It is not uncommon to experience differential failures in a Mercedes. The differential takes up an essential role in the stabilization of the vehicle. The role of a differential in your Mercedes is to direct the engine power to your wheels to help the wheels rotate. The differential also allows the wheels to rotate differently simultaneously when necessary. Hence, the failure of the differential in your Mercedes affects your vehicle’s overall performance.
The differential in your Mercedes may begin to wear out after a long period of use. The service engine light usually comes on to indicate that the differential is having trouble. Having a good knowledge of other symptoms to look out for and what causes the system to fail will help prevent its failure.
How to Identify a Failing Differential
The differential consists of pinion gears, ring gears, side gears, axle shafts, and a flange that allows it to perform its function. When any of these components are faulty, the differential fails and can further cause damage to other vehicle parts. The following are symptoms that there is an issue with your Mercedes differential:
- Noticeable Vibrations: A worn-out differential, especially in the universal joints, might cause the driveshaft to vibrate. If you notice unusual vibrations while driving, it is an indicator of a failing differential. These vibrations are more noticeable while driving at high speed.
- Unusual Smells: When the differential oil goes bad, it thickens and burns, emitting unusual smells. While the symptom might indicate getting the differential oil replaced, it may also be due to your vehicle needing a routine oil change.
- Uneven Tire Wear Pattern: Although improper alignment, overinflation, underinflation, or worn-out suspensions usually cause uneven tire, a faulty differential is also culpable. Hence, you should visit a Mercedes specialist whenever you notice uneven tire wear for a proper diagnosis.
- Leaking Differential Oil: There is always cause for alarm whenever you notice leaking fluids from your vehicle. If you notice oil leaks from one of the axles or spot reddish fluids underneath the differential, then there is a high chance that your differential fluid is leaking. Leaking differential oil affects the differential oil levels and consequently causes the gears to grind together. Having the gears grind against themselves will accelerate the differential wear. Hence, leaking differential oil requires immediate attention.
- Strange Noises: A failing differential would cause the vehicle to let out a whining noise in most cases. This loud whirring sound is often due to poor lubrication in the differential. Sometimes, it could also be a rattle due to worn gears. You may notice a decline in your vehicle handling and have difficulties making turns.
- Overheating: Overheating could result from several factors, including lack of lubrication, worn gears, using the wrong type of oil, or excessive bearing preload. All of these could cause the differential to overheat, and consequently, cause the system to fail.
Major Causes of Differential Failure
The differential is a simple mechanical device that could fail due to the following factors:
- Wrong Lubricant: Using a lubricant different from the manufacturer’s recommendation may affect the proper functioning of the differential.
- Worn out gears: Over time, the gears could wear down and fragment into the differential fluid. This creates friction between the gears and accelerates the breakdown of the differential.
- Dislocated Gears: Misaligned or worn-out gears would make crunching or rattling noises. When your gears are not properly connected, the differential finds it difficult to distribute power to the wheels, which in turn causes the differential failure.
- Broken Pinion: Using the wrong lubricant may cause the pinion to fail. If the differential does not get adequate lubrication, the pinion could loosen pressure causing the differential to make whirring noises. Low fluids or inadequate lubrication may also damage the gears inside the differential, causing the system to fail.
Dieter’s Porsche & BMW Service, European Auto Experts
Differential failure is usually dangerous and could cause accidents if left unattended. At Dieter’s Porsche & BMW service, we are committed to helping drivers throughout the San Diego area with their European vehicle repair and maintenance.
Our ASE-certified mechanics have decades of experience fixing failing differentials, broken gears, and several other issues. We employ the latest factory-grade tools and equipment to give your car high-quality service. Contact us today and get your vehicle fixed with no stress if you live in San Diego, CA or around Chula Vista, Coronado, Mission Valley, and Point Loma.