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Ford F150 Rear Differential Problems: Common Problems with Easy Solutions

When there are Ford F150 rear differential problems, fixing them remains the most reasonable thing to do.

However, if you don’t know how to go about it, you will just be beating about the bush.

The rear differential of your Ford F150 is one of the critical components of your vehicle.

It may not work properly if it develops some issues, and detecting as well as fixing these issues is not a piece of cake.

That’s why we created this piece so that you can easily identify and fix these issues. If you are ready to take this ride with us, let’s go.

Ford F150 Rear Differential Problems: Top 08

We have identified eight rear differential problems you may encounter with your Ford F150, with their symptoms, so that you will be in a better position to fix them.

You will find solutions to them as you continue reading this piece.

01. Loose Pinion-bearing Preload

If you hear a howling noise when changing gears, the noise may not come from your dogs. Your differential pinion-bearing may be loose.

In most circumstances, you will only hear the whimpering sound when decelerating, and this should not be taken for tire sound.

02. Worn Carrier Bearings

The carrier bearings of the rear differential may wear out. One of the symptoms to watch out for is a whizzing or growling noise when your speed is more than 20 miles per hour.

The pitch of the sound may change, in certain cases, when you navigate a bend.

03. Worn U-joints

Excessive shaking or vibration can be caused when the U-joints are worn out. In several circumstances, you will notice the vibration more when you increase the speed of the vehicle.

04. Broken Pinion-gear Tooth

The pinion-gear tooth of your rear differential may break. This will make your Ford F150 make clunking or clicking sounds when moving.

05. Broken Cornering Gear

Another name for cornering gear is spider gear. It can break down leading to issues with your rear differentials.

The major sign to watch out for is a clicking, banging, or clumping sound when you want to negotiate a bend.

06. Bad Wheel Bearings

Another problem that your rear differential may have is when the wheel bearings are bad. This will make your Ford make a growling sound when you want to negotiate a corner.

07. Out-of-balance Driveshaft

The eighth problem identified is when your driveshaft is out of balance. This will lead to vehicular vibration when accelerating.

08. Worn Transfer Case

The transfer case may wear out, and this will negatively affect the efficiency of the differential.

Usually, you will hear a clumping or clacking noise immediately upon pressing or releasing the accelerator.

Ford F150 Rear Differential: What is It & How Does It Work?

The Ford F150 rear differential helps both wheels on a certain axle to engage in the same speed turning.

Also, it renders extra traction when your Ford is stranded. There are various types of differentials, and the design of each type determines its functions.

Open Differentials

Open differentials are usually considered entry-level and are widely used for passenger vehicles.

They function through the application of torque to the wheel with the slightest impediment.

When the speed is high or there is equal resistance at the rear wheels, the two wheels start spinning simultaneously.

The differential helps with the application of power to the wheel that produces the slightest resistance.

Hence, it is ideal for passenger vehicles on a dry road. Also, it does not require excessive maintenance thereby reducing maintenance costs.

Limited Slip

The operations of a limited-slip differential are similar to the open differential. It guarantees the movement of the wheels while traveling at various speeds.

The only difference is that when there is low traction, it enables the two wheels to get the same power.

Besides, it makes it easier for you to get out of a limited-traction situation, especially when you are in a sticky situation.

However, its clutches are produced with the same materials used for manual transmission clutch. Hence, it requires thorough maintenance to boost its lifespan.

There is a need to use special differential fluid additives to enhance effectiveness. Expectedly, the clutches wear out creating the necessity for a replacement.


A Locker differential is more sophisticated when compared to limited-slip or open differentials. It enables tire spinning at various speeds when there is available traction.

However, when there is limited traction, it locks up the two tires so that they rotate at a similar speed.

There are various types of lockers using the same principle but different rear-end mechanisms. Lockers do not require heavy maintenance but eat up your tires quickly.

They are perfect for off-road driving, especially if you are going to find yourself in sticky terrains.


A spool takes the place of a whole differential carrier. It is similar to a locker and helps in keeping the two wheels spinning simultaneously without disengagement.

It eats up tires without remorse and may be destructive to other mechanical components

Solutions for the Ford F150 Rear Differential Problems

After identifying eight Ford F150 rear differential problems, find the solutions to them below.

Loose Pinion-bearing Preload: Tightening the loose pinion-bearing preload remains the best approach in fixing this problem.

In a situation whereby this does not fix the problem, you should get a replacement.

Worn Carrier Bearings: You can apply oil to the bearings to reduce the noise. If this does not solve the problem, replace the bearings.

Worn U-joints: Applying oil to the U-joints will reduce the vibration but replacing them will provide the most satisfactory outcome.

Broken Pinion-gear Tooth: The only solution to a broken pinion-gear tooth of your rear differential is to replace it.

However, make sure you purchase a product of high quality to get the most satisfactory outcome.

Broken Cornering Gears: Order new cornering gears, remove the broken ones, and fix the new ones.

Bad Wheel Bearings: When the wheel bearings are bad, replace them as soon as possible to avert danger in the future.

Out-of-balance Driveshaft: Ask your technician to help you balance the driveshaft. This will eliminate vibration witnessed when accelerating.

