Symptoms of rear differential failure include vibrations, noises and other irregular driving characteristics, such as whirring on deceleration, whining during acceleration or rumbling at speeds over 20 miles per hour, according to West Coast Differentials. Differential failure can be caused by driveline, axle, pinion gear or ring faults.
If a vehicle makes a whirring noise only upon deceleration and consistently makes this noise at any speed, it is likely that it has bad pinion bearings or is suffering from a loose pinion bearing preload, notes West Coast Differentials. Worn rings or pinion gears often result in howling and whining upon acceleration. Improperly set up gears may also cause these symptoms. A whirring or rumbling sound occurring at speeds over 20 miles per hour is typically the result of worn carrier bearings. If the sound changes when turning, differential failure from worn carrier bearings is most likely.
Other symptoms of differential failure include regular clunking sounds occurring every few feet of distance traveled, according to West Coast Differentials. Clunking and banging sounds that occur only when traversing corners may be the result of defective spider gears or a lack of sufficient lubrication on the positraction clutches. A rumble when turning is indicative of bad wheel bearings.