How to Replace Transfer Case Fluid

Four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) may operate differently but the theory is still the same. 4WD vehicles are generally a part-time system. They operate as rear-wheel drive until a switch or lever is activated, allowing the transfer case to “transfer” some of the power to the front wheels. AWD is typically a permanent four-wheel drive system, always engaged. Through the use of various sensors, AWD will vary the power split front and rear automatically. Both systems still use a transfer case to split the power to the front and rear. Transfer case fluid level and condition are vital to the longevity and proper operation of your 4WD and AWD systems.

Part 1 of 2: Draining the transfer case

Materials Needed

  • Drain pan
  • Filler/extraction syringe
  • Ratchet/sockets
  • Transfer case fluid - consult your owner’s manual for the correct fluid type and quantity
  • Wrenches - open/box end
  • Wheel chocks/blocks

  • Note: Since the majority of pickup trucks and SUVs have enough ground clearance, you generally will not need to lift the vehicle. If, however, your vehicle does not have enough clearance for you to lay underneath it, follow proper jacking instructions for your vehicle. Even if you must lift your vehicle, it must be level when refilling the fluid.

Step 1: Prepare the vehicle. Make certain the vehicle has cooled for at least 2 hours as to not handle hot fluids. Set the parking brake and chock/block at least one wheel front and back.

Step 2: Drain the fluid. The drain and fill plugs are generally located facing the rear of the transfer case and vehicle.

The lower plug is the drain and the plug located higher up is the fill. Remove the fill plug, then remove the drain plug. Allow the fluid to drain as long as possible as to extract the maximum amount.

Part 2 of 2: Refilling the transfer case

Step 1: Reinstall the drain plug. Once the fluid has drained completely, reinstall the drain plug, leaving the fill plug out.

  • Tip: Some fluid bottles come with a spout top so you can squeeze the fluid out through it. If there is not enough room under your vehicle to get it into the fill plug, the filler/extraction syringe listed in the materials needed will come in handy.

Step 2: Refill the transfer case. The transfer case does not have a dipstick to check fluid level. It is basically “fill till you spill.” Using either the fluid bottle top or syringe, fill the fluid into the filler plug hole until fluid runs out of it.

Step 3: Clean up. Reinstall the fluid fill plug. Wipe any excess fluid from the transfer case. Dispose of the use fluid properly. In most cases, your local auto parts store will take used oil/fluids and recycle them free of charge.

If your four wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle is due for a transfer case service, contact YourMechanic today to arrange for a mobile technician to come to your home or office.


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Recent Transfer Case Fluid Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating

(78)

Rating Summary
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Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Dodge Journey V6-3.6L - Transfer Case Fluid - Denver, Colorado
Robert was awesome. I was unable to make my appointment so I arranged with Robert to get the parts and keys from my brother. He was obviously very knowledgeable in what he was doing as the work completed was done in about half the time that was estimated. By far the best mechanic experience I have ever had. Robert kept me up to date along the way and and was more than willing to work with my brother since I could not be there. I also requested that Robert didn't fill the transmission since my car has a silicone gasket. Robert was understanding of this and went as far as to let me know how much fluid he recovered so I could fill it myself once the silicone was cured. Most shops will suck out the ATF Fluid and replace what they pulled out. Robert did the full service on the transmission including dropping the pan and replacing the filter. I verified all the work once I got home and everything looked great. I am truly impressed with the service received from Robert and Your Mechanic. I will be having more work done through them in the near future.
Ford Escape - Transfer Case Fluid - Louisville, Colorado
I've used Robert several times now, and he always exhibits a positive, 'can do' attitude and gets the job done. He's also very knowledgeable, friendly, and provides great advice.

Joel

21 years of experience
987 reviews
Joel
21 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler L4-2.5L - Transfer Case Fluid - Jacksonville, Florida
Joel promptly arrived at the appointed time. He was tasked with performing 5 maintenace services. He promptly completed the five tasks. In addition, he diagnosed another issue that I was going to achedule an inspection for, saving me the cost of the inspection. I had a good experience using Joel.
Cadillac Escalade EXT - Transfer Case Fluid - Jacksonville, Florida
Joel performed serpentine belt replacement, front differential service, engine cooling system flush, brake fluid flush and transmission fluid flush. He works efficiently, consistently and is very professional in communicating the completed tasks and whatever else needs to be done. I will certainly seek Joel for future maintenance on my vehicles. Make him YourMechanic..

Ronald

41 years of experience
301 reviews
Ronald
41 years of experience
Acura MDX V6-3.5L - Transfer Case Fluid - Spring, Texas
Ronald arrived on time. He was quick and efficient. Transfer case, transmission fluid, and oil and filters completed!!

Ediee

5 years of experience
47 reviews
Ediee
5 years of experience
Ram 1500 V8-5.7L - Transfer Case Fluid - Las Vegas, Nevada
Eddie is a very well experienced mechanic. Great customer service skills. Looking forward for him to work on my other vehicles.

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