DIY Car rear differential oil change

in diy •  6 months ago 

Hi fellow Steemians / DIY enthusiasts,

Back today with another edition of a DIY post. Now that a bunch of the floor remodeling is done, I had to spend some time on doing preventative maintenance on one of our cars. Even though it’s fairly new, being an all wheel drive car, it takes a few extra things to make sure it’s going to last a long time.

Today’s project was changing the gear oil on the rear differential. If you’re not into cars, that basically means there’s a little transmission in the rear and like any transmission, it needs to be lubricated and that oil needs changing every so often. For this car, Subaru recommends doing it every 20,000 miles. Getting it done at the car dealership would’ve cost 200$, or at the drive up oil change place 110$. How much did the oil cost me? 10$ on sale! If you’ve got the tools, you save so much money doing it yourself!

Tools needed:

There’s a few things I needed to get this work done:


Every car enthusiast needs a good car jack. This one has been with me for almost 10 years! Got my money’s worth out of it for sure.


This was needed to take off the drain and fill plug. It was a 3 foot, 3/8 size breaker bar with a size 12 hex head on it.


Besides having a good jack, it’s equally as important to have a strong pair of jack stands. These prevent the car from falling on you! (Under most circumstances) These only cost about 30$ so its worth it.


I needed this tubing to attach to the bottle of the oil so I could easily get it in the fill without spilling or making a mess.


The oil pan was important to have since it catches the oil as it drains from the car. I don’t want to be rude to the neighbors or the environment so please keep a clean workspace!


This rust penetrating fluid is absolutely essential for car repairs. I didn’t think the plugs would be as difficult to come undone as they were. Few sprays of this while you’re doing something else and you should be good to go for most things.

I also had a few screw drivers and some odds and ends that just make things easier like work gloves.

Getting the work done

First thing you do before and work where you lift the car is secure it wherever possible.


If you put things in front of the tires that don’t move easily as this rubber screwdriver would, it’s a bit of a workaround to having a big rubber tire chuck. I left mine with a friend so I had to make sure with what I had. I put a big pair of pliers on the other tire and it worked well.


One important thing is to jack the car at the right spots. It’s easy to do it at the wrong spot and do damage to one part of your car or another so taking a few extra minutes to put the jack in the right location is going to pay off in the end. For this particular job, I needed to jack up at the joint that wouldn’t move much since I needed a decent amount of height to get leverage to get the bolts out. Once it was jacked up, it’s also critical to put the jack stands in place before you even think of getting underneath the car. If you live in a country that doesn’t have easy access to a store selling jack stands for a cheaper price, you can use a solid block of wood such as a tree log cut near the base (one of my friends dads does that @johntrash) or a cinder block of concrete. During the whole raising the car process, I sprayed the rust penetrating fluid before I started. This gave it plenty of time to soak into the bolt to loosen it.


Once the car is up in the air and secured well, I was able to get enough leverage to bust open the deal on the bolts. One of the most important things to remember in the scenario of a transmission drain and fill is to open the fill plug first before you do anything. If you drain the oil but can’t get the fill plug open you are going to screw yourself and cause lots of damage to your car if you can’t fill it back up with oil. I got the fill plug off, then I removed the drain plug to get it going. With two plugs open, it also gives air free access to flow so it doesn’t shoot out and jump around with an entry for the air and an exit for the oil available.


While I was waiting for the oil to drain, I grabbed the drain plug to look at it. I heard it was magnetic which most are. They are magnetic because during normal wear and tear of the differential, there’s bits of the gears that shave off and the magnet pulls those shavings out so it doesn’t ruin the gears floating around in the oil. As you can see, there’s little bits of shavings but is much more apparent in the next images.


As you can see around the perimeter of the ring, there’s lots of metal shavings from the gears. It’s best to clean it off, and even better to change the bolt every couple oil changes. This ensures that it keeps its magnetic properties and keeps those metal shavings away from the gears.


Once cleaned, it looks great. Nice and clean around the ring of the magnet so it can keep catching shavings as we drive the car.


Now that the oil is drained and the plug is cleaned and put back into place, I need to change my focus to getting things set up to put the new oil into the differential. I used the tubing and put it on the top of the gear oil bottle. I cut the top of the bottle but not too much so that there’s a good seal from the tubing onto the tip.


One thing I forgot was to take the seal off the bottle after I cut it. Happens to the best of us!


Once the bottle is actually open, put the tubing into the differential and tip the bottle upside down, above the opening as much as you can. This lets gravity help you as you squeeze the bottle to get the oil into the differential.


You can see the oil flowing into it. It’s a light yellow color which is a good color for oil. Black is worn out burnt oil so you certainly want to change it at that stage! If you’re able to zoom in, this is also when you know when to stop. You put as much oil into the pan as you can until it starts to drip out of the fill plug. Once that happens, there’s enough in there!


