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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Differential Oil Change

Kerry Jonsson


1 hour1 hr






8mm Allen head socket with ratchet and extension, suction tool

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz E320 (2004-05)
Mercedes-Benz E500 (2004-06)

Parts Required:

Front differential fluid

Hot Tip:

Work with warm fluid by driving the car a while

Performance Gain:

Extend front differential life

Complementary Modification:

Change rear differential fluid as the same time

Your engine produces power in the form of torque. This torque is applied to the rest of your driveline. The first stop is the transmission where gear ratio changes drop engine rpm as speed increases. On our W211 chassis E320 4MATIC the car has four wheel drive so it has a transfer case. The transfer case splits the torque applied between the front driveshaft and the rear driveshaft. The front drive shaft goes to the front differential mounted on the right side of the engine. The front differential splits the torque coming in from the front driveshaft in between both left and right side axle shafts. The front differential sits in a bath of oil and as the car is driven the ring gear picks up oil for lubrication between it and the pinion gear. Over time this oil can breakdown due to excessive heat from the engine mounted close by and mechanical breakdown from the gears smashing into one another. To maintain the same lubrication as when your car was new, you should change your front differential oil at the same time you change your rear differential oil. See our tech article on changing the rear differential fluid. In this tech article we will go over all the steps to replace your front differential fluid.

Lift and support the front axle of the vehicle. You don't have to remove the right front tire to perform this job but it does make access much easier since you may not have access to an automotive lift. See our tech article on jacking and supporting your vehicle and removing the front tires.

ThisPicture illustrates the right front wheel well.
Figure 1

This icture illustrates the right front wheel well. Remove the fill plug (green arrow) with an 8mm Allen head socket on an extension and ratchet.

There is no drain plug on the front differential.
Figure 2

There is no drain plug on the front differential. Using a suction tool submerge the hose as deep in the fill hole as you can and suck out the oil fluid.

Add new fluid through the same fill port until you see a small amount of fluid start to drip out.
Figure 3

Add new fluid through the same fill port until you see a small amount of fluid start to drip out. Install the fill plug.

This photo shows the fluid level about right.
Figure 4

This photo shows the fluid level about right. I like to install the fill plug while it is slowly dripping out.

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Comments and Suggestions:
ps2cho Comments: For the above comment, do you know what fluid pump works that has a 1/4 OD hose?
Struggling with your exact item you mentioned.
April 26, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Our suction pump, the blue one pictures and the fill pump (white one pictured) both fit in well. The white pump has a smaller hose, the blue suction pump has the standard hose it came equipped with. We can get you both pumps. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MT Comments: So, on a w211 e-class, to extract the fluid, you will need flexible hose no more that 1/4 inch Outer Diameter. The picture shows an extracting tool with a much larger diameter hose. This will not work on the diff. It fits through the plug hole but there is part of the diff that blocks the hose from going more than 1/2 an inch into the diff. It's kind of a PITA to jam that 1/4 inch hose into the diff. I aimed down and toward the rear of car and managed to jam it in there pretty good. Had to get under the car to manipulate the hose into the diff. Got .6 liters of fluid out and put fluid back in per instructions above. Also, getting the plug back on was a PITA b/c getting the right angle to drive it back in is difficult because of brake lines, etc. in the way.
November 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts

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