differential fluid changeout questions

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Old 10 Mar 2006, 12:05 am   #1 (permalink)
onehappymadman@yahoo.com
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Default differential fluid changeout questions

I changed the diff fluid on my '96 camry (4 cylinder) today. I cheated
on removing the fill plug: I took the car to Brake Masters for a brake
fluid flush, and asked the mech to loosen the fill plug for me.

I noticed the car only took 1.5 qts. of ATF, when my Haynes said it
needs 1.7 qts. Only after I was done did I realize why: I had put the
car on ramps, and the angle from the 6 inches or so of front wheel
elevation probably caused some fluid to run out. (Fluid ran out as I
was opening the fill plug, even.)

Is it ok to run the car with only 1.5 qts of ATF?

Another question: my car has 133k miles on it. I put in Mobil 1
synthetic ATF. Was this a bad idea / would this damage the seals on my
differential?

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Old 10 Mar 2006, 05:58 am   #2 (permalink)
justinm930
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions

some synthetic gear oils attack seals in older cars. Check with mobil for
compatibility issues.

General rule of thumb when filling diffs:
On a level surface.
1. Remove the fill plug.
2. Remove the drain plug.
3. Let the old fluid drain.
4. Replace the drain plug.
5. Fill diff until fluid starts to come out of the fill plug. Let excess
fluid drain until its a very light stream or light to steady drip.
5. Replace the drain plug.

Hope this helped


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Old 10 Mar 2006, 07:46 am   #3 (permalink)
m Ransley
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions

I put mobil 1 in mine, top it off, it has a level for a reason, nobody
can say if it will be ok.

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Old 10 Mar 2006, 07:48 pm   #4 (permalink)
aiuser
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions


justinm930 wrote:
> some synthetic gear oils attack seals in older cars. Check with mobil for
> compatibility issues.
>
> General rule of thumb when filling diffs:
> On a level surface.
> 1. Remove the fill plug.
> 2. Remove the drain plug.
> 3. Let the old fluid drain.
> 4. Replace the drain plug.
> 5. Fill diff until fluid starts to come out of the fill plug. Let excess
> fluid drain until its a very light stream or light to steady drip.
> 5. Replace the drain plug.
>
> Hope this helped


What tools do you use to fill the differential fluid? Thanks

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Old 11 Mar 2006, 01:13 am   #5 (permalink)
johngdole@hotmail.com
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions

If you worry about it, you CAN reach the fill plug from the driver side
from the top side. A $0.99 funnel from Harbor Freight and long segment
of 50 cent PVC hose from Home Depot should do it. Use a breaker bar to
gain leverage.

As others have said, synthetics is usually not for older cars -- leaks
develope.

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Old 11 Mar 2006, 12:10 pm   #6 (permalink)
Daniel
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions

johngd...@hotmail.com wrote:
"As others have said, synthetics is usually not for older cars -- leaks

develope."
============
If leaks develop, I'm not responsible :-) , however . . .
Mobil 1 tells you their product is compatible with seals and will not
cause leaks if it wasn't leaking before.
The auto-rx.com web site puts forth the idea that combustion by
products like carbon and varnish coat and harden seals over time
facilitating leakage, and I've heard from whom I consider reliable
mechanics that seals go out sooner if the oil isn't changed as often.
For the separate differential, you don't have the higher operating
temperatures to which motor oil is subjected.
I changed the differential fluid first time around 90,000 miles - prior
owner had receipts, but the old fluid looked like chocolate milk. After
installing Mobil 1 fully synthetic ATF I could notice an improvement in
power.
Had been using Lucas transmission fix in low concentration in the
differential as a preventative measure, but when I changed the
passenger side drive axle, I got a chance to see the differential seal
with the axle removed.
I was amazed. The seal was like new. Very flexible, with two separate
sealing surfaces completely free of any nicks or swelling or shrinkage
or deformity of any kind - again - very pliable. This was around
140,000 miles.
So I went to straight Mobil 1 ATF.
Not sure if it makes any difference, but I had changed the differential
fluid a number of times since that first time, and after I started
using the Mobil 1, it always came out looking absolutely brand new -
like it just came out of the bottle.

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Old 12 Mar 2006, 02:18 am   #7 (permalink)
onehappymadman@yahoo.com
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions


m Ransley wrote:
> I put mobil 1 in mine, top it off, it has a level for a reason, nobody
> can say if it will be ok.


