Tech Tips – Residential IHT (w/ External Expansion Tank) Oil Maintenance

Oil Maintenance Procedures for Residential IHT units with External Expansion Tank

Designed to be trouble-free

Normally the Residential IHT (K46), that is featured in many tractor & rider models, does not require any servicing for the life of the vehicle. However, if there is a desire to check or replace oil, it may be necessary to remove the transaxle from the vehicle to access the black cap located under the pulley & fan. Due to the design of our units,

Maintenance Overview

First, remove the transaxle from the vehicle following OEM instructions. After placing the transaxle on a bench surface remove the fan & pulley and pry open the black cap and remove magnet (see Fig #1). Invert transaxle to allow oil to drain from case through the port under black cap.

Tuff Torq K46 Oil Maintenance - Figure 1

Tuff Torq K46 Oil Maintenance – Figure 1

Refill transmission case with oil through same port to near top of case. Tuff Torq® recommends refilling transmission with Tuff Torq® hydrostatic oil, available from our service and aftermarket department.

Reinstall magnet & cap. While reinstalling the fan & pulley on drive shaft be sure to place all components in the same order as they were removed.

In heavy usage applications oil changing is recommended after the 1st 50 hours of operation and every 200 hours, thereafter. The filter should never require changing unless the transaxle is removed from the tractor or rider and opened for repairs.

Finally, after purging the transaxle of air, add additional oil through tank opening (under vent valve) to recommended oil level. (see Figure #2 below for recommended oil level).

For more information, or to order your service parts and accessories, please visit our service website here.  For technical support, you can call our service team at (866) 572-3441.

Tuff Torq K46 Oil Maintenance - Figure 2

Tuff Torq K46 Oil Maintenance – Figure 2

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    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

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  • do you offer a k46 with drain plugs?for a deere L120

  • Sophia says:

    Thanks for sharing the information. i really enjoyed your blog article. and you’r writing a good point.

  • Frank Sherman says:

    Hi Guys,
    I have an L110 John Deere and had a leaking seal on the input shaft . I removed the trans-axle and brought it to my local dealer for replacement. After installing it there is no grunt in the machine. It cannot even climb a small hill. I removed it again and found the oil level a bit low so I topped it up with about a cup of suitable oil. Could this be the problem, ie. low oil? If I need to rebuild the pump assembly/motor can you supply a rebuild kit? I am in Australia and find the John Deere people here only want to sell a complete trans-axle.

  • arnold says:

    i like your page but dont go far enough some these tractors work all year round so the oil spec declare what type of oil


    Good evening. I own a John Deere L130 lawn tractor. Manufactured date 05/12. It doesn’t move at all. Raised rear wheels off ground tires do turn slowly,but I can stop simply by touching wheel. I understand their maybe a problem with K46 trans. What is my best option for the money to repair or replace.

    • ggraham says:

      Hello Mr. McCallum,
      You should check all the external things first. Making sure the control lever is being pushed and pulled through the whole arc that it can travel. Also, you should check the input shaft and the pulley making sure that the pulley is turning the input shaft. After that, you should check all the pulleys from the engine on to make sure you do not have a problem that way. If those things are all good then you might want to open the transmission and check the machined faces of the center case. Paying particular attention to the areas between the ports. that is where the oil can escape and not hold pressure and that loss of pressure is the reason you could be experiencing low power. As always, you can call the service department to talk to the friendly techs at 866.572.3441 and see if they can help troubleshoot your issue.

  • Johnny Williams says:

    I have a craftsman riding mower model 917 288561 with 150 hrs. The k46 transaxle went out and have a new one coming soon.Do i need to purge it after installing and do oil changes every 200 hrs. or so with 5w50 synthetic.I mow normal with it at home but yard has some hills and is sloped for the most part.

    • ggraham says:

      Hello Mr. Williams,
      Our Transmissions are tested at the end of the assembly line to ensure that they are meeting certain standards. So your transmission that is coming is purged, tested, and ready to drop in your tractor.

