Tech Tip Tuesday: ATV Differential Oil Change Tips

ATV Rear DifferentialInstead of opting to take your machine into your local dealer and getting a full service oil change, you can save a few bucks and change your oil your self. In today’s tech tip, we’ll show you how easy it is to change the oil in your ATV’s differentials. One of the most crucial maintenance items on an ATV is making sure you use the correct differential oil. This is because there are limited slip, wet brake, and different construction that require specific oil (wet brake oil, engine oil, heavy gear oil, etc). So before you start, make certain that you have the specified oil for your machine.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Differential Oil (use manufacturer recommended oil)
  • Socket/wrenches to get drain/fill plugs off/on
  • Flexible funnel (unless oil bottle has fill spout)
  • Shop towels
  • Drain pan’
  • 20 minutes of your time

atv differential plug

If you’ve ever changed your oil (we assume you have) then you  already have the skills and mechanical prowess necessary to change your differential oil. Depending on the make and model of your machine, your check and fill plug may be the same or there may be a separate plug for adding oil and one for checking the level. On this tech tip, we’re 

atv differential oil drain

working on a Polaris Sportsman 600 that only uses one plug in the front diff and one plug in the rear differential to check and fill the fluid. Once you’ve located the location of the plugs, place your drain pan under the differential and remove the drain plug bolt. On some models you may need to remove a skid plate for access (or to keep from filling it up with oil). Check the oil coming out for metal shavings or foreign contaminants (water, mud, etc) 

atv differential fill trick

that might indicate a problem with gearing or seals. Once it has drained completely, replace cleaned drain plug and tighten snug (do not over tighten). Remove inspection plug and fill plug and begin adding the correct type of oil (check your local dealer or 
service manual) via 

ATV Differential Fluid Full

a flexible funnel or oil bottle with nozzle. Add oil slowly until it starts coming out of the inspection hole. Let it run out of the hole until it is barely coming out and replace fill/inspection plug(s). Now follow the same steps for the front differential and voila, you’re done! Now you can sleep easy knowing that your differential isn’t full of water or mud after your last mud encounter.   
Do you have a tech tip question you need answered? Email us at and we might answer your question in our next Tech Tip post.

2 thoughts on “Tech Tip Tuesday: ATV Differential Oil Change Tips

  • December 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm


    I have a 2015 polaris sportsman 570 efi EPS with 12 volts winche on the front of atv

    My problem is how do you get to the filler plug front dif.

    There no way to get to it , without taking the winche .

    Is there a special tool to get to it ?



    • January 25, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      You may have to remove the winch if you don’t have access to the filler plug.

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