Do I need extended differential breathers for my 4x4

Front view of Sandy Taupe LC76 equipped with Ironman 4x4 diff breathers crossing deep river in Victorian High Country.

Do I Need Extended Differential Breathers For My 4x4?

Extended diff breathers are a must-have for 4×4 owners who are planning to venture off-road where deep water crossings can’t be avoided.

What are diff breathers and how do they work?

Many vehicles come standard with diff breathers, they are a one-way valve that are installed onto your differential housing (and sometimes transmission and transfer case).

When these components are in use, they heat up, causing the air inside to expand, increasing the air pressure which needs to be vented to prevent damage to seals.

What is wrong with standard diff breathers?

The factory breathers are usually a one-way valve mounted directly to the axle housing or remotely on a short tube. Being a one-way valve, while they accommodate for heat expansion and letting hot air out, they do not accommodate for rapid cooling and contraction.

When your diff, transfer case and transmission get hot from travelling, and then pass through a cold river or body of water, your diff and bits contract quickly, creating a vacuum.

The pressure can be so great that it will either damage the one-way valve, or create enough force to suck through the case seals.

If at any point your driveline components are underwater while this is happening, rather than sucking in air, your differentials, transfer case and gearbox and now sucking in water!

In many cases, people don’t realise they have sucked in water until the point of catastrophic failure.

What is an extended diff breather kit and how do they work?

An extended diff breather kit usually removes the one-way valve and either introduces or extends a series of tubing to allow these critical driveline components to breathe air from a higher, cleaner, and drier location; commonly in the engine bay.

This new point will include a manifold featuring a filtered breather that helps keep water and dirt out of these critical components.

The greatest advantage of an extended diff breather kit is that it fundamentally operates like a snorkel, allowing your driveline cases to breathe in and out, with nice clean air. When the cases contract quickly, dry air can be drawn from the engine bay.

Many 4×4 owners will also choose to add extended breathers to their gearbox and transfer case.

Are extended diff breathers necessary?

The main problem with factory diff breathers occurs when driving through water crossings deeper than the location of your standard breathers.

In a best-case situation you’ll have realised that you’ve driven through water deeper than you should have and you’ll just need to change your diff oil.

What’s the worst-case? Inexperienced 4×4 owners who continuously take their vehicles through deep water with factory breathers will contaminate their diff oil, and eventually begin to grind their gears, causing irreparable damage.

Are extended diff breathers worth it?

If you’re installing a snorkel, consider doing your diff breathers at the same time. Your vehicle will only go as far as its lowest air intake point.

An extended diff breather kit is cheap insurance for avoiding expensive damage. At just $115 an Ironman 4×4 extended diff breather kit will keep you out of trouble and reduce the likelihood of expensive diff damage.

With rebuilds and replacements costing thousands of dollars, it’s a no-brainer.

Are extended diff breather kits easy to install?

In most cases, installing diff breathers is a DIY job, requiring only basic hand tools like a spanner, Allen keys and a knife.

Depending on the fittings on your vehicle, installation can be as easy as pulling the factory hose off and clamping the new hose on.

The most time-consuming part is neatly routing the hoses along your chassis and running your lines up the firewall of your vehicle.

Once you’ve run the lines and found a high spot to mount the breather manifold, all you need to do insert the lines and secure the fittings.

Installing breathers on transfer cases and transmissions can be a little more time-consuming on some vehicles due to restricted access.

If working on your own car isn’t for you, your local Ironman 4×4 dealer is experienced at installing diff breathers on a variety of makes and models.

Find your nearest Ironman 4×4 dealer here

What cars does Ironman 4x4 make diff breathers for?

Ironman 4×4 diff breathers are available for most vehicles, including popular models, like:

- Mazda BT-50
- Holden Colorado
- Isuzu D-Max
- Nissan Navara
- Nissan Patrol
- Jeep Wrangler
- Suzuki Jimny
- Toyota LandCruiser
- Toyota 4runner
- Toyota Hilux
- Mitsubishi Triton
- Toyota Prado
+ more!

Find your extended diff breather kit

Where can I buy Ironman 4×4 extended diff breathers?

Ironman 4×4 has a local dealer network that can supply extended diff breather kits to suit your vehicle across Australia, including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Hobart and more, as well as a dealer network across the globe.

Find your nearest Ironman 4×4 dealer here