How to Torque Rear Differential Cover

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After draining your differential and inspecting the gears, you'll need to seal the system back up. Follow the proper steps to reattach the rear differential cover and torque the bolts, and prevent any leaks when you refill with fluid.

Things You'll Need

  • Gasket scraper (or any flat-bladed pry tool)
  • Brake cleaner or engine cleaner
  • RTV silicone sealant
  • Repair manual for your vehicle
  • Socket wrench
  • Socket to fit your vehicle's differential bolts
  • Torque wrench
  • Shop rags
  • Oil drain pan (optional)

Torquing Rear Differential Cover

  • Remove the old gasket from the differential itself. You can use a gasket scraper, or any kind of tool with a flat blade, to scrape it from the rim of the differential. If the cover was attached with silicone, scrape the residue from the rim.

  • Remove any residue from the cover with a scraping tool. You can also use a few sprays of brake cleaner or engine cleaner on the cover as well as the differential. Wipe thoroughly with a rag and get the surfaces as smooth as possible. Cleaner surfaces will adhere better when you reseal the cover.

  • Add a bead of RTV silicone to the flat inside edge of the differential cover. (Here we're using blue silicone, but other colors will work.) Do NOT reuse the old gasket, as there's a greater tendency for leaks.

  • Let the silicone sit for a while to cure. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

  • Hold cover up to differential. Be sure the cover is facing the right way, with the large hump fitting over the ring gear. Do NOT press the silicone down yet.

  • While carefully holding the cover where you want it, thread a couple of bolts in to help hold the cover in place. Do not tighten. Do your best not to shift the cover around too much, as it will smear the silicone and you won't have as tight a seal.

  • Thread ALL the bolts in before tightening. Then go through with a socket and tighten the bolts in a crisscross pattern: top right, bottom left, top left, bottom right and so on, until all bolts are snug.

  • Check your repair manual and set your torque wrench to the factory settings for your vehicle.

  • Use the torque wrench in a crisscross pattern on the bolts. The wrench will stop turning on each bolt when it has been tightened with the proper torque.

  • Go through a second time to double-check your work. Use a circular pattern this time to make sure you haven't missed any bolts.

  • Use a bit of brake clean on a rag and clean off any residue on the outside of the cover. Your differential is now resealed.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can buy a new gasket for the differential instead of using silicone. Just remember not to reuse the old one!
  • Keep an oil catch pan under the differential while you work to catch any residual fluid or debris.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area and follow all manufacturer's instructions and warnings for any fluids, cleaners and silicones you use.

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  • Photo Credit Photos c2008 by Valerie David.
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