Your BMW deserves the best components. And if you’re using subpar transfer case fluid alternatives, we, along with the other enthusiasts, will be pretty mad.
Whether you drive a 4WD or an AWD BMW, your car has a transfer case. This particular box can sometimes be the sole component holding your entire transmission system intact.
Like all other moving parts, this case needs lubrication too. And the remaining fluid inside the case gathers a ton of dirt. That’s why you need a BMW transfer case fluid alternative for your vehicle.
Since the transfer case keeps the two axles in sync, you need to keep the fluid healthy. We went through the trouble of sieving through twenty different fluids. Then we came up with the top five, so you don’t have to.
We even added some essential tips that might come in handy. So let’s get on with it.
- 1 1. RAVENOL J1C1125 Transfer Case Fluid
- 2 2. RAVENOL J1C1003 SAE 75W Transmission Fluid
- 3 3. Royal Purple ROY01512 SYNCHROMAX
- 4 4. Rock Oil TF-0870 IYK500010 Transfer Case Fluid
- 5 5. LAIPZ TF-0870 Transfer Case Fluid
- 6 How does a Transfer Case Work?
- 7 Why Does a Transfer Case Need Fluid?
- 8 Why Should You Opt for an Alternative?
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9.1 Question: Does my BMW have a transfer case?
- 9.2 Question: Is my transmission fluid and transfer case fluid the same?
- 9.3 Question: Should I change my transfer case fluid after 10000 miles?
- 9.4 Question: My transfer case fluid came out red while swapping. Should I be worried?
- 9.5 Question: Should I continue driving if the gears in the transfer case are not properly functioning?
- 10 Conclusion
1. RAVENOL J1C1125 Transfer Case Fluid
At a Glance
- Brand: RAVENOL
- Type: Full synthetic
- Quantity: 1 Liter
The first one on our list is this one from RAVENOL. We had to put this one to the test for it to reach the top spot. After a close fight with the one that came second, this one clinched the podium finish.
So, what makes this unique as a transfer case fluid alternative? This one provides the Absolute package. It’s got stable viscosity and good protection altogether. So you get the best of both worlds.
Apart from this, this one tries to do a bit too much. And we’re not going to lie, it kind of succeeds.
Although you might have some restrictions while trying to use this fluid in the streets of California, it’s legal in other states. So you’re safe if you’re not in California.
If you were wondering whether the fluid is synthetic or conventional, well, it’s fully synthetic. The gear lubricant seems to do its job decently.
We tried this out for around two months. Truth be told, we did not come across any cranking issues. I mean, if we tested this for a day, then you might have faulted us, but we kept this fluid on our BMW for two whole months.
Since the newer BMWs come with new transfer cases, the fluids need an upgrade too. And RAVENOL knew that from the start. We were impressed by how this fluid kept the gears lubed throughout our testing.
If you’re concerned about the ups and downs of the viscosity, don’t be. That’s because we noticed that the viscosity remained more or less stable during our testing phase.
As for protection, RAVENOL claims that they threw in the kitchen sink. They boast a lot about their protection against corrosion, wear, and formation of foam. Well, we’ll let them pass since we didn’t see any of these clothes.
Is fluid swapping easy? Well, this usually depends on your vehicle, right? And there’s always a guy that can take care of this stuff if you’re not confident enough.
So, what about the friction coefficient? Well, it’s extremely low. So you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the transfer of optimum power.
As for compatibility, I think they mention something about this fluid being compatible with some BMW models. It’s also good for some Nissan, Land Rover, and Porsche Cayenne models.
One thing we didn’t quite like is the price. It’s one of the most expensive ones on the list. I mean, there’s a thing called paying for quality. But how justified is it to pay double the money?
Let’s talk about the performance. We swapped the original BMW 0870 fluid.
We did a fluid swap with all the fluids in this list. And this one performed above average. So we didn’t hesitate to put this one on top. It might cost you a lot, but I think your BMW will be happy with this one.
2. RAVENOL J1C1003 SAE 75W Transmission Fluid
At a Glance
- Brand: RAVENOL
- Type: Fully synthetic
- Quantity: 1 liter
Up next, we have another one from RAVENOL. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t pay us to do this. We thought the product deserved the podium finish. And, we’re going to tell you why.
If you ask me what the unique thing about this is, I’ll say it’s the options. It’s the only one that allows you to pick different sizes. So, if you’re trying to buy a bulk supply of fluid, this one could be your number one choice.
Other than that, it’s affordable. It’s one of the two least expensive products that we’re featuring. So that’s something you should think about.
We just had two months to test this fluid out. And hopefully, that’s all we needed. In those two months, we had the chance to test our BMW in hot and cold conditions.
The fluid did a decent job in extreme temperatures. We even put it through conditions with high stress. We’re not saying that it passed easily, but it passed.
If you own one of those BMW models with soft metals and brass synchronizers in the transfer case, this should work decently. The wear protection that we saw was also above-average.
