The rear differential part of a vehicle is important as it works to help the rear vehicle wheels move and turn correctly and with ample power. It stops the car from locking up or moving with ease without having issues with turning the steering wheel while driving. It is a crucial component to the overall function of a car and without it, it puts the driver in danger of costly repairs or replacing the car altogether.
You will notice that your car begins to halt in functionality when you hear odd noises coming from the rear-end of your car. Such noises can be something like clicking or humming noises. You might also notice this occurs when turning, and even your steering wheel becomes hard to move easily.
The need to replace a rear differential entirely is dependent on how bad the damage is. This part is comprised of gears, joints, pinions, and shafts. These individual parts may need replacing, which will result in much lower costs and labor times. The part that needs to be paid special attention is the oil between these gears that are necessary to avoid damaging friction to the differential.
Now, depending on the make and model of your car in addition to how recently you purchased it, in some cases it’s more costly to repair the part than to purchase a whole new vehicle.
Benefits of replacing rear differential and what happens if you don’t replace it?
It is a common question to ask when it’s time to replace the rear differential in your vehicle. As mentioned previously, usually you will hear your vehicle reacting to turns with irregular noises from the back of your car.
It will also become difficult to steer your car with regular ease. It will take understanding and knowledge to be able to inspect the different gears in this part and know what isn’t working.
If the issue is related to the oil either running out, leaking, or resulting in a build up of residue in the car it will cause too much friction between the gears of the rear differential. The more friction the more the gears will wear down, and eventually they will not function properly.
The oil and power from the car itself are what pushes the gears in the differential to work; no oil means quicker damage to the part. The longer this goes unnoticed the more likely you will need to replace the whole thing.
Leaving the part too long causes further damage and will turn your roughly $100 repair into a $1000+ repair, or the replacement of your entire vehicle.
How long does it take to replace a rear differential?
There are different time frames for replacing parts, the whole differential, or just replacing oil in your vehicle. This can span anywhere from a quick oil change taking about an hour, to up to five or more hours if the whole part must be removed and replaced.
|Required Upgrade||Hours of Labor|
|Fix Parts (gears, etc.)||3+|
How much does a rear differential cost to fix?
There are multiple different parts to a rear differential replacement, depending on if the whole part needs to be completely replaced, or only pieces of the part needs replacing like gears, pinions, seals, and other smaller parts.
Another thing to consider is the table below provides approximate costs for the parts themselves from multiple sources. It is important to remember that sending your vehicle to an automotive shop adds the cost of labor.
Labor costs can be anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars depending on the size of the job and the parts that need replacing.
Below you can see the comparison of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe model replacement costs for the rear differential with other vehicles:
|Approximate Costs to Fix (w/o Labor)|
|Vehicle Model||Smaller Parts||Replace Oil||Replace Rear Differential|
|2013 Hyundai Santa Fe||$13.20 – $60||$35||$649+|
|Jeep Models||$200 – $385||$12 – $20||$415 – $820|
|Dodge Ram 1500||$500 – $600||$38||$1420+|
|2012 Toyota Rav4||$25 – $200+||$10 – $30||$1000|
|2017 Toyota Rav4||$19 – $550||$10 – $15||$1100|
|2018 Toyota Rav4||$30 – $1000+||$12 – $20||$1150|
|Nissan Titan||$22 – $650+||$60 – $110||$1000 – $4000|
|Toyota FJ Cruiser||$45 – $550||$35 – $100||$740 – $900|
|Ford F150||$5.65 – $344||$25 – $40||$388 – $420|
|2008-2009 Yamaha Rhino 450||$25 – $260||$9 – $45||$390+|
The difference in costs between the different make and models of vehicles when it comes to costs around purchasing parts and the added cost of labor varies quite a bit.
There could be extra costs involved when parts of the rear differential are damaged, as it could involve removing the whole part and analyzing the damage before getting to work.
It can be deduced that this part of the vehicle is not only very important, but it can also cost you thousands of dollars to replace it. In some cases, replacing the vehicle itself may be more beneficial and easier on your wallet.
Parts on Online Retail Stores (DIY Parts Replacement)
If you know of someone in your close friend or family circle who is great with cars and knows how to upgrade your rear differential, you may want to purchase the parts yourself from an online retail store.
This can be from reputable auto shops, or you can search for highly rated parts on eBay or Amazon. The costs for parts on online retail stores ranges from $340 to $700 to purchase the entire rear differential.
|Whole rear differential||$400 – $700 per piece||$344 – $600+ per piece||$200 – $400 altogether|
|Pinions, seals, etc.||$10 – $30 per piece||$15 – $35 per piece||$100+ for parts repair|
|Differential assembly kits||$487 per kit||$60 – $180 per kit||DIY|
The costs for replacing parts of the rear differential in terms of seals, gears, pinions, and housing units range from anywhere as low as $10 per item up to $35 per item.
Assembly kits including all parts for the differential range from as low as $60 to upwards of almost $500.
It is not recommended to try to replace the parts by yourself if you do not have any proper knowledge of fixing vehicle parts. The estimates costs could increase if you end up breaking a piece, losing a piece, or replacing parts incorrectly.
It will also cost you your time and money. It is better to spend the extra few hundred dollars on labor costs to get the replacement done by mechanics at a long-standing shop then risking damaging your vehicle even further.
In conclusion, there are many viable reasons why you should check on your vehicle if you hear unknown or odd noises coming from the back of it.
The rear differential part of a vehicle is responsible for the function of turns, steering, and driving in general. It can cause issues with your driving experience and can be very dangerous if not addressed quickly.
The costs of replacing this part are very high, ranging from $1000 to upwards of $4000 alone – this doesn’t include the additional hundreds of dollars you will have to put out to the mechanic to replace the part for you.
The rear differential is one of the higher valued parts of a vehicle and should be kept an eye on. If you see oil leaking from your car, if you hear strange noises, and if you notice it’s harder to make smooth turns around corners, then you may want to take your car in to a mechanic and be prepared to spend some cash.
It is not recommended that you purchase parts yourself and try to fix any damage without the proper knowledge of the entire process.
Of course, you can find numerous tutorials online and purchase products from online retailers that will ship replacement parts straight to your door, just make sure you know what you are doing!
All in all, this is an expensive repair and will likely occur if you do not replace oil in the rear differential on a regular basis. You want to avoid oil residue from building up in between the gears within the part, as the oil is what keeps the parts moving smoothly without consistent friction.
Prepare yourself in terms of what model you have, what and how much needs to be replaced in the rear differential and be prepared to decide if the thousands of dollars outweigh the entire value of the vehicle.
In some cases, you might realize the car is just not worth the money and you can buy a brand-new car entirely instead.