The Average Cost for a Rear Differential Replacement Is $1,755 to $5,425 Depending on if You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles and does not factor in taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. Related repairs or maintenance, such as driveshaft repair, transmission repair, rear axle repair, and tire services. For a more accurate differential replacement cost estimate based on your specific make, model, and location, check out the FIXD Sensor and free app!
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Cost at the Mechanic: $1,755-$5,425
- Parts: $1,500-$5,000
- Labor: $255-$425
The process of entirely replacing a rear differential at an auto repair shop usually takes three to five hours. A rear differential can last anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 miles, depending on what type of driving conditions it’s subject to and how well it’s maintained. It’s essential to keep this component in good condition as it can lead to a wide array of problems if it’s faulty, from poor handling to damaged tires.
To make sure you replace this part at the right time and never miss important maintenance, use the FIXD Sensor and free app. FIXD tracks your vehicle’s maintenance schedule for you and alerts you when it’s due for service so you can avoid costly repairs and stay on the road.
To learn more about proper maintenance, check out our Ultimate Guide to Car Maintenance for Beginners.
Cost to DIY: $1,500-$5,000
- Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Parts Needed:
Although you can save substantially by changing your rear differential yourself, you should consider the difficulty of the task before you get started. A rear differential is an extremely complex component that requires highly specialized tools and knowledge to repair or replace your differential. Unless you’re a trained mechanic, you’ll likely have trouble diagnosing a differential problem and properly install the new gears. As such, it’s best that you let a professional mechanic do the job for you.
Keep in mind: Rear differentials come in several different forms, including open differentials, locked differentials, limited-slip differentials, and torque-vectoring differentials. If you want to do the rear differential replacement yourself, make sure you choose a type that fits your vehicle and driving needs. Check your owner’s manual if you have any doubts what type of differential your vehicle is equipped with.
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What Is a Rear Differential?
The transmission of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle delivers power to the rear wheels, but the wheels can’t operate effectively by themselves. If they rotate at the same speed while turning, it’ll put extra strain on the axle and undermine your vehicle’s ability to stay planted. A rear differential helps prevent these problems by allowing the rear wheels to spin at different speeds when negotiating turns, winding roads, and off-road terrain. Check out this cool video showing how differentials operate.
What Does a Rear Differential Replacement Include?
Replacing a rear differential is a labor-intensive and time-consuming task that involves removing many components, including the brake lines, hub and axle, driveshaft, and rear differential. Also, it isn’t a job you can do on your own. You’ll need a partner to lift and hold the heavy differential in place when you’re reinstalling it. If you want to make sure the job is done right, you should take your vehicle to an auto repair shop instead of tackling the repair yourself.
A good mechanic not only knows how to properly replace your rear differential, but they’ll also check certain related components, such as the driveshaft, rear axle, transmission, and wheels, for wear and damage. Additionally, they’ll clean the mating surfaces of the differential before reinstallation. Depending on your make and model of vehicle, the entire process can take three to five hours.
What Happens if You Don’t Replace Your Rear Differential?
It isn’t a good idea to drive with a bad rear differential. Sometimes, a faulty differential can cause one wheel to spin quicker than the other even when you’re trying to drive straight. As a result, your vehicle may pull to one side and become harder to control, making you more likely to get into an accident. If your rear differential completely breaks down, you may find yourself stranded on the side of the road with an inoperable car.
Since your rear differential is connected to the transmission, driveshaft, rear axle, and rear wheels, it may cause damage to these components if it isn’t working properly. Having to repair or replace these parts can set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars. Therefore, it’s important that you change your rear differential according to the recommended schedule.
How Often to Get a Rear Differential Replacement?
Depending on the type of vehicle and how it’s used and maintained, a rear differential can last anywhere from 50,000 miles to beyond 200,000 miles. To find out the ideal interval for your specific vehicle, you can either use the free FIXD app or check your owners manual. Also, note that you may have to get a replacement more often if you routinely drive on rough surfaces or fail to properly maintain your car. If you want your rear differential to last longer, you should have your rear differential fluid changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
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Common Symptoms You Need To Replace Your Rear Differential
Below is a list of signs suggesting that it may be time to get a new rear differential:
- Grinding or whining noise
- Tire damage
- Vibrations during acceleration
- Poor handling while turning
- Differential fluid leak
Related Maintenance Services
The following services are commonly performed with a rear differential replacement:
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At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.