Transfer case fluid brand [Archive] - Chevy TrailBlazer, TrailBlazer SS and GMC Envoy Forum

: Transfer case fluid brand


StealthBird
09-01-2008, 08:49 PM
Hi folks, this is my first post! :)

I have a 2003 Envoy SLT, 70,000 miles, and just a few months ago I began to notice a slight shudder when turning. On rare occasions, when accelerating from a light, we also feel a slight shudder. After long drives, we sometimes get a mild "clunk" when coming to a stop, and turning into our driveway. We always leave the mode selector in AWD mode.

I pulled the plug to check the transfer case fluid level, and it's low. What fluid should I use top it off? The owner's manual gives a GM part number, but I was wondering if anything else from an auto parts store was compatible, or if I should just get the GM stuff.

Also, on rare occasions, I notice that we sometimes have no light on the trans mode selector. However, if I turn the key to "run" for a second or two before starting the car, I always get the light (again, we always leave it in AWD mode). This is just a family truckster, we don't use it for towing.

Thanks in advance!

RayVoy
09-01-2008, 09:05 PM
Firstly, welcome to the site.

You may not be aware, driving in AWD will cost you 1 or 2 mpg. AWD engages front axle parts and the additional rolling resistance will cost mpg.

Now my :m2:, you have a 2003 with 70,000. I would not top up, you should change the fluid. And IMO, this is one place (the transmission is an other) where you should use the GM fluid.

StealthBird
09-01-2008, 09:27 PM
Ray, thanks for the reply. I can change the transaxle fluid, I just wasn't sure if there was an off the shelf brand that was preferred over the GM fluid. I was actually going to change the trans fluid too, but the little driveline shudder was starting to concern me. We've driven this Envoy from Chicago to Florida several times, and we usually get 23-24 mpg on the highway. I run in 2WD on long highway jaunts, and I've always run Mobil 1 synthetic oil and a K&N air filter since it was new.

RayVoy
09-01-2008, 10:05 PM
Ray, thanks for the reply. I can change the transaxle fluid, I just wasn't sure if there was an off the shelf brand that was preferred over the GM fluid. I was actually going to change the trans fluid too, but the little driveline shudder was starting to concern me. We've driven this Envoy from Chicago to Florida several times, and we usually get 23-24 mpg on the highway. I run in 2WD on long highway jaunts, and I've always run Mobil 1 synthetic oil and a K&N air filter since it was new.First of all, there is nothing wrong driving in AWD, the olds and buick trucks will only operate in AWD.
Do you notice the shudder in 2wd?
Our transfer case uses clutches to engage the front driveshaft. When in 2WD, the clutches are at rest, but when in AWD, the clutches are in a ready state. We have a number of reports of shuddering and complete relief when the fluid was changed. Other GM sites report the same result. So, it appears that changing the fluid will fix the shuddering.
I am sure other companies make a good fluid, I've never look for one. It's changed so infrequently, I usually go for the gm product.

LMMJ
09-01-2008, 10:37 PM
GM AutoTrak II is the only fluid that meets GM specs

WOOLUF1952
09-01-2008, 11:23 PM
:tiphat Welcome :tiphat My dealer says not to use 4Auto on dry roads. I've had the front axle bind on full lock turns when in 4Auto. But maybe a fluid change would fix that. :undecided

2001FZ1
09-02-2008, 01:02 AM
GM AutoTrak II is the only fluid that meets GM specs

Yep, GM won't release the license to copy the formula. Chevron, Amsoil, Mobil or any other manufacturer doesn't have anything. Kinda sucks too because the local dealer charges about $8 a quart....

StealthBird
09-02-2008, 02:09 AM
I'll be stopping by the dealer tomorrow. I might as well stop by the auto parts store and pick up some synthetic 75W-90 for the diff and front axle, and I'll change all the fluids. One last question though. How much fluid does the transfer case hold? Does the GM dealer sell Auto Trak II in quart or pint bottles?

