How to Quiet Differential Whine? (A 9-Step Guide)

In this blog post, we will talk about, “How to quiet differential whine?”, what is a differential whine, and what do we need to quiet differential whine. Furthermore, we will also provide you a 9-step guide to quiet a differential whine.

How to Quiet Differential Whine?

Following is a simple 9-step guide to quiet differential whine in your car;

  • Identify the Noise
  • Change Differential Fluid
  • Change Seals
  • Inspect the Pinion Seal & Rear Differential Gasket
  • Clean the Differential Parts
  • Repair the Faulty Parts
  • Lubricate the Dry Parts
  • Reassemble the Parts
  • Take the Car on a Test Drive

What is a Differential Whine?

If you find that when you accelerate, decelerate, or corner, your car makes an unusual noise, your differential might be damaged or broken.

Whenever they are overloaded during towing or when there is not enough differential fluid to lubricate or dissipate heat from a leak, differentials most frequently fail.

Front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive differentials are the most common differentials. To shift the direction of torque or power from the engine equally between the drive wheels, they use gears.

It is situated where the driveshaft meets the car’s axle, on the rear axle of rear-wheel-drive vehicles. The differential is found within the axle bulge.

When driving, does your car make a grinding or howling noise? When you accelerate or slow down, does it whine? You need to know how to repair a noisy differential if your car clunks, knocks, grinds, howls, or whines.

What Do We Need to Quiet Differential Whine?

You would need the following things to quiet a differential whine in your vehicle;

  • Tire Jack
  • Oil Pump
  • Differential Oil
  • Brake Cleaner
  • Oil Drip Pan
  • Seal Installation/Removal Tool
  • Screw Drivers (Flat and Phillips Head)
  • Ratchet and Socket Set
  • Plastic Gasket Scraper
  • Differential Output Seal
  • Rear-End Oil
  • Torque Wrench

9 Steps to Quiet Differential Whine

Differential whine is certainly annoying and irritating to both the drivers and the passengers. Luckily, you can quiet differential whine in the following 9 steps;

Identify the Noise

An automobile makes many sounds. Whilst most are normal sounds that come when the vehicle is in motion. Although some are a sign of concern and require immediate attention. The following are few common differential sounds and their possible causes;

Whirring Noise – Caused by bad pinion bearings or loose pinion bearing preloads while decelerating. A faulty pinion gear or a bad ring is usually the cause of this noise.

Howling or Whining Noise – Triggered by a worn-out ring and pinion gears or incorrect gear set-up during acceleration over a wide speed range.

Rumbling or Whirring Noise – Caused by worn-out carrier bearings and is heard at a speed over 20 mph. Easy to notice while turning or cornering.

Clunking or Clicking Noise – Indication of a broken ring or pinion gear. Most often, heard every few seconds.

Clicking, Banging, or Clunking Noise – Lack of adequate lubrication and faulty spider gears often make these sounds.

Excessive Vibrations – Normally apparent at high speeds and due to out-of-balance and worn-out U-joints.

Change the Differential Fluid

It is necessary to act quickly once you know that the differential requires repair. The longer you wait, this part will become more and more costly to fix.

Replacing differential fluid is perhaps the simplest way to quiet differential whine. This should solve the noise problem unless you have a broken differential.

Differentials are built to last many years and replacing lubrication fluid is often all you need to quiet the annoying whining.

To adjust the differential fluid, you may need to look at the owner’s manual for your vehicle. The owner’s manual will tell you exactly when it is appropriate to adjust the fluid.

You can change the differential fluid for the front differentials every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, and for rear differentials every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, as a general rule of thumb.

To change the differential fluid, you need to position your vehicle on a ramp or jack stand. Afterward, loosen and remove the drain bolt to drain out the old oil. 

If you don’t find any loose metal parts in the oil residue, it means changing the differential fluid will certainly solve the noise problem.

Change the Seal

If you noticed that inside the drained oil there were small pieces of metal, you need to go a step further than simply replacing the differential fluid. Usually, small metal parts mean that there is some sort of problem that needs to be fixed. Remove, clean, and inspect the cover plate.

You may need to change the seal. If the whining has been going on for a while and it is excessively noisy, changing the seal is a mere necessity. Replace the differential fluid once the seal is removed.

Similarly, if you see any leaks from the differential, you would need to replace the seal. Scanning for gray, black, or brown fluid on the garage floor, driveway, or places where you park your car is the best way to identify a differential leak. This is a sign of a damaged or broken seal.

