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Front & Rear Differential Fluid Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front & Rear Differential Fluid Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$60

Talent:

**

Tools:

14mm, Allen bit, drain pain, oil quart container pump, oil suction pump

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Differential oil, differential drain plugs

Hot Tip:

Drive car for short distance to warm oil

Performance Gain:

Extend differential life

Complementary Modification:

Replace drain plugs

The oil in your rear differential is considered lifetime by BMW. This does not mean you shouldn't service it. When a vehicle manufacturer refers to a component as lifetime, the time period is usually 100,000 miles. So your differential oil lifetime is 100,000 miles. What does this mean when it comes to servicing? The oil in the differential lubricates the bearings and gears that drive the wheels of your E53. You want these items to last, and with routine maintenance, they will. I suggest replacing your differential fluid every 4 years regardless of mileage. It's a good idea to check the fluid every time you change your oil and top it up if necessary. Each differential holds about one liter of oil. Have a little more on hand in case you spill it. When it comes to choosing the right fluid for your differential, BMW recommends using a synthetic gear oil (SAF-XO). Give our parts specialists a call to help determine which gear oil is right for your vehicle.

Drive the vehicle for about two to three minutes to warm the differential oil.

Lift and support the front and rear of the vehicle. See our tech article on vehicle jacking. You want the differential you are servicing to be level when checking the oil level. Also remember to wear safety glasses anytime you work under your automobile.

Rear Differential: 
Rear Differential: This photo shows a leaking rear differential.
Figure 1

Rear Differential: This photo shows a leaking rear differential. The rear diff on E53 X5 models can leak from a few places, the axle seals, the input flange seal and the rear cover. When looking for a leak, follow the oil to the clean spot (yellow arrow). This usually indicates the source of the leak. In the case of my subject vehicle, it is the rear cover. The front diff can leak in similar places. Always follow the oil to the clean spot to isolate the faulty seal.

Rear Differential: To check your rear differential fluid level.
Figure 2

Rear Differential: To check your rear differential fluid level. using a 14mm or Allen bit, remove the oil fill plug (green arrow). Fluid should be just at the bottom edge of the fill plug hole. Top the fluid up if needed. It is also a good idea to be sure the fill plug will come out before removing the drain plug. If the fill plug is stuck and you drain the fluid, it leaves with an immobile vehicle until the fill plug can be extracted. To replace the fluid, use a 14mm Allen bit to remove the oil fill plug (green arrow).

Rear Differential: Next, using a 14mm Allen bit remove the differential oil drain plug (green arrow).
Figure 3

Rear Differential: Next, using a 14mm Allen bit remove the differential oil drain plug (green arrow). Drain the oil into a suitable container (yellow arrow). The container should have a two-liter capacity. Once the oil has completely drained, reinstall the drain plug with a new gasket and torque the plug to 60 Nm (44 ft-lb).

Rear Differential: Pump oil into the fill plug hole (green arrow) until it runs out.
Figure 4

Rear Differential: Pump oil into the fill plug hole (green arrow) until it runs out. Allow the oil to stop dripping or come to a slow drip, then reinstall the fill plug and torque it to 60 Nm (44 ft-lb). Once you're done, take the vehicle for a short ride and check the rear differential for leaks.

Front Differential:
Front Differential: Remove the lower splash shields.
Figure 5

Front Differential: Remove the lower splash shields. See our tech article on splash shield removing. To check your front differential fluid level, using a 14mm or Allen bit, remove the oil fill plug (green arrow). I like to work through the subframe, next to the axle. It is the easiest way to access the fill plug. Fluid should be just at the bottom edge of the fill plug hole. Top the fluid up if needed. It is also a good idea to be sure the fill plug will come out before removing the drain plug. If the fill plug is stuck and you drain the fluid, it leaves you with an immobile vehicle until the fill plug can be extracted. To replace the fluid, use a 14mm Allen bit to remove the oil fill plug (green arrow).

Front Differential: Next, using a 14mm Allen bit, remove the differential oil drain plug (green arrow).
Figure 6

Front Differential: Next, using a 14mm Allen bit, remove the differential oil drain plug (green arrow). Drain the oil into suitable container. The container should have a two-liter capacity. Once the oil has completely drained, reinstall the drain plug with a new gasket and torque the drain plug to 60 Nm (44 ft-lb).

Front Differential: Pump (green arrow) oil into the fill plug hole until it runs out (yellow arrow).
Figure 7

Front Differential: Pump (green arrow) oil into the fill plug hole until it runs out (yellow arrow). Allow the oil to stop dripping or come to a slow drip and then reinstall the fill plug and torque it to 60 Nm (44 ft-lb). The photo shows the fill plug as viewed from the left side of the vehicle. The fill plug is near the front drive axle and left side of the subframe. Once done, take the vehicle for a short ride and check the front differential for leaks.

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Comments and Suggestions:
tommy Comments: hi. I have bmw x3 2007 . would like to do a rear diff oil change but in my do not have a drain nut, is there any way to do oil change without sucking it out. thanks
June 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, it has to be sucked out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Julius Comments: How do you fix the loud noise when 05 BMW X5 is running between 40-45 mph? The noise goes away once it hits 60-65 mph.
June 20, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Where is the noise coming from? Start by locating the are of the noise.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
tony Comments: i have a 2003 bmw x5 4.4i
i need to know what type fluid i can use for the front differential.


May 20, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW recommends using a synthetic gear oil (SAF-XO).

http://www.pelicanparts.com/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi?action=frameset&return-url=/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi%3Faction%3Dframeback%26page%3D2453&catalog-url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pelicanparts.com%2Fcatalog%2FSuperCat%2F0601%2FBMW_0601_SUSAXL_pg2.htm %3Futm_source%3DSuperTech%23item5 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:39:53 AM