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Front Diff and Transfer Case Oil Change Howto

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Old 03-24-2011, 01:16 PM   #1
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Front Diff and Transfer Case Oil Change Howto

There is an excellent rear diff howto at http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/tec...-step-how.html

Unfortunately, it didn't describe the front or transfer case, and I'm assuming I'm not the only one who is slow enough to need some pointers.

You need:
24mm socket (transfer case)
10mm hex socket (front diff)
3 quarts 75W-90 (1.6 front, 1.1 transfer case)
Oil Bucket / Coffee Can / Whatever
Hand Pump to pump the oil

PB Blaster is good for all the stuck bolts on this truck, too. Keeps you from stripping plugs. I put some PB Blaster on every plug I was removing beforehand.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:35 PM   #2
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So here's a shot of the oil I got:


And here's the pump. The threaded end goes in the oil bottle and screws down, the other tube sticks into the hole in your fill plug.


You need to remove your skid plate to get to the front diff. For perspective, here's where it is relative to other parts of the truck:


Here's a shot of the drain and fill plugs on the front diff. These take 10mm Hex / Allen keys. I found it best to get a 10mm hex socket from autozone, sears, wherever, so I could use a breaker bar + pb blaster to crack them loose the first time. That way I can also use a torque wrench to torque them correctly.

Front diff gets 1.6 quarts. The fill plug torques to 29lb-ft and the drain torques to 48 lb-ft. The magnet on the drain plug should be cleaned just like the rear diff.


The transfer case uses a 24mm socket like the rear diff. It is easier to get to, almost directly underneath the middle of the truck. Here's a perspective shot of what you're looking for:


The transfer case gets 1.1 quarts. The fill and drain plugs both torque to 27lb-ft. I also noticed that the transfer case's drain plug doesn't seem to have a magnet on it like the front diff.

Here's a closer shot on where the plugs are:


The procedure for both is identical to the rear. Take off the fill plug first, to make sure you can get it off while you still have oil. Then, put a pan under the drain plug, and crack it open. Let the oil drain. Clean both plugs. For the front diff, make sure to get any metal shavings off of the magnet. Reinstall the drain plug and torque it down. Fill the diff using the pump until it starts coming out. Reinstall the fill plug and torque it down. Done!
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:42 PM   #3
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i can't believe 1st change is recommended at 30k
i changed mine at 5k magnets were full, and obviously very dark on the oil both front and rear, transfer case looked ok.
Motul synthetic in there now, smoooooth.....
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:44 PM   #4
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I changed mine last weekend at 30K. The magnets had crap but nothing serious. The fluid color was fine.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:54 PM   #5
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I changed my rear diff at 30K and it was fine. Magnet had one small piece on it. I dunk the rear diff in water most weekends during the summer
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Old 03-26-2011, 06:19 AM   #6
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Thanks for the great write up, I've been searching for a transfer case how-to.
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:24 PM   #7
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Just completed changing the fluids in both diffs and T Case and this writeup was invaluable. Thank you for posting it.

The T Case and Rear Diff fluids were fine, but the front diff was definitely milky for some reason.

went to a local dealer and got replacement crush washers for all 6 plugs for $9.04. Apparently the young service tech did not put in a name for the quote so when he went to ring it up with another guy helping him it was like $30 but since he had already shown me it was $10, he said "It's your lucky day!" which was very nice. I hope he didn't get in trouble or have to pay the difference..

Here are the part numbers for the washers, i found them in the thread about changing rear diff, so I am just sharing the love in case you want to get them. I did notice the first part number item does get crushed nicely after use so it might be a good idea, but in the other thread people seem to be reusing them with no ill effects.

12157-10010 - Need 3 2 for rear diff and 1 for front diff fill plug. Invoice price $1.23
90430-18008 - Need 2 both for the T Case. Invoice price $1.51
90430-24003 - Need 1 for front diff drain plug. Invoice price $1.74 - Brass

I Got a 6-point 24MM socket and breaker bar at Harbor Freight for like $13 total which helped a lot.

One item to note is the front diff drain plug is very large and after screwing it in all the way it did not move much at the torque phase.

Everything went well for me and the smell of 90 weight brought back memories of changing diff oil in LAVs back when I was in The Corp, so that was an added bonus to the sense of accomplishment of DIY.

