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Rear Differential Fluid Replacement

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Old 11-11-2013, 10:37 PM   #1
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Rear Differential Fluid Replacement

After just over a year of ownership and about 20,500 miles, my MID gave me a service code of A16, which means tire rotation, oil change and the 6 means rear-differential fluid change (note this would only apply to AWD vehicles, obviously). 20K is pretty quick for a diff change, I thought, but I figured this was a break-in maintenance item to clear out the metal bits that are created during break-in. All-in-all, this will be either a very easy thing or a PITA, which will depend on what device you have to pump the oil into the diff....

This procedure is essentially the same as it is for most (all?) rear differentials I've seen. There is a drain plug at the bottom of the differential and a filler plug about half way up case. You just drain out the old and fill it up until the fluid starts to leak out the filler hole. Simple, right?

1) Get your stuff:
* 3/8" socket wrench (no sockets, though)
* Two quarts of Acura All-Wheel Drive Fluid (DPSF), which ran about $9/qt at my dealer -- the manual gives the oil change capacity as 1.3 qt.
* New crush washers for both the filler and drain plugs (they are different sizes).
* Oil drain pan
* Torque wrench... theoretically. I couldn't fit mine in there, so didn't use it.
* Fluid transfer pump or some means of pumping the oil from the bottle to the diff case -- you won't be able to pour it.
* Jack


Foreward: I found it easier to access the drain from the rear of the car, and the filler from the drivers side. Theoretically, the oil will flow better if the car is warm. That said, you'll be crawling around right by the hot exhaust, so I figured discretion is the better part of valor and let it cool down. The fluid is thin like water, so it seemed to flow fine anyway.

1) Put your oil pan under the differential case. The diff case, if you don't know is between the rear axles. You'll see the transfer shaft coming from the front axle.

2) IMPORTANT! First thing you need to do is make sure you can get the filler plug out. You will be very unhappy if you drain the oil out and then discover you can't get more oil back in. The filler plug is on the driver side of the differential, ahead of the axle, with a little lip/shelf beneath the plug and the case is conveniently marked "DPSF". The filler plug has a square 3/8" hole you can remove by using your 3/8" ratchet shaft. It shouldn't take too much effort once you break the seal of the crush washer. When I first opened this plug when hot, fluid started to drain, so have the pan ready.


3) IMPORTANT! Make sure you have a means to get the fluid into the filler hole. I could find no way to pour the DPSF fluid into the diff -- you'll either need a funnel with a loooooong tube or a transfer pump. I could not find my bloody pump and had to pitstop at WalMart where I picked up a $3.50 siphon pump. I don't recommend using this, as it is insanely slow and incredibly messy.

4) Make sure your pan is positioned correctly and remove the drain plug. It's located on the passenger side at the bottom rear of the diff. This is also a square-hole plug where you simply use your 3/8" ratchet's bare shaft. You'll see the diff case is pretty flat, so I jacked up the driver-front of the car and sure enough, a bunch more fluid came out. Lower the car when the flow stops. For me, the fluid looked brand-freakin-new after 20,000 miles. BUT the key thing is to look at the magnetic drain plug -- it was covered with metal bits. THAT is why you're changing the fluid now... break-in.

5) Once the fluid is all out, clean the magnetic drain plug thoroughly before installing. Use your new crush washer and tighten up the plug to 35 ft-lbs (note - I couldn't get a torque wrench on there so I tightened just until the crush washer deformed. No need to over-tighten.)

6) Catch pan still in place, move back over to the filler hole and pump in enough DPSF fluid until it starts to overflow out the filler hole. In my case, using a siphon pump, I held the bottle as high as possible near the passenger rear door handle and waited... and waited... and waited... Once the fluid starts to overflow and you're satisfied it's nice and full (1.3 qts), install the filler plug with the new crush washer and torque to 35 ft-lbs (again, my torque wrench did not fit).

6) Wipe things up nice and tidy so you can see if any leaks develop later on.

7) Drink a beer.

This should be a pretty easy/straight-forward maintenance task if you've got a pump that works OK. Pretty similar to an oil change. The key thing is to make sure you can get the new fluid in before you take the old fluid out.

Have no fear!

Ted
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:59 PM   #2
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Here's why you change the diff fluid at 20,000 miles -- check out the metal bits on the magnetic drain plug:

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Old 11-12-2013, 06:24 AM   #3
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I have the old style pump that looks like a grease gun. Would this type of pump that attaches to the bottle make it easier to get the fluid in the differential? It's made to fit quart size bottles.

http://www.autoparts2020.com/rsdev/p...T_HDR_ID=84231
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Old 11-12-2013, 11:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by rosen39 View Post
I have the old style pump that looks like a grease gun. Would this type of pump that attaches to the bottle make it easier to get the fluid in the differential? It's made to fit quart size bottles.

http://www.autoparts2020.com/rsdev/p...T_HDR_ID=84231
Yup, that's what you want; should make the job go muuuch easier.
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:20 PM   #5
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Crush Washers

