Transfer Case Drain And Fill Cost in 2023​

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National average cost of a a Transfer Case Drain and Fill
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost


What is a transfer case drain and fill?

A transfer case is part of the drivetrain of a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle. The transfer case allows rotational power to be transmitted from the transmission to both the front and rear axles simultaneously. Moving parts inside the transfer case are lubricated and cooled by a type of oil, often gear oil or transmission fluid.

A transfer case drain and fill is the process of removing the old fluid from the transfer case and replacing it with fresh fluid.


How do I know if my vehicle needs a transfer case drain and fill?

If your vehicle is a four-wheel or all-wheel-drive model, then the fluid inside the transfer case should be changed periodically to ensure that it properly cools and lubricates the internal components. Over time, the fluid breaks down and becomes contaminated. When it does, it turns dark brown or black in color. Other signs that your transfer case fluid needs to be changed include:

The transfer case is getting hot or overheating

You have difficulties switching between four-wheel-drive modes

You hear grinding or growling noises coming from the transfer case

The transfer case slips out of four-wheel operation while in use

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How is a a Transfer Case Drain and Fill done?

A transfer case drain and fill service is performed in a similar fashion to that of an oil change, or changing the fluid in a manual transmission or axle differential. The process is fairly straightforward; a technician removes a drain plug at the bottom of the transfer case, collects the old lubricant for proper disposal or recycling, and adds fresh fluid with a pump.

While the service might be simple, it is worth mentioning that your vehicle needs to be safely lifted and supported in the air for access. The correct type and amount of lubricant is essential. And some transfer cases require a special pressure pump to install the fresh fluid.

Other questions customers ask

How do you know if your transfer case fluid is low?
Unlike many automatic transmissions and engines, where you can simply pull a dipstick to check the level of the lubricant inside, a transfer case does not have a quick way to determine the fluid level. To check the fluid in a transfer case, a technician must lift and support your vehicle in the air for access, remove an inspection plug on the transfer case, and look inside. Of course, if you neglect the maintenance on your transfer case, you might hear grinding noises or experience other problems with the component.
What color should transfer case fluid be?
Most transfer cases today use automatic transmission fluid (ATF) as a lubricant. ATF is red in color. So, with a few exceptions in older vehicle models that relied on gear oil rather than ATF, transfer case fluid should appear red in color. Fluid that looks dark brown or black is at or near time for replacement.
Do transmissions and transfer cases share the same oil?
Transmissions and transfer cases do not typically share the same oil. The fluid is separate between them. That said, they might share the same type of fluid. In that case, a technician would only need one type of fluid on hand to perform both a transfer case fluid change and transmission drain and fill service.

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