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How to Change Front Differential Fluid 96-04 Nissan Pathfinder

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  1. step : Draining the Front Differential Fluid (0:24)
    • Have a drain pan ready
    • Loosen the fill plug with a 1/4 inch ratchet
    • Loosen the drain plug with a 1/4 inch ratchet
    • Let the fluid drain
  2. step : Replacing the Fill Plug (2:23)
    • Clean the drain plug with brake parts cleaner
    • Place Teflon sealer to the drain plug
    • Clean the threads on the differential with a paper towel
    • Tighten the drain plug without overtightening
  3. step : Refilling the Fluid (3:49)
    • Place the specified fluid into a fluid transfer pump
    • Pump the fluid into the front differential until it runs out the side of the differential case
  4. step : Replacing the Drain Plug (5:17)
    • Clean the drain plug with brake parts cleaner
    • Place Teflon sealer to the fill plug
    • Clean the threads on the differential with a paper towel
    • Tighten the fill plug by hand
    • Tighten the fill plug without overtightening with a socket and ratchet
    • Clean the differential case with brake parts cleaner

Hi, I’m Mike from 1A Auto. We’ve been selling auto parts for over 30 years!

We want to do a front differential service on this vehicle to drain the fluid out. Before I do that, I want to pull the fill plug out. The reason I want to pull the fill plug out first is if you were to pull a drain plug and then later go to try to pull the fill plug out, and it didn't come out you'd be stuck. You'd have no way of getting fluid back into the front differential.

So I'll take the fill plug out. I'm going to use a 1/2" ratchet. Loosen this up. All right, so that fill plug came out easily. Now, I can pull the drain plug. Now, our fill plug's out. We will remove the drain plug. I'm going to use an extension on this with the ratchet. Makes it a little bit easier. This is a 1/2" extension and ratchet. This is on there pretty tight. Make sure you have a drain bucket under here when you're taking the drain out.

Now we'll drain the fluid out. You can look at this. There’s a magnet on here, and there'll be a little bit of metal. This actually doesn't look too bad. Sometimes you'll see bigger chunks of metal. And, as you can see the fluid, it's fairly clean, it's not milky. It's really not that dirty, but it's a good time to change it anyway.

I'm going to clean this drain plug off a little bit with some brake parts cleaner. Wipe it down with a rag. All right. On the drain plug and on the fill plug, I cleaned off the fill plug as well, but before I put it in, I'm going to use a little bit of Teflon sealer. This is like a pipe thread sealer. Put that on. That will just seal it up when it goes in. I'll do that on the fill plug as well.

Okay, I'm going to clean out the bottom of the threads on the differential. Just wipe them down a little bit. They're going to continue filling up with oil, but we'll just wipe them off. Then, I'll take my drain plug and send it back in. You can just snug this up a little bit. As you tighten it, it will get tighter and tighter. You don't want to over tighten it. Just snug is good.

We're going to fill the front differential with the appropriate gear oil for the vehicle. You can check your owner's manual for what's recommended. We can fill it this way. We're just putting a hose on the gear oil bottle itself and squeeze it. You could do that, or we could use another fluid transfer method.

We can use what's called a sump gun. We can suck the fluid into the gun. Sometimes these don't work all that well. Fill the gun up with fluid. Insert that in the fill, and push the fluid right in. Just like that. All right. There is other ways to transfer the fluid into here. They do make other types of pumps and stuff that you could use, but this is what we're using.

Once the fluid starts running out, that's when you know it's full, let's put a little bit more in there. Our differential is filled up. It took a little more than two quarts of gear oil. Before I put the fill plug in, I'm just going to wipe down this area a little bit, and I'll take the fill plug and stick my extension in it. That'll just make it easier to install it. Get it started. Get that started by hand, then I'll use my extension and my ratchet and I'll snug it up.

Now it's just going to keep getting tighter and tighter, it's not going to snug up to the point of stopping. So what you want to do is just as it gets tighter and tighter, just a little bit more. Don't tighten it too much. Just a little bit snug and it should be good. Then I'm going to take some break parts cleaner and just spray it down, clean that all up, and I can wipe it down with a rag. It’s all set.

Thanks for watching. Visit us at for quality auto parts, fast and free shipping, and the best customer service in the industry.

Tools needed for replacement:

    Materials, Fluids, and Supplies

  • Gear Oil
  • Pipe Thread Sealer
  • Brake Parts Cleaner
  • Fluid Transfer Pump

  • Ratchets & Related

  • Socket Extensions
  • 1/2 Inch Ratchet

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