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Metal flakes in PTU/Transfer case fluid

This is a discussion on Metal flakes in PTU/Transfer case fluid within the Focus RS TroubleShooting forums, part of the Focus RS Garage category; I have a 2016 Ford Focus RS in Frozen White and whilst at the shop to have a clutch and flywheel installed, my mechanic noticed ...

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Thread: Metal flakes in PTU/Transfer case fluid

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    Metal flakes in PTU/Transfer case fluid

    I have a 2016 Ford Focus RS in Frozen White and whilst at the shop to have a clutch and flywheel installed, my mechanic noticed an issue with the transfer case leaking. He pulled the plug and what came out was fluid with enough metallic flakes in it to rival a heavy metallic paint job. The fluid is shiny and absolutely loaded with flakes. He is sure that there is something failing inside the transfer case, and given that the car is still under Ford warranty, I had it towed to the dealership.

    I don’t track or race the car or otherwise beat the snot out of it. I’ll probably catch flak for saying it, but it’s basically my commuter, as my other two cars are...unsuitable for commuting (2010 Shelby GT500 and 1973 DeTomaso Pantera). I commute about 200 miles a week with it and baby it just as much as my other two garage queens. I have about 44K on it, and I bought it used from Ford with 40K on it.

    I should point out that the dealership is the same has done the scheduled maintenance on the RS and they failed to mention any leaks or abnormalities with the car. My mechanic specializes in high performance cars across the spectrum from rally to drift and is my go-to for major work. The dealership is telling me that the car needs to be re-diagnosed all over again and the advisor made a point of attaching a big IF as to whether or not Ford will warranty the repair. I am also concerned that they’ll just refill the transfer case and call it good, leaving me with a potential disaster down the road.

    I’d like to get your thoughts on this. Has anyone else here heard of this happening? Any pointers on what I should do in terms of the dealership if they try to tell me it’s not fixable under warranty?
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    Get an endoscope and insert it in to see what's going on.
    Very odd to say the least.

    Does the power transfer feel different to when the car was new?
    This would be a definite warranty and from memory driveshaft is 5 years but based on country ymmv.

    Keep us posted where this goes.
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    What did the magnetic drain plug look like? I recently just changed the oil in my PTU and the drain plug had a good bit of material on it. The oil had the same color as above but I didn't think anything of it as it didn't look out of the ordinary compared to other flushes I've done in the past on my other performance vehicles.

    When the transfer case (which is essentially what the PTU is here) started to fail on my old Evo, you heard the death whine and knew failure was imminent. Do you hear anything like that or any codes/dash lights? If the PTU has failed/is failing, it should be replaced under warranty but without obvious indicators, it's up to what the dealership comes up with in their diagnosis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterchonger View Post
    What did the magnetic drain plug look like? I recently just changed the oil in my PTU and the drain plug had a good bit of material on it. The oil had the same color as above but I didn't think anything of it as it didn't look out of the ordinary compared to other flushes I've done in the past on my other performance vehicles.

    When the transfer case (which is essentially what the PTU is here) started to fail on my old Evo, you heard the death whine and knew failure was imminent. Do you hear anything like that or any codes/dash lights? If the PTU has failed/is failing, it should be replaced under warranty but without obvious indicators, it's up to what the dealership comes up with in their diagnosis.
    The transfer case on a evo is a lot different. The first thing is the rs have a 2% overdrive in he rear of the car, Secondly an evo when the transfer case fails it becomes 100% rwd due to the clutching being for the front, that's why it can only put 50% to the front wheels. They are similar in there design style using wet clutches, but ultimately what dies in evo transfer cases is the gears. In the rs put it has only a ring pinion gear then a whole ton of wet clutches, all the shavings are from wet clutches, that's why you replace the fluid every 30k, thanks to the overdrive there is a constant wear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeT View Post
    The transfer case on a evo is a lot different. The first thing is the rs have a 2% overdrive in he rear of the car, Secondly an evo when the transfer case fails it becomes 100% rwd due to the clutching being for the front, that's why it can only put 50% to the front wheels. They are similar in there design style using wet clutches, but ultimately what dies in evo transfer cases is the gears. In the rs put it has only a ring pinion gear then a whole ton of wet clutches, all the shavings are from wet clutches, that's why you replace the fluid every 30k, thanks to the overdrive there is a constant wear.
    There are no clutches in an RS PTU. Its simply a ring gear and pinion that picks off a drive at 90 degrees for the rear tail shaft.
    As for the contamination the first thing we need to know is what the material actually is. Ferris or non ferris? ie steel or aluminium?
    It looks ugly but then again if you shine a torch into the original oil in first engine oil change it looks looks like a glitter fest which is quite normal. Gearboxes can be the same but are generally less dramatic.
    The images look like aluminium particles to my eye, but I could be wrong.

