Front and Rear Differential Repair & Fluid Change Cost

FR (Front Engine Rear Wheel Drive) Type: The average cost to repair front or rear differential (Depending on car model) is $200 – $400 For light and medium repair, such as replace oil seal, adjust backlash. and $400 – $800 for heavy repair such as overhaul or rebuild.

FF ( Front Engine Front Wheel Drive) Type: More expensive because it should be pull down and dismantle the transaxle. For more info about differential, read full article below:

Differential working principle

All vehicles have either a front differential or rear differential. If the vehicle has 4-wheel drive then it could have both front and rear differentials. A differential can be defined as a gearbox that has 3 common elements: Side Gear, Ring Gear and Pinion Gear. And the main function is to lies between two side wheels of your car. For example, most cars have a front differential between the two front wheels of the car. These differentials help deliver engine power to the axles of the wheels. This is how wheels are able to turn in a left or right direction. Since you are only able to turn the two front wheels in a 2-wheel drive car, there is no need to have rear differentials in it. But if you have a 4-wheel drive car then you need rear differentials because the two back wheels in that can be turned as well.

The Average Differential Repair Cost

The repair costs of the front and rear differentials will fluctuate based on the repairs that are needed. Sometimes you may only have to adjust the backlash or replace the oil seal of the differential. These are light repair jobs that will cost between $200 to $400, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

But if you have more extensive damage to your differentials that requires them to be dismantled or overhaul, then you are looking at $400 to $800 in repair costs. However, these costs are only associated with vehicles that have front engine rear wheel drive type. If you drive a vehicle with FF ( Front Engine Front Wheel Drive) Type, then the repair costs of the differentials may be more expensive because the transaxle has to be dismantled first. This takes more time for the mechanics to do which means the hourly labor costs are going to add up fast.

The average cost to change differential oil or fluid

Rear differential oil or fluid commonly using conventional Oil SAE 90. And for front differential, which is built in together with the manual transaxle, it commonly uses Full Synthetic Oil SAE 75W-85.  The average cost to change the differential oil or fluid is between $55 to $77 (if using Castrol Oil) and the labor cost is between $20 and $50 (depending on the car brand and car model). To fill up the rear differential oil, you need approx. 2.5 – 3.5 litter oil (depending on the car model).

Difference between front, rear and 4WD differentials

FR (Front Engine Rear Wheel Drive) Type:  Engine –> Transmission —> propeller shaft —> Rear differential —> Axle shaft —> Rear Wheels. In this type, the vehicle using rear differential, see picture below:


FF ( Front Engine Front Wheel Drive) Type: Engine —> Transaxle & Built in Differential —> Drive shaft —> Front Wheels. In this type, Vehicle using front differential which is built-in together with transaxle, see picure below:


Four Wheel Drive Type: Engine —> Transmission —> Transfer —> Front & Rear propeller shaft —> Front & Rear Differential —> Front Drive shaft & Rear Axle shaft —> Front and rear wheels. In this type, The vehicle using both front and rear differential, see picture below:


Based on information above, the Front Engine Front Wheel Drive are using front differential that built-in together with transmission / transaxle, that is mean the cost to repair this type maybe more expensive than other type, because to repair the differential, must be pull down and also dismantle the transaxle.

Read also: Front and Rear Wheel Bearing Symptoms and Replacement Cost

Differential Maintenance Tips

The trick to sustaining the maintenance of your differentials is lubrication. You need to change differential oil regularly. The Differential gear needs to be lubricated consistently or else the car will not drive or turn properly. Because some of the common causes of differential damage are due to lack of oil or the differential oil never changes for a long time.

Therefore, you need to ensure that differential oil/fluid at good condition and standard level to keep the differential in good working order. With all the friction that occurs in the Differential gears, it is very easy for the gears to overheat. Differential oil will prevent them from burning and getting worn out. You’ll know when you need to replace the differential oil because you will start to hear a humming noise coming from the differential side. You may even experience vibrations, breaking noises, and fluid leaks as the symptoms get worse.

How to inspect differential oil condition

Just open the filler plug, then put your finger on the hole filler and then you can see the oil level and oil condition.  And to make it clearer, open the drain plug so the oil comes out and then put the tray underneath to collect the oil and see the condition of the oil.

Another Differential Articles:

2 thoughts on “Front and Rear Differential Repair & Fluid Change Cost

  1. So i went to a shop to change breake pads and rotors but it was still squeaking. So the mechanic checked my rear drum brakes and said both sides where leaking and was called the differencial seal? Should i replace the entire axel or just repair the seal?


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