What Is A Differential and How Does It Work?

Imagine a car that can only go in one direction, and it can never turn left or right or move backward. You might think, "what is the point of that car then?" Without your differential, driving would simply be like that: moving in one direction. Thankfully, all vehicles come with a differential, enabling us to maneuver our cars wherever and however we'd like.


The automotive differential is part of the axle assembly. It connects to the transmission through the driveshaft, and they both work together to allow smooth car movements. This vital component also rotates your wheels at different speeds. You may have heard the terms "front-wheel drive" or "four-wheel-drive" before, and those refer to the differential.


Each differential system varies depending on the make and model of the vehicle or whether it is front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The differential provides proximate revolutions per minute (RPM) between your wheels. It also helps to distribute a fair amount of torque to the wheels, allowing them to respond to the type of surface you're operating on.


Signs You Need Differential Repair

Without a functioning differential, your automobile is vulnerable to excess wear and tear and even irreversible damages. Below are some of the common signs that indicate you need differential repairs:

  • Unusual tire wear or damage to tire sidewalls
  • Random vibrations
  • Poor vehicle handling
  • Whining sounds 
  • Grinding gears
  • Burning or unusual smells

If your vehicle exemplifies any of the signs above, we encourage you to take it to our auto repair shop soon. While you may continue to drive with a bad differential, it is considered unsafe. In severe cases, you could lose complete control of your vehicle, requiring additional repairs. 


TOS Auto Repair is the top choice for trusted and quality differential services in Sacramento & Citrus Heights. Please give us a call or schedule an appointment online with us today for all your auto needs!

TOS Auto Repair is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call TOS Auto Repair (916) 348-1696 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.