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Transfer Case Fluid Replacing
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Transfer Case Fluid Replacing

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

****

Tools:

Fluid pump, 18mm wrench and socket, 14mm Allen bit, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525xi Sedan (2006-07)
BMW 528xi Sedan (2008)
BMW 530xi Sedan/Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535xi Sedan/Wagon (2008)

Parts Required:

Transfer case fluid, transfer case fill and drain plugs

Hot Tip:

Work on hard level surface.

Performance Gain:

Extend lifetime of your transfer case

Complementary Modification:

Change transmission fluid at same time

The transfer case is attached to the rear of the transmission on BMW X5 E53 models. It transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear wheels. It is a full-time all-wheel drive system. No rear wheel drive is available. There is a driveshaft that runs from the rear of the transfer case to the rear differential and one that runs from the side of the transfer case to the front differential.

The transfer case control module monitors the transfer case fluid condition. In theory, you will be notified when a service is due on the info display via the transfer case control module. However, the fluid may need replacement more frequently. It is a good idea to service your fluid every 50,000 miles. If you're unsure of the last service, replace the fluid as soon as possible. Doing so will extend the life of your transmission. The only catch with servicing this fluid is you have to reset the transfer case control module adaptations each time you replace it. My suggestion is to replace the fluid, then have the adaptations reset by someone with a BMW scan tool. Choose a fluid that meets BMW's current specifications for your vehicle. To determine the fluid that belongs in your transmission, check your owner's manual, or give our parts specialists a call.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

If you plan to check the fluid level, you may as well replace it while you are there.
Figure 1

If you plan to check the fluid level, you may as well replace it while you are there. Accessing the fill plug is just as involved as replacing the fluid, so replace it while you are in there. The red arrow points to the transfer case. You can see access to the fill plug is blocked by the exhaust heat shield, which is removed once the exhaust is removed. I have seen mechanics have success lowering the exhaust. They then sneak the heat shield out from on top of the exhaust, however it is best to just get the exhaust out of the way.

Jack up all four corners of your vehicle.
Figure 2

Jack up all four corners of your vehicle. I suggest using four jack stands and slowly raising the vehicle to the required height. The vehicle needs to be level when checking and replacing fluid. Remove the lower splash shields. See our tech article on engine splash shield removing. Remove the exhaust system. See our tech article on exhaust system replacing. With the exhaust removed, you now have access to the heat shield. Remove the five 8mm fasteners and three 10mm nuts. Then remove the heat shield from the vehicle.

Place the drain pan under your transfer case and remove the 14mm Allen fluid drain plug (red arrow).
Figure 3

Place the drain pan under your transfer case and remove the 14mm Allen fluid drain plug (red arrow). Allow the fluid to drain completely. Once drained, reinstall the drain plug and tighten it.

The transfer case mount bracket has to be removed to fill the transfer case.
Figure 4

The transfer case mount bracket has to be removed to fill the transfer case. You will have to support the transfer case while doing this. Then jack it to the level position when refilling it. Place a jack (red arrow) under the transfer case to support it. Use a piece of wood between the jack and the transfer case to protect it from damage.

Working at the transfer case mount, remove the nut and loosen the 18mm mount bolt (green arrow).
Figure 5

Working at the transfer case mount, remove the nut and loosen the 18mm mount bolt (green arrow). The nut will come off but the bolt will stay in the mount while you remove the bracket.

Now remove the six 13mm transfer case mounting bracket fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 6

Now remove the six 13mm transfer case mounting bracket fasteners (green arrows). The jack isn't shown in this photo. Be sure to keep the transfer case supported while removing these fasteners.

Now remove the transfer case-mounting bracket.
Figure 7

Now remove the transfer case-mounting bracket. You will have to pull the bolt out far enough to clear the mount.

Level the transfer case.
Figure 8

Level the transfer case. Then remove the fluid fill plug (green arrow). Fill the fluid until it is level with the bottom of the fill hole or very little leaks out. Once full, install and torque the fill plug. Reassemble the mounting bracket, exhaust and splash shields. When installing the mounting bracket for the transfer case, there is an angled notch to help it fit back in. Feed the bracket into the transfer case, notch first. Then slide it up into place.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Hatterasman Comments: Great write up. Thanks! Did this today on 2008 535 Xi Wagon. It wasn't necessary to completely remove the exhaust...just removed the front hanger and the bolts at the down pipes. Once this is done, pulling back on the exhaust pipes frees the flanges from the studs. The exhaust drops down several inches and allows plenty of room to work. I removed the heat shield fasteners and let it lay on top of the exhaust.
October 2, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Norskie Comments: I see you removed the driveshaft. That's not required, is it? It sort of looks like the driveshaft would block access to the fill plug.

Also, a concern is draining the fluid before accessing the fill plug. Would you recommend draining after the fill plug has been removed?
August 9, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The driveshaft was not removed. Yes, check if the plug comes out before draining. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
peter530xit Comments: Can you reach the heat shield mounting bolts reaching through and around the exhaust in place? In other words, does the exhaust really need to be removed to do this job?
May 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, you can't. the exhaust has to be removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:38:43 AM