While most of us are aware that our engine oils and filters need changing, I’m willing to bet there are a few vehicles getting around with a somewhat neglected undercarriage. My Nissan Patrol is one of those, maybe it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind” but it’s been a long time since the driveline oils were changed in the old girl. So, on that note; I’m going to run you through the process of replacing your driveline oils in your own driveway with some simple tools.
As the Patrol is a 4WD, I’m going to need a lot of oils for the job. There’s the front diff, rear diff, transfer case and gearbox to be done; and they all use different types of oil! Your best bet is to head down to Supercheap and ask a team member to look your vehicle up. They will be able to tell you which oil suits which diff or gearbox and how much of it you will require.
The tools you’ll need for this job are quite basic. You’ll most likely need some way of getting the new oil in. This could be the Tom Thumb Utility Pump available in store, or a device of your own creation (you’ll get to see mine later). Check the size and type of fasteners on your vehicles drain and fill plugs and make sure you have the correct fittings for them too. If you own a Nissan Patrol, you are in luck. You will need a ½ inch breaker bar and possibly a ratchet of the same size, and also an 18mm spanner for the transfer case drain plug; preferably a long one as they’re damn tight!
Now it’s time to crack on with the job. You can start wherever you like, but just make sure you always undo the filler plug BEFORE you drain the oil. If you drain a diff, and can’t get the filler plug off to fill it…well…you know where you’ll stand! These plugs can be EXTREMELY difficult to remove. The handy thing though (at least on a patrol) is that a ½ inch breaker bar fits straight into the plug, no socket needed. So you can get a MASSIVE bar onto it!
Once that plug is pulled, take a good look at the colour and smell of the oil. Diff oil in particular always smells awful, but if a wretched burning smell engulfs the neighbourhood it’s a good sign you’ve been working that diff too hard. Most of the oils which came out from under my car were still an OK looking colour. It’s when you start seeing shades of black that you know the oil has been in there too long; and if you’re seeing grey, milky or shades of brown then water has found its way in there somehow.
Many, but not all vehicles will have a magnetic drain plug to catch minute pieces of metal too. Take a good look at these to spot signs of wear (such as broken teeth from the gears, ouch!). A thin paste of tiny metal filings is entirely normal though.
Now it’s time to fill it back up. Here’s my DIY solution to pumping oil into those hard to reach places:
As you can see, it’s an old 1 litre bulk mayonnaise container with a tubeless tyre valve and a piece of hose in the lid. Fill it with oil, attach the 12V compressor and the air pressure pushes the oil straight up the tube into the gearbox or diff. Looks like a recipe for an explosive mess I know, but it hasn’t let me down yet! If you don’t have faith in my magnificent invention then that’s okay too, just grab yourself an oil pump as mentioned above.
There’s no dipstick on diffs and gearboxes, the exception being automatic gearboxes. So how do you know when enough is enough? You let it overflow! The recommended fill level for most gearboxes and diffs is until the oil is level with the bottom of the fill hole. Poke a finger in there for a feel if it’s in a tricky area to see.
There you go, done! Now I’m covered head to toe in filth and oil, but while it is a messy job; it’s certainly within reach of the DIY mechanic. When was the last time you did yours?
For a full list of driveline oils, check out what’s in store or view the range online.