Any vehicle with a differential needs gear oil to keep the wheels turning. The differential is where the power from the driveshaft is split and delivered to each wheel – it’s a housing filled with gears that need to be lubricated and protected in order to ensure operation. The right gear oil is essential here, which means you cannot afford to buy the first product you come across. Here are some important questions to ask before you buy gear oil.
1. Is It Rated for Your Vehicle?
First and foremost, make sure that the gear oil you choose is rated for your vehicle. You’ll need to check the owner’s manual or other supporting documentation to find the GF rating. Most newer vehicles will be GL-5, but older ones will be GL-4. GL-6 is on the horizon, as well. Note that some gear oil formulations are marketed as GL-4/GL-5, but they are actually GL-5-rated products and may not be compatible with vehicles specifically rated for GL-4.
2. Does It Include Anti-Wear Additives?
Some gear oil formulations are just that – plain old oil. That’s fine when it comes to lubrication, but not when it comes to protecting your equipment. Gears within a differential are subject to significant wear and tear, high temperatures, and other harsh conditions. Specific additives should be used to increase the gear oil’s ability to prevent wear and premature damage, thereby extending the life of the differential (or other equipment, since gear oil is used in an incredibly wide range of applications).
3. Is It the Right Type of Gear Oil?
While gear oil is used in vehicle differentials and manual gearboxes, it is also used in industrial machinery and many, many other applications. Because of this, there are numerous types out there and they are not interchangeable. For instance, you’ll find R&O gear oil, which is designed to prevent rust and oxidation specifically. There is EP gear oil, which is designed for use under extreme pressure. Compounded gear oil is another option. Again, these are not interchangeable, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the right type for your specific application.
To determine that, you’ll need to consider the operating conditions. Is the equipment used in an area where corrosion of the gears is a major concern, such as in a marine or coastal environment? R&O gear oil might be right for you. Does the equipment operate at slow speeds that increase pressure or carry heavy loads? EP gear oil could be the better choice for you. Are you lubricating a worm gear application? Compounded gear oil is likely the right choice for your needs.
These are just some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before buying gear oil. Working with the right lubricant supplier can help ensure that you never need to worry that you’re using the incorrect oil for your application. Make sure you deal with a manufacturer that is dedicated to formulating high-performance lubricant products that exceed industry regulations and that will keep you supplied with the oil you need for reliable, safe operation.