I would add rep to the op, but i do not have that option available at the moment, so REP to the OP!
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Old 03-26-2011, 05:26 PM   #8
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Lol, FLJB, good info, maybe I'll change washers next time. Glad this was helpful. I didn't see it anywhere else on the site and had to hunt for the plugs, so I figured other people might like pictures.
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:33 PM   #9
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This isn't on a sticky? I was browsing the "How to change gear differential" thread and came upon this. Nice write up..thanks for helping a dumb dumb like me keep up with DIY maintenance
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:13 PM   #10
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Hah, no problem, rep me if it helped.

It isn't stickied as far as I know, maybe bug a mod about it!
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:08 AM   #11
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1st Gen help!

Newbie, idiot... Call me what you want. Trying to do front diff on my '99 3.4. Skid plate is off. Drain plug is right there, but WHERE THE HECK is the fill plug? I'm looking for a 10mm hex plug near the top of the diff on both sides, but I can't find it. Any help is GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:09 PM   #12
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Oops. Wrong thread. Sorry. Found it anyway, but busted a socket trying to get it off.
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Old 05-06-2011, 07:41 AM   #13
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well it looks like i need to get some oil and change all the diffs and transfer this weekend since i have 70K miles and still haven't changed it yet. good write up to all involved
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Old 06-22-2011, 05:40 PM   #14
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awesome!
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Old 07-06-2011, 03:48 PM   #15
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:05 PM   #16
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A warning!

I did mine 2 weekends ago. When I removed the drain plug, oil shot out about a foot horizontally and totally missed the pan. In fact, it almost got me! Besides that, piece of cake.

I did procure and use a six point impact socket to use for the transfer case and rear differential. I didn't like seeing the marks I left on the rear diff plug using a 12 point and a breaker bar to loosen it. Impact was the only 6 pt Craftsman socket I could find in this size.
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:07 PM   #17
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Nice
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:12 PM   #18
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Dang that was pretty easy i changed the rear diff and transfer, will do the front diff maybe at Jerry's mod day. Besides stinking to all hell and buying the wrong hand pump, everything went smooth, though if I recall, somewhere on this forum it's listed as 1.1 quarts of oil and the parts store looked it up and said almost two quarts, what came out was not much over a quart so when I filled it it ended up about a quart and a half maybe a little more. I used Royal Purple 75-90, figured this is something I only have to do every 30K so why not get the good stuff. Either way I can't believe how much smoother the drive train feels after doing this! The was a clunk in the 'train as I pressed the gas that was worrying me, not huge or severe but just enough to make me notice. Thanks TW for all the helpful info.
Oh BTW, my local Tranny shop quoted me $400 to do what I did for just the cost of the oil!
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acdronin View Post
Dang that was pretty easy i changed the rear diff and transfer, will do the front diff maybe at Jerry's mod day. Besides stinking to all hell and buying the wrong hand pump, everything went smooth, though if I recall, somewhere on this forum it's listed as 1.1 quarts of oil and the parts store looked it up and said almost two quarts, what came out was not much over a quart so when I filled it it ended up about a quart and a half maybe a little more. I used Royal Purple 75-90, figured this is something I only have to do every 30K so why not get the good stuff. Either way I can't believe how much smoother the drive train feels after doing this! The was a clunk in the 'train as I pressed the gas that was worrying me, not huge or severe but just enough to make me notice. Thanks TW for all the helpful info.
Oh BTW, my local Tranny shop quoted me $400 to do what I did for just the cost of the oil!
So you made $200 a hour. Not bad.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:43 PM   #20
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Tried to do my front diff over the weekend

It was a miserable failure. First, I found I still had dirt and rocks sitting on top of one of the rear skidplate screws (in the frame crossmember). It had rusted so bad that when I finally got it out, the last 3-4 threads were mashed flat. I'm hoping the threaded hole is not damaged, I may have to chase the threads with a tap. Once I finally got the skidplate off, the fill plug came loose pretty easily. The drain plug refused to come loose with a 10" bar though. After trying repeatedly, I finally went and got my 18" bar and 1/2-3/8 adapter. On my first try, the tip of my hex socket snapped off!

I'm thinking the Craftsman design is poor. They've reduced the diameter of the hex bit to fit into the socket.

So, I used an allen wrench and put the fill plug back in. Went to town last night and got a replacement Craftsman tip and picked up a Kobalt tip. The Kobalt tip is 10mm all the way into the socket.

I'm going to try to pick up some stainless cap screws to replace the mangled skid plate screw and the not mangled ones. They appear to be M8-1.25x20 if anyone is interested.
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