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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, four jack stands, two wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

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 two-wheel drive option exists. 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. On early models up to 2003, the power is split to 38% front and 62% rear, permanently.

On late models (from 2004), a control module helps to determine the power split and traction. 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 and 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 at Pelican Parts.

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.

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. Our vehicle is an early model. Fastener sizes may differ on later models.

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 fill plug and the blue arrow points to the drain plug.

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. Check if the fill plug will come free before draining the fluid. Then loosen the 17mm fill plug.

Remove the fill plug and place it in a safe place.
Figure 3

Remove the fill plug and place it in a safe place. Discard the sealing washer, as it should be replaced.

Place the drain pan under your transfer case and remove the 17mm fluid drain plug.
Figure 4

Place the drain pan under your transfer case and remove the 17mm fluid drain plug. Discard the sealing washer, as it should be replaced. Allow the fluid to drain completely. Once drained, reinstall the drain plug and tighten it.

Fill the fluid until it is level with the bottom of the fill hole or very little leaks out (inset).
Figure 5

Fill the fluid until it is level with the bottom of the fill hole or very little leaks out (inset).

Once full, install and torque the fill plug.
Figure 6

Once full, install and torque the fill plug. Be sure to replace the sealing washer (red arrow). If a late model (from 2004), check and have the transfer case adaptation reset.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Yvon Comments: I have a 99 BMW 328i, it has about 150,000 miles on it. It still runs great, but it is about time that we need to change the transmission fluid. I can do it myself, but it is good to get a refresher on how exactly from your website. Anyway we are wondering how much life the car has in it. Doing the servicing myself, I think it's worth it, but if I had to take it into a shop ... it might be too expensive.

Yvon Lebras |
February 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Impossible for me to say how much life the vehicle has. Only the owner can judge that from periodic maintenance and vehicle history. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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