Any difference between differential and transmission | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Any difference between differential and transmission


New Member
August 10, 2013
Reaction score
City, State
Northern NJ
Year, Model & Trim Level
2008 Explorer XLT 4x4
Ford Explorer 2008 4.6L 3V 4x4
6-Speed Automatic Transmission (6R60)

At 90,000 miles my Ford dealer convinced me to do what they call "state of the art 4x4 service - transmission flush" that was composed of transfer case service, rear differential service and front differential service.

I am trying to reconcile their terminology to the owners manual which seems to state change transfer case fluid at 150,000 and change transmission/transaxle fluid at 150,000.

I am assuming the front and rear differential service relates to the transaxle fluid. Is the transmission fluid change at 150,000 a completely separate service/fluid change from the front/rear differential one?

I am a little lost in terminology here as the owners manual never references differential service.

Thanks in advance.

There are 4 devices in the drive train on 4x4s that use fluid.

1. Transmission
2. Transfer case (sends power to the front axle)
3. Front differential
4. Rear differential

The differentials are "no maintenance", meaning Ford says you never have to change the fluid. Ever.

Yeah, right.

Thanks for information. Always is a bit of a pain when Ford and the Dealer as so apart on service intervals/recommendations.

Ford has service intervals for the differentials. "No maintenance" may only be if you never tow, or drive in dusty conditions.

Transmission/Transaxle is a generic term for the geared mechanism between the engine and the driven wheels. Transaxle is a specific type of transmission used where the drive axle comes directly out of the transmission without going thru some sort of longitudinal driveshaft.

This is most often a front-wheel-drive application, but could also be the rear-wheel-drive situation in a rear-engined car.

For your RWD/4WD/AWD SUV, you don't have a transaxle.
As was said, you have the transmission, which flows torque to the center differential (transfer case if it has a low range), which splits torque to the front and rear differentials. All 4 of these components use fluid, which may or may not need changing, depending on usage.