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Ownership: There Is No Better Time To Be Doing Car Maintenance Than Right Now

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Global pandemics turn out to be a combination of boring and terrifying. Wake up, existential terror when you check your phone first thing. That slowly fades into dull existence punctuated by taking care of your cats, then 4 PM rolls around on Saturday and you realize you have forgotten what sunlight looks like. Fear not! Your garage/parking lot/carport is safe. Let’s take a look at the forgotten maintenance you should go take care of now while you’re bored enough that undertaking it actually sounds fun.

a truck is parked in front of a car © Photo: Toni Scott

When was the last time you changed your differential oil? I used to change mine frequently because I had a welded diff in my old Toyota as the resident Punk Kid Drifter, and I needed to get out all the shards of metal that would build up in the oil. But admittedly, I never bothered until that point. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t be noticing shards of metal in your differential oil unless you have a welded diff, and even then, it’s still not great.

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Still, even if your car is operating as intended, new fluids can help the diff last longer, operate more quietly, and in the case of a limited slip differential, probably grip better, which means mad skids.

The tools required are simple, as well. A floor jack and some stands to give you space underneath the car, a breaker bar, a correctly-sized socket, and a fresh bottle (or two - diff oil is usually sold in quarts, and differentials usually take slightly more than one quart) of differential oil is all that’s needed. Just be sure to check your car manufacturer’s recommended viscosity of diff oil - usually, it’s a 75W-90, 80W-90, or 75W-140 weight, depending on the make.

If you’d like to see a bit of a walkthrough, Supercheap Auto, the Australian auto parts and supplies store, made a pro-quality video on this relatively simple and painless (but smelly) process. Seriously, I cannot emphasize how smelly this process is.

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