How Often Should I Change Differential Fluid?


We hear the question “How Often Should I Change Differential Fluid?” from quite a few customers every year wanting to make sure their car or truck lasts as long as possible.

The truth is, not every vehicle or customer gets the same recommendation. Factory service intervals under normal driving conditions often range from every 5,000 – 7,000 miles (oil changes) to major milestones, such as 60,000-100,000 (fuel fiters, timing belts, etc.). Finding the specific service intervals for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual or on your manufacturer’s website.

What Is Differential Fluid?

Where there is metal on metal, there is friction. Your vehicle’s differential is no different. Differential fluid, or differential oil helps prevent that friction. Gears run together, and the harder they work the hotter they get. As with your vehicle’s motor oil, differential oil lubricates the differential gears to reduce the friction they generate and, thereby, the heat. Also like motor oil, differential oil breaks down, becomes contaminated, and loses some of it’s lubricating properties over time.

How Often Should I Change Differential Fluid?

Under “Normal” driving conditions, many manufacturers recommend changing the differential fluid every 25,000, 30,000, or 50,000 miles, or every three years. Whichever comes first.

If you’re one of the roughly 62% of drivers whose driving habits fall under “Severe Driving Conditions”, however, those recommendations typically get cut in half.

What is “Severe”?

  • Driving on short trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures
  • Driving in stop-and-go traffic in hot weather
  • Driving at speeds of less than 50 mph for long distances
  • Driving on roads that are dusty or muddy or have salt, sand or gravel spread on the surface
  • Towing a trailer or transporting items on a roof rack or in a cartop carrier

So, that’s why when it comes to “How Often Should I Change Differential Fluid?” there’s really no one size fits all right answer for everyone. However, every 30,000 miles or 2 years is typically a safe bet.

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