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Differential Cover

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What is a differential cover and where is it located?

The differential cover, sometimes called the rear end cover, is found between the two axles for the rear wheels in rear wheel drive vehicles. As the name indicates, it covers and protects the differential. It also can be removed to allow replacement of the differential fluid. 

To understand why the differential cover is important, you might want to know a little bit about what it’s covering. The differential is a series of gears that lets your back wheels spin at slightly different speeds. This is important because the outside wheel travels farther than the inside one during a turn. The differential also uses gears to transfer rotation from the driveshaft to the axles. All those gears need to be lubricated so they don’t get damaged. The differential cover keeps debris out of the gears, and keeps lubricating differential fluid from leaking out.

How do I know if my differential cover needs to be replaced?

The differential cover hangs out underneath your vehicle’s chassis where it’s exposed to all manner of dirt, salt, and road debris. Although it obviously has to be made to withstand these kinds of indignities, eventually a differential cover can get rusty or worn, especially around its bolt holes, and develop leaks. Leaks let fluid out of your differential, which puts the gears at risk. Rust on your differential cover or fluid leaks around or underneath it are a good indicator that you need to replace your differential cover.   

Can I replace a rear differential cover myself?

Replacing your differential cover is by no means complicated but it can take a good deal of time and effort. The job takes many steps, but no one of them is overly technical. With a little patience, you should be able to replace your own differential cover.  Note that you'll have to change your differential fluid any time that you change the differential cover and that you should replace the differential cover gasket any time you remove the differential cover. 

To start the process of removing your differential cover, you’ll have to raise and secure the vehicle and drain the differential fluid. You drain the fluid by removing the plug from the differential and loosening the differential cover bolts. Be sure to have a drain pan ready to catch the fluid. 

Then, remove the differential cover. You’ll want to thoroughly clean the differential, the cover, the plug, and the mounting area. This removes any sludge or debris that can harm the gears. The differential cover has a magnet in it that attracts any loose metal filings. It is especially important to clean this area, since the filings pose the most risk to the gears. 

Then you apply sealant to the gasket, let it set, and put the gasket and cover back on. Insert the bolts back into the cover and tighten them in an opposing or criss-crossing pattern. Then tighten them to the manufacturer’s recommended torque specifications. If you under-tighten them you can cause leaks. If you over tighten them you can warp the cover, which will also cause leaks. Then you’ll just need to refill the differential with manufacturer’s recommended fluid. 

Afterwards you’ll want to clean up the area around the differential. After the next time you drive the vehicle, check the differential for leaks. A lack of leaks tells you that you’ve successfully solved your problem. 

Need a differential cover replacement?

Your vehicle’s differential is a very critical component. Therefore, keeping it in good working order is essential to the overall performance of your car or truck. The job of the differential cover is to protect the differential from damaging elements so if it itself has been dented, damaged or is rusted, then you should replace it immediately. At 1A Auto, we carry aftermarket rear differential covers for many makes and models, and at great prices.

At 1A Auto, we make shopping for a replacement differential cover for your car, truck, SUV or van easy - we're here to help you select the right part for your vehicle! Call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our parts, warranty, compatibility or to purchase, or you can buy online. Replace your rusted or damaged rear differential cover with a quality replacement from 1A Auto.

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