This procedure applies to both front (4-wheel drive models) and rear drive axle assemblies.
See Figures 1 and 2
Only 4-wheel drive models are equipped with front drive axle assemblies.
The manufacturer recommends that differential case assemblies covered by this guide may use SAE 4W-80, 4W-90 or 80W-90 hypoid gear (depending on the temperature range until the next oil change) oil for 1986-94 models, or 4W-85, 80W-90 or 90 hypoid gear oil for 1995-98 models. All gear oils must meet or exceed API grade GL-5 for lubrication. DO NOT use any other fluids for lubrication. Use of improper fluids could lead to leaks or differential assembly damage.
See Figures 3 through 7
The fluid level in the front and rear axles should be checked at each oil change. Like the manual transmission, the axles do not have a dipstick to check fluid level. Instead, a filler plug is located in the side of the housing, at a level just barely above the level to which fluid should fill the housing. To check the fluid level:
- Make sure the transmission is in P (A/T) or in gear on a manual, then FIRMLY set the parking brake and block the drive wheels.
- Check under the vehicle is see if there is sufficient clearance for you to access the filler plug on the side of the differential housing. If not you will have to raise and support the vehicle using jackstands at four points to make sure it is completely level. Failure to support the vehicle level will prevent from properly checking or filling the rear axle fluid.
- Thoroughly clean the area surrounding the fill plug. This will prevent any dirt from entering the housing and contaminating the gear oil.
- Remove the fill plug and make sure that the gear oil is up to the bottom of the fill hole. If a slight amount of lubricant does not drip out of the hole when the plug is removed, additional lubricant should be added. Use the appropriate viscosity hypoid gear lubricant, depending on the temperature range expected until the next fluid change.
- Once you are finished, install the fill plug, then (if raised) remove the jackstands and lower the vehicle.
DRAIN & REFILL
See Figures 8 through 11
Under normal conditions, the manufacturer indicates that the drive axle assembly fluid should be changed at the 7,500 mile (12,000 km) or 7.5 month mark, and every 22,500 miles (36,000 km) or 22.5 months after the initial fluid change. However, if the vehicle is driven under severe conditions (such as towing a trailer; repeated short trips; driving on rough, dusty, salted and/or muddy roads; or driving in extremely cold weather), it is recommended to replace the fluid every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) or 15 months after the initial fluid change at the 7,500 mile (12,000 km) or 7.5 month mark. Little harm can come from a fluid change when you have just purchased a used vehicle, especially since the condition of the drive axle assembly fluid is usually not known.
If the fluid is to be drained, it is a good idea to warm the fluid first so it will flow better. This can be accomplished by 15-20 miles of highway driving. Fluid which is warmed to normal operating temperature will flow faster, drain more completely and remove more contaminants from the housing.
- Drive the vehicle to assure the fluid is at normal operating temperature.
- If additional under-vehicle clearance is needed, raise and support the vehicle securely on jackstands. Remember that the vehicle must be supported level (at four points) so the proper amount of fluid can be added.
The Sidekick, Sidekick Sport, Tracker and X-90 drive axle assembly plugs are usually square receiver (pipe) plugs, which are designed to accept a3/8in. driver such as a ratchet or extension.
- Crawl under the vehicle with a large drain pan, containers of new hypoid gear oil, some clean shop rags and the applicable tools (the Sidekick, Sidekick Sport, Tracker and X-90 drive axle assemblies use 3 / 8 in. female pipe plugs, and the Samurai drive axle assembly uses large hex-head plugs).
- Position the drain pan under the drive axle assembly housing, below the drain plug. Remember that with drain plugs which are mounted on the side of the drive axle, the fluid will likely flow with some force at first (arcing outward from the drive axle), and will not just drip straight downward into the pan. If the drive axle(s) in your vehicle is equipped with a side-mounted drain plug, position the drain pan accordingly and move it more directly beneath the drain plug as the flow slows to a trickle.
To ensure that the fill plug is not frozen or rusted in place, remove it from the drive axle BEFORE removing the drain plug. It would be unfortunate to drain all of your gear oil and then realize that the fill plug is stripped or frozen in place.
- Remove the fill plug, then the drain plug and allow the gear oil to drain out.
- Once the fluid stops draining from the drive axle, install and tighten the drain plug to the following applicable specification:
Front Drive Axles
Rear Drive Axles
- Fill the drive axle until the fluid level is at the bottom edge of the fill hole with the appropriate hypoid gear oil.
- Reinstall the fill plug once you are finished. Tighten the fill plug to the following applicable specification:
Front Drive Axles
Rear Drive Axles
- If necessary, remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.