How Does a Successful Transfer Case Fluid Swap Enhance the Performance of a Jeep Cherokee?

One of the essential components of a drivetrain system, a transfer case, is the ultimate automotive innovation that has created all the difference between an All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) and Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) vehicle. Most of the vehicles known for their off-roading prowess are 4WD vehicles. Driving on bumpy and challenging terrain requires adequate power. The mileage requirements will also be massive. Hence, 4WD vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee depend solely on their 231J transfer case to seamlessly supply the required mileage and performance to handle off-roading.

However, this complex system of chains, belts, gears within an aluminum or steel housing is incomplete without its fluid. A transfer case fluid helps it split the engine torque from the transmission and deliver it to the output shafts directly connected to the drive shafts. The cutting-edge design of most transfer cases helps it mechanically lock the front and rear driveshafts together and supply equal engine torque to each axle.

Importance of the transfer case fluid

Whether it be the 231J transfer case, the NP241, or any other variants, the power-packed performance delivered by them depends heavily on the fluid inside. Although similar in composition to other traditional or synthetic gear oils, certain vehicles might need specific types of transfer case fluids to help them maximize their performances.

A transfer case fluid removes heat from the transfer case body. Since heat dissipation is one of the significant causes of energy loss, keeping the transfer case cool by removing heat helps in improving efficiency.

Another essential function performed by the transfer case fluid is lubricating the internal parts of the transfer case. It keeps the gears cool and enables them to turn seamlessly.

Importance of swapping your transfer case fluid once in a while

Constant activity contaminates the transfer case fluid with carbon buildup resulting from cooling hot drivetrain components. It affects the vehicle’s performance and causes it to shudder while turning and create whining sounds. The fluid level below the threshold leads to failure of the differential. The same is the case when the transfer case fluid is contaminated.

The only way to prevent such unpleasant occurrences is to swap the transfer case fluid periodically. Vehicles that use 4WD often are advised to swap the transfer case fluid every 30,000 miles or so. It is because the transfer case fluid is cycled through the system more frequently when the vehicle is in a 4WD. So if you are waiting for a more extended period to change the transfer case fluid, it could have an overall detrimental effect on your vehicle performance.

How to do a successful transfer case fluid swap in a Jeep Cherokee?

The Jeep Cherokee with a 231J transfer case has a fluid capacity of 1.5 to 2 quarts. The following points will enable a successful transfer case fluid swap to enhance the power and performance of the Jeep Cherokee in its 4WD mode.

  • Choosing the perfect transmission fluid is essential. A Dexron- III, Mercon automatic transmission fluid, or a Red Line MT-90 will serve well.
  • The first step involves removing a couple of fill plugs on the front of the transfer case using a 10mm Allen wrench. If the transfer case has not been serviced in some time, heavy yet gradual pressure should be applied.
  • An oil pan should be placed underneath the transfer case before the drain plug is removed. It stores the residual fluid when the drain plug is removed. The drain plug should be reattached once all the oil fluid drains out.
  • Refilling the transfer case fluid through the fill hole should be done using a fluid pump.
  • The fluid should be constantly pumped till it starts overflowing from the fill hole. Once the overflow starts, the fill bolt should be attached and tightened.


A transfer case fluid is one of the essential components that drive the 4WD capability of the Jeep Cherokee and other superb off-roading vehicles. To constantly derive the best performance from the off-roader, the above instructions should be followed carefully.

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