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Gear Oil Leak

I drive a 2003 Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition 4WD (V8)with 169,000 miles on it. It is in absolute great condition. One day I noticed what seemed to be an oil leak on the garage floor. I took it to the dealer and was told the transfer case was leaking gear oil. I was told it would be about $4000 to replace the transfer case, but I could opt out of doing that as long as I drove on the “high 4’s” all the time, which is what I always do. This truck is all time 4wd. I just want to make sure that nothing will happen by not replacing the transfer case. Or will there be eventual doom and gloom by not doing anything?

Is there a 2wd position on this truck? In other words, did the dealer just say you’re not supposed to put it in low 4?

I’m not really familiar enough with the 4wd on this particular generation of 4Runner to comment authoritatively, but the dealer’s explanation sounds fishy to me in light of how transfer cases usually work.

Furthermore, I would strongly suggest you take it somewhere else. For one, I seriously doubt that the entire transfer case has to be scrapped and replaced with a new unit just because of a leak. I would not be surprised at all if a good transmission shop could actually fix the leak. Even if it does need replacement, an independent mechanic or transmission shop should be able to do it for much less labor and possibly save you big bucks with a used or rebuilt part.

Also, so are you now having to crawl under and check the gear oil? Since presumably it’ll eventually all leak out right?

There is no 2WD position on this truck. It is all time 4WD, so you basically have to choose between high 4 and low 4. The gear oil keeps on leaking onto the garage floor where cardboard has been placed so as not to stain the floor. There has been no stopping the leak. I guess I just want to know if I can just let it all leak out if I never use the low 4 option on the truck.

It doesn’t strike me as a great idea to continue operating the vehicle once it’s leaked out all of the gear oil from the case.

Unless the casting itself is what’s leaking, why the heck do they think the entire unit needs to be replaced? It could be as simple as a leaking shaft seal.

You should be replacing the gear oil that leaks out. If all the oil leaks out of the transfer case the gears inside will be destroyed.

You need to take this to a mechanic who can repair the transfer case. It may just need new seals. You don’t need a Toyota dealer for this, just a good independent mechanic.

You cannot continue to ignore the leak or your transfer case will blow apart one day while you’re driving down the road. Get it fixed.

Here is a classic manure pile thread…

Take your vehicle to an independent shop that SPECIALIZES in 4wd repairs and ask them how much to re-seal your T-case. NEVER go to a dealership for a non-warranty repair.

Your transfer case needs lubricant regardless of what gear range it’s in. Leaking seals can be replaced for a fraction of $4000…