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Transfer Case Fluid Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your transfer case fluid replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your transfer case fluid replacement.
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John Davis
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does it cost to replace a transfer case fluid?

The average transfer case fluid replacement cost is $100. This fee includes $15 for parts and $85 for the mechanic’s labor. This is only an approximate price—the cost will depend on your specific vehicle.
How long does it take to replace a transfer case fluid? For most vehicles, it takes about 0.7 hours for a transfer case fluid replacement. Expect an initial inspection followed by the actual service.
Let’s take a look at some actual transfer case fluid replacement costs for specific models:
Transfer case fluid replacement cost for various vehicles
Estimate DateCustomerCarFair Cost EstimateParts CostLabor CostLabor Time
May 21, 2024
Volkswagen GTI
$73
$17
$56
0.5 Hours
May 19, 2024
Saab 45172
$82
$20
$62
0.5 Hours
May 15, 2024
Smart Fortwo
$65
$17
$48
0.5 Hours
May 15, 2024
Volvo XC60
$81
$17
$63
0.5 Hours
May 12, 2024
Cadillac XTS
$81
$20
$61
0.5 Hours
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do I need for my transfer case fluid replacement and how much do those parts cost?

Here is a general list of parts you may need for a transfer case fluid replacement:
  1. Transfer Case Fluid: The type and amount of fluid required will depend on your vehicle's specifications. Some models require proprietary fluid. Prices range from $10 to $30 for a quart of transfer case fluid.
  2. Drain Plug Gasket: Experts recommend you replace the gasket when performing a fluid change. Costs are usually minimal, ranging from $1 to $5.
  3. Transfer Case Filter (if applicable): Some vehicles may have a filter that requires replacement. Average costs range from $15 to $40 depending on the vehicle model.
  4. Transfer Case Seal (if needed): If the existing seal is damaged, it may need to be replaced. Costs vary based on the specific seal required, typically ranging from $10 to $30.
  5. Transfer Case Service Kit (optional): Some manufacturers offer complete service kits that include the necessary fluids, gaskets, and seals. Prices vary depending on the kit's contents and the vehicle's model.
We recommend purchasing parts at local auto parts stores like AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, and NAPA Auto Parts, as well as online retailers like Amazon and RockAuto. We also recommend trusted brands such as ACDelco, Valvoline, and Mobil 1. However, like price, recommended brands may also vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model.
Make sure to check your owner’s manual or contact a dealership to get a complete list of parts and part numbers for your specific vehicle. In some cases—but not always—ATF (automatic transmission fluid) or differential fluid can be used as substitutes for transfer case fluid.
Pick up parts from your local auto parts store like AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, and O'Reilly Auto Parts. If they don’t have your part in stock, they can special order it for you. You might also be able to find parts online at Amazon or RockAuto—just check that you’re getting part numbers that match your vehicle.
It’s a matter of personal preference. If you’re on a tight budget or have limited options for parts, an aftermarket bearing makes sense. If your vehicle is still under warranty though, you might be required to use OEM parts or risk voiding the coverage.

Where can I get my transfer case fluid replaced?

With the rundown on 2,500+ vetted repair shops nationwide, Jerry's
GarageGuard™
can make the search for a mechanic to replace your transfer case fluid a lot easier.
Jerry's GarageGuard™ compares fair price estimates from local shops using actual hourly rates. You’ll be able to budget for diagnostic fees and see reviews from previous customers to make sure you’ll be happy with your service.
Here’s a look at some of our vetted shops below—and you can download the app to compare car repair quotes in your area.
173 Reviews
Victory Auto Service & Glass - St. Petersburg
address
3001 Dr M.L.K. Jr St N, St. Petersburg, FL
Transfer Case Fluid Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$166
(Parts - $12, Labor - $154)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$134.40
186 Reviews
Oak Street Station
address
2403 US HWY 18 INWOOD, Inwood, IA
Transfer Case Fluid Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$97
(Parts - $12, Labor - $85)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$30
120 Reviews
Stan's Garage
address
24301 W Warren St, Dearborn Heights, MI
Transfer Case Fluid Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$130
(Parts - $12, Labor - $118)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$125
155 Reviews
1 Stop Auto Services
address
469 Crescent Blvd, Camden, NJ
Transfer Case Fluid Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$92
(Parts - $12, Labor - $80)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$40
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my transfer case fluid?

