The national average cost for a drive axle assembly drain & refill in 2024 is $40.

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What is a drive axle assembly drain and refill service?

A drive axle assembly drain and refill service is a routine maintenance procedure for a component of the drivetrain system on rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Each wheel that receives power from the engine - the rear wheels of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle or all four wheels of a four-wheel-drive vehicle - is connected to a large metal tube containing shafts and gears - the drive axle. As the shafts inside the axle rotate, so do the wheels.

To get power to the axle shafts, the transmission turns a drive shaft that runs along the underside of your vehicle. The spinning drive shaft is attached to a gearbox (the differential) located in the drive axle assembly. This gearbox is filled with gear oil that needs to be replaced regularly to ensure proper lubrication and cooling of the drive axle’s internal components. A drive axle assembly drain and fill serves to remove the old fluid and replace it with fresh fluid.


How is a a Drive Axle Assembly Drain & Refill done?

The procedure for a drive axle assembly drain and refill service can vary by vehicle make and model. However, in general, the process is similar to that of an oil change.

A technician will safely raise and support your vehicle in the air for access. A drain plug is removed from the bottom of the axle assembly housing where the gears are located (the differential) and the old fluid is drained and captured. After the fluid has drained out, new fluid is pumped into the housing to the proper fill level.

Some drive axles do not feature a drain plug. Instead, a technician would be required to remove the differential cover plate in order to drain the old fluid. The job becomes more complex and requires other parts, such as a new cover gasket, when this is the case.

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National average cost of a a Drive Axle Assembly Drain & Refill
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How do I know if my vehicle needs a drive axle assembly drain and refill?

Because a drive axle assembly requires routine maintenance, just as your engine needs oil or your brake pads need to be replaced regularly, the best indicator that the service should be performed is the recommendation of your vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual or maintenance schedule. Other indications include:

The gear oil inside the axle has turned dark brown or black in color

The drive axle is overheating

You hear a grinding, growling, howling, or whirring noise coming from the axle

You feel a clunk or vibration, especially when cornering

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Other questions customers ask

Is it necessary to change differential fluid?
Yes, it is necessary to change differential fluid to prolong the life of the drive axle assembly. If the fluid is not changed, it will eventually degrade and break down. It will no longer protect the moving parts and seals the way fresh fluid would. This results in premature wear of the bearings and gears, which ultimately leads to axle failure.
What happens if differential fluid is low?
If the differential fluid level is allowed to drop, you will typically hear a growling or humming noise coming from the axle assembly. This is due to a lack of lubrication circulating through the gears and bearings. Premature wear is occurring. In extreme cases, the gears inside the axle can overheat and lock up the axle shafts, which will stop the wheels from turning and create a dangerous driving situation.
How do you check axle fluid?
Checking the fluid level in a drive axle assembly is not so easy as checking the engine oil level on a dipstick. To check the level of fluid in the axle assembly, you must typically raise and support the vehicle up off the ground and remove an inspection plug on the side of the axle assembly. With the plug removed, the fluid level can be observed by looking or feeling inside the inspection hole.

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