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Help Changing Rear Differential Fluid

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by KPPCExplorer, May 28, 2011.

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    1. KPPCExplorer

      KPPCExplorer Active Member

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      I'm looking to change my rear differential fluid. Just did my transfer case fluid with no problem. I know the differential is supposed to be sealed for life, but I do some off roading and definitely submerged it dozens of time. Not to mention I now have almost 145,000 miles and would like to get fresh oil in there.

      Now, I see the 3/4 inch drain hole, and there's a plug directly above it that's 3/8, but I don't believe that's the fill plug. I read on the forums that the fill plug is 1/2 inch, but I don't see it on the axle anywhere. It's a little tight in there, so maybe I'm just missing something. I watched the thread on how to change the fluid a dozen times under the differential/transfer case/transmission section, but that was from a older generation explorer and ours look a lot different back there. Does anybody know where the fill plug is on the rear differential? Thanks.
       
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    3. xlt03

      xlt03 Active Member

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      The fill plug is 3/8" and drain is 1". In case you didn't see other posting on fluid change, start with actually loosing the fill plug first. You want to make sure you can put fresh oil in afterwards. After confirming that the fill plug can be removed then drain the diff. Also use some teflon tape on the plugs so you don't get seepage. If yours is a LS don't forget the friction modifier.

      It'll take just about 2 quarts.
       
    4. gamecocks

      gamecocks Active Member

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      Mine fill plug is 3/8 your on the right one
       
    5. Ronin8002

      Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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      You can also get a little hand pump thing for 10 bucks that will let you stick a small hose into your bottle of gear oil and the other hose into the fill plug hole. Makes it easier than dealing with the tricky angle with the fill hole and trying to tip a bottle up in there.
       
    6. patrick112390

      patrick112390 Active Member

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      make sure you over fill it a half quart after it starts dripping from the fill plug...
       
    7. Wade99

      Wade99 New Member

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      What he said!:)
       
    8. Limited02

      Limited02 Well-Known Member

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      +2

      This will make the job much EASIER and CLEANER!!!
       
    9. Exproblems

      Exproblems Well-Known Member

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      >>>>>>>>>>>
      >>>>>>>>>>>>

      The fill plug is the smaller plug hole at the top and the larger, lower plug is for draining the rear diff. There is plenty of room to get the plugs out, approx: 2 inches or so of clearance. The rear diff on my 2005 Explorer uses Mobil One full synthetic 75W-140 gear oil according to the Haynes manual, not sure if yours is the same. The stuff isn't cheap (liquid gold), I paid $18.99 per quart(buy 2) and it should take 1.60 to 1.75 quarts depending on which diff you have. If you do have a Limited Slip differential, add 4 ounces of Friction Modifier as well. It comes in a 7 ounce squeeze tube. A hand pump works good to fill up the diff. If you have an Advance Auto Parts store near you, order all the stuff online and pick it up at the store and use their coupons from Coupon Cabin.com. You can get $20 off a $50 dollar order and your order will come close to that amount for this job. If you need extra elbow or head room under the rear end, remove the spare tire. It's not hard to do.
       
    10. KPPCExplorer

      KPPCExplorer Active Member

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      I know how you do it and what you put in, I'm just trying to make sure I got the right fill hole before I go and open it and find out it's not the fill hole and I now can't drive my car. I thought the fill hole was usually on top of the differential, but this one is just over half way up.
      I took a picture of my differential. Could somebody confirm if this is correct? Thanks.
      [​IMG]
       
    11. Limited02

      Limited02 Well-Known Member

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      CORRECT!!!

      Now get to work:D
       
    12. KPPCExplorer

      KPPCExplorer Active Member

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      I most definitely will. Thanks Limited!
       
    13. stuartr

      stuartr Active Member

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      So what do you use to take that huge plug out? I thought about doing mine but didn't have anything to take it out with.

      STU
       
    14. Ronin8002

      Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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      You need to buy a 3/4" socket adapter that will fit on a 1/2" drive ratchet or breaker bar.
       
    15. Limited02

      Limited02 Well-Known Member

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      DING DING DING, we have a winner!!! :D

      This is the same thing I did.
       
