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What is a Differential?

Your vehicle's differential is located on the axle between the two rear wheels. It allows the rear wheels of your vehicle to turn at different speeds. This is vital for making turns. Why? Well, imagine a car taking a left turn. The right rear wheel would have to travel a longer distance and therefore turn faster than the left wheel. If your rear wheels were on a fixed axle, one of them would have to slide or skid as you made a turn.

How does this incredible machine work? As shown in the helpful video made by 'Learn Engineering' on YouTube, the drive shaft transfers power to the differential by using the pinion gear to turn the large ring gear. This in turn causes the one, two (as pictured above), or even four spider gears to rotate along with the ring gear. The spider gear is also able to spin on its own axis which allows the two axle shafts connected to your wheels to rotate at different speeds when making a turn. Click the button below to watch this fascinating invention in motion!

The position a differential takes determines fuel combustion, the motion of the piston, and the conversion power of the crankshaft. Keeping this mechanism well oiled and maintained is vital to keeping our vehicle running for as long as possible. Without the proper oiling, the "teeth" of this mechanism can start rubbing against each other. This causes them to wear down and could result in an expensive replacement in severe cases.

Each of our locations are equipped to check and service your differential.


Come on down to your local Shell Rapid Lube owned and operated by Flash Lube Oil! Your friends down here are happy to service your car's differential.

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