Top 4 G80 Locking Differential Problems

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The G80 differential is a special rear axle that helps balance traction on your truck wheels. It is mainly found on GM/Chevy trucks and is handy, especially when driving through slippery roads. This differential works automatically and delivers better performance than limited-slip differentials.

But does G80 locking differential fail outrightly? Well, there are some common G80 locking differential problems you should know.

These problems occur for quite different reasons, including hard impact, excessive wear, and mechanical faults. This article addresses the most common G80 differential problems and how to fix them.

Let’s get started!

What is G80 Locking Differential?

This is a special type of differential installed in Silverado trucks and some Colorado WT/LT/Z71, Tahoe and Suburban models; put simply, General Motors uses this differential on select vehicles (mostly trucks).

The G80 diff works as an open differential until one of the wheels starts spinning uncontrollably; then, it activates the locking mechanism to keep the wheels rotating at the same speed.

The automatic locking and disengagement of the G80 differential do not require the driver’s involvement, and this makes the differential unique. G80 ensures higher traction than conventional limited-slip differentials.

Now, here’s how the G80 works; when the system detects excessive wheel slip, it engages a flyweight-type governor and a self-energized clutch system, which pushes the cam plate to ramp against a side gear, pushing the disc pack to force both rear wheels to spin at the same speed.

G80 Locking Differential Problems

Yes, the G80 diff does fail after a while, and when it does, you will experience quite many unusual difficulties while driving.

Here are the common G80 locking differential problems!

1. Erratic Locking and Unlocking

Basically, the system locks when it detects minimal traction on one wheel and unlocks when the wheels regain traction and you are speeding above 20 mph. The G80 differential is controlled automatically using signals from the traction control system.

So, if you find out the G80 differential is functioning out of proportion, it could be that the traction control system is sending in wrong signals or the differential is partly damaged.


  • Troubleshoot the traction control system and fix any detected issues
  • Check the G80 differential assembly for physical damages

2. Oil Leaks

When the G80 differential is out of place or physically broken, it can cause transmission fluids to leak away. The oil is yellowish and thick – leaking out from the axle chamber.

Apparently, the leaks are coming from loopholes in the housing/assembly; if you identify the loopholes and fix them, the problem may be solved.


  • Find the leaky spots and fix them; if the differential is badly damaged, have it replaced

3. Broken Governor or Worn Out Clutches

A broken governor or worn-out clutch can cause G80 locking differential problems. When the governor is damaged, it becomes impossible for the differential to engage when there’s excessive loss of traction on one wheel; thus, the wheel would keep spinning with minimal or no traction.

Similarly, the differential won’t clamp well and force traction on the spinning wheel when the clutches are severely worn out. Clutches can wear out due to high mileage or severe conditions. G80 clutches can be bought separately for quite an affordable price.


  • Purchase a new governor or clutch and replace the worn-out ones

4. G80 Failure

G80 failure usually occurs when you use the wrong fluid or add special additives unsuitable for the G80 differential. Also, a lot of people allegedly blow up their G80 in winter when you use the wrong fluid and still hit the throttle so hard while one of the wheels has lost traction.


  • In most cases, you have to do a complete G80 rebuild or reinstallation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is G80 Differential Limited-Slip?

No, it is not. The G80 differential is a special type of differential that works as an open differential and then activates the locking mechanism when one of the wheels loses traction and is spinning uncontrollably.

Is The G80 Locking Differential Any Good?

Yes, it is. The G80 differential performs very well when you’re driving through slippery tracks. However, the differential tends to malfunction “a bit” in higher RPMs. G80 is practically the best differential to have on your Silverado.

How Does a G80 Differential Work?

The differential locks automatically when one of the tires begins to spin and forces both wheels to rotate at the same speed to keep the truck moving forward. G80 is a locking differential offering superior traction compared to traditional limited-slip differentials.


Summarily, what are the common G80 locking differential problems? The problems include complete failure, oil leaks, and erratic operations.

These problems can be fixed by changing the faulty component in the differential assembly or replacing the entire system. You can also get a G80 differential repair/rebuild kit to fix some of the issues.

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