When Was the Last Time You Serviced Your Vehicle's Limited-Slip Differential?
Most people understand how important it is to service the engine and gearbox on their car. They know that if they pay attention in this area, it will help them, in the long run, to extend the usable life of the vehicle and cut down on overall maintenance costs. However, they may not give a second thought to an equally as important component that helps to transfer the energy to the road wheels. If you have a high-end Euro import, what do you need to know about the limited-slip differential in particular, and why do need to service this part on a regular basis?
How It Works
The differential allows the two or four wheels that drive your car to turn at different speeds whenever they encounter a corner. If you imagine this scenario, the wheel on the inside of the vehicle will travel along a much smaller arc than the outer wheel and, consequently, will need to rotate more slowly. Without the differential, this would be impossible, and the car would literally drag itself around the corner. This type of scenario would be very uncomfortable to the passengers, of course, but it would also cause a great deal of wear and tear, especially to the tyres themselves.
Differential in Action
To compensate for this problem, engineers design and install a differential. This is made up of a number of different gears that are placed both in-line and perpendicular to each other. Many high-end vehicles imported from Germany and other European countries feature a sophisticated differential known as "limited-slip." In this case, the driver will be able to maintain control no matter the condition of the road, and if one wheel were to lose traction, forward progress could still be maintained.
When it comes to servicing this type of differential especially, the key job is to remove and replace the fluid. Transmission fluid is a very carefully engineered product that is designed to put up with extreme heat and keep all the surfaces lubricated, to prevent damage from friction. The differential fluid will transfer the heat that builds up around the gears into the casing, which will then be air-cooled.
Servicing the Transmission
However, this may not be a job for the average motorist as they will not have the proper tools available to help them. Some vehicles are not equipped with a drain plug of any kind but only a fill plug. In this case, you will need a special extractor tool to evacuate the transmission fluid from the system. Remember, it's important to remove all of the fluid before introducing a new supply, in order to get rid of any impurities that may have built up.
If you have a European import car and it is fitted with a limited-slip differential, take it into a European car mechanic for a service if it has been some time since you did so.