Car Care Advice

Transfer Case Fluid: What Is It and How To Change

transfer case fluid

If Your Car, Truck, Or SUV Is Equipped With AWD or 4WD, Here’s What You Need To Know To Keep Your Transfer Case Properly Maintained.

Like all other aspects of a vehicle’s drivetrain system such as the engine, transmission, and axles, the transfer case (also referred to as a “t-case”) uses an internal fluid for proper lubrication. For proper vehicle maintenance, the transfer case fluid must be changed at regular intervals in order to keep your vehicle operating properly and to prevent excessive wear and/or damage to the transfer case that could lead to internal damage. 

If you own a car, truck, SUV, or van equipped with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, here’s what you need to know about the transfer case.

What Is The Transfer Case?

On vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the transfer case is the component that splits power between the front and rear wheels. The transfer case is mounted on the back of the transmission, and it uses driveshafts to send engine power to the front and rear axles. Different automakers suggest different transfer case fluid for their vehicles, so consult your owner’s manual when looking for the right type of fluid.

Some vehicles (like a Jeep Wrangler) have a manual transfer case with a lever that must be shifted by the driver in order to engage four-wheel drive. Newer vehicles (including the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer I recently drove) have an automatic transfer case that can be engaged either using automatic inputs such as sensors or driver-selectable push-button controls.

When Should You Change Transfer Case Fluid ?

Manufacturers tend to recommend different maintenance intervals based on the type of vehicle and intended use, but generally speaking, it’s safe to perform a transfer case fluid service every 30,000 miles. Vehicles that are used for towing or frequent off-roading should probably get this fluid changed more frequently.

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Is This An Easy DIY Repair?

If you own a truck or SUV, changing the transfer case fluid is one of the easiest DIY jobs you could ask for, but some smaller AWD and 4WD vehicles can be a bit more challenging. Either way, this is an extremely easy job even for beginner-level DIYers since it generally only requires basic tools and a drain pan.

How To Change Transfer Case Fluid?

Knowing how to change transfer case fluid is very similar to the steps required to change manual transmission fluid. This service is basically just removing a threaded plug to drain out all of the old fluid and then removing the fill plug to be able to fill the transfer case back up.

Conclusion

Don’t damage your transfer case by forgetting to have the fluid changed. Whether you do it yourself or take it to a professional shop, this scheduled maintenance item should be a top priority to keep your vehicle on the road. 

Jeffrey-Ross

Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a ’91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

Jeffrey N. Ross
Lifelong automotive enthusiast with a soft spot for offroading. Wrencher turned writer, but I still love to tinker on just about anything with an engine. Dream car: tie between a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda and a '91 GMC Syclone. #GirlDad #SaveTheManuals

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