The differential seal protects the gears in the differential from harmful contaminants and keeps gear oil from leaking out. So when any of the differential seals in your car's axles break down, they should be replaced with new ones as soon as possible. Replacement differential seals are not that hard to find in the market. Here, we're going to show you some of the kinds of differential seals available for purchase today.
It's more than rubber
The main ? if not sole ? material differential seals are made of is rubber, but this does not mean that all differential seals are made of the same rubber material. In fact, differential seals are made of various types of synthetic rubber, with each one having its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of these common rubber types include:
- Nitrile rubber: The most common type of rubber used in oil seals, nitrile rubber is highly resistant to oil and abrasion. However, it does not provide adequate protection from solvents and extreme temperatures.
- Silicone rubber: It is highly resistant to heat and cold but is not as resistant to water and alkalis compared to other types of rubber.
- Acrylic rubber: It has has the high oil resistance of acrylic rubber and the heat resistance of silicone rubber. However, it is not as good when it comes to water and acids.
- Flourocarbon rubber: Made from organic compounds, this type of rubber is highly resistant to heat, oil, and chemicals. However, it does not fare well under cold weather conditions.
Aside from rubber, differential seals have also been made of the following materials:
- Fabric: It is heat resistant, and it does not fray.
- PTFE: It is composed of synthetic polymer resin that provides excellent resistance against high temperatures, chemicals, and abrasion. It is not, however, as elastic as rubber.
Aftermarket performance seals
In addition to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) seals, there are also the so-called aftermarket performance differential seals. These seals do not follow the same requirements specified by the car manufacturer (like OEM seals do). Instead, they are best for performance applications. Some performance seals, for example, have a special flanged design to prevent against cocking, while others come with a latex bore coat as protection against minor bore imperfections. However, because they do not match the exact specs as OEM seals, not all aftermarket performance seals are not guaranteed to work or last the same as the factory seal. Some aftermarket performance seals tend to be expensive. They are bundled in a kit along with differential bearings and other related components.