One thing I thankfully remembered before I stopped, which is very important with a transmission, I remembered that I had the car jacked up at an angle. This means that the oil pan would hold more oil than it needed. I plugged everything back up so it wouldn’t drain excessively but once I removed the jacks and stands and got the car on level ground, I opened the fill plug back up and boom it was gushing out! This meant I overfilled it and an overfilled transmission is bad. It can ruin it or crack it eventually. When oil heats up in the scenario of a differential it expands rapidly and there’s enough room in the pan to keep it contained without breaking. Overfill it and it will push in the pan and crack it and you’ll have to replace it, costing thousands!


Now that the oil is drained, the car is back on the ground and I made sure the pan isn’t overfilled, I went over to empty the pan into a bottle for recycling at the local automotive store. I put a funnel on the top of the water bottle I had. I wasn’t entirely sure how big of a bottle I would need so I grabbed a big one.


I got the pan ready to empty.


I emptied the pan into the bottle and sealed it up right. I also cleaned the pan so that it doesn’t stink like oil when I had it in my car. It’s important to recycle the oil though instead of throwing it in the trash. The stores usually use it as a fuel oil to burn during the colder months, or send it somewhere that will recycle it into a fuel oil to sell.

I also rotated the tires in this job but didn’t take any pictures doing that since it’s pretty basic and wanted to focus this post on the importance of changing the differential oil. Lots of little things to do in order to keep your car in great shape! Following the recommended maintenance from the manufacturer is important but you don’t always have to bring your car to them to get charged through the nose. We can do lots of these things ourselves!

Have you done any DIY projects lately? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear what you did!

Check out my other DIY posts if you'd like!
DIY laminate floors under a washer and dryer
DIY bathroom floor near a toilet
DIY 2011 Nissan Sentra spark plugs ; DIY Tomago Cages ; Securely Hanging a Cabinet ;
Joint Compound on Ceiling ; Washing Machine Drain Pump ; Bubble wrap insulation on a wall ; Finish work in the bathroom ; Bubble wrap on windows ; Laminate floors in a bathroom ; Ball joints on a car

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Hi cmplxty,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

Visit or join the Curie Discord community to learn more.

Awesome thank you! I’m honored :)

Your post has been boosted with ESTM. Keep up the good work! Install Android, iOS Mobile app or Windows, Mac, Linux Surfer app!
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I do respect a man who knows his way around a car. 😘😍

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Hey sorry for the late reply!!

I think that’s one of the things my wife likes about me too lol I can fix things and do work without needing much help from others. Takes time to learn though!

No worries, iI can barely keep up! She clearly chose well. I dont have patience for men who cant fix stuff, haha. I am not UN handy myself... but watching mechanics? So cool.

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Questo post è stato condiviso e votato dal team di curatori di discovery-it.

This post was shared and voted by the curators team of discovery-it

Awesome thank you for checking it out and sharing it with your community!

Hello Hello!

You have my regards hahaha you did it very well, I do that and it would be a disaster xD

Greetings from Venezuela!

Thanks for checking it out! It’s fun and rewarding doing work like this on your own, I enjoy it so I like to share it with others.

I loved your post tutorial.
You are very considerate of your neighbors and the environment, thanks ... Things worth learning ...
The details in the way of doing things make a difference, more economical but high level.
Congrats on a Curie vote!

Thanks for checking it out! You always have to be considerate of those around you when doing work. If you’re not then they will learn the first one or two times then not let you do it again without harassing you. Then there’s the environment, every little bit helps so don’t think that one small thing won’t go a long way!

I’m very glad and honored the curie community enjoys the work I put into the posts and the post content, the support I’ve received from them is incredible!

Honestly, this is a very useful publication, and you also do it in a very detailed way to show each step. I am sure that if people learn to change the oil in their vehicle, they can save a lot of money (having the tools, of course!). A big hello @cmplxty

Thanks for checking it out! I’m glad folks are enjoying the content I’ve been trying to bring onto the platform.

good job! :D
I would love to work on my oldtimer enduro again and then ride it..
but I have fucking pain and no license anymore -_-

Wow, nice post. Just stopping by, upvoted post too. Good job. Not sure if you do the discord thing too but I'd like to invite you to the Neoxian City if interested, come by my page again like your normally do and tag me. I'll give you a link...

  ·  6 months ago (edited)

Awesome thanks for checking it out man! I’ve seen a bit about Neoxian, I delegated to the city account for a bit but had to remove it for other projects.

I joined the discord, found the link!

Oh nice, I should've already gave it to you lol. We got alot of rules but for good reason. It's a really good active discord and they we do giveaways all the time within the discord, upvotes, monsters etc....

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