axle fluid guide

A Guide to Axle Fluid and When to Get it Changed

The differential is a part of the drivetrain that helps to evenly distribute the vehicle power to each wheel and keeps you in control as you turn. Turning corners without rattling, jerking, and skidding is all because of differentials.

The differential is a component that compensates for the difference in distance the inner and outer wheels travel as the car goes around the corner.

If a vehicle does not have a differential, it will cause the wheels to get locked together and compel them to spin at the same speed, making the turning difficult and increasing the chance of losing control of the vehicle.

Differentials are in all cars. Sometimes a differential is found on the rear side of the vehicle, sometimes on the front side, and some cars have a differential on both ends.

The car with a front differential has a built-in transaxle. It will require a fully synthetic oil around SAE 75-80. As for the rear differential car, it will need a thicker oil that’s around SAE 90.

What is Axle Fluid?

Every front or rear axle has oil called differential fluid or gear oil. Differential fluid is found in the axle housing to cool and lubricate the differential. It lubricates gear, clutch packs, bearings, and the ring and pinion gear that move power to the wheel axles from the driveshaft.

The axle undergoes a lot of torque, which means the gears inside are under much pressure. And to last, these gears need proper lubrication. So, the differential fluid helps keep them cool and lubricated. Without differential fluid, the differential would overheat, leading to expensive repairs.

Changing Axle Fluid

Like any lubricant, the automotive fluid differential gear oil eventually loses its ability to work efficiently. Regularly replacing differential fluid ensures that the fluid never deteriorates to the point where the axle becomes damaged and aids in prolonging the lifespan of any vehicle.

So, when to change the axle fluid? It may vary from vehicle to vehicle. Therefore, it is recommended to consult the owner’s manual for the proper service interval. In most cases, the differential fluid needs to be changed after every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

Staying on top of changing the differential fluid is very important because the metal-on-mental contact creates heat from friction, weakens the gears, and wears down surfaces. This can lead to differential failure, causing costly damage. Proper and timely maintenance can save you from a lot of expensive repairs.

How to Change Axle Fluid?

Changing an axle fluid is a messy job. Gear oil is thick, smells bad, and won’t easily come out of your clothing. So, to start the task make sure to change your clothes and be ready to get dirty.

Before you change the fluid, have a wide catch pan ready with a plastic drop cloth underneath it. Switch on the vehicle and drive it around for a few minutes to warm up the oil. It’s a good idea to wear gloves to avoid yourself from getting any burns.

Of course, you could hire a professional and save yourself trouble but if you’re someone who wants to get it done yourself, then here are some steps to follow.

1. Purchase the correct differential fluid for your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the indication of the correct differential fluid to use. Or you may ask the clerk at your local auto parts store to guide you.

2. Secure the vehicle on jack stands or ramps.

3. Locate the differential drain bolt and then loosen and remove it.

4. Place a container beneath the drain bolt and allow gear oil to drain in the container.

5. Replace the drain bolt and wipe out the access gear oil.

6. Now locate the gear oil fill bolt and remove it.

7. Using a pump, add the recommended type of gear oil to the differential. Continue to pump until you reach the maximum capacity and see the fluid start to seep out of the filler hole.

8. Replace and tighten the fill bolt.


The axle fluid in vehicles has a great significance in ensuring you better control over your drive. Its proper and timely replacement is needed to avoid overheating, which may pose a safety issue. To say the least: negligence towards the maintenance of axle fluid can cause catastrophic damages to the differential.

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