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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 04-04-2020, 09:53 PM   #1
fanatichuman
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Proper amount for front and rear diff fluid change?

Hi fanatics,

What is the correct amount of new fluid to put into the front and rear diff?

While most DIYs just say to drain it out and fill it up again until it drains out of the fill plug, I saw some comments that said there is a specific amount that should be re-filled, and that filling it until it comes back out is too much.

Any advice on this would be much appreciated.

Cheers,
fana
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:43 AM   #2
77'911
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1) Front axle diff oil capacity - 0.7 liters (0.74 US quarts)
- drain / fill plug torque spec: 65 Nm (48 ft-lb)
2) Rear diff, automatic, capacity - 0.9 liters (0.95 US quarts), manual is slight more at 1.06 US quarts
- Diff drain/fill plug torque spec: with o-ring 60 Nm(44 ft-lb), with sealing washer 65 Nm(48 ft-lb)
Gear oil: BMW group Final Drive Gear Oil , C-SAF-XO, SAE 75w-90 , p/n 07 51 2 293 972
Just let the overage drain out. The real key is to raise the car in a level position. I used a low rise lift, but checked the position with a magnetic level. Don't forget the transfer case. Unfortunately takes a different fluid. Hope this helps.
regards
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:54 AM   #3
77'911
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Addendum: Transfer Case:
1) Drain / fill plug torque spec - 33Nm (24 ft-lb)
2) Fluid Capacity
- transfer case oil change - 0.16 liter(0.16 qt.) , yes, it's actually that small.
- new transfer case fill - 0.24 liter(0.25 qt.)
3) Transfer Case Oil, BMW Group, MTF-LT-2 , SAE 75w-90 , p/n 83 22 2 339 219
Hope this helps.
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:28 PM   #4
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Wow, what are the odds I jumped on the Xi forum specifically to get this exact information. To this I'd like to add a question. The factory service manual shows the drain and fill plugs on the diffs, but does not show them on the transfer case. Is it bonehead-easy to see them both or does something need to be removed?

Also, on these "bmw fluids" - is there a high end product that is a known substitute such as synthetic gear lube I can get at my local supplier? Since these are two different fluids, I hope there is one for each. My BMW dealer is a 90 minute round trip and with Corona going on they may not even be open. Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:50 PM   #5
77'911
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IdahoDoug, I've not had very good luck with aftermarket oils on newer German cars, but each to their own. I stick to the factory fill which has brought me great results. BMW factory fluid(diffs + transfer case) was about $50-60 mail ordered to the door when I did the service. You'll not like this. To tackle the Transfer Case oil service, all the belly pans beneath the car need to be removed. Apologies, I don't have pics from the last time I did it. The plugs are pretty self evident(much larger then standard case hardware). I'd let it drain for a bit, as not much comes out.
You might check around locally, as you don't need much oil. Most people have a lot left over in a liter bottle. Hope this helps.
regards
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Old 04-05-2020, 03:09 PM   #6
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Hey guys,

Thanks 77'911. Good info. I'd just say that I think the transfer case fluid should be 75w80, as per many other posts I saw. This is suggested as best fluid: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/man...ne-83522-50204

@Idaho. This is the fluid for the diffs: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/75w...uart-oil-57904

The transfer case has 2x 16mm hex heads sticking out. You don't have to remove anything to get at them (except maybe a pan; I don't have any down there, lol). One of them you can get nicely with a 16 mm, 6 point, socket. The other one of the two is too close to the tranny, so you can only get a 16mm wrench in there, too narrow for a socket. Best would be a 16 mm flare nut wrench, but a normal one will do.

Cheers,
fana

Last edited by fanatichuman; 04-05-2020 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 04-05-2020, 09:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fanatichuman View Post
Hey guys,

Thanks 77'911. Good info. I'd just say that I think the transfer case fluid should be 75w80, as per many other posts I saw. This is suggested as best fluid: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/man...ne-83522-50204

@Idaho. This is the fluid for the diffs: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/75w...uart-oil-57904

The transfer case has 2x 16mm hex heads sticking out. You don't have to remove anything to get at them (except maybe a pan; I don't have any down there, lol). One of them you can get nicely with a 16 mm, 6 point, socket. The other one of the two is too close to the tranny, so you can only get a 16mm wrench in there, too narrow for a socket. Best would be a 16 mm flare nut wrench, but a normal one will do.