Replacing the differential output shaft seal is a relatively long process and it may take three to five hours. To do so, you need to park your vehicle on a jack stand. A hydraulic lift is ideally used for this purpose. You would also need to remove the tires to properly replace the seal. 

Inspect the Pinion Seal & Rear Differential Gasket

It is more difficult to inspect parts inside the differential than to replace the fluid. Generally, two sections will normally cause whining: the rear differential gasket and the side seals or pinion seal. 

It is relatively straightforward to check the rear differential gasket, but the other two are a little complex. You would need to remove the oil to check the rear differential. It should be easy for you to see if it is broken or needs to be replaced. 

On the other hand, the side seals are a little tougher to check. Before reassembling, you will need to remove the axle shafts and any leaky seals. Stuff the differential with a clean towel before removing the broken seal. Whenever the seal is removed, this will protect it from the elements. 

To remove the seal from the shell, use a seal removal tool or a flat screwdriver. In the method, make sure not to scratch or damage the inside of the differential.

Clean the Differential Parts 

Many people hear a whining noise again even after a differential has been repaired because the housing was not adequately cleaned in the process. 

Grab a clean rag and a brake cleaner to clean the differential’s inside parts. Afterward, remove any broken parts or extra pieces. 

You may also need to wash the axle male fitting. To do so, spray a bit of brake cleaner to axle gear and male fitting. This will help you clean all the debris and grease so the parts can be installed properly

Repair & Fix the Faulty Parts

It is time to find out what you need after you have inspected all the components. New seals, replacement fluid, and gear are some of the parts you need to closely inspect. 

Replacing any pitted or damaged bearings would enable you to remove the differential, as well as the pinion seals that may have to be removed. This will probably take you three to five hours to complete.

If there are any chipped or worn teeth on the gear, you might need to replace bearings, gears, or miscellaneously broken pieces. This will probably take 6 to 8 hours to repair if the parts are on hand. If you have to order the parts, it will take longer.

Lubricate the Parts 

Now, the next step is to apply fluids to the components. This will allow the gears to connect to the differential’s inner gears. Make sure they are properly lined up when you re-install the axle into the differential. It is best to mark the spot when removing the components of the differential. 

Tighten the attachments and bolts after it is positioned correctly. Since you are putting them back on, you may have to do it in reverse order.

Reassemble the Parts and Test the Automobile

Finally, it is time for everything to be reassembled. The differential should be placed back together at this point, but the tire and wheel may still be off. Set the tire, wheel, and lug nuts as per the recommended settings so that the vehicle can be used once again.

You should generally inspect the vehicle after you have fixed the differential to make sure the problem has been resolved. We suggest driving the vehicle for at least 15 miles. You shouldn’t hear any moaning or sounds coming from the gap if all has been correctly fixed.

Take the Car on a Drive

Replacing the fluid or the seal will probably solve the problem. Test the car by driving it around and inspecting for any whining noises. 

If you can still hear the same moaning or whining sound, then it probably means that the problem is still unresolved. You may require to replace the entire differential to get rid of the annoying whining noise. 


In this blog post, we talked about, “How to quiet differential whine?” what is a differential whine, and what do we need to quiet differential whine. Furthermore, we also provided a 9-step guide to quiet a differential whine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Quiet Differential Whine?

What causes a differential to whine?

During acceleration over a small or wide speed range, a howl or whine is generally triggered by a worn-out ring and pinion gears or incorrect configuration of gears. Rumbling or whirring may be caused by worn carrier bearings at speeds over approximately 20 mph.

How do I lubricate my rear differential?

Lubricating the rear differential is a simple task if you know the right way to do so. You can lubricate the rear differential in the following 4 steps;

  • Position the vehicle on a jack stand or ramp
  • Drain out the gear oil completely
  • Find and remove the gear oil filling bolt
  • Add the recommended oil type through a pump

Why is my rear end humming?

An improperly installed pinion gear or ring may cause humming noise from the rear-end of your vehicle. The reason behind this is because the pinion gear’s role is to maintain good tooth contact. 

An improperly-installed gear may disrupt the contact and ultimately cause gear failure or tooth wear. Worn-out bearings may also cause rear-end humming. 

What are the signs of a bad differential?

  • Vehicle oil is running low rapidly
  • Steering is getting hard to steer
  • Grinding, clunking, or howling noise from vehicle’s front
  • Whining sounds from the rear
  • Worn-out tires may also be due to bad differential

What happens if the differential fails?

A damaged differential is a risky thing and it makes it incredibly hard to turn or steer the vehicle. It may even cause the tires to lock up and it’s another dangerous situation to handle.


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