Okie dokie! Now that I mention it, I think it was closer to 1.4 qts
the diff took (maybe 1 qt leaked out onto my pan).

I've driven it about 300 miles, no problems (yet).

But, you have a point, and you've made me sufficiently concerned.

I now have a couple of crazy ideas to top off the diff:

1. Now that I have two vehicles (and two jacks), use Rhino ramps for
the front wheels, and two jacks for the rear wheels: raise the left
rear wheel 1/2 inch, then the right rear 1/2 inch, repeating until I
get 6 inches of rear elevation.

2. Buy a set of Rhino ramps for the rear tires.

3. Just take the car to the mechanic. (Not my favorite option; I like
to live dangerously, as you can probably tell by now.)

Would options (1) or (2) be terribly dangerous? (Would *you* do it?)

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Old 12 Mar 2006, 02:20 am   #8 (permalink)
onehappymadman@yahoo.com
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions


onehappymad...@yahoo.com wrote:
> m Ransley wrote:
> > I put mobil 1 in mine, top it off, it has a level for a reason, nobody
> > can say if it will be ok.

>
> Okie dokie! Now that I mention it, I think it was closer to 1.4 qts
> the diff took (maybe 1 qt leaked out onto my pan).


Whoops meant to say maybe 0.1 qt. leaked out onto the pan.

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Old 12 Mar 2006, 06:52 am   #9 (permalink)
m Ransley
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions

Take it to an oil change place its not worth fighting to get to the fill
hole, I did 10$

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Old 12 Mar 2006, 09:27 am   #10 (permalink)
Daniel
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Default Re: differential fluid changeout questions

I've never used the ramps so this is conjecture. Seems like if you got
ramps front and rear that could work.
I would not use ramps in front and two jacks for the rear wheels - or
jacks at all for the rear wheels with ramps in front. Either ramps all
around or jack and jack stands all around.
I use jack stands all around and this is the method I always see
described in repair manuals.
I always go _very_ carefully - remembering you're balancing apx. one
and a half tons in the air above your body.
If you use a hydraulic floor jack, lift at the subframes, then secure
with two jack stands in front and two jack stands in the rear. With
jack stands rated 2 tons or higher, you should be covered.
============================
earlier relevant post:
============================
onehappymad...@yahoo.com wrote:
Tried that... finally got the "combination" to work. Unfortunately,
when under the car, I still was not able to get enough force on the
combination wrenches to turn the nut (very awkward to try it under the
car, with limited room!)
.. . . Ah well... perhaps this one *is* best left to the dealer to do.
=============================
There's a secret.
You need to lift the car to get enough room to get at that fill plug.
Once you do that, there's enough working room to remove it fairly
simply.
Since I'm always doing other work on the car when changing the
differential fluid, and I also rotate the tires every 5,000 miles, when
changing the oil, I lift both front and rear - makes access to the
differential relatively easy.
Here's how you lift the car.
You need one or two hydraulic floor jacks and a stable floor. I have a
garage with smooth concrete. With asphalt on a warm day, or a sloping
surface, you could have a problem.
Since the car weighs roughly 3,000 lbs., you need a 2 ton floor jack,
plus some sturdy jack stands. Those 2 ton floor jacks are fairly
inexpensive. I bought two long time back, one stopped working after a
while, and I replaced it with a 3 ton, just for an extra margin of
safety, but the 2 ton is smaller and fits under the rear of the car
much better.
First locate the structural cross members of the frame - large welded
steel stampings that run sideways. In front the engine mounts are
attached to them, in the rear the suspension locating arms are
attached. These box frame members are strong enough to easily support
the weight of the car.
If you look carefully, you'll see a spherical "bump" front and rear, at
the center, and this is where you place the hydraulic floor jack.
Then lift the front of the car until the tires are off the ground.
Place your jack stands on either side of the floor jack and slowly
lower the floor jack until the force is evenly distributed between
them. If you only have one floor jack, now you move to the rear.
For the rear jack stands, place a 12" 2x4 piece of lumber on top to
spread the load under the side jacking points where you have spot welds
on the sheet metal, then lift from the center of the rear frame member,
set the jack stands, and lower the jack to evenly distribute the load.
You fill now find working under the car _much_ easier.
I am not responsible for your injury or death, however this method has
worked well for me.

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