Thoughts on Transfer Case Oil Condition

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3,044
At 60k I did the first ever transfer case drain/fill on the 04 F-150 in my sig. Never had an issue with any audible noise from the trans case and has always gone in/out 4WD no problem. When I did the 60k drain the fluid looked pretty worn and had the look of metal shavings but no metal I could see with the eye. Maybe just break in stuff. (front and rear diff's looked great IIRC). Changed it with MaxLife and 30k later just did it again. Same situation, the fluid looked like it had some metal content, no pieces or chunks and it still sounds quiet and get in/out 4WD no problems. Thoughts? I should have grabbed a sample but I'm so not use to doing that I didn't think of it. Normal? Time for a magnetic drain bolt? What could be going on in there?
 
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7,502
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North America
Sounds normal. On the Grand Cherokee I sold last year with almost 150k, the t/c fluid was changed every 30-50k, and each time was a little discolored with maybe some "sparkles" in it. Never had an issue. Sounds like you're on a good schedule. thumbsup
 
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8,859
Location
Texas
Gear oil always looks "sparkly" in most of my vehicles, unless I do a really short interval. Doesn't seem to hurt anything but it does make you wonder about all those millions of cars that NEVER get their diffy juice changed. :-/
 
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2,935
Location
wi
Did wifes 2012 Chevy 2500HD Transfer Case first time on the weekend with 20K on it thick fuzzy paste on drain plug oil dark changed out with Redline D6 will change again in the fall next year it's a cheap 10 minute job.
 
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1,058
Location
New Zealand
Originally Posted By: BISCUT
Time for a magnetic drain bolt?
I would be surprised if there was not a magnet glued to the inside of the housing. You may have seen larger pieces at 30k otherwise. Possibly what you see in the oil is non-ferrous depending on what sort of shifting hardware is in use. Did you try attracting that debris with a magnet after draining?
 

BISCUT

Thread starter
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3,044
I also often wonder about all the trucks that get 100k or more with no fluid change. I don't know enough about how transfer case works but I know enough to know my 04 box is pretty basic and any decent fluid will work fine. Maxlife fine for this one and I have plenty on hand. 30k drain on the same vehicle (and the 10 Armada trans and trans case) trans and transfer case the fluid looks new. I guess my transfer case is generating some heat!!
 
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9,783
Location
Saskatoon canada
When it comes to gear oil and transfer case fluid because of the possibility that I'll be leaving it for extended drains I'll spend the extra money for redline brand. Because their formulas tend to use real syns and few viscosity index improvers they stay in grade longer because less polymer chains to shear. And being pao/poe means gaskets should stay supple which should prevent gasket leaks and should have good cold flow properties which should help in the extreme cold weather driving by offering less resistance right from the get go. I'm cheap. I only buy jugs of oil when the rollback makes synthetic less than 25 bucks for a 5 litre jug,and I stockpile if I can. Brand doesn't matter to me much either however when it comes to diffs and transfer cases I feel it's prudent to use the best possible product because of the service interval likely being longer. Amsoil synchromesh worked wonders in my t-45 in my mustang but that's a manual. I have no experience with amsoil in an automatic however I'm confident it's a fantastic product and if I couldn't find redline amsoil would be my second choice.
 
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3,297
Location
West Michigan
Interestingly, FoMoCo seem to recommend 150,000 miles until the first service for all the following: front axle, transfer case, trans fluid. Sounds a bit long, even for a quality synthetic ...
 
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