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Differential (Gear) Oil Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your differential (gear) oil replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your differential (gear) oil replacement.
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John Davis
Expert Automotive Writer
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does it cost to replace differential (gear) oil?

Much like regular oil changes, differential fluid change costs can fluctuate depending on your vehicle and the type of oil it requires. The average cost for a differential service is around $70-$150. 
How long does it take to replace differential (gear) oil? It usually takes 10 to 20 minutes for a differential oil replacement, with times varying based on where you take your vehicle for a transfer. Dealerships, like Honda, may have longer wait times due to increased volume whereas auto repair shops operate at a quicker pace. 
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do I need for my differential (gear) oil replacement and how much do those parts cost?

When completing a differential (gear) oil replacement, you will need:
  • Differential oil: Your vehicle’s make and model can determine which type of differential oil your vehicle will require. Differential oil total costs will vary depending on which your car needs, but typically costs between $20 and $130. 
  • Gasket maker: A gasket maker is a type of sealant that helps prevent leakage and humidity in your rear differential/front differential. Average cost of a gasket maker sealant is $7 and $25.
You can purchase differential (gear) oil parts for your car from auto parts stores like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. Three recommended brands for differential oil are Mobil 1, Valvoline, and Royal Purple. However, the best parts and brands for your differential (gear) oil replacement will vary based on your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
As your car’s differential oil depends on your make and model, both OEM and aftermarket products are good for a gear oil change. With OEM products, you can be sure that you’re selecting the right oil for your vehicle and rest assured that it’s covered under warranty. That said, aftermarket parts are often cheaper and offer similar quality.
Both differential oil and gasket makers can be purchased online or in-person at automotive shops like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts. You can also try online retailers like Amazon. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to determine which gear oil is right for your vehicle.

Where can I get my differential (gear) oil replaced?

Differential (gear) oil replacements can be a difficult task and finding the right mechanic is of the utmost importance. Thankfully, Jerry's
GarageGuard™
can ease the search process by comparing fair price estimates from over 2,500 vetted auto repair shops in the US. 
Jerry's GarageGuard™ uses real hourly rates to determine the total cost of repairs and lets you know if you need to budget for diagnostic fees. And with real customer reviews, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips for a smooth-riding automotive experience.
Take a look at some of our vetted shops below and download the app to review and assess car repair cost quotes in your area. 
155 Reviews
Texas Express Lube & Auto
address
217 N Magnolia Ave, Luling, TX
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$0
130 Reviews
RepairSmith- San Francisco Bay Area

111 Reviews
Creonte Tire & Auto Inc
address
127 Linden St, Waltham, MA
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$0
113 Reviews
Kwik Kar Ridgmar
address
6510 Westworth Blvd, Fort Worth, TX
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$120
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my differential (gear) oil?

During a differential (gear) oil replacement, your mechanic will begin by determining which fluid your vehicle requires. The wrong oil can impact how your vehicle will operate.
Next, they may use the following steps to change your differential fluid: 
  1. Lift vehicle: Using a jack or ramp, your mechanic will lift the vehicle for easier access to the front or rear differentials. Here, they will examine your fluid levels and inspect for additional leaks.
  2. Remove fill plug: They’ll remove the fill plug to ensure that there is nothing blocked or seized behind it.
  3. Remove drain plug: If there are no leaks, they’ll remove the drain plug to release the remaining differential (gear) oil into a pan. 
  4. Install new gasket: Sometimes, during a differential (gear) oil change, it’s necessary to change your gasket. This could be due to several factors, including leaks. Your mechanic will notify you if a new gasket is required. 
  5. Replace drain plug and fill: Next, the mechanic will put the drain plug back into place and add new fluid using a hose or pump until it flows from the fill hole. Oil flowing from the fill hole tells your mechanic that there are no blockages.
  6. Replace fill plug: Once fluid pumps out of the fill hole, your mechanic will put the fill plug back in place. 
The process is the same for trucks and other vehicles that require a housing cover but the mechanic will remove the cover and bolts rather than plugs. 

What happens if I don’t replace my differential (gear) oil?

Not changing your differential (gear) oil can have serious repercussions on your vehicle’s transmission. 
The differential oil acts as a lubricant on your car’s axles and ignoring any signs of low oil levels can result in the following:
  • Transmission failure 
  • Increased heat and wear
  • Pinion gear damage 

What is a differential (gear) oil replacement?

The gear oil used in your vehicle helps to lubricate your transmission, manual gearboxes, differentials, transaxles, and more. It increases overall operational efficiency as it protects vital internal components of your gear system from high heat pressure and wear. Neglected gears in your vehicle can lead to a shortened lifespan for your transmission, resulting in an inoperable car. 

When should I replace the differential (gear) oil in my car?

If you’re experiencing any of the following common symptoms, it might be time for a differential (gear) oil change: 
  • Whining differential or transmission: Hearing noises from your vehicle is never a good sign and could mean a multitude of things. One common result is low gear oil levels due to a lack of lubrication. 
  • Transmission jerking: If your differential (gear) oil needs maintenance services, you may feel your transmission jerk. This is because the fluids are at too low of a level to operate the transmission, causing the gearbox and gears to slip or grind together.
  • Burning smell: Another sign of low oil levels is a burning smell from the gearbox or differential. Leaking oil from an old seal can cause overheating to occur leading to the burning scent. If this is the case, it’s best to have your vehicle serviced quickly to prevent further overheating and damage.

How often should differential (gear) oil be replaced?

For most vehicles, differential (gear oil) fluid should be changed for new oil every 30,000 to 50,000 miles for an automatic transmission and 60,000 to 100,000 miles for manual transmissions. 
It’s important to have routine maintenance done on your differentials since metal-on-metal contact—due to low levels of oil—can create friction, leading to increased heat and eventual differential failure. 

Can I replace differential (gear) oil myself?

Yes, you can change your own differential (gear) oil. The process is very similar to changing motor oil in the engine, but can differ across vehicles—some have two drain plugs while others require you to remove a housing cover. If you’re not comfortable changing your own differential (gear) oil, contact a local mechanic for further assistance.

FAQs

While they share a similar name and may be used interchangeably, differential oil and differential fluid are two different things. 
  • Differential oil acts as a lube for your vehicle’s gears and transmission to help them function smoothly and decrease heat from friction.
  • Differential fluid, however, keeps your differentials in top condition, extending their lifespan and lubricating the clutch packs and ring and pinion gears.
Yes, it matters which differential (gear) oil you use. Each vehicle requires a different kind so it’s best to consult your owner’s manual before completing a differential (gear) oil change to determine which oil your car needs.
Thicker differential oil can provide several benefits, including increased power steering and added stability when turning. That said, going too thick with differential oil can decrease the off-power steering.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.