  • Steve Kariker says:

    I just inherited an 02 John Deere LTR 180 with a tuff torq K46 transaxle. Everything is working fine but there is a little humming noise when I engage the transaxle. The article above seems to contradict itself in regards to an oil change. First paragraph says “Normally the Strider™ transaxle (K46), that is featured in many tractor & rider models, does not require any servicing for the life of the vehicle.” Then “In heavy usage applications oil changing is recommended after the 1st 50 hours of operation and every 200 hours, thereafter.” What is “heavy usage?” and should I take the transaxle out and change the fluid? Thank you so much!

  • James French says:

    I have a 11 yr. old, 400 hrs. K46 in John Deere LT160, should I remove it and change fluid and was told to use 5w50 synthetic motor oil if I do !!

    • arnold says:

      what type oil for al,winter ,summerl year

    • ggraham says:

      Hello Mr. French,
      Yes, changing the oil is a good idea. The oil in the transmission will breakdown over time and keeping fresh oil in the transmission will definitely help it run. We do recommend 5W-50 synthetic oil for your change and have an excellent blend that will help the unit run longer. You can always contact the helpful techs at the Service Department if you have any further questions.

  • Tim says:

    La 165..ive drained the oil…how much is required on the refill.

  • Tim says:

    How much oil is required for the transmission oil change

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  • Wayne Elliott says:

    Is there an upgrade kit for the k46 transaxle? I plan on buying a Cub Cadet LT with a 42″ wide mower deck. I plan on using it to mow and pull a 15gal. trailer type sprayer. Will the K46 ever need servicing if I use it as stated? If there is an upgrade kit, what does it consist of and what is the cost?

    • ggraham says:

      Hello, Mr. Elliott,
      I am sorry but we do not have upgrade kits. If you need to talk with a service rep, however, you can call at 866.572.3441

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  • RL Golden says:

    I own the John Deere L-120 and the transmission has failed. Imagine that? Any design that requires you to have to remove the transmission to replace the fluid is pure BS. The John Deere Manual says, “The transmission is a sealed unit that requires no maintenance” To add insult to injury they want to charge me more for a replacement than the mower is worth, knowing it won’t last either? Last John Deere anything I will ever own.

    • ggraham says:

      Hello Mr. Golden,

      We will be happy to help with your question about our oil. Please contact our professional service team and they will assist you in finding the information you require. They can be reached at (866) 572-3441 or my email at Have a great day!

  • joseph john says:

    hai dear,which oil using K46 gear box.(grade) .equipment using in gulf contry.

  • Richard says:

    Gentelmen…good mornin…heres the prob.John Deere l 118 2006 year mod…..mower working fine…needed to replace cooling fan…so i did according to procedure…mission acomplished…hoped on mower , and now no forward or reverse…replaced drive belt and drive idler ,and tension pulley asembley….no change…Now i did jack up and purge system and got slight movement but no torque…pullin my hair out in Texas…!!!!!!

  • Larry Conley says:

    I am having problems with my John Deere L130 tractor transmission slipping. Belt and pulleys are new. My tractor is a 2004 and is in very good condition. If I remove the transmission and change the oil can I drain most of the old oil from the top plug. I have observed someone trying to suck out the oil but he only got about a pint out. I may end up rebuilding or replacing the transmission but I would like to try oil first . If I have to replace the transmission should I upgrade to a k66 or another k46. If I have to replace the transmission I will contact you for what transmission will fit my tractor.

    • Hello Mr. Conley. Thanks for your message. While I am happy to help any way I can, you have several questions here that would be best answers by one of our service professionals. You can reach them at or toll-free at (866) 572-3441. They can give you recommendations on how to properly do an effective oil change and/or what would be best to check in the unit to see if repair or replacement is recommended. I hope this is helpful. Please let us know if you need anything further. Have a great day!

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