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Transfer case fluid: XL-12 or Mercon V

I researched this issue on other ford sites as well. My manual and dealer parts dept says to use Mercon V. I hope they change the specs if superceded. It seems like the problems are over-rated/nonexistent from what I found and most people think the transfer case isn't picky about the fluid. If there are no problems dont fix it perhaps. Although i bought my x @160k and 40k later the planetary gears seem to have jammed up, and ejected the ring gear retaining ring into the case. Hope it wasn't related.
 



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Bringing this thread from the dead. But a new fordtechmakeuloco video says that Mercon LV is now approved for transfer case now.

Video:


In the comments says that Mercon LV is now approved for all transfer cases.

I am planning on draining and refilling soon on our 2008 Explorer. Is anyone using the Mercon LV now or are you still running the XL-12 “transfer case fluid”?
 






That LV may be okay, but it's still very expensive. You have to buy a case(12) to get it near $6 a quart.

The Dexron III/Mercon is still the original transfer case fluid for 1990's Fords. We can still buy that at Walmart for about $3.50 a quart, $14 for a gallon.
 






That LV may be okay, but it's still very expensive. You have to buy a case(12) to get it near $6 a quart.

The Dexron III/Mercon is still the original transfer case fluid for 1990's Fords. We can still buy that at Walmart for about $3.50 a quart, $14 for a gallon.

The Owners manual says to use motorcraft transfer case fluid. Says it needs 1.5 quarts.

I’m searching for a place where I can buy the transfer case (xl-12) by the quart at a decent price.I don’t want to buy a full case.
 






For 1.5 qrt you can get it from a Ford dealer. You will not overpay much, c'mon.
I get it at Advance auto, they stock Motorcraft fluids as well.
 






my haynes book says use the mercon multi-purpose type automatic transmission fluid for all transfer cases and good for me because I have jugs of that since its also power steering fluid
 






Yes, that was the old Mercon, not Mercon V, SP, or LV.
 






Confirming that my local Ford dealer parts guy (Varsity Ford, Ann Arbor, MI) says that Ford has "obsoleted" the Mercon "Transfer Case Fluid" and that the new part specified for 4th Gen Explorers is Mercon LV, which they sell for $6 a quart (by the quart). Why mess with Dextron III or Valvoline in a Ford TC at that price?
 






I used Valvoline Transfer Case Fluid because it was in stock at autozone in my town, and the Ford dealership was closed for the weekend.

The short version is that either Valvoline Transfer Case Fluid or Motorcraft Transfer Case Fluid is what should be used in 3rd Gen Explorers.

It is my understanding that 3rd Gen Explorers originally called for Mercon (just Mercon), which is no longer available and now Ford XL-12 is the replacement for transfer case fluid. I am pasting information directly from the Motorcraft website because I spent quite awhile reading this thread and watching helpful videos by Fordmakuloco on tranfer case fluid.

Valvoline Transfer Case Fluid
Valvoline™ Multi-Vehicle Transfer Case Fluid is a full synthetic offering that meets the performance needs for transfer cases calling for Ford XL-12, GM Auto Trak II, as well as transfer cases
requiring ATF fluids (DEX/MERC, ATF +4, etc).

The latest Ford Chemical information as of 9/30/19 states that Mercon V should not be used on transfer cases, and that Mercon LV should not be used for transfer cases.
USA - Motorcraft

Motorcraft® Transfer Case Fluid
Usage

  • For use in transfer cases driving front axles on all-wheel-drive (AWD) and 4x4 vehicles
  • Not for use in automatic transmissions, manual transmissions, power take off units (PTU), fluid couplers or AWD vehicles equipped with a transaxle
Features
  • Premium-quality fluid for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury transfer cases
  • Manufactured with high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Provides increased protection against deposit, rust, corrosion and wear
  • Maintains proper viscosity at extreme temperatures
  • Recommended by Ford Motor Company
  • Available in cases of 12 one-quart bottles

Motorcraft® MERCON® V Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) and Power Steering Fluid

  • Premium-quality dual-use fluid for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles
  • Can be used in vehicles requiring MERCON® V or MERCON® type automatic transmission fluid
  • Provides excellent performance in electronically controlled automatic transmissions
  • Manufactured with high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives Provides excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures
  • Provides excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures
  • Offers excellent thermal and oxidation resistance, as well as good low-temperature fluidity
  • Provides wear protection and inhibits the formation of gum, sludge, lacquer and foam
  • Provides protection against rust and corrosion
  • Dyed red for easy leak detection
  • Suitable for use as a hydraulic oil in a wide variety of industrial applications that call for an ISO 46 or SAE 20W viscosity grade hydraulic oil
  • Not for use in applications where MERCON® SP, MERCON® LV, Continuously Variable Chain Type Transmission Fluid, Motorcraft® Premium Automatic Transmission Fluid, FNR5 Automatic Transmission Fluid or Type F Automatic Transmission Fluid is recommended
  • Not for use in transfer cases
  • Recommended by Ford Motor Company
  • Available in cases of 12 one-quart bottles, four (4) five-quart bottles, six (6) one-gallon units and 55-gallon units
  • Use of bulk fluid is environmentally proactive and bulk quantities may be available at substantial savings. Please check with your Parts Retailer for availability.

