Differential Problems Can Take a Toll on Your Volkswagen
16 Aug, 20
A differential on any vehicle is a great achievement of engineering in how a car performs on the road. Volkswagen, in some ways, has taken the technology even further than others.
As with any highly-engineered vehicle, your differential may run into issues that need to be addressed by a professional technician. If left to go unchecked, these problems can take a toll on your Volkswagen. In this article, we will discuss some differential problems your Volkswagen may have and what to do if they occur.
Purpose of a Differential
The purpose of your differential is to take the engine’s power, split it into two different tires, and allow them to turn at two different rates. This is important for your Volkswagen’s performance while driving, especially when cornering, as your outside wheels have more distance to cover than the tires closest to the corner.
Your Volkswagen’s differential comes in many designs, depending on rear-wheel, front-wheel, or all-wheel-drive models. Some, such as the Volkswagen Touareg, actually have three different units for its all-wheel-drive system.
Below, we’ve comprised the most common symptoms of a faulty differential.
Whining, Grinding and Rattling Noises
Your Volkswagen’s differential consists of components such as bearings and gears that interact with one another. When failing, your unit will make a variety of sounds that can alert you when something is wrong.
When gears begin to fail in a differential, you will hear a rattling noise, as broken teeth from the gears bounce around inside. Whining or grinding sounds will be an indication that your bearings may be bad.
Heavy Vibrations and Jolts
As a differential fails, its purpose of giving you smooth turns will be lost. Instead, your vehicle will feel more like driving a go-cart as it jolts your car. Without being able to independently separate how much each wheel turns, your Volkwagen will be physically pushing sideways against the tire on the inside of the turn. This will be felt by the driver as heavy vibrations and jolts inside.
Vehicle Will Not Move
If the gears and bearings completely fail, your Volkswagen will not move, since the differential will lock up. Getting to this point means your car’s maintenance was probably way overdue or a mechanic did not properly inspect the differential during servicing.
You may smell a burning scent if components are causing friction. This can also occur if the properties of the differential oil have broken down with time. Both will cause your unit to overheat. When this happens, you may have a burning smell emanating from your car. Do not operate if your differential overheats, as this can be a sign your entire unit may have a catastrophic failure.
Problems with your differential may also include oil leaks. As your unit ages or overheats, any seals inside, which hold the differential oil in, can begin to leak. If you start to see signs of oil under your car, contact a professional Volkswagen mechanic to conduct an inspection.
As discussed, your differential allows one tire to travel at a different speed as another during turning. When operating in a turn, if your differential is not working correctly, it will cause your tires to wear quickly, since they are physically dragging across the pavement instead of rolling smoothly. Report any excessive tire wear to your certified technician.
Another problem with a malfunctioning differential is that it will affect how your Volkswagen’s handling performs, especially in twists and turns. You may feel the physical drag of your car from the road through your steering wheel and be forced to use manual force to keep it in the driving lane.
Driving in this way is dangerous and can lead to a catastrophic accident. If you are having trouble controlling your Volkswagen in turns, take it to a shop for inspection as soon as possible or have it towed there.
Bring Your Car to the Pros at Santa Barbara Autowerks
If you suspect issues with your Volkswagen’s differential system, bring it to us at Santa Barbara Autowerks, in Santa Barbara, CA for our unique approach to service. Once you become our customer, you will be one for life due to our respectful approach to service and our top-quality repairs. Our certified technicians have serviced Volkswagens and other highly-engineered European models for years. Call us today for reliable service and repair.