Cheers,
fana
I used 75w-80 on my t-case too, had some Pentosin MTF2 on the shelf that I used. Should probably do it again soon. Front dif has Amsoil 75W-90 and the rear has Mobilone.
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Old 04-05-2020, 10:35 PM   #8
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+1 on the info here for capacities, procedures, fluids. I just did my 2nd round of fluid replacements a few weeks ago. I buy 2x Redline 57904 [75W90 GL5 gear oil] each time so that there is plenty for the front and rear diff and some left over. I've only purchased 1x Redline 50204 [75W80 MTL gear oil] so far since the transfer case uses so little fluid. FCP Euro is great.

Side note: If you order from them I'd also highly recommend getting Liqui Moly Pro-Line Engine Flush, for use before you do every oil change; and Liqui Moly Jectron fuel system cleaner, for use whenever you want. They spec 3k mile intervals. I tend to put a bottle in the gas tank every 2k probably. Both are fantastic and inexpensive.

If you have the original diff plugs with the separate metal washers, you can also buy 4x of the updated BMW plugs which now have green rubber o-rings built in. I'm sure FCP Euro has those in stock as well. A minor change, but hey, one less little metal washer to keep track of.

Edit: IdahoDoug I just saw that list of cars... not 1 but 2 Land Cruisers, 944, Supra, LS400, etc. Have you posted any pics from that collection?? Good stuff.

Last edited by captechm; 04-05-2020 at 10:57 PM. Reason: cars
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Old 04-06-2020, 03:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by captechm View Post
+1 on the info here for capacities, procedures, fluids. I just did my 2nd round of fluid replacements a few weeks ago. I buy 2x Redline 57904 [75W90 GL5 gear oil] each time so that there is plenty for the front and rear diff and some left over. I've only purchased 1x Redline 50204 [75W80 MTL gear oil] so far since the transfer case uses so little fluid. FCP Euro is great.

Side note: If you order from them I'd also highly recommend getting Liqui Moly Pro-Line Engine Flush, for use before you do every oil change; and Liqui Moly Jectron fuel system cleaner, for use whenever you want. They spec 3k mile intervals. I tend to put a bottle in the gas tank every 2k probably. Both are fantastic and inexpensive.

If you have the original diff plugs with the separate metal washers, you can also buy 4x of the updated BMW plugs which now have green rubber o-rings built in. I'm sure FCP Euro has those in stock as well. A minor change, but hey, one less little metal washer to keep track of.

Edit: IdahoDoug I just saw that list of cars... not 1 but 2 Land Cruisers, 944, Supra, LS400, etc. Have you posted any pics from that collection?? Good stuff.
Jeah, fcp has those diff plugs for edit, 4.77$ pp.
https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...ial-drain-plug

fana

Last edited by fanatichuman; 04-06-2020 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 04-06-2020, 11:33 PM   #10
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captechm - That's a pretty impressive list yourself if I read that right! Yes, I have an interesting mini fleet of cars. When I finish bolting the Supra back together, I'm planning to get a photo of the whole bunch though one of the LandCruisers is with our daughter at college in Michigan. Thanks for noticing.

So, for my 2002 325xi, should I expect to have the green rubber re-usable plugs on all 3 components? And the FCP link doesn't clarify if those new plugs also fit the transfer case - just mentions the diffs? Anybody shed light on that as well? If i will/should have the metal washers, does anyone know the p/n?

I may use the BMW fluids if I can mail order them or possibly on an errand to the nearest Trader Joes which is in the same town as the nearest BMW dealer. Perhaps a combined errand to get mass quantities of chocolate as well as BMW fluids? Anyhow, pardon the questions but I enjoy doing things mechanically on the car as perfectly as possible.
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Old 04-07-2020, 03:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
So, for my 2002 325xi, should I expect to have the green rubber re-usable plugs on all 3 components?
Probably not, the old style diff plugs don't have the rubber o-ring, but instead metal washers. You likely have those, but it's not certain without looking at them.

If your current plugs look good from the outside, you can a) assume you have all old plugs, and just get new metal washers.
Or, b) you play it safe and get all new diff plugs, then order 4x new ones that I linked with the rubber gasket.


