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PTU and rear diff fluid change


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8 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   tom4158

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 02:39 PM

Hi everyone,  Noob to the forum, but been driving a Flex now since '09.  I had an '09 FWD (nice, but torque steer was awful!)

 

My current vehicle is a 2012 Limited AWD, standard 3.5 engine, 25,000 miles.

 

I am a maintenance geek, and at some point in the next year I would like to change out the fluid in both the PTU and the rear differential.  Last weekend, when I had it up on ramps for an oil change, I checked out both, and it looks like there is only one, combined, drain and fill hole for each.  Both appear to be 3/8' socket drive plugs.

 

The clearance looks tight on both, but it seems to me that with a little patience as well as a fluid suction/extraction pump (which I have), that it should be workable to suction out the old fluid and re-fill.

 

My question is twofold:

 

1.  Has anybody done this, and was it a huge PITA or not too difficult?

 

2.  Is it even worth doing?  I've always operated from the perspective that the manufacturers fluid specs are the "bare minimum" to get them through the warranty period and nothing more.  Maybe that's an overly pessimistic view, but my current vehicle is a long term "keeper", and I'd like to stay on top of any of the maintenance stuff WAY before it becomes a problem.

 

Thanks in advance to all.

 

TK



#2 OFFLINE   tom4158

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 01:33 PM

I really thought I might get some responses to this post, but with close to a thousand views, no replies.  strange.

 

Regardless, this is a follow up to advise that I did the PTU fluid change today.  I can report back that it was fairly easy, however, do not attempt if you do not have a fluid extraction (suction) tool and a fluid pump with at least a 2 foot hose.

 

My Flex is at 27k, is driven conservatively, and I was horrified by what I found when I pulled the plug and extracted the fluid. 

 

The plug has a magnet in it, and it had at least the thickness of two quarters worth of shavings attached to it.  Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by that, but with the low mileage, it seemed excessive.  The fluid was BLACK and very contaminated.  When I say contaminated, I mean that when I wiped the old fluid off my hand, it left behind a gray stain that had to be removed with detergent and a scrub pad. 

 

I replaced the fluid with Amsoil, and since it's impossible to get 100% of the fluid with an extraction tool, I will probably do this one or two more times in the next week or so to ensure that any contaminants left are dispersed with as close to complete fresh fluid as possible.  I took it for a brief test drive.  I did not perceive any difference post fluid exchange.

 

I thought I would try the rear differential as well, but the clearances seemed too tight to me, so I chose not to try it at this point.

 

Anybody else try this, and what were your results?

 

thanks



#3 OFFLINE   Eyespyautomotive

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 08:31 AM

I changed the PTU flid in my Flex after seeing your post.  I found the exact same thing, super thick stinky oil, and 1/4" of fine metal deposits on the magnet. I Mityvac'd the unit out the best i could and replaced the fluid with a quality synthetic gear lube.  My plan is to change it again this spring to further rinse the PTU out.  I cant help but think that increased the life of the unit.  Thx.



#4 OFFLINE   tom4158

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:10 PM

Thanks for your reply. 

 

Let me know if you try the rear differential.  Maybe you have an easier idea than me on how to get to it, but that one seems like a real pain to change.

 

What brand fluid did you use in the PTU?  (not that any particular brand matters, I'm just curious)

 

TK



#5 OFFLINE   Eyespyautomotive

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 11:23 AM

I just used a good quality synthetic gear lube I got at Oreillys, unsure of the brand, leftover is on my shelf.

 

I did look at the rear and it looked like some pretty tough quarters to work in so I passed for now. I might take another look at it when things warm up outside some more.



#6 OFFLINE   knowhowiroll

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 01:09 AM

New to the forum as well.  My 2009 has a leak coming from the PTU with 78k miles on it.  Am wondering if perhaps I should have this same thing done to see if I can save the PTU.

 

The leak just started a few weeks ago.  I found a couple spots of thick black - tar like drops on the garage floor.  Jacked the vehicle up and checked under there and noticed the leak.

 

I am thinking about either doing this fluid change myself or having a reputable shop change the fluid.

 

It looks really tight up there with the heat shield and all.

