Differential Service At Loren’s Auto Repair: Viva la Difference

Every Subaru on MT highways has a differential, and it is vital to the proper operation of the vehicle, but most Kalispell auto owners don’t have a clue what it is.

The differential compensates for differing wheel speeds. For example, when you turn, the inside tire on the turn travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel. So the inside wheel of the Subaru must move at a slower speed than the outside wheel. Without a differential, the wheels would hop and scrape while turning.

Differential Service At Loren's Auto Repair: Vive ala Difference Have you ever seen the large bugle-shaped object in the middle of the rear axle of a truck? That’s the differential. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located on the back axle. Four-wheel drive vehicles and SUV’s have differentials on both the front and the rear axle.

You might expect that the differential is located on the front axle of a front-wheel drive vehicle. You’d be right. But the differential is called a transaxle on a front-wheel drive vehicle because its location allows it to be combined with the transmission.

In an all-wheel drive vehicle, an additional differential or transfer case is located between the front and rear axles. Differentials are strong: They have to be because of the vital job they do. But those tough parts need proper lubrication. You don’t want your differential to seize up. That results in expensive damage to your Subaru.

So you need to have your Subaru differential serviced regularly. It’s not a complicated job. At Loren’s Auto Repair in Kalispell we’ve been servicing differentials for 27 years. The used lubricating fluid is simply drained and then replaced. Some vehicles require specific additives in the differential fluid; your Kalispell service center will ensure you are getting what your Subaru needs.

The intervals in time or mileage for servicing your differential vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Check with your owner’s manual or Loren’s Auto Repair to find out how often your Subaru differential needs to be serviced.

Generally, however, front-wheel drive vehicles need their differential serviced more often than rear-wheel drive vehicles. Also, if you spend a lot of time off-road or on Kalispell area dirt or gravel roads, or if you drive through water, you will need to service your differential more often than the standard recommendation – check with your professional and courteous Loren’s Auto Repair service advisor.

Preventive maintenance for your differential is good car care that can spare you costly repair bills. Knowing what your differential is and how it operates is important and will help you understand why this is good auto advice. Remember, take care of your Subaru, and it will take care of you.

The Loren’s Auto Repair Guide To Servicing Your Differential

Differential? What’s that? And what’s it for? I’ve been told by my technician that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They’re not uncommon for Kalispell drivers. A lot of us in Kalispell don’t know what a differential is or what it’s for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it’s more critical to the operation of your Subaru than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your Subaru tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back, and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the Subaru drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That’s why vital preventive maintenance for your Subaru needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner’s manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your professional and courteous Loren’s Auto Repair tech. Loren’s Auto Repair can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold Kalispell weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your car care routine, and your differential. Check your owner’s manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Kalispell, hot or cold MT weather conditions, and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle’s differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross MT streams or waterways, it is important that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Kalispell auto repair shops. A smooth ride for Kalispell auto owners is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.



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Steve Waatti
Steve Waatti
17:44 05 Apr 18
Best Shop in town. Very clean and well organized. No extra BS charges or anything fishy. Full vehicle inspections with oil changes. Very knowledgeable crew. I bring all my personal and company vehicles to Loren's. Highly recommended.
Ricky Chevy
Ricky Chevy
21:04 15 Jan 18
Excellent service!! We are from Wisconsin and found Loren's on the web. They were able to fly in a new front axle and get us on the road in just 3 days at a very reasonable price. A quick follow up visit for adjustments allowed us to continue our vacation as planned. Absolutely recommend them. Mark was personable and knowledgeable, they offered a shuttle service and John was a great technician for our Xterra!!
Hallie K
Hallie K
02:04 06 Jan 18
This was the best car repair shop I have ever done business with. For being a young woman, who honestly doesn’t know a ton about cars, they were very thorough in explaining things and I trusted that they weren’t trying to rip me off based off my lack of knowledge or me being a young girl. Too many times have mechanics/car maintenance men try and rip me off. Once someone tried to charge me $180 for an oil change! Ridiculous. But not with these guys. They were awesome. My car broke down at a horrible time when I was busy with work and about to go on vacation. I had my car towed there and didn’t have time to stop by. They inspected it very soon after that, and got ahold of me. Then I was out of town for a couple weeks and they let me keep my car there. Even when I got back they had put it in the shop the night before so all the snow would melt. They were very friendly and even have a complimentary shuttle service when needed. I wish I could give the names of all the people who helped! Chad was awesome and answered all my questions and my dads when he called from a state away haha! The young girl who picked me up from the shuttle was super nice and has good people skills. If I ever have car problems again they will definitely be who I go to. Thanks guys!
Monica Taylor
Monica Taylor
21:37 08 Nov 17
Lorens never disappoints! They continually meet above my expectations. They met competitive rates, they have been upfront with charges and even gave me a loaner vehicle while doing their repairs. I will only ever use this shop. Mark at service desk is amazing and very knowledgeable!
Erika Myhre
Erika Myhre
14:03 29 Aug 17
I'm out here in West Glacier on vacation. During the trip, we hit a pothole and the exhaust started making a loud noise. We figured a hole had rusted open or something similar. We called Loren's Auto Repair to get it checked out, and they were awesome with recommendations. They let us explain the issue and then confirmed what we thought it was. They weren't able to get us in before we left, but they were kind enough to suggest a mechanic in town that possibly could squeeze us in. This conversation was a sign of trust and good business. The prices they quoted were fair and had excellent customer service. Thanks!
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