

So far, we have only talked about replacing differentials with used, rebuilt or remanufactured units. You can also rebuild or remanufacture your existing differential. This may be the most cost-effective method of differential repair. This is because we are reusing existing components and not sourcing them from a junkyard. That way, you know the history of the differential and you are not taking a chance on a junkyard replacement.

What components are rebuilt or remanufactured in a differential?

Various components can be replaced in a differential. First, you need to understand how differentials vary in type and how they operate. A great place to start is our articles on how differentials work. From here you can explore the various types:

From these descriptions of the various differentials, it is clear that the components vary in each type of differential. That means the cost of rebuilding or remanufacturing a differential will depend on the type of differential. The reason is the type will dictate what components are present. Worn out clutch plates, spider gears, wheel bearings, ring & pinion sets etc.

However, it is common to see the same parts replaced during standard rebuilds. Oftentimes, replacing consumable components is worth doing to give them a new lifespan and ensure they don’t cause a problem. As a result, it is possible to approximate the cost of remanufacturing a differential.

Other useful resources we provide include troubleshooting rear axle problems and our differential gear ratio calculator. We also have a collection of articles that go over how differentials work, diagnosing differential problems, common axle problems, why repair a differential and more.

Find out how much you can rebuild your differential for by contacting Houston Rebuilt Axles. With nationwide shipping and door-to-door service, we can rebuild your differential and have it back to you with our superior warranty. 

Why use Houston Rebuilt Axles to remanufacture your differential?

Remanufacturing a differential is more than replacing components. It’s about making it right. Many axle repair shops will rebuild your differential. But, if there is anything wrong with the differential housing, rebuilding the differential is a waste of time. Once installed in the vehicle, a remanufactured differential in a bent axle housing will not last long and will need replacement.

Bent axle spindle end repairAs specialists in the field, we have the equipment and skills to straighten spindle ends. A majority of the axle repair shops in the country are not able to do this. They will either ask you for another axle to rebuild or will rebuild the differential into the bent axle housing. Either way, you are paying for two replacement axles.

At Houston Rebuilt Axles, we repair axles and remanufacture differentials. We also inspect, clean, paint and even fill the axle with fluid so it is ready to install into the vehicle right away. Our remanufactured differentials, rear ends and rebuilt rear ends are of the highest quality and are ready to go and like new. We believe that’s how a remanufactured product should be. Also, we offer custom axle services. We are confident in our products and that’s why our warranty is the best in the business.

Have any other questions about rebuilt or remanufactured differentials? Call or email us