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Old 07-03-2021, 11:13 PM #1
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Talking Going to California, Part 1: How NOT to change your rear diff oil...

This is more of a cathartic post than a tutorial, as you might have figured by the title. Written for all the people who said, "I can do this!" and actually were able to do it, although it was not the experience they expected. It's light hearted and hopefully slightly humorous. All's well that ends well, as they say...

I've had my 2002 SR5 Sport for just over a year now, formerly owned by member nwebb01. Since then I have done basic oil changes, wipers, etc, but now it is time to do some "real" maintenance on the old gal to prepare her for a short-term stint in the Sierras, starting in August

I am not naturally mechanically oriented, but with the costs related to maintaining vehicles, a large family and the plethora of helpful YT vids and posts by Timmy/Sean, the Toyota Maintenance guy ("Hello friend..." ) and other 4Runner owners, any educated and moderately confident person has to spit on his hands, grab a toolbox and get dirty at some point!

There are any number of tutorials on how to change the rear diff fluids, some text-based, others with photos and of course videos. I've read, watched and reread and rewatched them all. To me, the rear diff service seemed to be the most direct, "easiest" of the maintenance items most people would not consider doing themselves. I've also got a GX470, so I decided to take up the challenge by starting on the 4Runner. GAME ON!!!

I decided on 80W-90, just because that is enumerated as acceptable by the owners and service manuals, and the fact I have no knowledge of what in the hell the 80W and the 90 truly mean in a mechanical sense. I mean, I watched a couple of videos and read some posts about it, but I'm not towing anything and don't live where it gets to be 115F (Indiana) or -40F. The local parts stores all had Valvoline for $7.25 a quart, but I ran into a sale at Menards who had it for $5.44. Bought three for $16 and change, with tax. #winning

I know my vehicle will likely fall apart for not using Amsoil or Redline, but hey, nothing lasts forever...

Next was the joy of finding the crush washers. Or are they gaskets? And what part number? And has that part number been superseded??? Yazus Kohana! I just don't want the mafa to leak, is what I'm thinking as I browsed all the posts and Toyota parts sites. I decided I'd rather pay $1.50 per at the dealer since I drive by it every couple of days anyway, rather than try to buy 200 on ebay or Amazon from who knows what source. Bless you if you're emotionally strong enough to do that, I'm not.

In most all of the videos I watched, the instructor had a gear oil pump or, in the case of the Amsoil or some of the Valvoline guys, a baggie to deploy the gear oil out of. "That's dumb, why don't they just turn the bottle upside down and pour it in?" I always thought. That, Toyota and Lexus friends, is called foreshadowing...

It was 75F today, I had my oil (x3), my PB Blaster to pre-soak the drain/fill plugs, paper towels, a large sheet of cardboard, rubber gloves, work gloves, 24mm socket and a 15/16ths box wrench, plastic pan to capture the drainage and a nice rubber mat to lay on. Had my oldest boy there just in case I needed anything else.

Rule #1 of How not to change your rear diff oil...

"Make sure you spray your drain/fill bolts with penetrating oil a couple of days and times before you start this job..." I'm not sure who said it, but being a know-it-all I thought, "That's dumb...PB always works after a few minutes."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! so laughed the automotive repair Gods at my arrogance! Over the course of an hour, I hosed down both plugs with what felt like half a can of PB Blaster. Had a short impact socket on the fill plug and it. would. not. budge. "Fudge..." I thought, but I didn't say "fudge"...

"Son, hand me that 15/16ths wrench..." I commanded from under the rig. Being a good oldest son, he clicked his heels and handed it over. BZZZZ!!! Nyet, said the metric gods...having been trying to bust it loose and battling to keep the 24mm socket on it with the damn e-brake cable dangerously close, I decided to hump over to AutoZone for a 24mm wrench. Guess who was out of 24mm wrenches today? If you said "Autozone, naturally..." you win a prize. Drove another five minutes to Menards and grabbed one for $8. Got back home, and dove under the rig. Despite the wrench having a slight angle on the closed side, I could not get a good grip on the bolt. The abso-frigging-lutely last thing I wanted was to strip that bolt, so I hit her with more PB Blaster and went inside for a soda. After another 45 minutes of soaking I told the wife, "If this damn bolt doesn't come loose, we're just going to buy him a car when he gets to Cali!"

