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VW / Audi Differential Fluid Change
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

VW / Audi Differential Fluid Change

Peter Bodensteiner

Time:

45 min

Tab:

$20

Talent:

***

Tools:

10mm Allen bit, jack and jackstands, drain pan and rags

Applicable Models:

 
Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi A4 Quattro (1997-01)
Audi TT (2000-04)
Audi TT Quattro (2000-04)
VW Beetle (1999-02)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Passat (1996-00)

Parts Required:

Two quarts of 75W-90 synthetic gear oil

Hot Tip:

Open up the fill plug first, because if you can't refill the differential, you probably shouldn't be draining it!

Performance Gain:

Another maintenance procedure that will keep your car running smoothly

Complementary Modification:

Rear sway bar swap, rear brake pad replacement, transmission fluid change.

Audi and VW vehicles equipped with the quattro all-wheel drive system have a rear differential. The job of the differential is to takes power from the driveshaft extending rearward from the transmission and deliver it to the two rear wheels.

The rear differential is filled with lubricating fluid that should be changed periodically. Yes, apparently Audi does not specify a replacement interval for this fluid, but that shouldn't keep you from changing it. It's not too difficult a job, and it will help keep your Audi's quattro system running smoothly, particularly if you're increasing the car's performance or have a higher mileage vehicle.

The vehicle needs to be level as you fill the differential in order to ensure that the correct amount of new fluid is added. So, rather than simply jacking up the rear of the car, you should elevate the whole vehicle and secure it on jackstands.

Somewhere under that caked-on grease is the differential fill plug.
Figure 1

Somewhere under that caked-on grease is the differential fill plug. It is located on the right-hand side of the differential, just behind and below the passenger-side rear axle. Thus, in this photo, the front of the car is to the right.

This photo shows more of the differential.
Figure 2

This photo shows more of the differential. The fill plug is still visible to the upper left, and the drain plug is right on the bottom of the diff housing, toward the front of the car. Judging by the pattern of the grease deposited on the diff, axle, and fuel tank, I may have a bad axle seal or CV joint.

Use a 10mm Allen bit to remove the filler plug (26 ft/`lb).
Figure 3

Use a 10mm Allen bit to remove the filler plug (26 ft/`lb).

The plug has been removed.
Figure 4

The plug has been removed. If your differential is grungy like mine, clean off the diff beforehand, or at least be careful not to get any debris inside the differential. Despite the evidence of a leak in the area, the level of oil in the differential was up to spec.

The drain plug also takes a 10mm Allen bit.
Figure 5

The drain plug also takes a 10mm Allen bit. Get your drain pan ready.

The differential drain has a large opening and shouldn't take long to empty.
Figure 6

The differential drain has a large opening and shouldn't take long to empty. Give it a little time to try to get as much old fluid out as possible, and then clean and replace the drain plug.

This is the view of the differential fill opening as seen from the right rear wheel well.
Figure 7

This is the view of the differential fill opening as seen from the right rear wheel well. The best way to fill the differential is through a tube the runs from the wheel well into this opening. Move the drain pan underneath the fill hole before starting the refill process.

This is a bottle of a typical synthetic gear oil of the kind you'll find at your local parts store.
Figure 8

This is a bottle of a typical synthetic gear oil of the kind you'll find at your local parts store. You'll need two of these to replace the diff fluid.

Here is the hose, emerging from the wheel well.
Figure 9

Here is the hose, emerging from the wheel well. I could have used another foot of hose or so, but this worked fine too. I simply snipped the bottle end to the proper size, inserted it into the hose, and let the fluid drain into the hose. Keep the outside end of the hose elevated so that the fluid runs downhill into the differential.

Fill the differential until fluid starts to run out of the fill hole and then replace the plug, tightening it to 26 ft-lb.
Figure 10

Fill the differential until fluid starts to run out of the fill hole and then replace the plug, tightening it to 26 ft-lb.

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