21 Oct “Filled-for-life” What Does it Really Mean?
Anything that describes as “maintenance-free” or “filled-for-life” gets our attention. When it’s time to upgrade your house that you’re more likely to offer the maintenance-free siding than the brand that requires fresh paint every few years.
No one wants to perform unnecessary maintenance. We value products that promise to restore our most valuable resource: time
The idea has influence how many original equipment manufacturers (OEM) design their vehicles. We’re seeing more vehicles roll off the assembly lines with “filled-for-life transmissions fluids that allegedly don’t require motorists spend a second of your time or penny of their money on transmission fluid change during the vehicle’s lifetime. All things being equal, what casual motorists is going to opt for a vehicle with a transmission that eliminates the hassle of dropping $150 or so on a transmission flush and wasting time of the dealership or repair shop?
“Filled for Life” simply means “filled for the life of the warranty.” If the transmission fails after you eclipsed the vehicle warranty time, what do you think the auto dealership is going to do for you? Slide you a bill for $2000 also across the counter.
It’s a good idea to change fluid in a “filled-for-life” transmission at least once during the vehicle’s lifetime, particularly if you tow or haul. Heat breaks down transmission fluid and causes sludge to form, which can clog the narrow fluid passages in the transmissions valve body. Worn, dirty fluid also contributes to clutch wear and glazing, which you can experience as elongated or jerky shifts. “Filled-for-Life” transmissions contain drain and fill plugs so changing the fluid is possible.
For differentials, “filled-for-life” are also popular. The 2016 Ford super duty 250 for example, is considered “filled for life.” However, the owner’s manual instructs you change the fluid every 50,000 miles in “severe” conditions and any time the differential is submerged in water. The 2017 Toyota Tundra likewise features a “filled for life” differential but Toyota tells you to change the fluid every 15,000 miles of towing.
Don’t think older vehicles are immune. A 1996 Chevy Suburban has a “filled for life” differential. Again, GM recommends 15,000 mile differential fluid change in “severe” service.
Never changing the gear lube in your differential is also a bad idea. Today’s vehicles make more power and torque than their predecessors, yet the gears and bearings that would put all of power to the ground are largely unchanged. Adding to the challenge, many automakers have reduce the amount of gear lube in the differentials to reduce energy loss to friction and boost fuel economy. Low viscosity fluids are also gaining popularity in an effort to increase fuel economy.
This scenario creates the perfect opportunity for extreme heat to read havoc on your differential. Towing and hauling increase friction, which in turn increases heat. Extreme heat causes the gear lube to thin, reducing the effectiveness with which it keeps gear teeth separated and prevents wear. Thinner gear little further increases friction, which causes you to increase in a vicious cycle known as “thermal runaway.”
The solution to thermal runaway certainly is not to ignore your differential and never change the gear lube, despite what the owner’s manual might suggest. Most truck and SUV owners automatically fall under the “severe” driving designation due to towing and hauling, so they require differential service. Even if you driving habits don’t fall under “severe” designation, it’s still a good idea to service differential at least once during the vehicle’s lifetime. Again, “fill for life” means “filled for the life of the warranty.” If you burn up a bearing or chip the gear teeth in your “filled for life” differential, once the warranty period has expired, don’t think for a moment the dealership is going to honor your “filled for life” warranty.
Anyone who change gear lube in their pickup or SUV knows the challenges: a tough-to-reach fill hole, gear lube spills everywhere and bloody knuckles. Our new SEVERE GEAR easy-pack offers the perfect solution. Compared to rigid conical bottles that waste of water of the gear lube or more, our easy pack offers the dexterity to maneuver around vehicles components and the flexibility to install nearly every drop of gear lube. It eases the process of changing gear lube, saving you time and hassle.