How to Pick the Right 2008 Toyota RAV4 Rear Differential Fluid

Before changing your 2008 Toyota RAV4’s rear differential fluid, you’ll need to choose the right gear oil for the job—and then follow this guide.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Changing your 2008 Toyota RAV4’s rear differential fluid isn’t a super involved process, but it can be somewhat time-consuming. First, you’ll want to buy and use a synthetic rear differential fluid marked 75W-90—preferably manufactured by Mobil 1. Then, loosen and remove the fill hole bolt before draining the old fluid.
You may have never heard of it before today, but your 2008 Toyota RAV4’s rear differential fluid plays an incredibly important role in keeping your rear wheels running smoothly, making it much easier and safer to navigate rugged, uneven terrain or slippery road conditions.
Changing your vehicle’s rear differential fluid for the first time can be a daunting task—that’s why licensed
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has put together this guide detailing everything you need to know about buying, using, and replacing a 2008 Toyota RAV4’s rear differential fluid. We've even tossed in some tips to help lower your
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What is rear differential fluid–and why does your Toyota need it?

Okay so, what exactly is rear differential fluid anyway? Why does your Toyota need it and why does it need to be replaced?
At a base level, rear differential fluid is a type of engine or motor oil whose purpose is to lubricate the rear axle of your vehicle, helping it to run more smoothly. Even more importantly, the rear differential fluid helps supply differing torque levels to your rear wheels, allowing them to rotate at different speeds.
And while that may not sound very impressive, it ultimately allows you to navigate wet or slippery roads better, traverse uneven terrain, and go off-roading.

The best 2008 Toyota RAV4 rear differential fluid

Now that you know what rear differential fluid is, let’s break down which one is best for your 2008 Toyota RAV4. If it’s the absolute best that you’re looking for, the one recommended by Toyota, you’ll want to go with the Mobil 1 Synthetic Gear Lube LS 75w-90.
But if this particular brand isn’t in stock, don’t worry—any synthetic rear differential fluid with the same viscosity rating will work just fine. As long as the fluid you buy is marked either “70W-90” or “80W-90” it’ll have the right consistency for your Toyota, while “GL-5” simply refers to the level of sulfur-based additives present in the fluid. Here are some alternatives we recommend:

How often to change 2008 Toyota RAV4 rear differential fluid

Generally speaking, your 2008 Toyota RAV4’s rear differential fluid isn’t going to be subjected to the same strenuous conditions as, say, your engine’s motor oil, making it an easy service to forget about. 
Even your owner's manual might not include specific intervals for when the fluid needs to be changed. Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms indicating a rear differential fluid replacement is essential. Some symptoms include:
  • A burning smell coming from the rear gearbox
  • Abnormal vibrations while driving
  • Whirring, straining, or howling sounds from the engine
But if you don’t want to wait for these symptoms to show before changing the fluid, simply adhere to Toyota’s interval recommendation, which would have you replace the rear differential fluid every 30,000 to 50,000 miles—the closer to 30,000 the better.
There are, however, a few circumstances in which you may need to replace your Toyota’s differential fluid before reaching this mileage recommendation, such as:
  1. If you regularly drive your Toyota on dusty or dirt roads, over rugged terrain, or under off-road conditions.
  2. If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms before traversing 30,000 miles—after all, it’s better to stay on the safe side than cause unnecessary damage.

How to change your Toyota’s rear differential fluid

Now that you’ve got the right rear differential fluid for your 2008 Toyota RAV4, it’s time to change it—but before you do so, consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s exact specifications and then gather the following
essential car tools and supplies
  • Oil drain pan
  • Carjack and jack stands
  • Socket wrench set
  • Fluid transfer pump
Step 1: Raise your vehicle with the carjack and make sure it is sitting solidly on the jack stands. Use a socket wrench to find and loosen the rear differential’s fill hole bolt.
Step 2: Find the differential drain hole. Place the oil drain pan underneath the hole and then use the socket wrench to remove the drain hole bolt or plug.
Step 3: Allow the fluid to drain thoroughly. Use a rag or wire brush to clean off the drain hole plug as it drains. Once all fluid has drained, replace the drain hole plug and tighten.
Step 4: Remove the fill hole bolt you loosened earlier and use the fluid transfer pump to slowly add rear differential fluid until it starts to spill out of the fill hole.
Step 5: Reinstall the fill hole bolt and tighten it down. Wipe away any excess oil that may have dripped onto the differential.
Congratulations! You have now changed your 2008 Toyota RAV4’s rear differential fluid.

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