What is a Car’s Differential?

The differential allows the two back tires to move at different speeds in a rear-wheel drive vehicle. This is particularly important when you try and turn a corner, for instance. The engine powers the differential indirectly through the drive train.

If you make a right turn, the inside wheels are the wheels closest to the turn. Their travel distance to round that corner is much smaller, and the speed is much slower than the outer wheels. The wheels on the opposite side of the car need to make up the distance to keep up with the inner wheels. Their arc is larger, and their speed is faster. The differential’s gears allow the two to work together in order to make that turn without slipping.

The maintenance of this important part of the vehicle is often overlooked. It should have an oil change about every 30,000 miles. The next time you’re in the area, stop by Ron Carter Ford. One of our knowledgeable technicians will be happy to answer any questions.

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