by Pat Goss
4-wheel and all-wheel drive are becoming incredibly popular, and they have some practical advantages. But some of the things about them; well they require different types of maintenance.
Like the front differential for instance. You need to check the fluid in it regularly, and you have to change the fluid in differentials regularly, too. In some cases, no more than 30-36,000 miles. And in some cases it may be as frequently as every 15,000 miles. Also look for any kinds of leaks when you’re under it.
And moving back here along the vehicle, the next thing we have is the transfer case. This is what distributes the power either to the rear wheels or the front wheels, or all of the wheels. And it also needs periodic service. The fluid in it has to be changed. You have to check the fluid level. And here’s a tip: when you check the fluid level in the transfer case, if a lot of fluid runs out as if it’s overfilled, well it probably is overfilled. And that’s probably because have a bad seal in the back of the transmission, and transmission fluid is coming into the transfer case. Gotta get that fixed right away or it gets really serious.
Now up here we have a motor on the transfer case, that’s what shifts it through the gears. One of the things about that is that it’s exposed, and it has an electrical connector on it, similar to what we see here. Periodically, at least once a year, you should open that connector and coat it with di-electric grease, because they have a bad habit of corroding internally.
Look at the brake lines on any vehicle: 4 wheel, 2 wheel, you name it; car, truck, whatever. A lot of the older brake lines, if they ever get near salt of any kind, it could be beach or highway salt or anything, they will rust. And one way to help prevent that is to use white lithium grease or an anti-corrosion spray to spray all of the brake lines.
Rear differential: you need to change the fluid in it; regularly. That means, again, could be 15,000 miles, but typically not more than 36. Make sure that you use the proper lubricant, because most of these will be locking differentials, and if you use the wrong lubricant; well the locking mechanism may not work.
Now something else that’s becoming really popular are self-leveling systems on trucks and on SUVs. And that means that you’re going to have linkages that need to be lubricated. They’re what sense the height of the vehicle and turn on the air pump to level it. So keep those lubricated so they don’t wear out.
Now if you do this, well you can keep yourself out of trouble, and you can save a lot of money. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.