In this service, a mechanic will inspect your transfer case fluid to confirm whether or not the transfer case fluid is contaminated and then perform a replacement.
The mechanic will perform the following steps to perform a transfer case fluid replacement:
  1. Inspection: The mechanic will inspect the transfer case for any signs of leaks, damage, or contamination. If the transfer case fluid level is low, they’ll examine the entire transfer case for leaks.
  2. Drain Fluid: The old fluid is drained from the transfer case using a fill plug or pump.
  3. Remove and Replace Filter (if applicable): Some transfer cases have a filter that needs to be replaced during the service.
  4. Clean Magnet: The mechanic will clean the magnet located in the transfer case to remove any metal debris from the transfer case oil.
  5. Refill with New Fluid: Fresh transfer case fluid, specific to your vehicle's requirements, is added to lube up the parts for proper functionality.
  6. Test Drive: The mechanic may perform a test drive to ensure proper operation and check for any issues.
  7. Final Inspection: A final check is conducted to ensure the transfer case is functioning correctly and without leaks.
The process is similar to a transmission fluid change or an engine oil change, where the old fluid is drained out and replaced. Steps can vary slightly between models, too, so it's essential to work with a qualified mechanic for this service. 
In vehicles with an integrated cooling system with a transmission cooler, the radiator may need to be serviced at the same time. Some Toyota, Honda, and Chevrolet models with automatic transmissions fit into this category.

What happens if I don’t replace my transfer case fluid?

Contamination and poor performance may occur if you don’t replace the transfer case fluid or gear oil at the recommended service interval. You could need towing if you lose engine power.
Here are common signs that you may need to replace your transfer fluid:
  • Car is unable to change gears
  • Shuddering when the vehicle turns
  • Whining sounds
  • Damage to your transfer case
  • Less efficiency for the car’s drivetrain system
If you can get a visual on the fluid and it’s dirty or contaminated, that’s an obvious sign that it’s time to replace the fluid.
Regular fluid changes help maintain proper lubrication and protect the transfer case's internal components, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. If you notice any symptoms of a transfer case fluid problem, don’t wait to get an inspection.

What is transfer case fluid?

Transfer case fluid is used in four-wheel, all-wheel drive, and off-road vehicles to ensure the axles are cool and turning smoothly. 
The transfer case is a specialized gearbox found on four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, so you don’t have to worry about this service if you drive an exclusively rear-wheel-drive car.
Here’s how it works: The transfer case distributes power from the engine to both the front and rear axles, as well as changing power between them. While the transfer case transfers power between the front and rear axles to switch between two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive modes, the rear differential transmits power to the rear wheels.
Lubrication (aka transfer case fluid) is required to run smoothly. 
This fluid should be replaced at regular intervals to avoid premature damage caused by lubricant that is contaminated or broken down.

How do I know if I need to replace my transfer case fluid?

You may need to replace the transfer case fluid earlier if you notice any signs of trouble:
  • Difficulty Shifting: Trouble shifting gears or experiencing gear slippage could indicate low or contaminated transfer case fluid.
  • Whining or Grinding Noise: Unusual noises, like whining or grinding, while driving or in four-wheel-drive mode may indicate insufficient lubrication.
  • Leaks Underneath the Vehicle: Puddles or stains of fluid beneath the vehicle are clear signs of a possible transfer case fluid leak.
  • Vibrations or Jerking: Experiencing vibrations or jerking when driving, especially during turns or engaging four-wheel-drive, may signal an issue with the transfer case fluid.

When should I replace the transfer case fluid on my car?

Every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, you should get a transfer case fluid change on your 4WD or AWD car. Whenever your transfer case is checked, you should also be getting your transfer case fluid inspected.

Can I replace my transfer case fluid myself?

Yes, you can replace your transfer case fluid yourself, but it requires some automotive knowledge and the right tools. Make sure to consult your vehicle's owner's manual for the correct fluid type and proper procedures. 
If you are unsure or uncomfortable with DIY maintenance, it's best to seek the assistance of a qualified mechanic to ensure the task is done correctly. 

FAQs

On average, the repair cost for this service is between $100 to $200. The cost of replacing transfer case fluid varies depending on the vehicle's make and model, as well as the labor rates of the repair shop. Consult with a local mechanic or service center to get an accurate estimate for your specific vehicle.
Yes, changing the transfer case fluid is crucial for maintaining the health and performance of your vehicle's four-wheel-drive system. 
Over time, the fluid can become contaminated with debris, water, and metal particles, leading to reduced lubrication and potential damage to the transfer case components. Regular fluid changes ensure proper lubrication, heat dissipation, and protection against wear. 
Neglecting this maintenance can lead to costly repairs and even failure of the transfer case. It's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule to keep your system running smoothly and extend the life of your vehicle.
Yes! It is possible to replace transfer case fluid yourself, although it requires some automotive knowledge and tools. You'll need to safely raise and support the vehicle, locate the transfer case fill and drain plugs, and use the correct fluid type. Following your vehicle's service manual is crucial to ensure proper procedures and fluid quantity.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.