Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Sunshine Coast
Drives: 2009 Sportage, 98 Sportage, 2012 Tata Xenon, 1944 Jeep
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You are correct, a diff should not wear out in such a short time but it was obvious that Kia or one of their subcontractors, must have sourced a bad lot of bearings from a supplier around 2007,8. Once the bearings are replaced with good ones, then the diff should be fine.
You could try replacing the oil with new oil of the correct type as suggested above. It doesn't have to be synthetic, but it should be a high quality hypoid (EP) oil. Sometimes diffs, particularly limited slip ones, just don't like a particular brand or type of oil, and will kick up a racket, and who's to know if it was changed at all previously, or if they used the right oil or the right amount. It is certainly easier and cheaper than ripping the diff out first. Besides if you drain the oil, and it is full of metal chips - well then you will know for sure. If it is just dirty, then change it and see how you go.