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Old 04-08-2018, 01:05 PM
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Concerned about under-filling rear differential

This is the first vehicle i've owned where i've been inclined to do my own maintenance. Yesterday, after watching a bunch of YouTube videos and searching this forum, i tackled changing my differential fluid. The vehicle was purchase by me last May with 60k on the clock...now it has 70k.

I decided to perform the rear diff change (dana 44) without removing the diff cover. Out came the old fluid, which, by the way, was black, and in went the new fluid. However, I only got a little under 2 quarts of fluid in, which concerned me. After a bunch of forum searching, I realized that my lift (4") might have angled the axle such that the fill port was 'lower' than it should be. I took a look at the rear diff, and it is, in fact, angled at about 3-4 degrees.

Another variable is that i measured as best i could the amount of diff fluid that i drained from the diff...it was the same as i filled: a little under 2 quarts.

So my questions are: 1-is that angle of the differential (3-4 degrees) sufficient to cause a 'significant' underfill of the differential? And if so, is the solution to just fill until the fluid reaches the fill port, then just squeeze in a good final amount before quickly replacing the fill bolt? or back the jeep up in my sloped driveway so that the axle angle is negated?

2-when changing the fluid without removing the diff plate, does this lead to not being able to drain the entire diff? would that explain why less than 2 quarts came out, and they as a result why less than 2 quarts went in?

3-should i be concerned that the old fluid was black? i read somewhere the fluid should be golden or at least somewhat clear

4-should i just start the process all over again, but this time do the full monty and remove the diff cover, thus being able to clean the housing and ensure that all the old oil is removed and that i'm starting with a completely empty diff...and then see how much i can put in? if i did it that way, i could pretty accurately ensure that the full 2.375 (i think that's the correct fluid quantity) is filled...

thanks for the input all...i just don't want to screw up my jeep by doing this stuff wrong.

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Old 04-08-2018, 01:51 PM   #2
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You will never get all the oil out of a diff unless you tear the whole thing apart. It is a heavy oil and will will sit in all the nook and crannies inside the diff. If you want to be OCD about it either jack the rear end up or work on a slope and insure the diff is level.

Do not be concerned about the color of the oil. Though 70K miles is much to long to wait for changing it, but what is done is done and you are probably fine. But in the future change both the front and rear every 40K miles. I do mine every 25K miles.

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Old 04-08-2018, 02:18 PM   #3
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If you have a LSD [limited slip differential] the oil will be black due to clutch material in the oil. Make sure the oil you install has or you add LSD friction modifier. As for the fill level not to worry, just a tad low is better than over fill which can cause seal leaks.
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Old 04-08-2018, 02:26 PM   #4
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Out of curiosity why didnt you pull the cover? Personally I like being able to get all the fluid out and clean all the old oil out. It also gives me a chance to do a visual of the gears.
And welcome to the forum. Be sure to say hi in the new member section.
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Old 04-08-2018, 03:14 PM   #5
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Well this is weird. On my iPhone I’m logged on with my correct ‘profile’ (this one), but on my laptop I’m logged into I guess an old login ID. regardless, thanks for the replies.

I didn’t pull the cover because I read that you need to wait 24 hours before filling the diffs to let the gasket set, and I gotta drive tomorrow. Now that I have a little more confidence with the process, I think I may just chalk the time and $$ I spent this time as a learning walkthrough, and pull the covers next weekend.
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Old 04-08-2018, 05:32 PM   #6
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I use lube locker gaskets.No need for silicone, and you don't need to wait 24hrs for silicone to dry
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Old 04-08-2018, 08:59 PM   #7
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I use lube locker gaskets.No need for silicone, and you don't need to wait 24hrs for silicone to dry
A big yes to the use of Lube Locker gaskets.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:14 PM   #8
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Lube lockers, easy off and easy on.
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:46 AM   #9
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There is a drain plug for a reason, to make it easy to change the fluid.

The owners manual calls for inspection of the fluid every 30,000 miles, which consists of removing the fill plug and sticking you finger in to make sure it is still to the bottom of the fill hole.

If the Jeep is involved in heavy or severe service (Police, taxi, heavy towing), then change the fluid every 40,000 miles. The manual does not address routine service such as daily driver, weekend driver, etc. They also don't list the capacity of the differentials.

It doesn't take long for the fluid to get black. It will get black before the motor oil does after a change and we know how fast that gets black.

You should be good as long as the fluid you drained does not fee gritty or have metal pieces in it.

One thing you can do to aid the drainage is drive it a bit before you drain the axles to get the fluid warmed up a bit. It is extremely thick even in warm temperatures. It will be interesting to see if you get much more fluid out by pulling the diff covers, but I wouldn't do it next weekend, I would put several thousand miles on them to get the new mixed in with the old.
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Old 04-09-2018, 06:47 AM   #10
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There is a drain plug for a reason, to make it easy to change the fluid.

The owners manual calls for inspection of the fluid every 30,000 miles, which consists of removing the fill plug and sticking you finger in to make sure it is still to the bottom of the fill hole.

If the Jeep is involved in heavy or severe service (Police, taxi, heavy towing), then change the fluid every 40,000 miles. The manual does not address routine service such as daily driver, weekend driver, etc. They also don't list the capacity of the differentials.

It doesn't take long for the fluid to get black. It will get black before the motor oil does after a change and we know how fast that gets black.

You should be good as long as the fluid you drained does not fee gritty or have metal pieces in it.

And a Hearty WELCOME to Wrangler Forum after 14 years!

One thing you can do to aid the drainage is drive it a bit before you drain the axles to get the fluid warmed up a bit. It is extremely thick even in warm temperatures. It will be interesting to see if you get much more fluid out by pulling the diff covers, but I wouldn't do it next weekend, I would put several thousand miles on them to get the new mixed in with the old.
Could not have said it better. The only real reason for removing the cover would be for a visual inspection of components IF/WHEN you think you have a problem from other sources of input like noise, leaks, etc.

I am not sure if the drain plug has a magnet on it for inspection on the newer models but, likely it does. Older models had a magnet (in the bottom) for wear material to come to rest and not wash around in the components (prevents excessive wear).

So unless you suspect a problem I say, "leave well enough alone". A daily driver (DD) isn't going to see abuse like a vehicle that is off road often.

Oh, and leaks. Look around the diff cover, pinion seal and tube ends. You'll see it if you have one. Overfilling the diff can create problems to so just make sure you're on level ground when ya fill it.

Happy wheelin! And a hearty welcome to Wrangler Forum after 14 years!
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