You folks have been a great help! :hail:

StealthBird
09-02-2008, 02:20 PM
I found the transfer case fluid capacity in a Haynes Manual. It's 2 quarts, and yes, it's $8 a bottle (quart) from GM.

pjaneiro
09-24-2008, 07:25 PM
take pics if you change it, i'm still debating if it should be changed or not...

but i don't see any fill holes or draing holes, on either the trasnfert case or the front diff

2001FZ1
09-24-2008, 10:51 PM
take pics if you change it, i'm still debating if it should be changed or not...

but i don't see any fill holes or draing holes, on either the trasnfert case or the front diff

Look again, they are there. Do some searching on the site, I have seen a picture of them.

StealthBird
10-05-2008, 02:30 PM
Sorry, I did not get back to this thread for an update. I drained the transfer case fluid, filled it with the GM fluid. It took exactly 2 quarts. All the shuddering and clunking immediately disappeared.

I didn't take photos of my transfer case fluid change (unfortunately), but the transfer case drain plug is on the back side of the transfer case, lower left corner. Takes a square socket to remove. The fill plug is higher up, about 45 degrees to the upper right, again on the back side of the transfer case. Also takes a square socket. Note: when removing the transfer case drain plug, the fluid will pour out VERY fast, so have a large pan to catch it (the transfer case fluid is about the weight of motor oil, it's not like thick differential fluid).

The part I couldn't figure out was how to get a quart bottle of GM fluid up to the drain hole to fill the case back up, because the fill hole is so close to the underbody. I decided to buy a cheap $3.99 plastic pump (trigger style) from AutoZone. As a sidenote, the plastic AutoZone pump has a screw-on top for a large mouthed bottle (like an anti-freeze bottle), instead of a small mouth opeing like that of a quart bottle. Since I wanted to screw the pump tightly to a bottle (I had nightmares of the $8 GM quart bottle tipping over), I simply transferred the GM quart bottle fluid over to a discarded milk bottle gallon jug (washed out and dried of course). I then screwed the AutoZone pump onto the milk bottle. The pump probably would have worked without having to screw the pump down to a bottle, but the milk jug just seemed easier, and it was far more stable while working under the car than a quart bottle.

I squeeze-pumped until the milk jug was empty, then filled up the milk jug with quart #2. On the very last pump, fluid came out of the fill hole, so the transfer case took exactly 2 quarts.

Thanks again for all the help.

ylab
11-17-2008, 06:10 PM
Noticed that Royal Purple now lists a compatible fluid to the GM #12378508 Auto-Trac II called for by the owners manual. Has anybody tried this stuff or should I just drive to a dealer and pickup 2 Qts the recommended grape stuff? (Actually seems easier to get the RP than the GM stuff, since only the dealers seem to carry it).

Figured I treat my baby to new Diff & Transfer Case fluids for her upcoming 7th anniversary with me. Plan of using RP or M1 in the Diffs, since they're readily available, just wondered about the Transfer Case.

The RP link for their SyncroMax is here: http://www.royalpurple.co.za/prodsa/scmax.html

markarock
11-17-2008, 07:07 PM
Just my :m2:

I have several mottos that have served me well over the years. One is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That can be interpereted to apply here. We have it on very good authority from all those who have posted here that a fluid change using Auto-Trak II sometimes seems to work miracles. Also, at $8/quart, the price is certainly reasonable given that it is rarely changed.

Further, if somebody is licensing a formula from GM and putting their brand on the label, how likely is it that they are really providing a different formula? A better formula?

Even if they did change it, did they do as much testing as GM? The likelihood that they did any significant testing is probably slim. I'm betting they are just buying the stuff from whoever makes if for GM, and adding some dye to change the pretty blue to Royal Purple.

Unless I could get it for a buck a quart, or better yet for free, I'd sure be inclined to stick with the proven commodity. Even if I did have to drive slightly out of my way to hit a Chevy or GMC dealer. The price of transfer case repairs makes this one a no-brainer for me.

