2015-2017 F150: Front Differential Fluid Change
Time: 15-30 min
Cost: $30-70 (fluid preference)
High temperatures and heavy loads break down the protective properties of gear oil over time. Gear wear and mositure from venting to atmosphere further contaminate the fluid which can lead to leaks and premature part failure.
Replacing the front differential fluid every 30-60,000 miles is good maintenance. Frequent 4x4 operation, start/stop driving, towing, high temperatures, or exposure to heavy dust or water might merrit the earlier end of the range, while straight-and-level commuting would allow for a stretched-out interval.
If the vehilce isn't accumulating many miles, every 3-5 years is a good interval.
While some front differentials have a drain plug, most do not. In order to drain the fluid, the cover has to be loosened, removed, or extracted by vacuum. Front differntials are often in tight spaces which don't allow for easy removal of the cover. If you loosen the bolts to drain it, it may be difficult to reseal causing a leak after the service. Due to the limited access, extraction is often the best option on front differentials.
If the fluid capacity is not known, general practice is to fill the differential with the recommended gear oil to just below the fill hole (approx 1/2"). This allows for fluid expansion when hot without overpressuring the seals or causing the oil to foam and cavitate.
The video below shows the service method on a 2016 Ford F150 pickup.
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