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Replacing Your Differential Fluid
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Your Differential Fluid

Steve Vernon

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$35

Talent:

*

Tools:

14mm Allen, extension, fluid pump

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W124 (1986-95)

Parts Required:

Differential fluid

Hot Tip:

Clean around the differential before you start

Performance Gain:

Smoother drive train operation

Complementary Modification:

Check your CV joints

A differential is just like any other mechanism with moving parts. It generates heat and friction while in operation. Just like in an engine or transmission, regular oil changes help to keep the bearings and gears inside well lubricated and clean. Over time, the differential wears just like any other component. However, it has no internal filter to capture small particles of metal as the gears wear. Usually, differential oil is good for up to 80,000 miles without changing, however it is commonly overlooked. Failure to change the fluid at regular intervals can eventually cause the bearings in the differential to fail.

Get the oil in the differential warm before you drain it. It will help get the impurities out.

Next safely jack up and support your vehicle. You will need to jack up both ends of the vehicle as the fluid level needs to be set with the vehicle level. Please see our article on safely jacking up and supporting your W124. If your differential is dirty clean around the plugs so no dirt or debris will get into the diff while you are working.

There are two plugs on the differential.
Figure 1

There are two plugs on the differential. The fill plug (red arrow) is on the left side of the diff higher than the drain plug. The drain plug is on the lower right side (yellow arrow).

As with any fluid change always make sure you can remove the fill plug BEFORE you drain the fluid.
Figure 2

As with any fluid change always make sure you can remove the fill plug BEFORE you drain the fluid. If you drain the fluid and then cannot get the fill plug out you will have no way to drive to a store and get anything to help you remove the fill plug. Use a 14mm Allen and an extension so you can get around the exhaust and remove the fill plug (red arrow).

Place a collection pan or bucket under the differential and remove the 14mm Allen Plug (red arrow).
Figure 3

Place a collection pan or bucket under the differential and remove the 14mm Allen Plug (red arrow). Let the differential drain completely then reinstall the drain plug.

Check the drain plug so any dirt, debris or metal shavings (red arrow).
Figure 4

Check the drain plug so any dirt, debris or metal shavings (red arrow). Small metal shavings are normal but any large bits or pieces are a sign of serious trouble.

Due to the location of the fill hole you will need to use a fluid pump to get the fluid into the differential (red arrow).
Figure 5

Due to the location of the fill hole you will need to use a fluid pump to get the fluid into the differential (red arrow). Fill the differential until the fluid starts draining out of the fill hole. Reinsert the fill plug and torque to spec.


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Comments and Suggestions:
Stationwagon Tom Comments: 1995 E320 wagon diff oil specifications or description ???
May 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Front H85W-90,90 GL-5(Gear Oil, API Service GL-5)
Rear:
Standard 85W-90,90 GL-5(Gear Oil, API Service GL-5)
Limited-Slip 90GL-5*(Special Lubricant for Limited Differentials)
CAPACITY, Refill:
Front: 300E, TE 4MATIC 1.0 Liters 2.2 Pints
Rear:
190E 1.1 Liters 2.4 Pints
C220, C280 1995 1.1 Liters 2.4 Pints
C220, C280 1996 0.7 Liters 1.4 Pints
300 Series, except CE, SE, SL 1.1 Liters 2.4 Pints
S320, SL320 1.3 Liters 2.8 Pints
300CE, SE, SL 1.3 Liters 2.8 Pints
E320 Coupe, Cabriolet, Wagon 1.3 Liters 2.8 Pints
E320 Sedan 1.1 Liters 2.4 Pints
E420, S420, E500 1.3 Liters 2.8 Pints
400SEL w/V8 engine 1.3 Liters 2.8 Pints
S500, S600 1.4 Liters 3.0 Pints
400SE, 500SEC, SEL 600SEC, SEL 1.4 Liters 3.0 Pints
600SL, SL600, SL500 1.3 Liters 2.8 Pints
LIMITED-SLIP IDENTIFICATION:
Metal ID plate on rear of differential, near fill plug - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Robert Comments: What is the recommended fluid for refill of diff?
March 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year and model vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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