Happily, I went back out, put the 24mm socket back on her and was able to break it loose. I think she (Maggy, yes, I named my truck after former UK PM Margaret Thatcher, so sue me...named her that because the first song I heard on the radio on the way home after purchase was "Iron Man" and it does have a cast iron engine block, I think. Thatcher was called the "Iron Lady" if you didn't know.) Of course, the drain plug came off with minimal effort. Anyway...

Rule #2 of How not to change your rear diff oil...

"Son, that was the hard part. Now we just need to pour the fluid in!"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! so laughed the automotive repair Gods (again) at my arrogance!

I cut the little tip off the bottle, removed the paper seal on top of it (keep this in mind for later in the story...) and angled that mother in there. And two drops came out. I mean, it was like trying to pee after seven days in the Mojave!

I forgot how thick even the viscous oil was compare to pouring out olive oil or water from a container. I felt like I would be under my rig for months, all the while, Carly Simon's "Anticipation" song would be playing at 11! I decided it needed to burp (plus I was squeezing it with sissy office hands, not manly whoever hands...) so got a really small screwdriver and poked a couple of holes near the bottom of the bottle, around the labeling. That helped a little, but it was still taking all day to get that ONE QUART into the diff.

Sometimes, one thinks one is smarter than the thousands who have poured diff fluid before him. I am that jackass. I wear the badge proudly.

"OK son, roll another bottle of the oil under here, I have an idea..." That wasn't quite "Hold my beer, watch this..." but for gear oil, it was essentially the equivalent.

"What I need is more air flow..." I was thinking. So how does one get more air in? BIGGER HOLES!!! It seemed so reasonable. I came out from under the rig, cut the tip off the bottle as before, flipped it upside down and tapped in a large hole using a rubber mallet and a giant screw driver. "Now she'll flow!" I exclaimed. And boy, did she ever...

I put the bottle into the hole and squeezed. Not a damn drop came out. WHY??? Well, what I failed to do was to remove the damn paper seal under the cap of the bottle, so despite having cut the tip, nothing flowed. At least nothing flowed until I accidentally squeezed the bottle harder and shot gear oil all over the place. Through the screwdriver hole in the bottom, that is. Of course, I had taken the rubber glove off at that point and my arm looked like a honey badger who had just raided the local hive.

"Call your sister!" was all I could come up with. She was out on a big box store run by chance and I knew she was my only hope. "Send her a photo of the oil bottle, then tell her to find another one." Once she called and confirmed she had one, we spent five minutes explaining what a "gear oil pump" was and had her find one. $6 for the pump (https://www.meijer.com/shopping/prod...734113421.html) and $7 for the Valvoline 80W-90.

It took her 30 minutes to get home because she needed to stop for some fresh tomatoes for an Independence Day dish she wanted to prepared. Oy vey...

For as much as I mocked the mini pump, I would have paid $50 to have that, looking back on it. Despite having to press the damn little thing 30 times to drain each quart, it was infinitely faster than what I had done before. AND it didn't cost me a lost pint o' gear oil on the cardboard box that I had to clean up.

Once the juice was in, and it was barely trickling out per all the videos' and manuals' instruction, I locked down the fill bolt to 49 NEWTON METERS - that is 36 foot-pounds for ya'll in the US of A - to match the torque of the drain bolt. And fyi, I did use crush washer/gasket Toyota Part #12157-10010 1215710010 - Gasket; plug - Genuine Toyota Part as pointed out in the Timmy 30K service video.

Content with my effort, and embarrassed by my initial mechanical hubris, I took Maggy on a seven or eight mile test drive, windows down, as the sun began to set. I would have taken the dog, but the girls had already taken her to the park for a pre-fireworks latrine session. The new pup is not a fan of the fireworks, sadly!

Anyway, I had to get this off my chest and hopefully it brightened the day of anyone who has "been there and done that" while working on their rig.

Not sure if I will do the front diff and transfer case or front brakes next, but regardless, I will keep good mental notes and hopefully provide a similar update then.

Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to pick up that wrench...you can do it!
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Old 07-04-2021, 02:28 AM #2
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Congratulations on starting your crawl-under-the-car maintenance program, such as it may be.
I have found, recently, that if you eliminate the spare tire, you can push the gear oil bottle nozzle right into the filler hole on the rear diff and get the oil in. Trans/transfe/front diff will require the pump, since there's not enough space to tilt the bottle up at those locations.
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Old 07-04-2021, 08:14 AM #3
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Good read.
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Old 07-04-2021, 10:47 AM #4
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I have trouble reading long posts, its my problem.