Motorcraft® MERCON® LV Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
  • Premium-quality ATF for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury transmissions
  • Provides excellent performance in electronically controlled automatic transmissions
  • Manufactured with high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Provides excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures, and guards against transmission shudder
  • Offers excellent thermal, oxidation and shear stability, as well as good low-temperature fluidity
  • Provides wear protection and inhibits the formation of gum, sludge, lacquer and foam
  • Helps prevent rust and corrosion
  • Dyed red for easy leak detection
  • Not for use in applications where MERCON® V, MERCON® SP, Continuously Variable Chain Type Transmission Fluid, Motorcraft® Premium Automatic Transmission Fluid, FNR5 Automatic Transmission Fluid or Type F Automatic Transmission Fluid is recommended
  • Not for use in transfer cases
  • Recommended by Ford Motor Company
  • Available in cases of 12 one-quart bottles
 






Again, Mercon LV (not V) is now the approved (and only available from Ford) transfer case fluid for both gen III and gen IV Explorers. The info from the old web page you found (which is obsolete) has unfortunately not been taken down.

Can't speak to other manufacturer's product. YMMV.
 






The original fluid called for in the older Explorers still works, always did, and is still available. You have to read labels very carefully now, it's getting more complicated, but what I've seen for any Dexron III fluid, it also still states it meets Mercon standards.

It does get harder to find the older fluids, and Ford makes it harder. They altered Mercon V after they obsoleted Mercon, it is supposed to now be compatible for earlier transmissions that called for Mercon. I'm still wary about putting Mercon V in an AOD trans, I would prefer actual Mercon, or equivalent aftermarket versions, such as B&M Trick Shift.
 






The original fluid called for in the older Explorers still works, always did, and is still available. You have to read labels very carefully now, it's getting more complicated, but what I've seen for any Dexron III fluid, it also still states it meets Mercon standards.

It does get harder to find the older fluids, and Ford makes it harder. They altered Mercon V after they obsoleted Mercon, it is supposed to now be compatible for earlier transmissions that called for Mercon. I'm still wary about putting Mercon V in an AOD trans, I would prefer actual Mercon, or equivalent aftermarket versions, such as B&M Trick Shift.

CDW: You mentioned transmissions, but we were talking transfer cases. Did you mean transfer cases? Tx, Drew.
 






I can still get Type F, Mercon/Dexron III, Dex/Mercon LV in gallons, at an everyday brick and mortar store,
with cheap $ pricing over national parts chain stores, you just have to know where to look.
Available in my area, maybe not in your area. Look for the "spark".

The Mercon LV is $4.50 a quart + tax in the gallon jug.

Save your money folks. No need to pay double the price at a Ford "stealership".

walmart spark.jpg
 






Drew,

Since your parts guy and my internet link did not have the same info I went looking and found a different Mercon LV page. The one I looked up clearly said Mercon LV was not for use in transfer cases and the one below says it is for use in all transfer cases.

I did find a different Ford Chemicals page that says Mercon LV is for use in all transfer cases.
https://www.fcsdchemicalsandlubricants.com/main/product.asp?product=MERCON%AE+LV+Automatic+Transmission+Fluid&category=Transmission%20Fluid said:
Motorcraft® MERCON® LV is manufactured with high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives, which provide excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures and guards against transmission shudder. This fluid has excellent thermal, oxidation and shear stability and good low temperature fluidity. It provides wear protection and inhibits the formation of gum, sludge, lacquer and foam. It also prevents against rust and corrosion. It is dyed red for ease of leak detection

For use in all transfer cases

Here is the current link to the Ford XL-12 transfer case fluid.
https://www.fcsdchemicalsandlubricants.com/Main/product.asp?product=Transfer+Case+Fluid&category=Transmission%20Fluid said:
Transfer Case Fluid is recommended by Ford Motor Company for use in transfer cases driving front axles on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury AWD/4X4 vehicles. For use in transfer cases where MERCON® ATF was previously recommended. Do not use in AWD vehicles equipped with a transaxle

Do not use in 2012 or later transfer cases

CDW6212R - it is true the original Mercon still works in the transfer case. Mercon V has friction additives that have been reported to be bad for transfer cases but not the automatic transmission. In my case I could not find original Mercon as of 10/1/2019 in my local parts stores stores, so I was trying to find the appropriate fluid. If stores still have original formulation Mercon that is surprising Mercon V came out long ago to supercede Mercon in transmissions.

The point is I don't want to accidently harm my transfer case which is expensive, because I purchased an incorrect fluid. $10 per quart or $3 per quart it only takes two bottles (1.5 quarts).
 






CDW: You mentioned transmissions, but we were talking transfer cases. Did you mean transfer cases? Tx, Drew.

Yes Drew, I'm referring to the TC's. I mentioned the transmissions because the original Mercon V was incompatible for use in a prior Mercon trans, such as the AOD. When Ford altered the Mercon V later with almost no publicity that they did it, many people didn't know there was a new Mercon V, and it was okay to put in any AOD, which began in 1980. I was one of those people, and learned from others that Mercon V is then fine to use in all prior Mercon applications.

