With front-wheel drive being so common in Norfolk these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Norfolk folks don't even have to think about it. And most rear-wheel drive vehicle differentials don't need to be serviced for a long time, so it's understandable that it's not something on most drivers' minds. So it's not uncommon for people in VA to not know they have a differential, let alone know that it needs service.
To better understand what a differential does, think about a high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.
The differential compensates for the difference in speeds on drive wheels between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.
Many vehicle differentials do a lot of work and require very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers and Carmasters Automotive technicians recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.
Your Carmasters Automotive service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He'll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.
Norfolk four-wheel-drive vehicles need special attention to their differentials because they have a differential on both the front and rear axles that work at different times and sometimes under heavy loads; so they may need to be serviced at Carmasters Automotive at different intervals.
Your Norfolk service advisor can look up the manufacturer's recommended service interval or you can check your vehicle owner's manual.
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931 E Little Creek Rd.
Norfolk, VA 23518