The differential is critical to the safe and smooth handling of your MINI. During a turn, the inside wheel needs to go slower than the outside wheel. Otherwise, the handling on your car would be much stiffer. It would also cause extra wear and tear on your tires and axle. The differential is the mechanism that allows your tires to spin at different speeds. Complete differential failure results in your MINI's wheels being unable to turn and could cause more damage to other parts, such as your axle or transmission.
If you think your MINI is showing signs of differential problems, it's important that you have it inspected by an experienced mechanic. While the signs can seem harmless at first, they can quickly become expensive and even dangerous.
What are the warning signs?
The main warning signs of differential trouble are unusual noises while accelerating, decelerating, or turning. If your car is making any kind of rumbling, howling, or crunching noises, it needs to be examined by a professional MINI repair shop immediately. Another noise to listen for is a whirring noise at speeds over 20mph. These noises could indicate that catastrophic failure is on the horizon.
If your MINI suddenly handles differently, especially while turning, it may mean that there's something wrong, and it would be best to have it diagnosed by a professional. If there are any problems, it's important to catch them early before they have a chance to do more damage.
Be sure to keep an eye on your transmission fluid levels as well. Your transmission and differential need oil to run smoothly. The oil keeps the gears from overheating and prevents them from chipping and breaking. If your transmission fluid gets too low, it can cost you thousands of dollars in future repairs.
Low transmission fluid can be caused by a leak in your transmission. Transmission fluid is usually red, so red liquid under your car could mean you have a leak. Transmission leaks can mean big trouble for your MINI, so be sure to get any potentials leaks looked at before they can ruin your entire transmission.
What causes the differential to fail?
Worn Out, Broken, or Misaligned Gears
If your gears are too worn out or have slipped out of alignment, they will typically make a howling noise whenever you accelerate. If the gears are broken, they'll make crunching or clanking noises. The differential cannot distribute power to your wheels if the gears inside aren't making proper contact with each other. It also weakens your gears when they are chipped and misaligned, potentially causing further failure later.
Worn Differential Bearings
There are several different kinds of bearings inside your differential. If the pinion bearings are worn out, it can cause a whirring noise. Worn carrier bearings will cause a rumbling noise at speeds over 20mph. If these aren't replaced, it can cause your bearings to lock up and could stop your tires from spinning altogether. This will place severe stress on your car's gears and could cause transmission problems.
Low Transmission Fluid
All differentials require oil. In your MINI, your differential is typically located in your transmission, so it uses transmission fluid to keep the gears turning smoothly. If your transmission fluid runs too low, it can cause damage to the gears inside the differential, as well as the rest of your transmission.
Loosened Pinion Bearing Preload
The pinion bearing preload is the tension placed on the pinion bearings. This tension keeps the pinion gear from moving sideways. If the pressure loosens, your differential will make a whirring noise. A loosened pinion bearing preload puts stress on your pinion gear and can lead to additional damage.
Our Professionals Can Help
If your MINI is experiencing any of these problems, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Delaying too long can lead to thousands of dollars in damages. Our certified professionals here at Fast Lane European are focused on the repair of European cars. We have nearly 14 years of factory training and the equipment and software to perform just about any kind of maintenance or repair that your vehicle might need.
Call us to book an appointment at our San Jose, CA location. Let us get you back into the fast lane today.