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How to Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Drain and refill transfer case fluid
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How to Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby EKinMN [OP] » Nov 27 2011, 5:37am

Changing the fluid in your transfer case is extremely easy. It's easier than changing your oil! Follow these simple steps to change your fluid:

1. Put the truck on ramps:

You do not have to do this--you can probably get under the truck without this, but it makes moving around underneath a lot easier, especially if you are a bigger guy, like me. If you do put the truck on ramps, BE SURE to set the parking brake, put the vehicle in Park (or gear), and chock the rear wheels. You need to be safe under there.
1 Truck on Ramps.JPG

2. Remove scuff plate:
This is an optional step. I did not remove mine, and the fluid drained through the holes without issue. But, it may be cleaner if the plate is removed.
3 scuff plate.JPG

3.Identify the Drain and Fill Bolts:
I have marked the drain and fill bolts in this picture of my transfer case. Open the top bolt first. You may have a bit of leakage, depending on how full the case is. Once you have the top (fill) bolt out, then open the bottom bolt to drain the transfer case. Have a drain pan underneath, capable of holding a minimum of 2 quarts of fluid.
2 ID drain and fill.JPG

4 draining.JPG

4. Note the condition of the drain bolt:
Mine had a significant amount of metal shavings on the magnetic drain bolt. I was surprised by how much, given that the truck only has 18,000 miles on it. You can see in the pictures how "gunked" up it is, and what it looks like after it is clean.
5 metal shavings.JPG

6 clean plug.JPG

5. Reinstall drain bolt
6. Fill with fluid:
Look up the specs for your particular truck. My truck takes a Dexron VI compatible fluid, so I used Amsoil's ATF. Special thanks to StarSpangled6.0 for giving me some of his supply!
Fill using a fluid pump, by pumping the fluid into the fill hole.
7. Check for Leaks:
Ensure the bolts are tight, and wipe up any residual fluid, to ensure there are no leaks.

Now head out somewhere to go 4-wheeling, and enjoy your well maintained transfer case!
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby Z71Silvy » Nov 27 2011, 5:41am

Nicely done!

How much 4wd usage did you have in that 18k miles? The amount of shavings is very surprising - that picture alone will make me do a change at the 20k mile mark at the latest, thanks!
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby ASTE25 » Nov 27 2011, 5:47am

Good write up. That amount of shavings is not abnormal for the first fluid change. I know my truck (2005 Silverado with the push button transfer case) takes a special lube, only available from GM. You may want to state in the write up to reinstall the fill plug. You never know, someone might actually forget to do it since you didn't state to do so.
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby EKinMN [OP] » Nov 27 2011, 5:48am

Z71Silvy -- I used Auto 4wd quite a bit last winter. I did pull a guy out of a ditch when the truck was barely broken in (around 1,000 miles). In summer, I used it a couple times on a slick boat ramp. The truck has never been in 4 low. Overall, I'd say that's pretty low usage.

And y'all make sure you put the fill plug back in! :lol:
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby 6Sixathome » Nov 27 2011, 2:05pm

I changed the transfer case fliuld out of my truck at 46K and the drain plug looked like that, also the fluid was fairly red. The original owner did alot of driving in auto and I thought that would contribute to the ugly drain plug but after seeing EKinMN's, I'm beginning to think that it's from break-in.
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby Z15 » Nov 27 2011, 2:50pm

Mine with less than 10,000 miles. I would say most of the wear occurs in first few 1000 miles.
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Last edited by Z15 on Nov 27 2011, 3:10pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby EKinMN [OP] » Nov 27 2011, 2:57pm

I did both differentials around 10,000 miles. Both plugs looked like that. I am sure it is from break in. I am pretty happy I got them all changed. I just wish I would have done the transfer case a bit sooner. Although, to the point above, the fluid was nice and red, and clean. So, hopefully the magnet picked up the majority of the metal.
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby Gorecki » Nov 27 2011, 5:10pm

This is great information! All the shavings I'm seeing here gives me reason to believe I should be doing my diffs and trans case far sooner than I was expecting to do them. Thanks so much!
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby wheeler82 » Nov 27 2011, 5:32pm

great write up!!..im gunna wait till about 3k miles on mine and then do it!
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Re: How To Change Fluid in your Transfer Case

Postby Line » Dec 03 2011, 8:44pm

dont do it too early if it is indeed due to break in and you truck isnt all the way broke in then it will fill back up just as quick the check with your dealer on when you should do your first change
Last edited by Austin on Dec 03 2011, 11:59pm, edited 1 time in total.
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