Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How to Replace Transfer Case Fluid

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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...

Related questions

Q: 4x4 issues

Hello and thanks for your question. When you shift from 2WD to 4WD the vacuum solenoid is to help switch the transfer case from 2WD to 4WD a slow to no speed. If you changed the vacuum solenoid and nothing...

Q: Found oil in the water reservoir

Generally a pink milky fluid in the coolant indicates a leak between the transmission cooler and radiator. It is very possible the radiator has failed. Both the coolant system and transmission should be flushed to prevent cross contamination of fluids...

Q: Car losing oil, excessive transfer case fluid

Hello. These two systems are separate so they would not be related. If the transfer case is overfilled then it was either filled too high when it was last serviced or water got into it if you have driven through...