AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case - Chevy Traverse Forum: Chevrolet Traverse Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-28-2012, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

I was wondering if anyone has done maint on these parts and their thoughts on using Mobil1 75w90 gear oil in place of the GM 75w90. Thanks
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-28-2012, 03:20 PM
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

Shouldn't be any problem. In fact diffs and transfer cases are where I like synthetics.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-28-2012, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

That's what I thought. It's synthetic like the GM fluid. Im curious in the condition of the old fluid.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 01:00 PM
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

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Originally Posted by ROBD
That's what I thought. It's synthetic like the GM fluid. Im curious in the condition of the old fluid.
I changed out the transmission, transfer case and rear differential fluid @ 41k miles on my '09 Outlook. The rear diff. fluid, by far, was the most degraded. The fluid was black, and the drain plug magnet had a "dollup" of black sludge on it. By contrast, the transfer case fluid was almost clear, and the drain plug magnet was virtually free of accumulated sludge/debris.

I used the GM 75w-90 fluid for two reasons - 1) Although Mobil 75w-90 is acceptable, I didn't want to change fluid manufacturer and in the event of a warranty claim (5 yr/100k powertrain), call into question the use of a non-GM fluid; 2) the GM fluid has an additive to give it a grape smell, which does moderate the sulfur smell to a degree.

For a DIY project, a manual fluid pump really made replacing the fluid easier. For the transfer case and rear diff., the fluid level is at "full" when it runs out the bottom edge of the fill hole with vehicle level.


Based on my experience, I'll be changing the rear differential fluid every 30k miles.

2009 Outlook XR AWD (sold 12/2014)<br />2008 Audi RS4 Cabriolet<br />2003 Audi A4 Quattro<br />2015 Audi Allroad Premium Plus
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 08:56 AM
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

That's weird that the rear diff fluid looked worse than the transfer case fluid. After all, they would be in use for the same amount of time. I guess the difference would be that the transfer case more than likely has more fluid to dissapate the foreign particles/moisture.

Greg.<br /><br />2010 Red Jewel LT2 (Spring Edition)
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 12:25 AM
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

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That's weird that the rear diff fluid looked worse than the transfer case fluid.
I can only relay what I observed... and I'm not alone in my observations (quoting another Traverse owner):

I drained and replaced the transfer case and rear differential fluids today in our 2009 Traverse w/ 30k miles. The owners manual calls for this maintenance at 50k miles but has extremely limited information so I felt uneasy about letting it go to 50k. My Jeep and Ford F250 4x4 systems have much lower drain and fill durations and both vehicles have a combined 450k miles with no drive train problems.

Draining and filling is actually very easy as there are drain and fill plugs in both. A 10mm Hex bit is needed to remove the plugs. Also access to the fill plugs is very limited so you have to have a pump and hose extension to refill them after draining. It took approx 2 1/2 quarts to fill both. The manual calls for 75W90 synthetic, I replaced the original oil with Royal Purple Max Gear 75W90 full synthetic oil.

Here are a few of my observations:
- The magnet on the drain plugs both front and rear were heavily loaded with black metal particles. The rear plug had a thicker film than the transfer case plug.
- The drained oil in both was very dark. The rear diff oil was nearly as dark as used motor oil but neither smelled burned.
- The rear diff holds approx 1/2 quart less than the transfer case.

Even though there were no signs of overheating or drive problems, I'm a bit uncomfortable by the amount of film on the magnets and color of the drained oil at 30k. This is not something I have seen in either of my 4x4's. I'll likely drain it again at 50k just to check for additional wear.


In this case, the transfer case fluid showed more degradation/contamination then I witnessed on my Outlook. What the old addage... YMMV?

2009 Outlook XR AWD (sold 12/2014)<br />2008 Audi RS4 Cabriolet<br />2003 Audi A4 Quattro<br />2015 Audi Allroad Premium Plus
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 07:26 AM Thread Starter
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

I'm servicing ours tomorrow. I'll let you know what I find.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2012, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

Service complete. The rear differential fluid was black and the magnet was covered in about 1/8 inch of debris. The transfer case fluid was like new with almost nothing on the magnet. I would now think that the differential fluid should be changed at least every 30k. The fluid in the transfer case could have easily went to 100k.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 01:37 PM
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

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Originally Posted by ROBD
Service complete. The rear differential fluid was black and the magnet was covered in about 1/8 inch of debris.
On a related note, when I had my Outlook in for recent service to replace the water pump, the PS pump, and the PS steering rack, I relayed my observations about the condition of the rear diff. fluid to the service advisors. They were surprised, probably because they have not had many requests, due to mostly following the "normal service" interval, which is to replace the fluid @ 100k miles. They commented that rarely get consumers that (ask to) follow the "severe service interval" (50k mile replacement) - due to ignorance, maybe?

When I change the fluid at the next mileage interval, in my case @ 70k miles, I'm curious if the fluid condition and magnet gunk will be better or similar to the condition at 41K miles. Is the sludge on the magnet due to "break-in"?, or is the sludge a continuing phenomenon from "normal operation"? I guess I'll find out in 20k miles, as I'm now at 50k on the odometer.

2009 Outlook XR AWD (sold 12/2014)<br />2008 Audi RS4 Cabriolet<br />2003 Audi A4 Quattro<br />2015 Audi Allroad Premium Plus
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: AWD 50k Service to Rear Differential and Transfer Case

Near 50k now and will be changing the rear diff fluid again at 80k. Seeing the problems with some of the water pumps I'm wondering if ours is going to fail soon and if it is covered under the 100k power train warranty?
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