I mean, two months isn’t really the best period to check the protection against wear and tear. But bad-quality fluid should have shown wear in two months.
Since this one didn’t show any corrosion, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a good choice.
Just like the previous one on the list, this one shows low foaming. It’s annoying how some of the cheaper brands use bad fluids.
These foams are the worst enemies for your transfer case. But even though this one’s cheap, it doesn’t seem to compromise quality.
You might have seen fluids struggling to perform well in low temperatures. Well, things aren’t the same here.
We saw that the fluid flowed inside the transfer case well enough in lower temperatures. Even the shifting behavior seemed to be optimal.
This isn’t the original fluid for your BMW. So, it’s expected that you won’t get the same performance out of it. But for the looks of it, we think it comes decently close.
It falls short of being the best fluid on this list by a couple of inches.
BMW’s fluid would have cost you a fortune. So getting this as an alternative is a good deal, at least to us. We took the risk with our BMW’s transfer case, so you didn’t have to.
And, luckily, our car didn’t break down even though we had our fingers crossed.
3. Royal Purple ROY01512 SYNCHROMAX
At a Glance
- Brand: Royal Purple
- Type: Fully synthetic
- Quantity: 1 Quart (946ml)
Coming in at third place, we have this 1-quart bottle from Royal Purple. They’re another one of those high-key brands you might have heard about. And this one just earned a podium finish by a whisker.
Do you know what’s so good about this? It’s the price. In fact, it’s the most affordable fluid for your transfer case that we’re featuring. And we’re certain that this is the value for money option too. So if you’re low on budget and want a solid option, this should be a wise choice.
We had the chance to test this fluid out for around two months. And the overall experience was satisfactory. We didn’t see anything too mind-blowing about this one.
Swapping the fluid into the transfer case was simple. I mean, we didn’t do it on our own. But the guy at the garage said that it was simple enough.
As for protection, well, they promise to wear protection. We didn’t try out the older version of this one. But they claim it’s new and improved. And, we’re prepared to take their word for it.
A good thing that we thought was worth sharing is the noise-deafening capability. Our old BMW was incredibly noisy, and it for certain needed an oil change.
Luckily, the noise was gone when we swapped the fluid with this one. We even forgot what it used to sound like when there wasn’t any noise. So the nostalgia kind of hit differently.
There is one thing you should know about this. You might not notice the difference immediately. We didn’t see any performance upgrade upon starting the engine.
After we drove it around for a couple of miles, we saw the performance boost. Somehow, things became smoother, and the noise of the transfer case went away.
From then, the performance boost was noticeable after every ignition.
Since it was priced lower, we were quite skeptical, to begin with. I mean, no one expected the difference this fluid showed. But after testing things out for a couple of months, we know that it’s the best value for money option that you can get.
All in all, it’s not the best fluid in the world. It’s not even the best on our list. But it gives you enough value for the price you’re paying. And the fact that we noticed such an improvement should be commendable.
4. Rock Oil TF-0870 IYK500010 Transfer Case Fluid
At a Glance
- Brand: Rock Oil
- Type: Fully synthetic
- Quantity: 1 Liter
Up next, we have a bottle from Rock Oil. It’s another one of those fluids that provide you with decent improvements across different aspects.
Here’s what’s unique about this. It’s the only one that performs as great as the original fluid. It might even exceed the factory performance at times. So it’s a beast nevertheless.
With that said, it’s also one of the most expensive options on the list. You’re going to have to pay twice the amount of the Royal Purple fluid. And that’s a lot for a transfer case fluid alternative.
We tested our BMW with this fluid in the transfer case for around two and a half months. And the results we got were satisfactory regardless.
After taking the car to the garage to get the oil swapped, we asked the mechanic questions. You might be surprised to learn that we could get better performance out of this one from the stock oil.
But don’t get too excited. I think the comparison was made with older stock fluid. If this went up against the more expensive new stock fluid, I think it wouldn’t have done so well.
Then again, it might have still performed better than most of the cheaper options.
As for performance in crazier conditions, well, it wasn’t as fluid in the colder conditions. We had a couple of issues with noise even after pumping this into the transfer case.
But this particular noise didn’t exist in the hotter temperatures. So we’re going to have to deduct points here for worse performance under colder conditions.
It’s suitable for electronic transfer cases. Since we couldn’t dissect the entire transfer case and take a look inside, I will be giving the benefit of the doubt to Rock Oil.
Since there were noise issues in colder conditions, we’re confident that the lubrication is lacking something.
As for protection against foams and wear, I think this passed. We didn’t notice any wear or corrosion during our two months of testing.
It’s not the best at lubricating as it claims. But I think you can still rely on it for the next 25000 miles.
5. LAIPZ TF-0870 Transfer Case Fluid
At a Glance
- Brand: LAIPZ
- Quantity: 1 Liter
Finally, we have this one from LAIPZ. You might not have heard about them in the transfer case fluid market. But it has some promise.
