How Much Does Differential Repair Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

The differential of a car is the system that regulates how fast the tires rotate individually and helps you turn left and right.  If you feel you can’t turn the vehicle anymore, then this is a sure sing the differential could be going bad.  Usually, however, it will start to make noises, similar to a grinding or whining noise, well ahead of time, preparing you for that day the car no longer wants to turn.

differential by Robosprout, on Flickr
differential” (CC BY 2.0) by Robosprout

How much does front differential repair cost?

On average, differential repair can range anywhere from $500 to as much as $2,000.  The costs will depend on the mechanic, the location (rear and/or front), the significance of the repair, parts being used if the entire differential has to be replaced, where you live and your car’s make and model.  The official book time to remove and rebuild a non-locking differential is close to six hours, while a locking differential is closer to eight hours.  When the average hourly rate of a mechanic at $85 per hour is factored in, along with the parts, it can be close to $700 in labor fees alone.  Until it’s torn down, it will be hard to figure out which parts are actually needed.

The front engine rear wheel drive, if it were in of light repairs, such as replacing the oil seal due to a leak, then it would cost about $200 to $500 to fix, whereas a difficult repair such as overhauling or rebuilding the differential could cost closer to $700 to $1,000.

The front engine front wheel drive, on the other hand, could be slightly more expensive since the mechanic will have to pull down and dismantle the transaxle to resolve the issue.

To change the differential fluid, it will commonly be in the $70 to $150 range, depending on the mechanic you choose and the oil they use.

TrailTransmission.com says a good rule of thumb is to budget at least $1,500 for a brand new rear differential or about $700 to $1,200 to rebuild one.

According to one member on StackExchange.com, he asked if buying new or having one rebuilt would make sense for his Ford F150 with 320,000 miles.  One member replied saying it would cost $1,200 for a used part or $2,300 new.

Front differential repair overview

All cars will either have a front differential or a rear differential, according to cartreatments.com.  If it were a four-wheel drive, such as a Jeep, then is could have both.  The differential will be defined as a gearbox with three elements:  the side gear, ring gear and pinion gear.  Its main function will lie between the two side wheels of your car to help deliver power from the engine to the wheel axles.  With this part, it allows the wheels to turn in a right or left direction.  With a two-wheel drive, for example, you would be able to only turn two wheels, with no rear differential, while a four-wheel drive will need the rear differential as well to turn the rear wheels as well.

Depending on the make, model and the repair, it can take an average of one to two days to rebuild a differential or even longer if its a custom-built or antique.  In some minor cases, it can be fixed in as little as a few hours if the parts were in stock.

Tips to know:

The trick to a long lasting differential is lubrication, and this is why it’s important to change your differential oil regularly.  Failing to lubricate can often lead to hard turns or overheating gears.  This should be done every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

To inspect the differential oil inside your car, open the filler plug, place your hole on the hole filler, and from there, you can check the oil level and condition.

How can I save money?

Rebuilding the differential instead of purchasing new can often save more than 50 percent.  Talk with your mechanic to see if this option makes sense.  The same can be said about aftermarket parts as these parts can often be 30 to 40 percent cheaper than OEM parts.


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Average Reported Cost: $159

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  1. David (Pauls Valley,  Oklahoma) paid $159 and said:

    my quote from the dealer for Front Differential servicing was $159 for my 2012 F150 w/115,000 miles

    Was it worth it? Yes

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