Quote:
And the FCP link doesn't clarify if those new plugs also fit the transfer case - just mentions the diffs?
Transfer case plugs are different. They have 16mm hex heads, I said some more about this in my earlier post, the diff ones are 14mm, and you need one of these guys:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Quote:
Anybody shed light on that as well? If i will/should have the metal washers, does anyone know the p/n?
For pns, of washers and transfer case plugs, please lookup realoem.

Re fluids, I already gave you my opinion.
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Old 04-13-2020, 01:03 PM   #12
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Conclusion

To condense all the info posted here into one quick read for those looking at this in the future:

glossary: L = liter, Q = US liquid quart, p/n = BMW part number, Nm = Newton meters, ft-lbs = pound feet

Front Differential

Gear oil capacity: 0.7 L / 0.74 Q
BMW gear oil spec: BMW group Final Drive Gear Oil, C-SAF-XO, SAE 75W90, p/n 07 51 2 293 972
High-performance gear oil currently in use: Red Line 57904, 75W90 GL-5 Gear Oil, 1 Q bottle
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/75w...uart-oil-57904
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 1

Drain & fill plugs: 2x 14mm allen head plugs, identical
Torque spec: Original (outdated) plugs with sealing washer: 65 Nm / 48 ft-lb
Updated (current) plugs with green o-ring: 60 Nm / 44 ft-lb, p/n 33 11 7 525 064
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...ial-drain-plug
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 2 (can reuse multiple times once replaced)

Rear Differential

Gear oil capacity: Auto trans: 0.9 L / 0.95 Q --OR-- Manual trans: 1 L / 1.06 Q
BMW gear oil spec: BMW group Final Drive Gear Oil, C-SAF-XO, SAE 75W90, p/n 07 51 2 293 972
High-performance gear oil currently in use: Red Line 57904, 75W90 GL-5 Gear Oil, 1 Q bottle
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/75w...uart-oil-57904
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 1 or 2

Note: If you always do front & rear together it means you can just always buy 2x bottles of diff fluid as you will have plenty left from the front diff to use if you need a bit more in the rear diff.

Drain & fill plugs: 2x 14mm allen head plugs, identical
Torque spec: Original (outdated) plugs with sealing washer: 65 Nm / 48 ft-lb
Updated (current) plugs with green o-ring: 60 Nm / 44 ft-lb, p/n 33 11 7 525 064
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...ial-drain-plug
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 2 (can reuse multiple times once replaced)

Transfer Case (xDrive)

Gear oil capacity: Drain & fill: 0.16 L / 0.16 Q -OR- New (dry) case fill: 0.24 L / 0.25 Q
BMW gear oil spec: BMW Group MTF-LT-2, SAE 75W90, p/n 83 22 2 339 219
High-performance gear oil currently in use: Red Line 50204, 75W80 MTL Gear Oil, 1 Q bottle
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/man...ne-83522-50204
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 1

Note: 1 Q will last you for 4+ drain & fill services as it uses very little. For being so inexpensive, it could be worth doing more often, e.g. every other engine oil change instead of every 20k-30k miles. Also by looking at the fill amounts you can see that almost half of the total fluid volume remains in the transfer case during a normal drain and fill, making more frequent oil changes prudent.

Drain & fill plugs: 2x 16mm hex head plugs, identical, use washer p/n 07 11 9 963 308
Torque spec: 33 Nm / 24 ft-lb
Link to buy sealing washer: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...308-7119963309
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 2 (suggest replacing with new washers each time)

Other notes:

Check to be sure the car is level or at least close to level both front-to-back and side-to-side when you are filling with new fluid. Remove the plastic splash guard panels covering the front underside if they are present in order to access front diff and transfer case. Using a fluid hand pump or other pressurized pump works well to fill. Always check that you can remove the fill plug before removing the drain plug. Give it a few mins to drain. After draining, I pump in a bit of fresh fluid to help flush out a bit more of the old stuff as well. Fill until it reaches the fill hole and drips out, no need for crazy precision measurements here.

Diff plugs are very easy to spot and access when you know what you're looking for. Transfer case plugs are the largest bolts on it (16mm), and are toward the bottom middle. Drain plug at very bottom on rear side, fill plug slightly higher on front side.

BMW superceded the original plugs after our cars were made, so no E46s have the current diff plugs with green o-rings unless they've been purposely upgraded. For how inexpensive the new style plugs are, I would just order 4x and have them. You will most likely need them. If you find yours have already been upgraded, then you have 4 extras to start using as you see fit.

