What is Transfer Case Service?

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Most drivers know they need routine maintenance like oil changes, tire alignments, and transmission service, but if you have a 4WD or AWD vehicle, there may be a type of maintenance you’ve never heard of: transfer case service.

What is the Transfer Case?

On four-wheel drive (4WD) and some all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles, power needs to be transferred to both the front and rear axles. The transfer case is what helps make that happen. The transfer case is a special gearbox that manages the power distribution and balances the torque across the four wheels. There are many different drivetrain configurations; trucks and larger SUVs are usually primarily rear-wheel-drive. When the driver (or the vehicle’s computer) selects 4WD, the transfer case also sends power to the front axle. The transfer case may also contain an additional gear set for off-roading.

Like the engine, the transfer case contains many moving parts that need to stay lubricated. The transfer case fluid reduces wear and tear and helps to reduce heat and friction inside the transfer case. Over time, the fluid can start to break down and become contaminated by dirt, metal shavings, and other types of debris. Once this happens, the fluid should be replaced. If you wait too long to replace the fluid, it can affect your performance and may even damage the transfer case gears.

What’s involved in a Transfer Case Fluid Exchange?

During a transfer case server, we’ll do an inspection of your transfer case and a complete fluid exchange. Manufacturers’ recommendations vary, but it’s typically a good idea to have your transfer case service every 30,000 miles. If you frequently tow with your vehicle or go off-road, you may need to have the fluid changed more frequently.

Are There Any Signs My Transfer Case Needs Servicing?

There are two main signs your transfer case needs servicing. The first sign is dirty fluid. If you feel comfortable, check the transfer case fluid every few months and keep an eye on the color and quality. Most transfer cases use automatic transmission fluid, which is usually red; if it looks dark red, brown, or black, or seems gritty, it’s time to have it changed.

The second sign is shifting. If your shifting becomes rough or you hear grinding noises, the dirty fluid could be causing your gears to seize. If you wait too long to have the transfer case serviced, it could make it impossible to shift—and it could completely damage the gearbox.

Keep Your 4WD or AWD in Excellent Shape at EuroCar Service

Knowing the service schedule for your transfer case will help keep your vehicle running well and avoid premature wear and repairs. If you’re not sure whether your transfer case is due for fluid exchange, check with your service advisor.

Whether you have a 4WD or AWD (or a 2WD!), you can rely on EuroCar Service to keep your vehicle performing its best. As a full-service auto repair shop, we offer every service you need to keep your vehicle on the road—or off! We see all European makes, including Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mini-Cooper, Smart Car, Fiat, Saab, Mercedes, Volvo, and Volkswagen. Call us today at 206-527-8828 or request an appointment online.