Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Dealer replacing differential!

2006 Nissan Frontier 2wd; man. trans.; SE King cab V6. 28500 miles. I noticed a leak around the bolts on my differential a week ago. No drips to the ground, just a little wet. It whines while cruising. No drops on ground. Dealer is replacing diff. in a few days under warranty. I never drove it hard - i.e. spun the wheels. What could cause this very early failure and will the new one last any longer?? Don’t want to get stranded on the highway. Thanks.

Doubt if the differential is damaged or has “failed.” The dealer wants to pick up some quick cash from the manufacturer for performing warranty work. What could be better than getting a brand new diff at no cost? You’re in high clover.

The differential was probably defective from the time the truck was new. A whining differential can go on almost forever, but it is quite annoying. When I was in high school, we had a 1954 Buick that had a whine in the differential. We drove that car thousands of miles before my mother finally insisted that it be repaired. The car did have an A.M. radio, but when we turned up the radio, the programming was so bad that it was more pleasant to listen to the differential whine. Your replacement differential will almost certainly go the life of the vehicle.

Defective part.

A very slow leak over the course of 28,500 miles probably drained enough fluid to cause the whine. Once it’s there, only replacing some or all of the differential will make it quiet again.

Three good answers here. The gasket could have been damaged during assembly and you’ve had a very slow leak ever since. There should be NO wetness around the differential and the whine would be worn bearings and gears.

No notice of a diff. leak during all your services. Mileage now 28,500 last service was at ??? trying to figure out how long it took to leak enough gear oil to damage the diff. service every 3000 last service at 27,000 leaking for 1500 miles and just a little wet. oh well

If you just noticed a leak around the bolts a week ago, and no drips on the ground, then there is no worry that the differential ran low or out of oil.

Also, a differential whine while cruising is usually caused from the ring and pinion gears not being properly mated to each other. All it takes is being off by a few thousands of an inch. It won’t cause any functional problem, other than the noise.

You ask “will the new one last any longer”? It should, but make sure the mechanic who does the work understands how to properly shim a ring and pinion gear set. Not every mechanic is fluent at doing it.

Always could use a little more info.
Whining since new or did this come on gradually?
Whines on deceleration, acceleration, or both?
If the whine occurs all of the time and on both accel and decel then what about the possibility of a tire tread wear issue?

A differential should not be failing at such a young mileage but stuff happens with any vehicle. Replacing the entire differential should mean it’s good as new. REBUILDING the differential could be as good as new; or not, depending on the expertise of the guy doing it.

I disagree with the premise that the dealer is only looking to cash in on this repair. Performing warranty work is generally a losing proposition for everybody involved in it. Labor times are cut way down, the flat rate labor charge is also whacked, and parts markup is usually limited to 25% maximum.

Last question. Who has been servicing the truck up to this point? Any quick lubes involved, differential servicing (IF known) etc.?