What are the crush washer sizes used? I have an assortment from my 04 MDX.
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:31 PM   #6
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On the Acura parts web site looks like a 20mm washer or an 18mm washer depending on which bolt you pull. Look at parts #37 and #48.

http://www.acurapartsnow.com/auto-pa...ial-mount-scat

Last edited by rosen39; 07-14-2015 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:51 PM   #7
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How did you get get hte 3/8" ratchet into the fill plug bolt? Mine won't fit since there isn't enough room for the ratchet head between the bolt and that black piece of the suspension in your picture.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:26 PM   #8
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If the fill plug is on the side, I'd try a 3/8" breaker bar to see if that eliminates your clearance problem.
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosen39 View Post
If the fill plug is on the side, I'd try a 3/8" breaker bar to see if that eliminates your clearance problem.
Ok, I'll give it a shot. My only 3/8" ratchet is what's too big. I managed to slip my 3/8" torque wrench in there that's a flatter head. I only seem to have a 1/2" breaker bar so I'll likely have to pick up a 3/8" breaker and pick up a ratchet with a slimmer head.
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Old 03-08-2016, 11:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosen39 View Post
On the Acura parts web site looks like a 20mm washer or an 18mm washer depending on which bolt you pull. Look at parts #37 and #48.

http://www.acurapartsnow.com/auto-pa...ial-mount-scat
do you have part# for these washers?
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rosen39 View Post
On the Acura parts web site looks like a 20mm washer or an 18mm washer depending on which bolt you pull. Look at parts #37 and #48.

http://www.acurapartsnow.com/auto-pa...ial-mount-scat
Quote:
Originally Posted by inmydream316 View Post
do you have part# for these washers?
I haven't started this project yet but I ordered

94109-20000 - Acura WASHER, DRAIN PLUG (20MM)
90471-PX4-000 - Acura WASHER, DRAIN PLUG (18MM)

based on Rosen's advice... however I think I saw a diagram that said it might be 2x 20MM on my 2015 RDX AWD. So I guess I won't know until I get them off. Also a good reference for part numbers and torque numbers I got from this post on this forum....

Quote:
Originally Posted by carguy07 View Post
Yep, I would be happy to find the 18mm & 20mm washers in bulk.

18mm ATF Drain Plug Washer 90471-PX4-000 (36 ft/lbs)
24mm ATF Fill Washer 90441-PK4-000 (33 ft/lbs)

18mm VTM-4 Drain Plug Washer 90471-PX4-000 (35 ft/lbs)
20mm VTM-4 Fill Washer 94109-20000 (35 ft/lbs)

20mm Transfer Case Drain/Fill Washer 94109-20000 (33 ft/lbs)

Oil Drain Plug Washer 14mm 94109-14000
I already know I have to use DPSF instead of the VTM-4 so carefully review if this information applies to your vehicle. If in doubt consult the owners manual like I did. My manual said DPSF... and DPSF was cast on the side of the differential so I have no doubt I need to put DPSF in there.
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:59 AM   #12
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thanks for parts#
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Old 03-12-2016, 06:44 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by rosen39 View Post
If the fill plug is on the side, I'd try a 3/8" breaker bar to see if that eliminates your clearance problem.
Small update. I did rear differential fluid change and tried to complete the B16 service. The rear differential bolts came off easily with the breaker bar. Like posts on here told me I filled it up to the top. Hand tightened the bolt to roll the car forward and back a few times. After that I got a few more pumps in and tightened the bolt down to 35ft/lbs.

Strangely enough I could not get the oil drain plug off to change the oil. I pulled on a box wrench.. hit the wrench with a hammer and I even put a breaker bar on a 17mm socket. It didn't move one bit. The bolt started to round off so I stopped. So far the car has 15k miles and I've done all the oil changes at the dealer but there is no way in hell they torqued that oil drain plug to 29ft/lbs. I'm guessing they put it on as tight as possible with an impact or something. Now that the bolt started rounding I wonder if they will charge me a small fortune to take it off.

I have a pair of vice grips with a rounded jaw. I'm debating on locking that to the drain plug and hammering it but I don't want to round it even worse.
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Old 03-12-2016, 11:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireloard View Post

