Toyota Tundra 2000-Present: How to Change Front and Rear Differential Fluid

Changing your differential fluid regularly, especially for trucks driven off-road, is a great way to keep your truck alive!

By AJ Mawley - January 28, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota Tundra (2000-present).

Your differentials are in charge of transferring power produced by the engine to the axles. This process creates a lot of heat and is very stressful on parts at times. Your differential fluid is constantly dealing with temperature changes and high friction. Over time, this fluid starts to wear out and degrades. If your differential is not properly lubricated, there can be permanent damage to your differential which will result in a very costly repair. Instead, maintain your differential fluid regularly by following the steps below!

Toyota How to change differential fluid infographic

Materials Needed

  • 24mm socket, ratchet, extension and breaker bar
  • 10mm hex head socket
  • Rags and drain pan
  • Torque wrench
  • 4 qts gear oil for rear
  • 3 qts gear oil for front

Step 1 – Drain front differential fluid

Before draining your differential fluid, take a five minute drive to reduce the viscosity of the fluid to make it drain more completely. This will also heat up the fluid slightly, so make sure you avoid contact with it. Then, make sure you can open up the fill plug with your 10mm hex head socket because you won't go anywhere if you drain your differential fluid but can't get the fill plug open. Place your drain pan underneath the differential in case a few drops come out of the fill plug. Then, slowly remove the 10mm hex bolt drain plug, letting the fluid slowly drip out instead of removing the plug quickly. Let the differential drain and the reinstall the drain plug, torquing it down to 36 ft/lbs.

    • Fill plug
      Figure 1. Fill plug.
    • Draining the differential
      Figure 2. Draining the differential.
    • Drain plug install
      Figure 3. Drain plug install.

Step 2 – Fill front differential

Now that the drain plug is installed, you can fill the differential fluid through the fill plug. For this, you need a clear plastic tube and a pump to squeeze the fluid into the differential. You will know you are done filling the differential when fluid starts to leak out of the differential fill plug hole. When this happens, quickly remove the plastic tube and install the fill plug, and torque to 36 ft/lbs.

Filling differential
Figure 4. Filling differential.

Step 3 – Drain rear differential fluid

Much like the front differential fluid, the rear differential fluid has to be drained by removing the 24mm drain plug. Also, make sure you can remove the fill plug before opening the drain plug. Apply a similar technique as the front differential fluid and this is a piece of cake. The torque spec is still 36 ft/lbs.

  • Removing fill plug
    Figure 5. Removing fill plug.
  • Removing drain plug
    Figure 6. Removing drain plug.
  • Installing drain plug
    Figure 7. Installing drain plug.

Step 4 – Fill rear differential

You are almost done! Filling the rear differential is easier because you can fill without using a plastic tube. Instead, use the nozzle on the end of your fluid container and squeeze in the fluid. That's it, you have replaced your differential fluid!

Filling differential
Figure 8. Filling differential.

Featured Videos

  • Front Differential Fluid Change

  • Rear Differential Fluid Change

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