Just my :m2: :)

drolds72
11-18-2008, 11:16 AM
IIRC, the spec for the front and rear diff is for a fully synthetic lube. I think that is why I always wind up with Amsoil. Ylab mentioned M1, which I thought was a blend. Do they make a fully synthetic now?

the roadie
11-18-2008, 11:26 AM
The price of transfer case repairs makes this one a no-brainer for me.:iagree: For the offroad places I go, the price of a transfer case failure is too high for me to risk. I trust GM's design (mostly), so why should I second-guess their fluid recommendation?

thejumbo
11-18-2008, 06:47 PM
Just went to dealership near me and the transfer case oil (AutoTrak II) was $12.60 a quart, plus taxes.

They quoted me this on my needed (I think) services:

$34.99 Oil Change (includes filter, labor, oil)
$189.95 Differential Service (per differential, includes fluid swap)
$120.00 Transfer Case Service (includes fluid swap)

Thought they seemed kind of high, but I don't mind a dealership doing an oil change. I know cars, but I've never worked on a 4WD system before.

What kind of headaches can I expect should I decide to swap the diff and trans case fluids myself?

I drive a 2004 Envoy SLT with about 95K on the clock.

Thanks for the help.

the roadie
11-18-2008, 07:02 PM
$189.95 Differential Service (per differential, includes fluid swap)
$120.00 Transfer Case Service (includes fluid swap)That's truly sad and laughable evidence of massive greed by the dealer. If you bought the fluids and lived near me, servicing all three of those items would only cost you a case of good beer. I do have good taste in beer, but what the dealer wants is a case of 18-year Laphroaig single-malt.

Never ever go to a JiffyLube place, but surely if you've never done the work yourself, and have any hesitation, you surely can find a driveline specialty shop to do that work for a fair price. Call around and check reputations of the shops. But there have to be independent mechanics that live and die by their reputations, and whom you should cultivate to take your vehicle to.

markarock
11-18-2008, 10:07 PM
What kind of headaches can I expect should I decide to swap the diff and trans case fluids myself?

No headaches at all, even if you are only moderately handy.

You will need some sort of pump mechanism to pump the fluid into the two diffs and the transfer case. Buy two if they are cheap and you won't have to clean one when you go to the other fluid. If you are only going to buy one pump, do the transfer case first.

The pic below is the front differential. The big rust colored plug with the hex in the center and at 10:00 from the axle seal is the inlet. Just remove it.

Below the axle seal at 6:00 is a small rust colored hex. This is the drain plug. Spread your cardboard, place a large catch pan underneath, then remove this plug.

The next photos are of the transfer case. They are in Post #18 in this thread:

http://forums.trailvoy.com/showthread.php?t=46458

The site won't let me post them in this thread. Sorry.

The plugs in my '03 Transfer Case use a hex wrench, as you can see. The Auto Trak II fluid is thin, so it will drain fast. Be sure to have your cardboard down first, then a large catch pan.

The rear diff also has a drain plug, but I don't have a photo. I've read that at some point they stopped installing drain plugs, and so the rear cover must be removed to drain the fluid. If so, just clean the rubber gasket and reuse it.

You can use any good aftermarket synthetic 75W-90 gear oil in the front and rear diffs. I happened to just want to top off my front diff so I bought the GM stuff, for $26 a quart, with the parts guy cutting me a small deal (list was over $32 IIRC, and may be higher now), but if you are draining, just use, in alphabetical order, any of the good ones, such as Amsoil, Lucas, Mobil 1, Royal Purple, Valvoline, and probably a half dozen others. Now this is assuming your rear diff is open (i.e. not posi). If posi, I'd personally spend the money for GM stuff, though I'm confident the aftermarket synthetic fluids designed for posi units would work fine.

That's it, other than the advice to work safe with a good jack, sturdy jackstands, and wheel chocks.

thejumbo
11-19-2008, 01:07 PM
Thank you so much, guys!

Here's what happened last night, in the cold:

1. Swapped transfer case fluid - 2 quarts of AutoTrak II and no major mess. That stuff flies out FAST! My suction pump worked pretty well, and it sealed up nicely.
2. Topped off front diff - didn't take much, but it was low.

