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Differential Output Seal Replacement

Replacing the Seals in your Differential 

Car engines are powerful mechanisms. When they generate power, they do so through the crankshaft and into the transmission. The power that is created is in line, or parallel with the engine. You can imagine a straight line that runs the length of the car. How then, does that power reach the wheels of the car?

Keep on reading to learn about how the generated power from the engine eventually makes it to the wheels. And how to take care of the components that are responsible for that job.

What is a Differential?

In order for the wheels to spin, the power generated from the engine and that spins the crank shaft needs to make a 180-degree turn. The differential on your car is the component that is responsible for making that possible.

The front or rear differential, takes the power from the engine and redirects it towards the wheels via the axel shaft so that they can spin. In other words, it changes the longitudinal power into lateral power.

Front-wheel cars have front differentials, while rear-wheel cars have rear differentials. If the car’s transmission is 4 x 4 or all-wheel drive, then it will contain two separate differential mechanisms.

The Output Seal On the Differential

Whether it’s front or rear, the differential requires fluid to operate correctly. The fluid keeps the axle shaft, bearings and the gears on the inside of the differential box lubricated. Without proper lubrication, the gears, gearing and other components will overheat and seize.

The output seal on the differential is responsible for containing the fluid within the differential mechanism. It contains the fluid within the assembly, and keeps it from leaking out.

If the output seal on the differential breaks, and fluid escapes, then you will begin to start noticing signs that your differential is not functioning correctly.

Signs of a Failed Output Differential Seal

When the output seal on the differential fails, you may begin to notice a few things:

  • Puddles of fluid on the ground beneath the car
  • Fluid seepage around the differential, and nearby components
  • Atypical noises, such as whining or grinding, that increase as the car accelerates

If you notice any of these items, it could mean that your differential is having issues. Normally, when that is the case, it’s related to the output seal.

It’s important to note that unlike other fluid reservoirs in your car, the differential does not use a dipstick. In other words, you cannot easily check the fluid levels that are maintained by the output seal.

So if you start to experience leakage, it’s impossible to know how much is remains in the differential without going in for service. That is why it’s important to get your car in for repairs at the first signs of a failed output seal instead of waiting.

Repairing the Output Seal

If the leak on your differential is minor, you have some flexibility with when to bring it in. However, if the leak is major, we recommend that you do not delay too long before getting repairs.

The reason being that if the leak is bad, eventually the components in your differential will run out of fluid. If they are used continually without lubrication, they will seize and fail. A seized differential is a much more serious, and expensive, repair.

Repair Costs for the Differential Output Seal

The repair costs for replacing the seal on your vehicle’s differential will vary based on:

  • Year, make and model of the car
  • Geographic location
  • The specific repair shop or dealership

On average, the repair costs for replacing the differential output seal are as follows:

  • Parts: ~ $50
  • Labor: ~ $210-280

Contact Prieto Automotive

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any other automotive-related questions or curiosities, contact us. We would love to help!

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Differential Output Seal Replacement