Symptoms of a Possible Differential Problem

The differential distributes the torque from the crankshaft to the vehicle's wheels, transferring the engine power to the wheels. If your differential gives out, your vehicle is inoperable. Differential noise is often caused by friction. The sound can be similar to tire noise, ow if in doubt, get this checked out. Untreated differential problems can lead to expensive repair work.

Humming occurs at the beginning stages of a differential problem. The many gears that make up the differential have teeth that are entwined. Low lubricant levels are usually the cause of the humming. Gear grinding causes the initial humming from the contact of the gear teeth. At this stage you can boost the lubricant level or make a slight adjustment to the differential to fix the problem.

If you ignore the humming the differential will eventually growl. This is because the damage has gone further than just the gears. The ring and pinion are now damaged permanently. At this point you need a mechanic to replace the ring and pinion.

Noise When Turning

While the growling noise can sometimes be confused with regular tire noise, the differential noise is only noticeable when the vehicle is turning. If the problem progresses, the vehicle could seize up resulting in replacement costs of $1,500 to $2,000 or more.


If your differential gets to the point where it completely fails, your entire vehicle will vibrate, fluid will leak and the acceleration of the vehicle will be severely impacted. Vibration may be experienced prior to complete breakage when driving at high speeds. This vibration can be felt throughout the entire vehicle or just in the floor.