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ford f150 transfer case with transmission fluid leaking in

Ford F150 Harley-Davidson Edition Losing Transmission Fluid – Transfer Case Check

I already found a problem with the 2006 Ford F150 Harley-Davidson Edition I just bought two weeks ago…

A few weeks ago I bought a 2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition for reasons previously discussed. The truck was a couple hours out of town, but the great deal made it worth it. The only trouble was that I found the F150 was losing transmission fluid. The tranny fluid wasn’t leaking out, so it must have been staying somewhere in the motor, so where was it going?

Luckily, I’m on a few Ford F150 Harley-Davidson Edition Facebook groups, and some of the guys in the groups are pretty helpful. One H-D edition owner warned me of a common issue with the 11th generation Ford F150s: One in ten Ford F150s produced in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 have a seal between the transmission and the transfer case that can wear out.

When the transfer case seal wears out, transmission fluid will leak into the transfer case. This isn’t good for your transmission, as the fluid levels will be about a quart or half a gallon too low, and it isn’t good for your transfer case as the fluid levels aren’t designed to be this high.

Here’s how to check if the seal between your transfer case and your transmission has gone bad on your Ford F150:

watch this video

Click the little unmute button in the bottom left corner to unmute the video.
Watch this video!

Step 1: Locate your transfer case and the fill and drain bolts

The transfer case is easy to find under your F150, see the video for where to find it. You’ll notice two bolts that you can take off with a 3/8” socket wrench. The top one is the fill bolt which covers where you would fill transfer case fluid into. The bottom bolt is the drain bolt where you would drain fluid.

Step 2: Loosen off the fill bolt

We want to loosen off the fill bolt, not the drain bolt. If there is only just the right amount of transfer case fluid in the transfer case, when you open up the fill bolt, not a lot of fluid will come out. If however the transfer case is overfilled because of transmission fluid seeping past the transfer case seal and into the transfer case, than when you take off the fill bolt, a couple of quarts of transmission fluid will come out of the fill opening.

Step 3: Check the fluid that comes out

By now you’ll already know that your transmission fluid has leaked into the transfer case of your Ford F150, but if you want to be extra sure, have a look at the fluid that comes out. It’s probably red, and smells like transmission fluid. That’s your sign. You’ll also want to check for any smell of burning in the fluid that could tell you if there was any damage to your transmission.

Once you’ve determined that your transmission fluid is getting into your transfer case, what should you do?

Assuming you know for a fact your transmission fluid is getting into your Ford F150’s transfer case, you’ll need to replace the front transfer case seal. This comes with good news and bad news.

The good news is that the seal itself is only about $24 CAD ($17 USD). The bad news is that the labor to replace the seal is about $620 CAD ($463 USD). Meaning the whole job will cost you about $644 CAD ($480 USD) to have a Ford dealer replace it.

Can you replace the front transfer case seal yourself?

Yes, you can replace the front transfer case seal yourself on your F150, but it’s going to be a lot of work. You’ll have to take the drive shaft off which can be awkward and heavy. If you have a car lift, and someone to give you some help, you might be alright, but if you’re stuck working on the floor this might be a job best left to the dealer to take care of.

If you do have a good shop setup for doing the work yourself, he’s a great video to show you how to replace the seal yourself:

What options do I have if I don’t have a lift and don’t want to take it to a shop?

You can check out a do-it-yourself garage. Unfortunately for me, the closest one is about an hour drive away, but if you do a search for “do-it-yourself garage near me” in Google, you might get one lucky and find one near you.

Do I have any regrets about buying my F150 Harley-Davidson now that I know it has this problem?

No, not at all. My truck came with a truck cap that I sold right away which more than covers the money I’ll spend fixing and upgrading the F150 to my liking. As long as this is the only bad surprise I’m still really excited about my first truck.

If you’re curious about why I bought the Harley-Davidson Edition Ford F150 (even though I’m not a big Harley fanboy), here’s why:

Are you better at taking care of your motorcycle’s fluids, or your car/truck’s fluids?

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.

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