No need to use BMW's original fluids for anything. Not necessary for the engine, trans, diffs, xDrive, power steering, brakes, windshield wipers, etc. Anything from RedLine, Mobil, Amsoil, etc, are good quality. You can order these parts and fluids from FCPEuro and receive them quickly and at fair prices. Do your fluid changes often. These are very reliable machines overall when properly maintained.
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Old 04-17-2020, 02:54 PM   #13
fanatichuman
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Thanks. Why do you think it's ok to just fill up all the way instead of putting in the exact required amount of fluid? Do we know what the difference is in ml/L if you just fill up the front Diff, vs the recommended 0.7L?
fana

Quote:
Originally Posted by captechm View Post
To condense all the info posted here into one quick read for those looking at this in the future:

glossary: L = liter, Q = US liquid quart, p/n = BMW part number, Nm = Newton meters, ft-lbs = pound feet

Front Differential

Gear oil capacity: 0.7 L / 0.74 Q
BMW gear oil spec: BMW group Final Drive Gear Oil, C-SAF-XO, SAE 75W90, p/n 07 51 2 293 972
High-performance gear oil currently in use: Red Line 57904, 75W90 GL-5 Gear Oil, 1 Q bottle
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/75w...uart-oil-57904
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 1

Drain & fill plugs: 2x 14mm allen head plugs, identical
Torque spec: Original (outdated) plugs with sealing washer: 65 Nm / 48 ft-lb
Updated (current) plugs with green o-ring: 60 Nm / 44 ft-lb, p/n 33 11 7 525 064
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...ial-drain-plug
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 2 (can reuse multiple times once replaced)

Rear Differential

Gear oil capacity: Auto trans: 0.9 L / 0.95 Q --OR-- Manual trans: 1 L / 1.06 Q
BMW gear oil spec: BMW group Final Drive Gear Oil, C-SAF-XO, SAE 75W90, p/n 07 51 2 293 972
High-performance gear oil currently in use: Red Line 57904, 75W90 GL-5 Gear Oil, 1 Q bottle
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/75w...uart-oil-57904
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 1 or 2

Note: If you always do front & rear together it means you can just always buy 2x bottles of diff fluid as you will have plenty left from the front diff to use if you need a bit more in the rear diff.

Drain & fill plugs: 2x 14mm allen head plugs, identical
Torque spec: Original (outdated) plugs with sealing washer: 65 Nm / 48 ft-lb
Updated (current) plugs with green o-ring: 60 Nm / 44 ft-lb, p/n 33 11 7 525 064
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...ial-drain-plug
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 2 (can reuse multiple times once replaced)

Transfer Case (xDrive)

Gear oil capacity: Drain & fill: 0.16 L / 0.16 Q -OR- New (dry) case fill: 0.24 L / 0.25 Q
BMW gear oil spec: BMW Group MTF-LT-2, SAE 75W90, p/n 83 22 2 339 219
High-performance gear oil currently in use: Red Line 50204, 75W80 MTL Gear Oil, 1 Q bottle
Link to buy: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/man...ne-83522-50204
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 1

Note: 1 Q will last you for 4+ drain & fill services as it uses very little. For being so inexpensive, it could be worth doing more often, e.g. every other engine oil change instead of every 20k-30k miles. Also by looking at the fill amounts you can see that almost half of the total fluid volume remains in the transfer case during a normal drain and fill, making more frequent oil changes prudent.

Drain & fill plugs: 2x 16mm hex head plugs, identical, use washer p/n 07 11 9 963 308
Torque spec: 33 Nm / 24 ft-lb
Link to buy sealing washer: https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...308-7119963309
Quantity needed per drain/fill: 2 (suggest replacing with new washers each time)

Other notes:

Check to be sure the car is level or at least close to level both front-to-back and side-to-side when you are filling with new fluid. Remove the plastic splash guard panels covering the front underside if they are present in order to access front diff and transfer case. Using a fluid hand pump or other pressurized pump works well to fill. Always check that you can remove the fill plug before removing the drain plug. Give it a few mins to drain. After draining, I pump in a bit of fresh fluid to help flush out a bit more of the old stuff as well. Fill until it reaches the fill hole and drips out, no need for crazy precision measurements here.