The best part about this is it provides improvements across all aspects. So if you want a fluid that provides subtle improvements to your transfer case, this is a wise choice.
But that’s also a negative aspect of this fluid. Hear me out. It’s the transfer case fluid that provides “subtle” improvement across aspects. And not everyone would be happy with the subtle improvements.
For what you’re paying, subtle improvements shouldn’t be what you’re looking at.
Okay, I know it’s the original fluid. And you might be willing to pay more for that. That’s why this even got into the top five list here.
It does come with some drawbacks. Other than the high price point, you should take safety measures while working with this one.
We were told that it would have some complications if it came in contact with the skin for a prolonged period. So it would be best if you kept that in mind.
In terms of performance, we found that the fluid performed well in hot and cold conditions. There weren’t any noises coming out of the transfer case while testing at lower temperatures.
So that’s impressive. But then again, if it charges so much, you shouldn’t expect noise at all.
Overall, this is a decent performer. But there are better options out there. And we think you should spend money on the cheaper versions anyway.
How does a Transfer Case Work?
If you’re new to this and never swapped fluids, this section might help you out. The chances are that you’ve never seen the transfer case of your car before.
That’s not unusual at all. Most people just take their vehicles to the garage and let the professionals work on them. I still think you should know the basics. In this way, you can understand whether the garage owner’s ripping you off or not.
In any case, the transfer case transfers power. What power are we talking about here? Well, if you’re reading this, there’s a chance that you own a BMW with AWD or 4WD options.
And this particular transfer case divides and distributes the power among the two different axles. The mechanism solely splits the power from the transmission between the front pair of wheels and the rear pair.
Some of the manufacturers even call it the “PTU” or “power take-off unit.”
Why Does a Transfer Case Need Fluid?
Now that you know how a transfer case works let’s talk about the elephant in the room. There are a ton of gears and other internal parts in this mechanism. And they need continuous lubrication to function properly.
This fluid acts as the lubricant to sometimes even perform a certain cooling action. Some of the transfer cases may also need wet-clutch lubrication. The use of transfer case fluid also completes this.
Most manufacturers load the transfer case with “automatic transmission fluid.” Other well-known fluids include some specialized fluids and gear oil.
Keeping the parts lubed is crucial. Otherwise, there will be corrosion or wear on the internal parts.
Why Should You Opt for an Alternative?
Usually, you can buy the OEM or original fluids straight from BMW. But that’s expensive as hell. Since you need to swap transfer case fluids sometimes, you might not want to dish out so much cash.
That’s why the alternatives exist. Brands like RAVENOL and Royal Purple have been in the marking for a long time. And you can understand how they prioritize keeping the prices of alternative fluids low.
I mean, if the prices were similar to the OEM versions, you might not be willing to spend that much money on third-party alternatives.
You would just pick the original versions since they’d be just a couple of bucks more expensive.
But that’s not the case, is it? There’s a significant price difference.
Another reason for getting an alternative is the availability. These products that we just featured on the list are much more available. You can just order them, and they’ll arrive at your doorstep the next day.
It’s not the same case if you’re looking for the OEM versions. These are less likely to be available everywhere. This particular shortage makes it hard for you not to pick an alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does my BMW have a transfer case?
Answer: If your BMW is an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive option, then you have a transfer case. This case will divide the power flowing from the transmission and distribute it between the rear and front pair of wheels.
Question: Is my transmission fluid and transfer case fluid the same?
Answer: No. they’re both different types of fluid. The transmission would usually use the same fluid as the front differential. On the contrary, the transfer case uses fluids like gear oil, as we discussed.
Question: Should I change my transfer case fluid after 10000 miles?
Answer: I recommend that you shouldn’t change the fluid that fast. I know that the fluid can get contaminated or wear during the use of the vehicle. But a good-quality fluid would still give you 30,000 solid miles before needing any swaps.
Question: My transfer case fluid came out red while swapping. Should I be worried?
Answer: Yes, if you have automatic transmission fluid inside your transfer case, it’s perfectly normal for it to be red. Don’t worry about it.
Question: Should I continue driving if the gears in the transfer case are not properly functioning?
Answer: That’s a bad idea. You should try and tow your vehicle to the mechanic’s garage in any case. Don’t just continue driving it if you know there are mechanical problems.
That’s it from our part. We tried to include all the pros and cons of all the products on the list. You might have a favorite already. But sometimes there’s no one answer.
So it’s still tough to choose the BMW transfer case fluid alternative for your particular BMW model. We tested all the fluids for at least two months and put our BMW’s transfer case on the line.
Lucky for us, nothing went wrong after so many fluid swaps. But you shouldn’t try this at home. Lastly, pick the alternative that fits your budget and needs.
Don’t dish out a lot of cash for a product that offers features you don’t need. Till then, drive safe and good luck!