Choosing a Differential Cover for your Car
The differential cover is component that covers and protects a crucial vehicle component called the differential. Basically, the differential is responsible for taking the power from the driveshaft before passing it to the rear axle. This allows the wheels to turn and the tires to not skid when you're driving. Because of this function, it's very important that a rusty and leaking differential cover has to be replaced immediately. There are many differential covers that are offered in the market today, but before buying, here are things that you need to consider.
Stock differential cover vs. Performance differential cover
The stock differential cover is the one that is already supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. The thing about stock differential covers is that they're made from pressed steel and as a result, they're not really suited to absorb damage. Not only that, they're designed to meet the minimum vehicle specifications of your vehicle so they can't handle high fluid pressure when you begin to tow heavy cargo.
On the other hand, performance differential covers are usually made from thick aluminum and because of that, they have a very high fluid capacity. This becomes really crucial when you begin to haul or tow stuff using your vehicle. Aside from that, increased fluid-carrying capabilities often lead to better engine performance.
Choose a differential cover with some or all of the following features:
- A magnetic drain plug and magnetic-tipped plug because these offer better rear-end protection while trapping worn gear material as well. The magnet basically sucks in any contaminants that may affect fluid integrity inside the differential.
- Internal and external fins for maximum fluid cooling.
- An integrated heat sink for superb heat reduction.
- A special powder coating for preventing corrosion and damage.
- Easy fill points so you won't have a hard time fixing it.
- It should be made with aluminum or stainless steel for maximum durability.
- A warranty so you can enjoy free servicing if any problems will arise after purchasing it.
- All the mounting hardware so you won't have a hard time installing it.
- Various designs to improve the looks of the rear portion of your vehicle. There are many differential covers out there that can change the look and style of your vehicle in an instant.
Some of the brands that you can consider if you're looking for replacement differential covers include AFE, ATS, Mag-Hytec, Outlaw, PML, PPE, and Strictly Diesel.
Steps to Easy Differential Cover Installation
A leaky differential cover can greatly affect the efficiency of your car's differential. This is why automotive experts recommend the prompt replacement of damaged or cracked differential covers.
Difficulty level: Difficult
Tools that you'll need:
- Torque wrench
- Razor blade
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Hammer (small)
- Funnel (small)
- Clean rags
- New differential gasket
- Putty knife or paint scraper
- Extensions and sockets (will be used to fit the bolts securing the differential cover)
- Floor jack and Jjck stands
- Gloves (rubber)
- Safety glasses
Step 1: Raise your vehicle using your floor jack and jack stands. If necessary, use wheel chocks on your front tires. Put on your eye goggles and gloves.
Step 2: Position cardboard or lots of newspaper underneath the differential cover to catch grease and dirt. Spray on degreaser on the cover and remove all signs of sludge.
Step 3: Place pan or basin beneath the rear end. Drain the fluid by removing the drain plug. Once fluid has been drained, remove all bolts on the rear end cover. If the bolts won't budge, use lubricant to loosen them. Clean these bolts.
Step 4: >Remove the cover. If the cover won't move, use your small hammer and putty knife or paint scraper to pry it loose. If you're planning on reusing your cover, clean the cover and its mating surfaces thoroughly.
Step 5: Put gasket sealer on the differential cover's mating surfaces and attach your new gasket. The holes on the gasket should line up with the cover's bolt holes. The gasket sealer should be about 1/8-inch thick. Also apply sealer onto the mating surface of your differential rear end. Wait for a few minutes to let the sealer set.
Step 6: Put the cover back onto the differential rear end. Hand-tighten each bolt, then use your torque wrench. If you're using a metal cover, torque should usually be at 25-35 pounds (lbs.). If you're using a plastic cover, torque is usually at 10-15 lbs.
Step 7: Remove the filler plug found on the top section of the rear end. Using your funnel, top off the chamber or container with new fluid.
Step 8: Clean the filler plug and replace onto the rear end.
Things to consider:
- Make sure your negative battery terminals are disconnected before starting this job.
- When working under your car, make sure you have ample lighting.
- The gasket is usually replaced each time the differential cover is removed.
- Check your differential fluid levels every 15,000 miles.