Strangely enough I could not get the oil drain plug off to change the oil. I pulled on a box wrench.. hit the wrench with a hammer and I even put a breaker bar on a 17mm socket. It didn't move one bit. The bolt started to round off so I stopped. So far the car has 15k miles and I've done all the oil changes at the dealer but there is no way in hell they torqued that oil drain plug to 29ft/lbs. I'm guessing they put it on as tight as possible with an impact or something. Now that the bolt started rounding I wonder if they will charge me a small fortune to take it off.
Trying taking it off after the car has been driven for a while, heat might help loosening it up. If the dealership did the oil change the last time, go there and complain about it, they can strip the sh1t out the bolt, take it off, and put a new one there, and if the oil pan thread is gone, they can put a new oil pan there (at no cost, since they messed up).
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Old 03-13-2016, 12:18 AM   #15
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Trying taking it off after the car has been driven for a while, heat might help loosening it up. If the dealership did the oil change the last time, go there and complain about it, they can strip the sh1t out the bolt, take it off, and put a new one there, and if the oil pan thread is gone, they can put a new oil pan there (at no cost, since they messed up).
Really? I thought it being hot would make it harder to get out.
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Old 03-13-2016, 12:32 PM   #16
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I just changed my Diff. fluid and i didnt even lift the vehicle. it's very tight space but it's relatively easy except pumping the bottle into filler hole. stupid dealer gave me wrong washer for drain bolt and had to re-use it.
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Old 03-14-2016, 06:58 PM   #17
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I just changed my Diff. fluid and i didnt even lift the vehicle. it's very tight space but it's relatively easy except pumping the bottle into filler hole. stupid dealer gave me wrong washer for drain bolt and had to re-use it.
Can i ask you how you did it? I am considering the same but the clearance is small. I was thinking of cutting some wooden blocks and driving the car up on those. But given you got under there maybe you could give us a lessons learned?
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:51 AM   #18
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Can i ask you how you did it? I am considering the same but the clearance is small. I was thinking of cutting some wooden blocks and driving the car up on those. But given you got under there maybe you could give us a lessons learned?
I just did it as well but I'm a small guy. So the clearance wasn't a problem. Although even with my size the space was a tight fit. I actually wouldn't recommend putting the back up on some blocks because the rear end would be higher now and you might have problems draining the fluid. If you refer to the OP he even said he jacked up the front end to get a little more fluid out after he drained it.

You could put the rear end on jack stands to help you get under it. Then take it off the jack stands when you get the bolts free. Then jack up the front end to help it drain. Just don't roll the car forward or back with no fluid in the diff if you go with your block idea.

I think I don't have many lessons learned to put forth from this. Overall it was easy and I was lucky that both the drain and fill broke free (break the fill plug first) pretty easily. I would mention that I did do the thing about filling it up all the way. Then hand threading the fill bolt back in. Then backed the car up and moved forward 4 or 5 times. Then tried to pump some more fluid in it. This let me get a solid 5 or 6 more pumps into it before it overflowed. I torqued both fill and drain bolts down to 35 and triple checked the torque. Here 3 days later it hasn't leaked and been running fine.

The magnet on the drain bolt did have a lot of metal bits built up on it so I am glad I did this service and wouldn't recommend anyone skip it. The dealer quoted me $340 for the B16 service. I paid the dealer $40 for an oil change and did the rotation and differential fluid myself for about $27. So I'd say saving $273 was worth trouble of jacking the car up and down while squeezing under the car a few times.
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Old 03-15-2016, 10:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ilovedoughnuts View Post
Can i ask you how you did it? I am considering the same but the clearance is small. I was thinking of cutting some wooden blocks and driving the car up on those. But given you got under there maybe you could give us a lessons learned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireloard View Post
I just did it as well but I'm a small guy. So the clearance wasn't a problem. Although even with my size the space was a tight fit. I actually wouldn't recommend putting the back up on some blocks because the rear end would be higher now and you might have problems draining the fluid. If you refer to the OP he even said he jacked up the front end to get a little more fluid out after he drained it.

You could put the rear end on jack stands to help you get under it. Then take it off the jack stands when you get the bolts free. Then jack up the front end to help it drain. Just don't roll the car forward or back with no fluid in the diff if you go with your block idea.

I think I don't have many lessons learned to put forth from this. Overall it was easy and I was lucky that both the drain and fill broke free (break the fill plug first) pretty easily. I would mention that I did do the thing about filling it up all the way. Then hand threading the fill bolt back in. Then backed the car up and moved forward 4 or 5 times. Then tried to pump some more fluid in it. This let me get a solid 5 or 6 more pumps into it before it overflowed. I torqued both fill and drain bolts down to 35 and triple checked the torque. Here 3 days later it hasn't leaked and been running fine.

The magnet on the drain bolt did have a lot of metal bits built up on it so I am glad I did this service and wouldn't recommend anyone skip it. The dealer quoted me $340 for the B16 service. I paid the dealer $40 for an oil change and did the rotation and differential fluid myself for about $27. So I'd say saving $273 was worth trouble of jacking the car up and down while squeezing under the car a few times.
just like fireload said if you can crawl under there, you can do it very easy. I didnt jack up anything. my drive is little inclinded so i drained then fill up around 1.33 quarts as manual said. i didnt pump until it overflow from filler bolt because i put around 1.4 quarts 0.07 quarts shouldnt give me problem. I didnt move forward and back as fireload did but it could be better. not necessary but it will be better if you do it.
get correct washer from dealer since dealer gave me bigger washer for drain bolt and i had to reuse it.
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Old 01-14-2017, 07:06 PM   #20
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Just changed the TC and RD fluids, TC was easy, RD was more tricky, I thought it would need two 20mm washers, but the drain bolt needed 18mm, I still managed to do it since I had already bought 18mm washers for the trans which I plan on doing soon. I had a 3/8 breaker bar and that's good I had that because the space to get the wrench in the refill plug is small and a conventional 3/8 ratchet didn't fit.
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