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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Differential Oil Change

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$25

Talent:

*

Tools:

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.

This picture illustrates the right front wheel well.
Figure 1

This picture 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.

Comments and Suggestions:
doyo Comments: Thanks Nick. I will do like you said.
November 30, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks, let me know what you find. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
doyo Comments: would the above procedure be equally applied to 2003 W211 E500? My car is not in the applicable Models range stated above. Thanks.
November 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it would be similar, bit not exact. You could use it as a rough guide. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Paul Comments: I poured in new fluid through the full hole, then I looked underneath the car and it was leaking from the other side of the car somewhere?
June 17, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Possible you missed the hole or left the drain plug out? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Paul Comments: So I poured in the fluid today in the fill hole on the passager side of the car and it all leaked out from the other side of the car..? How is that even possible? lol
June 10, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Did you leave the drain out, or you missed the fill hole? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Paul Comments: How the heck do you fit that dang tube into there? I've been trying to do it for 2 hours now and even got a thinner tube no luck...
May 9, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it won't go all the way in, just far enough to fill with fluid. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mark72 Comments: Any help for S550 4matic front differential fluid change. There is only a drain hole in the bottom. Took me 16 hours to plan and prepare and 30 minutes work. Filling up from the drain hole builds up pressure in differential chamber,
so you have to use a pump, and the filling rate depends on pressure relief valve performance.
April 3, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year is the vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
shadetreemechanic Comments: Couple of additional tips...
Use a syringe-type extractor with 1/4" OD tubing, it will go into the diff no problem. Drop the shroud/splash shield to make it easier to get your hand in to guide the tubing into the deepest part of the diff. If you have not extracted .6L then you have not got it all. Removing the shield also makes it easy to relocate and start the drain/fill plug. Just my $.02
March 2, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
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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Page last updated: Fri 12/15/2017 02:30:47 AM