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What to do When your rear end is gone

to turn at different speeds when
you take turns. Without it, you’d be
dragging your outside wheel along
the pavement whenever you turn.
Typically, when the gears wear
out — or the bearings fail — the
differential will start to howl. You’ll
hear something that sounds like a
deep whistling sound that goes up
and down in pitch as you go faster
Dear Car Talk:
and slower. Sometimes it’ll go away
I have a 2006 Buick Rendezvous.
when you step on the gas.
My rear end is completely gone, so
Sometimes it’ll go away when you
I’ve been told. I am a 65-year-old,
take your foot off the gas. The
single woman. I don’t have a lot of
only symptom that’s absolutely
money. What does that mean? —
consistent is that, over time, it’ll
drive you cuckoo. My late brother
Not to worry, Ava. My wife tells me had a bad differential in his Chevy
my rear end is completely gone,
Suburban, and until he figured it
too. But she’s still sticking with me. out, he was convinced the cops were
The “rear end” is your mechanic’s
following him around everywhere.
shorthand for the differential. The And that they knew about the
differential is essentially a complex plastic coffee urn he stole from
box of gears that allows the wheels his local International House of

Pancakes in 1967.
If you’re short on funds and want
to keep this car for a while, your
best bet is a used differential.
Differentials will often last the
life of the car. If you found a
Rendezvous in a junkyard, chances
are its rear differential would be
Now, we don’t want you climbing
around piles of wrecked cars in a
junkyard, Ava. Certainly not with
your wornout rear end. You need
to find a mechanic who’s willing to
work with you and help you out.
Your mechanic probably has a
junkyard or two he works with.
He can call them and track down
the right part for you. Then he can
install it.
It’s not cheap. It’ll probably cost
you between $500-$1,000 including
labor, depending on how much the

part costs. But you can’t continue
to drive with a bad differential
forever. There’s a chance that it’ll
seize up on you, and that can be
dangerous, especially if it happens
at higher speed.
So, if the alternative is to get
rid of this car, spending 500 or
1,000 bucks probably makes
sense, assuming the Rendezvous
is otherwise in good shape. Get a
mechanic to work with you, and
good luck with your new rear end,

Got a question about cars? Write to
Ray in care of King Features, 628
Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803,
or email by visiting the Car Talk
website at
© 2019 by Ray Magliozzi and
Doug Berman Distributed by King
Features Syndicate, Inc


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