My point was the early Mercon V might be bad for a transfer case, but the later stuff should be fine in all of the TC's which originally called for it, or Mercon.

As said before, you just much be careful selecting the fluid. Ford loves to sell you the nest most expensive version, but research often discovers prior products that work equally well, for far less money, and available at most sources.

I just realized that I'm out of Amsoil ATF, which I use for best applications. I have to build a new 4R70W next week, so I'll order more Amsoil ATF, which is well over $10 a quart. It's worth that, for long term service, for lower wear rates etc. My 98 took close to 18 quarts when I filled it before, drained everything and changed to a deep pan. For that much fluid, it better be good stuff at $200 for one fill.
 






Yeah, Ford has really confused the issue on this topic, no doubt. Redford, thanks for confirming.
Just talking about Motorcraft products, I think there's a consensus on the following points (but correct me if I'm wrong):
  • The Gen3 (e.g., my 2002) manual says to use "Mercon" (no suffix) for the transfer case fluid;
  • FORD no longer sells Mercon;
  • The Gen4 Explorer manual (at least for my 2010) says to use "Ford Transfer Case Fluid / XL-12" for the transfer case;
  • XL-12 is not currently sold BY FORD. (Of course, others, including some dealerships, might still have old stock, but I don't personally know of one.);
  • Nobody has found a Ford web page or document that says its okay to put Mercon V in the Gen3 or Gen4 transfer cases;
  • Fordtechmakuloco says not to put Mercon V in these Explorer transfer cases: ;
  • All the Mercon V published information pages say not to put it in transfer cases, including: MERCON® V Automatic Transmission and Power Steering Fluid

Again, please correct if any of the above is wrong. In addition, it is undisputed that there is conflicting published statements about Mercon LV (both that it is/is not appropriate for transfer cases, without specifying which transfer cases). IIRC, the page that says not to use LV in transfer cases also lists XL-12 (aka "Ford Transfer Case Fluid") for that purpose, which is the clue that its an outdated page (since XL-12 no longer is sold by Ford).

In addition to the above, CDW -- whose advice has been wonderful over the years, and I have frequently followed -- says its okay to put Mercon V in transfer cases. He says that the Mercon V formula was changed at some point. Insofar as I am aware, I've not seen any documentation supporting this advise (but again, please point to it if I missed it). Finally, I've reported that my dealership parts guy says that XL-12 has been "obsoleted" and that the official Ford substitute is Mercon LV (which seems to back up the published page that says LV is good for transfer cases).

I've also reported that my local Ford dealer will sell me Mercon LV @ approx. $6/quart.

Others (including CDW) have spoken about non-Ford products, including Valvoline. I checked Valvoline's website, and they sell only one "transfer case fluid", which you can buy on Amazon for about $36 for 6 quarts: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B...42e-e8f213ef368b&pf_rd_r=SGXMYJ0KPYEKDQ4JBQB8 . This Valvoline product says its XL-12 compatible. (If Valvoline thought that their cheaper DextronIII/Mercon-compatible ATF already filled the bill, not sure why they developed this product.)

My own feeling is that, while CDW may well be right (he usually is), I don't feel comfortable using a third-party ATF that says its "Mercon" compatible for the transfer case. My guess is that they're talking about ATF only--as in, we met the minimum Ford spec for Mercon ATF use in ATF's, and then added all these other goodies to meet other manufacturer's specs for their ATF's). Its pretty clear that, at least in some circumstances, Ford's specs identify a difference between the trans fluid and the transfer case fluid (as is the case in both the Gen3 and Gen4 manuals). But if I were going to risk it, I'd pick "Mercon" compatible over Mercon V (or Mercon V compatible)--because clearly Ford is telling us consistently not to use Mercon V in transfer cases. As is Fordtechmakuloco. Sorry CDW. I have not researched Amsoil (too spendy for my blood.)

I wouldn't hesitate to use the Valvoline product linked above, or Ford XL-12 if I could find it at a good price. But since I don't need 6 quarts of this stuff any time soon, I'm just going to buy the Mercon LV from my local dealer when I drain and fill my Gen4 transfer case in the next couple of weeks. I don't mind paying $6 a quart for the real deal. Drew.
 






I agree with that Drew. I would not feel comfortable using any Mercon V in the 3rd/4th gen TC's that we read it had issues in in the past. The Mercon being recommended for some of the TC's, I could be okay using the alternatives if I had to. If the new deal is the Mercon LV, I'd get something compatible in specs to that. For a few dollars more or less, go with the best you can. I haven't changed TC fluid in a year, but the old AWD TC took not much over two quarts I recall. Use great fluid for any of them, that's low cost maintenance. A full transmission fluid change, that is now expensive.
 






It's 2024.
What fluids do I need for a 2008 sport trac 4wd (4.6L)?

Thanks
 






I have used this in many SuperDuty plow truck transfer cases in place of XL 12.
Lots of miles later and never a problem.

 



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