Diff plugs are very easy to spot and access when you know what you're looking for. Transfer case plugs are the largest bolts on it (16mm), and are toward the bottom middle. Drain plug at very bottom on rear side, fill plug slightly higher on front side.

BMW superceded the original plugs after our cars were made, so no E46s have the current diff plugs with green o-rings unless they've been purposely upgraded. For how inexpensive the new style plugs are, I would just order 4x and have them. You will most likely need them. If you find yours have already been upgraded, then you have 4 extras to start using as you see fit.

No need to use BMW's original fluids for anything. Not necessary for the engine, trans, diffs, xDrive, power steering, brakes, windshield wipers, etc. Anything from RedLine, Mobil, Amsoil, etc, are good quality. You can order these parts and fluids from FCPEuro and receive them quickly and at fair prices. Do your fluid changes often. These are very reliable machines overall when properly maintained.
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Old 04-21-2020, 11:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fanatichuman View Post
Thanks. Why do you think it's ok to just fill up all the way instead of putting in the exact required amount of fluid? Do we know what the difference is in ml/L if you just fill up the front Diff, vs the recommended 0.7L?

fana
If it makes you feel better to put in just the required amount, go ahead. However, it is standard practice for any gearbox, transfer case, etc. to fill w/ fluid until it spills out of fill hole. I believe the required amount is specified so one knows how much to purchase vs guess the amount by looking at the exterior of the box or case.

Not to nitpick, but on the transfer case the drain plug is on the front and fill is on the rear. Just changed out the transfer case mount so it is very fresh in my mind.

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Old 04-21-2020, 12:59 PM   #15
fanatichuman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewtus79 View Post
If it makes you feel better to put in just the required amount, go ahead. However, it is standard practice for any gearbox, transfer case, etc. to fill w/ fluid until it spills out of fill hole. I believe the required amount is specified so one knows how much to purchase vs guess the amount by looking at the exterior of the box or case.

Not to nitpick, but on the transfer case the drain plug is on the front and fill is on the rear. Just changed out the transfer case mount so it is very fresh in my mind.

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Sounds good, gotcha.
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One thing I just read in the summary by captechm is re-using the gearoil for multiple fluid changes.

I thought the same thing (re-using an open bottle), but googleing this will tell you that you should not use open gear oil that stood open a while. Luckily you buy your fluid from FCPeuro, so you can get a new bottle for (almost) free every time.

fana
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Old 04-21-2020, 01:03 PM   #16
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Interesting about the gear oil. Never heard that about any automobile fluids save brake fluid since it attracts water.

I bought a large container of ATE fluid and taped the cap after use as a precaution.

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Old 04-21-2020, 03:02 PM   #17
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Jeah, I'm not sure what the reasoning was again, oxidation maybe!?
Tbh, if I'd not have ordered from FCPeuro (and thus getting lifetime replacements) I'd probably have re-used the old fluid...
fana
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Old 04-21-2020, 11:00 PM   #18
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I use MTF2 which is 75w-80, not 75w-90 like captechm stated,in my transfer case, the bottles have been on my shelf since 2007. Our gear lube at work comes in 55 gal drums and we can service quite a few trucks with 1 barrel. even with 3 difs and a mixer drive for each. The transfer cases use 40w synthetic oil.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:12 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fanatichuman View Post
Jeah, I'm not sure what the reasoning was again, oxidation maybe!?
Tbh, if I'd not have ordered from FCPeuro (and thus getting lifetime replacements) I'd probably have re-used the old fluid...
fana
I believe the reason to not use old opened gear oil is due to an additive (the one that gives the stink) breaking down by yes, oxidation. Which is why when we change real old fluid it smells a lot worse.

I also want to piggyback on this thread and say especially for the Tcase and manual transmission if you have the fluid to spare, keep the drain plugs off and pump some fluid in to wash out the rest of the old fluid. Diffs usually drain out a good portion but you can do it to them too if it makes you feel any better or if the condition of the fluid is real bad. The tcase holds so little fluid that its best to make sure all the fluid is all fresh. I used about 1/4 of my bottle of MTL to do this mini flush and another 1/4 to fill the tcase, then used the half a quart with D4ATF to fill the manual trans.
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Old 05-19-2020, 06:09 AM   #20
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I'm not sure what the reasoning was again, oxidation maybe!?
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