    16. Exproblems

      Exproblems Well-Known Member

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      >>>>>>>>>>>>>
       
    17. KPPCExplorer

      KPPCExplorer Active Member

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      Well I did it today and it was very easy. Cost me $38 for 2 quarts of oil and $7 for a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch drive adapter. Used a suction gun to put the new fluid in and it's good as new. The old fluid was definitely dirty and needed to be changed. Thanks for the help guys.
       
    18. Exproblems

      Exproblems Well-Known Member

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      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      Glad to hear it went well for you. Just think, 5 quarts of that "liquid gold" gear oil you just bought, costs the same as a 55 gallon drum of crude oil.
       
    19. fusseli

      fusseli Active Member

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      I did my front and rear diffs at 122k, the rear was black and the front was even blacker and sludgy. Pretty sure diff oil needs to be changed more often than that. For some reason a 60k or 75k interval rings a bell?

      For anyone else looking for ideas, I opted for a 3/4" drive breaker bar for $20 at a ranch supply store. My 1/2" bar bends at the joint quite a bit at 200ftlbs (changed a AWD/4WD front wheel hub yet?) so it couldn't hurt to have a much thicker bar and an adapter down to 1/2" for future projects :p The 3/4" plug on the rear diff wasn't that hard to remove. Haynes says 25ftlbs for the "check/fill plug" and nothing for the drain plug. Also, I drained into a normal oil changing pan and used a hand pump to pump new fluid. Dumped the LS friction modifier into the first bottle and shook it up then resumed pumping.
       
    20. DVRDOWN

      DVRDOWN Member

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      Has anyone pulled the rear diff cover off to drain the fluid/clean out and inspect the gears etc. like you would do on a normal Dana 44 etc? I need to change my fluid, but after driving at highway speeds for awhile, i am getting a very distinct grinding feeling while turning as if all the oil has spun off the gears, but after sitting/slow speed driving around town it returns to normal. I want to pull the cover off and check for metal shavings etc. when i change the fluid but am wondering if its a major PITA...
       
    21. gamecocks

      gamecocks Active Member

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      I havent done it but it kinda looks like itd be a pain, the top bolts are hidden by a cover type deal
       
    22. Ronin8002

      Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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      No, it is not possible. Probably why this 8.8 comes with a drain plug from the factory unlike the solid axle 8.8's. The reason you aren't able to remove the cover only is because the cover on these diffs also doubles as a mounting bracket to secure the diff to the frame. The bolts go through the crossmember that is immediately forward of the spare and through two wing-type things that are part of the cover itself. There is also another bolt on the front passenger side of the diff that goes vertically to another bracket.

      In order to look inside the diff, you have to remove the diff from the truck. To see what is involved with that, look in this thread; it has pics and it will walk you through removing the diff:

      http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=318076

       
    23. bdashill

      bdashill New Member

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      What about just the gasket?

      What about just getting the cover off to replace the gasket? Is it possible to just get the cover off by leaving the axles in and just unbolting the two "wing-type things" bolted to the frame. And then of course the 10 rear cover bolts?

      I think I need to replace that gasket, but I really don't want to do all those steps in the link you posted. I realize all of those steps are needed to work inside of the diff, but was hoping that maybe there is enough room to slide the cover out of there, apply sealant and replace for just a gasket fix?

      I'm sure this may be more obvious to me once I actually get under there and take a look, I just haven't been able to yet and so far have only been able to see the rear cover coated with fluid by just peaking my head under there.

      Thanks for any insight.
       
    24. Ronin8002

      Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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      Well you can always give it a try and see! :hammer:

      If it works just post up what you did with pics, that would be a huge help to some other folks I am sure. :thumbsup:
       
    25. fabracator

      fabracator New Member

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      I checked my rear diff fluid the other day and when i took out the fill plug a full stream of fluid came out, plus i had the rear jacked up. is this right, should it come out like that or did i get screwed? I bought the 2002 explorer used and when i first got it the rear end made a bad wiening sound so they supposed to have put a new rear end in it. Im afraid they just over fill it to make it quiter. Any ideas?
       
    26. Ronin8002

      Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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      Maintenance instructions say to fill to the bottom edge of the fill plug opening, so if you're getting a ton coming out of the fill plug with the rear jacked up then they overfilled it.
       

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