 

Eyespy if I may ask did you do another fluid swap out and if so what did you find after the second one.

 

Thanks



#7 OFFLINE   robertlane

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 09:34 AM

Did anyone use Mobil 1 or ? ?



#8 OFFLINE   tom4158

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 12:33 PM

knowhowiroll,  I would recommend doing it asap.  You might just have a leak at the drain fill plug, but you also may have burst a seal, which has been reported in a bunch of other posts if you do a google search.  Good luck.  I hope it works out for you.

 

robertlane,  I used Amsoil, and actually changed it again this past summer.  I've decided to do it every 25k miles.  What the heck, it's a small price to pay for what I personally believe to be a much needed service item.  As far as Mobil 1 goes, I truly don't think it makes a whole lot of difference what brand you use as long as it's a top shelf synthetic and you stick to a regular service interval.

 

As per my first fluid change, the second change (summer 2014) was pitch black as well, with a significant amount of very very small gray particles on the plug magnet.  Just as a point of interest, I'm a very conservative driver, so I think this is a design issue for Ford.

 

Why Ford would not recommend regular drain and replace for this fluid is beyond me, especially when it's another opportunity for the dealer to make money.



#9 OFFLINE   Roger_89sho

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Posted 23 November 2015 - 03:21 PM

Help – PTU vent  due to over leak
In February 2014 in my 2011 Ford Flex Titanium, I smelled oil after a road trip from MO to PA and back.  I went my Ford dealer to because of the smell of burning oil entering in the passenger compartment.  The determination was that my crankshaft seal had failed and required replacement.  The service was done under my Ford ESP warranty and I went on my way.  Within 60 days I still smelled burning oil and took it back in to my Ford dealer again.  They advised that my seal was bad/defective and required a replacement again.  I had the replacement done again and went on my way.  Within a couple of months, and another 1200 mi. weekend trip to elderly in-laws,  I smelled the burning oil odor similar to previous oil smell but slightly more pronounced.  The odor was most pronounced after driving on the highway and when at idle in traffic or at a stop while the ventilation was on.  At a follow up oil change I told my Ford dealer that "I still smell burning oil", they checked but couldn’t find any leak so, I went on my way.  Another of my many trips to MO-PA-MO I have an issue with my climate control so I take it in to have the HVAC checked out and advise of the oil smell again.  The dealer reprograms my HVAC but still no identification of the pungent oil smell source.
Another family trip and this time my A/C starts malfunctioning again, I pull over and try to figure out the HVAC issues and smell the burning odor again.  In April of this year and around 72K of my 75K ESP warranty I figured I’d go to a different dealer to see if they can figure out my HVAC problems, get my Flex checked out by a different set of eyes and find the source of my burning oil before my warranty expires.  They replace components in my A/C (blend doors actuators, lines, etc.) but still can’t pinpoint or smell or detect the source of my burning oil. 
I take the car by to the previous dealer for an oil change, in and out not comments about anything abnormal.  A little over a month ago I put my Flex on the rack to change my oil and now my buddy and I see the grey/black fluid on the differential and he advise that it’s likely my differential.  
I take my Flex in to the 2nd Ford dealer on 11/18/15 because my HVAC, with outside temperature at 45 and the interior temperature set on 80 degrees, starts blowing cold air every time I stop at a traffic  like or stop sign and figure out this fluid under my car.  On Thursday, they called me to advise that the oil leak and smell is “Coming from PTU Vent, PTU needs replacing due to overheating.”  $1800 repair!
The diagnosis explains why the odor was so pungent and my research also explains why my issue was difficult to identify. No one drove test drove the car to generate the engine or PTU temperature to replicate the problem and the fluid, until recently, must have been getting no further than my exhaust.  I’ve contacted the dealer several times today to initiate the claim but not receiving a call back.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get help from Ford or to service this unit and without the expense of full replacement?
Thank you, 
 
Former 89 Taurus SHO retired at 273K
93 Taurus SHO donated @ 136K
96 Taurus GL  retired @ 189K
Current 2011 Ford Flex Titanium, Eco-boost, AWD, Vista roof, 2nd row buckets, Videos in hdrst, PWR 3rd row and hatch







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