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How Often to Change Differential Fluid on Ram 1500?

If you want your Ram 1500 to continue working in peak condition, you need to make sure you change the differential fluid regularly. 

But how often is “regularly?” 

Ram recommends that you change the differential fluid in your 1500 every 25,000 miles or every two years, whichever occurs first. Unless you are an experienced mechanic, you should not attempt to do this yourself. Changing differential fluid requires precision, so you should take your truck to a professional. 

In this article, I will explain what differential fluid is, how often you should change your truck’s differential fluid, and what will happen if you don’t change the fluid. 

Then, I will detail ways to tell if your differential fluid is bad, as well as whether you can change the differential fluid yourself. 

Finally, I will talk about what type of differential fluid a Ram 1500 needs and how much it costs to repair the differential.

What Is Differential Fluid?

man in dark shirt and white gloves is holding a mechanic's tool

Before we discuss how often you should change your differential fluid, let’s talk about what differential fluid is. 

Basically, a car’s differential keeps your ride smooth. 

You see, when you turn corners, the inside wheels have to travel a shorter distance than the outside wheels. 

So, if all the wheels turn at the same speed, the outside wheels would skitter. 

But, with a differential, the vehicle can supply the appropriate amount of power to each wheel so that the car turns smoothly. 

And just like your engine, the differential requires fluid to reduce friction and keep everything working in peak condition. 

Without the lubricant, the differential would overheat and wear down much quicker than it should.

How Often Should I Change the Differential Fluid in My Ram 1500?

Ram recommends that you change the differential fluid in your 1500 every 25,000 miles (40,234 km) or every two years, whichever comes first. 

This schedule is much stricter than the average manufacturer, which recommends changing the differential fluid every 30,000 miles (48,280 km) to 60,000 miles (96,561 km).

Yet, you should keep in mind that certain factors put more wear on your differential, which can cause the fluid to break down faster. 

For example, if you tow trailers or haul heavy loads, you may need your differential fluid changed a bit more often. 

Additionally, be aware that differential fluid is sensitive to quick temperature changes. 

So, if you live in a region where the temperature fluctuates a lot, your differential fluid will probably break down much faster than if you live in a place where the temp is constant.

What Will Happen if I Don’t Change My Differential Fluid?

Man in Blue Jacket and Gray Pants Standing Near Black Car

Overall, differential fluid is quite similar to engine oil. 

And you probably know that if you don’t change your engine oil often enough, it will become thick and gunky and won’t be able to lubricate the engine. 

An unlubricated engine leads to excessive friction, which will end up destroying engine components. 

Differential fluid works the same way. 

If you don’t change it when you should, it will become thick and won’t be able to lubricate the gears, bearings, pinions, and other parts of the differential. 

The friction caused by these parts rubbing against each other without lube will end up tearing them apart. 

In most cases, this damage will just lead to a few worn parts, but sometimes it’s extensive enough that you’ll need a whole new differential.

How to Tell if You Need to Change Your Differential Fluid?

Of course, the best way to know if you need to change your differential fluid is to track how long it’s been since you last changed it. 

But since it’s easy to forget your last change mileage, let’s look at some signs that your differential fluid is getting old.

Strange Vibrations

If your Ram 1500 starts to vibrate unexplainably, it may be a sign that your differential fluid is going bad. 

However, a vibrating vehicle can be a symptom of several different problems. 

To narrow down whether it’s the differential, pay attention to when your truck vibrates. 

If it primarily occurs when you are making turns, you likely have an issue with your differential, and you should have it inspected by a mechanic before the problem worsens.

A Burning Smell

Unfortunately, a burning smell can also be a symptom of several issues with your truck, including low oil. 
However, if you notice that the smell is coming from the gearbox, your differential fluid has probably gone bad and is causing excessive friction in your gears.

Odd Noises

Again, odd noises coming from your vehicle don’t necessarily mean that the differential fluid is bad. 

Yet, old differential fluid can definitely lead to strange noises because the gears and other differential components will start rubbing together. 

So, if your differential fluid is old, you may notice a whirring, whining, or grinding noise coming from your truck.

Can I Change My Differential Fluid Myself?

a mechanic in blue suit is checking a car

While you can technically change your differential fluid yourself, this is a job best left to the professionals. 

One reason professionals should perform this task is that you need to put your truck on a lift. 

And, of course, many people don’t have access to their own lift, meaning it would be impossible for them to change their fluid. 

Additionally, when changing differential fluid, you must ensure you wipe out all of the old fluid. 

If you don’t, the old, bad fluid will mix with the new fluid, making it not last as long.

How Much Does it Cost to Have Differential Fluid Changed?

Typically, changing your differential fluid costs more than an oil change. 

Generally, you can expect to pay between $70 and $175 to get your differential fluid changed. 

Whether you will pay towards the higher or lower end of this spectrum depends on a few different determinants. 

The main factor has to do with which differential you need to have serviced. 

Typically, you will have to pay a bit more to get the front differential fluid changed because it is harder to change than the rear. 

Also, where you live can heavily affect the price of labor. 

Overall, if you bring your vehicle to a service station in a rural area, you will usually pay less than if you go to one in the city or suburbs.

What Kind of Differential Fluid Does a Ram 1500 Need?

A Ram 1500 requires synthetic gear lubricant SAE 75W-140.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix the Differential in a Ram 1500?

If you haven’t changed your differential fluid in a while, you may end up with a damaged differential. 

So, you need to know, how much does it cost to fix?

In general, minor differential repairs average around $300. 

But, if you need the entire differential replaced, you’re looking at a much larger amount. 

You can usually expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for a whole new differential.


Overall, you should change the differential fluid in your Ram 1500 every 25,000 miles (40,234 km) or every two years, whichever comes first.

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