My issues have been:
1. Strange clank/rattle over bumps from front driver's wheel area/behind dash. Sounds like a heat shield rattling, but can't find one.
2. Howl from front end which increases at speed. In addition, it increases and is slightly more noticeable when I turn the wheel to the left, especially at speed.

Could these be related? Should I focus my attention towards a wheel bearing or CV boot or CV joint?

I jacked up the front end and did not feel any adverse movement in the wheels when I gave them a shake and a lift.

What further troubleshooting can I do?

Thanks again for the help?

tamegm
11-19-2008, 01:17 PM
Sorry, I did not get back to this thread for an update. I drained the transfer case fluid, filled it with the GM fluid. It took exactly 2 quarts. All the shuddering and clunking immediately disappeared.

I didn't take photos of my transfer case fluid change (unfortunately), but the transfer case drain plug is on the back side of the transfer case, lower left corner. Takes a square socket to remove. The fill plug is higher up, about 45 degrees to the upper right, again on the back side of the transfer case. Also takes a square socket. Note: when removing the transfer case drain plug, the fluid will pour out VERY fast, so have a large pan to catch it (the transfer case fluid is about the weight of motor oil, it's not like thick differential fluid).

The part I couldn't figure out was how to get a quart bottle of GM fluid up to the drain hole to fill the case back up, because the fill hole is so close to the underbody. I decided to buy a cheap $3.99 plastic pump (trigger style) from AutoZone. As a sidenote, the plastic AutoZone pump has a screw-on top for a large mouthed bottle (like an anti-freeze bottle), instead of a small mouth opeing like that of a quart bottle. Since I wanted to screw the pump tightly to a bottle (I had nightmares of the $8 GM quart bottle tipping over), I simply transferred the GM quart bottle fluid over to a discarded milk bottle gallon jug (washed out and dried of course). I then screwed the AutoZone pump onto the milk bottle. The pump probably would have worked without having to screw the pump down to a bottle, but the milk jug just seemed easier, and it was far more stable while working under the car than a quart bottle.

I squeeze-pumped until the milk jug was empty, then filled up the milk jug with quart #2. On the very last pump, fluid came out of the fill hole, so the transfer case took exactly 2 quarts.

Thanks again for all the help.
thaks very helpfull:tiphat

markarock
11-19-2008, 03:41 PM
My issues have been:
2. Howl from front end which increases at speed. In addition, it increases and is slightly more noticeable when I turn the wheel to the left, especially at speed.

Your symptoms are classic for a bad RF hub bearing assembly. No further troubleshooting necessary. You won't necessarily feel it when you shake the wheel or turn it, but once you have the hub bearing off, you will be able to feel the roughness in it.

My recommendation/advice is to purchase a quality replacement. You will spend an extra $100, but it will be money well spent. I replaced my LF with an AC Delco. Part was slightly over $200 online.

korky
10-25-2011, 03:25 PM
I just replaced the fluid in my transfer case. I read here that both the 3/8 and 10mm would work, well I bought both and the 3/8 was the appropriate tool.
I did the work on my slopped driveway and made some stepped wooden ramps to get the vehicle off the ground and try to compensate for the slope. I put 2L of the GM fluid in and the fluid is still a little under the fill plug level. Is this normal, I am guessing it is because the truck isnt level. Any comments?????

Thanks

WOOLUF1952
10-25-2011, 03:29 PM
You should be fine.

fltblk04
03-02-2012, 08:57 PM
hey, im new on here and dont really know where to post stuff yet but this thread has my topic and i could use some advice. i had my tb serviced a month ago and my 4x4 stoped working??? i found out after lots of diagnosing that he added atf to my awd transfer case and that seems to b why my 4x4 was not engaging, i did a flush today and put the correct auto trac 2 in and it is engaging now but still with significant slippage in forward but very strong in reverse, i am just curious if the clutches in the t case will clean up and start engaging or if there is a good chance that they are glazed and are scraped????

fltblk04
03-02-2012, 09:06 PM
[[[[[

400Magnum
03-12-2012, 02:10 PM
Where did you get it serviced? Dealer or independent shop or one of the chain service centers? How did you determine that they used ATF? How long was it in there, how many miles approximately was it in there?