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Escalade Front Differential Fluid Change

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Alrighty... I just replaced the fluid in my front diff.... and took a few pictures.

If anyone would like to see how I did it, read on.

(moderators, if this is in the wrong section, I humbly apologize)

Again, vehicle is a 2004 Escalade AWD, with 44,000 miles on it.

Before we start, let's note that I drove the front of the Escalade onto a set of ramps, and then jacked up the rear by the trailer hitch, and placed 2 jack stands under the rear area, to put the truck up in the air and level. I'm not that small, and I was able to crawl around under there with no problems.

If you're gonna do the transfer case and the rear diff, it helps to have the truck up in the air. For just the front diff, it's doable on level ground.

Let's start with the front differential:


This is the drivers side of your front diff. Camera is being held near the drivers side front tire, shooting towards the passenger front tire.. looking across the front axle area, if you will.

You see two bolts there. The top one is bigger, it's a 15mm bolt. That is your FILL plug. The bottom one, the smaller one, is your DRAIN plug.


Always remove the FILL plug first, as shown here. (Don't drain it and find out the fill is stuck... that's no good.)


Fill plug is out, came out no problem. Now we remove the drain plug with a 13mm wrench. You're going to have your pan ready underneath this, because when this comes out, fluid will be draining.... the fluid will be shooting towards you a little, so factor that in your pan placement...


Fluid is draining... nice. So far, so good.


That drain plug is a magnetic plug, and hopefully you can see, there is a lot of material stuck on there....


Drain plug wiped off... lotsa stuff there. Hopefully, I did this in time. Honestly, if I had an Escalade with 25k or more miles, I would go downstairs and change that front diff fluid RIGHT NOW. Now. You're still sitting there.... get moving! Joking. Okay, moving along.... let's assume the draining is complete. Replace your drain plug, the 13mm magnetic one.


This is what we're going to use to refill the case. It's a little pumper, I have placed the correct length of hose on the pickup side, to go into a Mobil 1 75w90 bottle... I will put the long hose into the fill hole, and them pump the thing until fluid starts coming out the fill hole, indicating that the case is full to the plug hole... I've had that pump forever, I believe I initially purchased it at a marine dealer, and used it to fill up lower unit gear cases on outboard motors...


Like so. Ready to go.


Here we see I have started pumping, the fluid is flowing up the hose and into the case.

When it's full, replace the FILL bolt, the 15mm one, and you're done. you know it's full when fluid starts coming out the fill hole.

It took me around 2.5 quarts of 75w90 to fill it back up. An approximate number, there is probably some slight line loss with my long fill tube...

Post Script note: I originally did this job last year. Shortly thereafter, I was still hearing whining in the front diff.

The dealer stood behind it, and rebuilt the front diff, for free, which was pretty sweet.

Now, it is May of 09. I have put 16,000 miles on the truck since then.

I just did this service again this morning, and the magnetic plug again had a lot of material on there, lots of metal, and the fluid was toast.

My personal service interval on this front diff is 15k, from here on out. This is an easy job, and cheap, if you do it yourself. I would strongly suggest you do it.

I also used Mobil One 75w140 SUV formula fluid to replace the fluid this time. Hopefully that will help.

Good luck!

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