Here is a write up on changing your own Rear Differential oil, with a few pictures. It is aimed at someone with very basic wrenching skills (but perhaps not a complete novice), so you veterans, please proof read for accuracy.
As always... some safety points first when working under a vehicle:
- ALWAYS make sure vehicle is either level, or if on ramps, will not roll towards you if something fails with brakes or wheel chocks
- engage E-brake
- chock at least 2 wheels to prevent rolling
- rubber gloves are nice
Regarding the question: "Do you need to do this on a lift?" - no, just like last weeks oil change, I did this in the garage (in Winter). No blocks this time.
here is the supply list:
- 10mm Hex-bit socket to remove Drain & Fill plugs
- Extensions (I needed 2)
- Torque wrench
- Steel pick or wire brush to clean the mud out of the plugs prior to loosening
- May need a snipe or breaker bar to get the plugs loose (depending on how long since this was last done)
- Ramps (optional)
- Oil Pan
- Hand oil pump
- small plastic container to catch drips when filling
- Paper towels or rags
- Rubber gloves
- Wheel chocks
You will need about 0.9 litres of 75W90 Gear oil (brand of your choice - I used Amsoil Severe Gear full synthetic). I got 2 jugs.. just in case.
- and 2 plug washers - Toyota part # 12157-10010
Here we go (you can see my oil pump in the plastic bag):
First things first: Here is the Drain plug (do not
And here is the fill plug circled in purple (always
loosen the fill plug first! - If you can't get it loose, but just drained out all the oil.. you're screwed)
Note this is on the passenger side of the differential, kind of tucked up back of the passenger axle side of the diff.
Did I mention it was still winter here?
Here is my other 'Yota:
Here's another view from a bit farther back, and with flash turned on. As you can see, the axle has 4 wide points on the mounting flange. These can get in the way, making it impossible to get your socket + extension in place. If you find the geometry of the axle wrong, try backing up your Highlander ever so slightly, to hopefully get more clearance:
So, using our ratchet, extension (to clear the axle flange) & 10 mm hex head, we can break the fill plug loose. Just loosen it for now, no need to take it out just yet. You NEED to be sure you can get the fill plug loose BEFORE you drain the differential.
Now we can remove the fill plug. In both cases, they will probably be pretty tight, and need some 'juice' to break 'em loose:
Making sure you have your bucket in place, remove plug completely, and also remove fill plug to let air into diff & speed up the draining.
The drain plug has a big black magnet on it, which is designed to trap ferrous metallic fragments suspended in the oil. It is worth examining your plug to see how much of this material is on it. i.e. this is a reflection on what is going on in your gear-box. mine was pretty good - only a few iron filings on it:
After thoroughly cleaning up the drain plug, replace the crush washer. Be sure you accounted for the old one (it's not stuck to the drain hole or the plug, right?...). Hand tighten in place. It should *easily* turn in. If not, back up & try again to avoid cross-threading.
This is where we use a torque wrench to tighten to 36 ft-lb specification:
This is what it looks like once fully tightened. Crush washer is now flattened:
Now this part pretty much sucks - no way around it. Assemble your hand oil pump & place in 1 litre oil bottle:
Place other end of hose into fill hole:
..and then pump until oil begins to flow out of the fill hole like this (takes about 900 ml or 1 quart or 2 pints, whatever the hell those are):
Then torque down your fill plug & wipe up the mess. I needed to try various extensions to be able to reach a big torque wrench under the car & actually be able to ratchet it:
Clean up all plugs, account for all tools, wipe up oil pump & stow back in plastic bag. Remove wheel chocks. Take car out for a spin, do a few figure eights to ensure oil gets fully into differential. Some people will at this point remove fill plug & check level - I don't personally, as long as I know 900 ml went in. That's an advantage of buying an oil that has a graduated container.
Once again, enjoy bevvie of choice, knowing you saved *significant* $$.
My cost was under $20.00 for premium synthetic gear oil + OEM washers. The Dealership charges $89.00. You do the maths.