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    Last edited by lucky phil; 06-19-2019 at 06:59 AM.
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    There is a clutch pack directly of of the transaxle, how else woul you be able to turn off the rdu from the ptu? That's a internal picture of a focus rs ptu. https://mk3focusrs.club/everything-y...he-awd-system/
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ceseuron View Post
    I have a 2016 Ford Focus RS in Frozen White and whilst at the shop to have a clutch and flywheel installed, my mechanic noticed an issue with the transfer case leaking. He pulled the plug and what came out was fluid with enough metallic flakes in it to rival a heavy metallic paint job. The fluid is shiny and absolutely loaded with flakes. He is sure that there is something failing inside the transfer case, and given that the car is still under Ford warranty, I had it towed to the dealership.

    I don’t track or race the car or otherwise beat the snot out of it. I’ll probably catch flak for saying it, but it’s basically my commuter, as my other two cars are...unsuitable for commuting (2010 Shelby GT500 and 1973 DeTomaso Pantera). I commute about 200 miles a week with it and baby it just as much as my other two garage queens. I have about 44K on it, and I bought it used from Ford with 40K on it.

    I should point out that the dealership is the same has done the scheduled maintenance on the RS and they failed to mention any leaks or abnormalities with the car. My mechanic specializes in high performance cars across the spectrum from rally to drift and is my go-to for major work. The dealership is telling me that the car needs to be re-diagnosed all over again and the advisor made a point of attaching a big IF as to whether or not Ford will warranty the repair. I am also concerned that they’ll just refill the transfer case and call it good, leaving me with a potential disaster down the road.

    I’d like to get your thoughts on this. Has anyone else here heard of this happening? Any pointers on what I should do in terms of the dealership if they try to tell me it’s not fixable under warranty?
    I changed my Trans, PTU, RDU fluids in December. The PTU fluid had alot of metal flakes. I’ve seen a few posts and videos of the PTU fluid having metal flakes. I haven’t noticed any issues. Have it checked out if you’re worried, but it is probably normal.
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeT View Post
    There is a clutch pack directly of of the transaxle, how else woul you be able to turn off the rdu from the ptu? That's a internal picture of a focus rs ptu. https://mk3focusrs.club/everything-y...he-awd-system/
    Only the RDU has clutch packs. The PTU is always engaged. Which is why the PTU to RDU drive shaft spins whether or not the RDU is disabled.
    Last edited by RSt~n~peace; 06-19-2019 at 08:37 AM.
    Frozen (Red) White (Blue) Born on the 4th of July!!!, RS2, moonroof, forged wheels

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    The OP stated the PTU fluid is what had the metal in it. The PTU contains only a Ring & Pinion and is always 100% engaged.

    Metal could be bearing or gear material, I'm sure an analysis of the fluid could determine its composition and point to which item is wearing abnormally. Does that mean ford will do anything? Not really. They probably will let it ride in hopes that it doesn't fail until out of the warranty period. Which is really crappy.
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    I cannot understate the amount of metal flake in the fluid enough. It wasn't just a little on the drain plug. I have a video of the entire drain and the fluid as it's draining out looks like heavily flaked, dark grey paint. Unfortunately, I was not on hand to acquire a sample of the fluid itself.

    I guess I'm just stuck waiting for the dealership to get back with something useful in terms of news. I'm hoping they do warranty it, otherwise I'll end up having to contact the state Bureau of Automotive Repair and become a giant pain in the rear for the dealership on it. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. I'll continue posting updates as I find out more information on this.

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    If they dont do anything, just make sure its documented that you have complained inside the warranty period. Then you have a case down the road.
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