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Old 07-03-2010, 12:33 PM   #1
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Does flat towing wear out your differential?

I have been flat towing my 2002 V6 Explorer since it was new with no problem using the dealer installed neutral tow kit. Now it is an extra car that I keep just tow and other odd jobs so I don't want to put money into it. It has about 95K miles on it. Recently I learned that the differential is going. I only actually drive it a couple K per year so I'm going not going to repair it now. I am told it will just get noisier and the sound will drive me crazy before it finally breaks down. Does anyone know if towing it flat wears out the differential? Any other parts of the drive train get worn?
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Old 07-03-2010, 12:47 PM   #2
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The differential is self lubricating. The gears sit in a bath of gear lube and when the axles turn or the driveshaft turns the oil is picked up by the gears and keeps everything lubricated. Flat towing has no effect here. There are several things that could be causing the noise. It could be the gears are worn from poor design by ford. I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee that the manufacture has a large tolerance for gear mesh & it has been making noise for over 100k miles. I don't know if ford had such a tolerance also on not. It could also be axel or pinion bearings going bad. Can't tell till some one opens it up & investigates it further. I, like you feel if its not causing any vibrations at this time & you don't drive it much, I would just live with it , but be aware of it and take notice if it gets worse.
I am not sure about other parts of your drivetrain without knowing what drivetrain you have. Most likely no wear & tear from flat towing.
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Old 07-03-2010, 01:05 PM   #3
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I don't recall anyone posting of that problem from towing.
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Old 07-03-2010, 01:44 PM   #4
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FWIW Does the 95,000 miles you reported include the miles you dragged it along behind you as well? When you are towing the toad you are working on the back side of the gears, same as when you are going down a grade with your foot off the accelerator. I do not know if the back side of the gears have the same hardness as the Drive side does. If the back side does not then this could cause a higher rate of wear. That still does not mean it will be a problem because lubrication is involved to limit wear. Happy 4th of July! Remember our Troops and All that have served.
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Old 07-04-2010, 02:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nosepicker View Post
I have been flat towing my 2002 V6 Explorer since it was new with no problem using the dealer installed neutral tow kit. Now it is an extra car that I keep just tow and other odd jobs so I don't want to put money into it. It has about 95K miles on it. Recently I learned that the differential is going. I only actually drive it a couple K per year so I'm going not going to repair it now. I am told it will just get noisier and the sound will drive me crazy before it finally breaks down. Does anyone know if towing it flat wears out the differential? Any other parts of the drive train get worn?
i would try a high quality synthetic lubricant such as amsoil. amsoil diff lube quieted my old nissan pickups diff.
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Old 07-04-2010, 06:38 AM   #6
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Yes towing wears out the moving parts of the the rear end. There are axle bearings, carrier bearings, pinion bearing, ring gears, pinion gear and spider gears. If it is limited slip then add cluth pack to the mix. All will be in motion when the rear tires turn. It could be slop in he gears or a bearing going out. A good mechanic who knows rear ends should be able to tell you.
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Old 07-04-2010, 08:08 AM   #7
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There is some wear, however it is highly unusual for a differentical to wear out during the lifetime of a vehicle.. Since it is not under load when you tow, you might drain 100-200 miles off it's lifespan, and it's lifespan is often 2x that of the car it's mounted on.

So.. You'll never notice.
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Old 07-04-2010, 08:32 AM   #8
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The back side of the gears are not designed for continual use so it will wear faster than the front side. In an extream case I wore the ring gear out on a car I use to tow that had a 5.86 gear ratio in it. the teeth were as shrap as razors. I would agree that with almost 100K miles it's posible.
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Old 07-04-2010, 07:22 PM   #9
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Kind of wondering.. When you drive it is there vibration?

(It might not be the differential after all)
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Old 07-04-2010, 08:18 PM   #10
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Wile towing, some of the components are loaded differently then when under it's own power. Also, while towing, the suspension is working like normal, the wheels are turning like normal and the bearings are going round. So towing does put wear and tare on the vehicle.

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Old 07-05-2010, 08:22 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Flagelpater View Post
FWIW Does the 95,000 miles you reported include the miles you dragged it along behind you as well? When you are towing the toad you are working on the back side of the gears, same as when you are going down a grade with your foot off the accelerator. I do not know if the back side of the gears have the same hardness as the Drive side does. If the back side does not then this could cause a higher rate of wear. That still does not mean it will be a problem because lubrication is involved to limit wear. Happy 4th of July! Remember our Troops and All that have served.
I would say about additional 5 to 10 thousand miles are as a toad. The odometer does not count these.
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:27 AM   #12
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No. Just a soft whining sound for now. Mechanic says it will eventually get louder.
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:28 AM   #13
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Wile towing, some of the components are loaded differently then when under it's own power. Also, while towing, the suspension is working like normal, the wheels are turning like normal and the bearings are going round. So towing does put wear and tare on the vehicle.

Ken
Nearly as much as actual driving?
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:09 PM   #14
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Nearly as much as actual driving?
IMHO, wear is minimal as there is no load on the gears.
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