Worn Transfer Case: You can apply oil to manage it for a while, especially if you are on a budget. However, a complete replacement will do the magic.

Ford F150 Rear Differential Replacement: the Complete Guide

Here are the tools needed for an effective replacement of a Ford F150 rear differential:

  • 13mm socket
  • 8mm socket
  • 3/8″ socket
  • Putty knife
  • Silicon sealant
  • Proper size shim driver
  • Breaker bar
  • Two jack stands
  • Floor Jack
  • Drain Pain
  • Tire iron
  • Four-wheel chocks
  • New differential oil

Step 1 – Take Off The Rear Wheels

This is the simplest step in the whole method.  Park the vehicle on level ground before setting the emergency brake and putting the vehicle in neutral.

Thereafter, chock the two front wheels, then use the tire iron to unbolt the rear nuts.

In addition, use the floor jack to raise the vehicle before placing the jack stand beneath the back axle. Take off the lug nuts before removing the wheel.

Takedown the vehicle over the jack stands. Take note that it is dangerous to work beneath a vehicle that does not have support from a jack stand.

Step 2 – Prepare The Rear Differential

If you have a 2009-2014 model, detach the electronic locking differential connector, and take off the bolt connecting the mount to the differential.

Put the drain pan below the differential, and use the 13mm socket to take off all bolts from the cover of the differential.

In addition, use a putty knife to remove the cover. You should be very careful so that you don’t scratch or crack it. Allow it to drain properly before moving to the next step.

Step 3 – Take Off The Rotors

With the aid of a 10mm socket, take off the two bolts that connect the calipers to the rotors.

Pull off the rotors, and if they are tight, use a hammer to free them. Take off the two bolts connecting the brake caliper bracket to the hub of the wheel.

Step 4 – Take Off The Axles

Turn the pinion flange so that you will have unrestricted access to the pinion shaft retaining bolt. With the aid of the 3/8″ socket and breaker bar (if necessary), take off the bolt.

Thereafter, take off the pinion shaft, and push in the wheel flanges on both sides of the vehicle to get access to the c-clips for removal.

After removing the c-clips, slide out the axle shafts partially so that they get disengaged from the gears.

Step 5 – Take Off The Rear Differential

Take off the two bearing cap bolts on both sides of the differential before removing the bearing caps.

With the aid of a pry bar and a wooden block in the midst of the housing and bar, take off the rear differential painstakingly,

Step 6 – Fix New Differential

You need to be very careful with this step so that you don’t misalign the differential.  Misalignment can be dangerous for both the brand-new differential as well as your axles.

Place the brand-new differential right into the housing.

Thereafter, get the differential bearing shim installed on the left-hand side. If the brand-new differential does not come with a bearing shim, reuse the one from the old differential.

Furthermore, forcefully seat the bearing cap before loosely installing the two bearing cap bolts.

Set up the bearing shim on the right-hand side, and with the aid of a shim driver, ensure that the two bearing shims sit perfectly. Then, set up the bearing cap on the right-hand side.

Besides, use your hand to make the bearing cap bolts tight on both sides before torquing to 77 ft-lbs.

Thereafter, turn the differential so that it spins without any interference. If it does not spin freely, it means you will have to start the process all over again and ensure that all things are well seated.

As soon as it spins freely, fine-tune the ring as well as the pinion backlash. You may need to consult your user’s manual so that you will know the appropriate specifications.

Step 7 – Fix Other Removed Parts

Fix other components removed in order of removal. Ensure proper seating of the axle before tightening them to place.

Scrape off old sealant from the cover of the differential carefully before applying a 1/8″ bead around it for reinstallation. Tightening should be carried out in a crisscross pattern.

In addition, consult your user’s manual to know the right quantity as well as the type of differential oil to use. Thereafter, replace the rear differential oil.

To test the vehicle, go slowly and take note of any noise that is not normal.

FAQs about Ford F150 Rear Differential Problems

How much does it cost to replace the rear differential of the Ford F150?

Ideally, you will spend roughly between $500 and $1000 to buy parts. You should expect labor costs to hover between $1,500 and $2,400.

How do you tell if your rear end is bad?

When your rear differential is bad, it will be making unpalatable noise.

The most widespread is howling or whining noise, which is an indication of worn-out or damaged pinion gears and rings.

How do you know if a differential is bad?

You will discover symptoms like excessive noise, differential overheating, complications in handling wheels, vibration, and so on.

What does a faulty rear axle sound like?

The noise varies and could be humming, growling, knocking, clicking, and so on.

Is it worth getting a differential fixed?

Fixing your differential will enable your vehicle to experience a new lease of life. You are not going to lose because you will enjoy the benefits.

Should you drive with a bad rear differential?

When your rear differential is bad, you can drive with it. However, it can damage your vehicle or escalate the problem to a point that you will not be able to move again.


Your Ford F150 should be in top condition at all times so that you can get value for your money. Fixing Ford F150 rear differential problems will help you to enjoy your vehicle to the maximum level.

That is why we created this guide to help you in understanding vital rear differential issues.

We hope that you will make good use of this piece, which identifies the problem and suggests solutions.

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