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Changing Your Manual Transmission and Transfer Case Oil
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Authoring and Photography By: Chris Perosi
First Published: February 2000

 

Changing Your Manual Transmission and Transfer Case Oil

tn_drain1.jpg (4796 bytes)
The arrows show the drain plugs for the manual transmission and transfer case on this particular vehicle.

Generally, manual transmissions and transfer cases are closely-related, and their fluids are changed at similar intervals, so it makes sense to discuss them at the same time. Changing these fluids is very simple, most times even easier than changing the motor oil. Yet for some reason many people who change their own oil are unwilling to attempt this maintenance. Hopefully after reading this article, you will see how easy it really is, and you'll see no reason not to try it yourself.



As always, the first step in any mechanical procedure is to gather the parts and materials needed. Fortunately, to change the tranny and t-case fluids, the list is quite short. Check your owner's manual for the proper type and viscosity of fluids, and purchase the proper amount. Once you have the fluids in hand, the only other things needed are a basic ratchet set, a drain pan, and a hand-pump. The hand-pump is especially useful for getting to the hard-to-reach fill plugs on the side of the transmission and transfer case.

tn_drain2.jpg (4143 bytes)
Be sure to position the drain pan so it will catch the oil, taking into account the position of the drain plug.

Before attempting this maintenance, it's a good idea to take your vehicle for a short trip to help "pre-heat" the oil inside. You don't want it to be too hot, but by heating it up a little, you lower the viscosity of the oil so it will drain out more completely. Check your owner's manual for information on the position of the drain and fill plugs for both the transmission and the transfer case. Once you've located the fill plugs, remove them to help facilitate better drainage, and place them aside. Be careful not to mix them up with the drain plugs or each other. Then, one at a time, position the drain pan underneath them, and loosen them carefully. Pay close attention to the direction in which the plug is facing, as the pressurized oil will shoot out in an arc in that direction. Position your drain pan accordingly. Once both the tranny and t-case have been allowed to drain fully, replace and tighten the drain plugs.

tn_fill1.jpg (5.6KB)
The green arrow shows the transmission fill hole, which you can see would be almost impossible to fill by pouring a bottle of oil into it.
tn_fill2.jpg (5.56KB)
The fluid pump makes quick work of what would otherwise seem an impossible task.

After all the oil has been drained, you can begin refilling the fluids. Being sure to use the proper fluid for each application, insert your fluid pump into the bottles and pump the fluid into the transmission fill hole. When the fluid level reaches the edge of the fill hole, wipe off any excess and tighten the fill plug in place. Repeat this process for the transfer case. Be sure to tighten all plugs to the proper specifications.

Replacing the fluids in each of these components should take even a first-timer around 15 minutes. As you can see, there's no reason to take your vehicle to a "pro" to perform this maintenance, and doing it yourself will save you money and help you understand how thing work a little bit better. To discuss this and other regular maintenance items, please visit the Isuzu Forum and post to this thread.

Reminder: Be sure to bring used oil to your local recycling center for proper disposal.


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