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Changing the differential fluid...


Because the differential fluid level should be checked once every 12 months or 20,000 kilometres (12,000 miles), whichever comes first, it’s a good idea to replace the fluid altogether at that time since it’s almost as time-consuming to check the differential fluid level (which requires jacking the entire vehicle up so that it’s elevated and level) as it is to replace the fluid altogether.


The differential is a closed system, generally without filtration…

The differential is a closed system which distributes power from the automatic or manual transmission to the driven wheels.  The differential generally doesn’t have any kind of filtration of the fluid inside it, although some differentials have a magnet embedded in the inside of the drain plug to attract and capture metallic particles in the fluid.  So changing the fluid once every 12 months or 20,000 kilometres (12,000 miles), whichever comes first, is a small price to pay to purge the differential of all the tiny metal particles deposited into the fluid over the course of the operation of the differential over 12 months as metal components inside it wear against each other.

If these tiny metal particles are allowed to accumulate in the fluid, they’ll exacerbate wear inside the differential and reduce the working life of the differential.  Considering how much work the differential does over the course of twelve months (irrespective of distance travelled), it makes sense to change the fluid every twelve months.


Clean the drain plug thoroughly when replacing the differential fluid…

If your vehicle’s differential has a drain plug with a magnet embedded in the inside of it to attract and capture metallic particles in the fluid, be sure to clean them thoroughly off of the magnet when you replace the fluid.


Drain the fluid when it’s hot in order to remove the most contaminants...

In order to remove the most contaminants (such as tiny metal particles) from the differential when draining the fluid, it’s important to drive the vehicle beforehand for, say, fifteen minutes after the highest engine operating temperature has been reached.  A greater proportion of the contaminants will be removed when the vehicle has just been driven and the fluid being drained from the differential is hot due to the heat generated from its operation.


Use a high-quality differential fluid additive…

Use a high-quality differential additive with each fluid change such as Nulon G70 Manual Gearbox & Diff Treatment.  This kind of additive contains PTFE particles (ie. polytetrafluoroethylene) which reduce friction and wear inside the differential, improve the operation of the differential and increase its service life.



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Copyright 2016 Andrew Mackinnon.  All rights reserved.