But did you mention the part about Removing the Fill bolt before removing the drain bolt?
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Old 07-04-2021, 01:07 PM #5
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The diff plug is an absolute ***** to remove. I hit it with a pb blaster, a breaker bar, and a torch. Also 8 sided 24 mm sockets shouldn't exist.
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Old 07-04-2021, 04:12 PM #6
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While I'm pretty familiar with my wrenches (bought in 1999 while attending a trade school), I like to think I can put myself in anothers shoes and completely empathize.

I absolutely feel your experience.

Don't worry, us "old hands" get had too... the gear-oil hand pump I bought, fits *NONE* of the bottles I've bought despite the package claiming "fits all major brand bottles". Apparently Valvoline and Mobile aren't major brands, who knew? I'm too cheap to trash it and buy another while it still works, so it's a 2-handed affair.

Final thought, thank the powers that be that I live in the south, bought a vehicle that'd only lived in the south and don't really have to deal with rust and corrosion (or stuck fasteners). I don't even own an impact other than the handheld version you smack with a hammer.
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Old 07-04-2021, 06:41 PM #7
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Personally I use some vinyl tube that fits over the end of a big funnel. Tie the funnel to the roof rack, thread the tube down into the fill port. Pour oil into funnel, walk away, drink some beer, repeat until it runs out the fill port.
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Old 07-04-2021, 11:24 PM #8
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I did the mistake of using a suction gun, Performance W54220. I thought it would've been a cleaner delivery. It wasn't. The clean up took longer than the diff fill up.
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Old 07-06-2021, 09:44 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pluton View Post
Congratulations on starting your crawl-under-the-car maintenance program, such as it may be.
I have found, recently, that if you eliminate the spare tire, you can push the gear oil bottle nozzle right into the filler hole on the rear diff and get the oil in. Trans/transfe/front diff will require the pump, since there's not enough space to tilt the bottle up at those locations.
Ah, yes, I didn't mention that but as a "husky" fella, I did drop the tire. It was like a dance hall in there, plenty of room!
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Old 07-06-2021, 09:45 PM #10
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgue467 View Post
I have trouble reading long posts, its my problem.

But did you mention the part about Removing the Fill bolt before removing the drain bolt?
Yes, that part is on the cutting room floor, but I was not doing anything until the fill bolt came out!
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Old 07-06-2021, 10:10 PM #11
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You missed the cardinal rule of going to California. Don’t do it.

This place is just plain ole messed up. You’ll pay $5/gal gas, sales tax, green tax and a just cuz we want to tax. This is on top of all sorts of hidden fees. And, also under the just because section is if you want to have any fun, they’ll find a way to restrict it, tax it, hog tie it and jail you over it. Just for good measure, they’ll confiscate something.


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Old 07-07-2021, 10:21 AM #12
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Menards has great little gear oil pumps. I used to consider those pumps disposable and good for one diffs and transfer job (if I'm lucky) until I used this Menards one. It actually threads on the bottle correctly (both sizes), the tubes are long enough and stay on, and it doesnt fall apart. I have a backup one I havent had to unpackage yet.

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Old 07-07-2021, 10:37 AM #13
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Oh yeah and grab a big box of the largest incontinence pads (or dog training pee pads) ypu can find at Menards too. They are awesome for oil changes. My garage floor and work benches are basically upholstered with them
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Old 07-12-2021, 05:43 PM #14
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If you suffered that much with the rear diff, you're not going to like the front. I highly recommend you pick up a new fill plug (Dorman #090-042) to replace the factory plug that requires a large Allen wrench. Odds are it will cam out due to the midwest salt bath.

Here's a thread to prime you for the anguish.
Strippted Front Diff Drain Plug Removal Tips (aka: what not to do)
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Old 07-13-2021, 03:21 AM #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riceye View Post
If you suffered that much with the rear diff, you're not going to like the front. I highly recommend you pick up a new fill plug (Dorman #090-042) to replace the factory plug that requires a large Allen wrench. Odds are it will cam out due to the midwest salt bath.

Here's a thread to prime you for the anguish.
Strippted Front Diff Drain Plug Removal Tips (aka: what not to do)
I actually thought that would be the case but I've actually never stripped one yet. My trick is that I clean that allen key opening with brake clean and a pick. Then I spray with PB blast. Get your allen socket and tap it in with a hammer. With enough leverage it will crack open. I actually skinned the living hell out of my hand in the process, so wear gloves if the vehicle isn't on a lift.

The rear diff bolts are a lost cause to me. I just hand it over to the mechanic. That bolt head is just a POS.
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