The transmission is one of the most complex and, at the same time, one of the most important components in a car. It sits between the engine and the drive train and has the task of metering the torque generated and transmitting it to the wheels. The special thing about the gearbox is its structure. It consists of many large and small gears that mesh precisely with one another. Manufacturers use gear oils to minimize mechanical friction and prevent the proverbial sand from getting into the gearbox. But is transmission oil durable enough to last the life of a car? You will find answers to these and other questions about changing gear oil in this guide.
Changing the transmission oil: is it even necessary?
There are divergent opinions among car experts on this question. In new vehicles, manufacturers use gear oils that will perform their job for the life of the car and make a change superfluous. Irrespective of this, some manufacturers recommend changing the transmission oil after 150,000 to 180,000 kilometers. Many car workshops recommend changing the gear oil after 50,000 to 100,000. Whether or not it makes sense to change the transmission oil is primarily determined by how the car is used. If the car is mainly used on short journeys with many gear changes, an oil change is recommended after 100,000 kilometers at the latest. The type of transmission (automatic or manual transmission) does not matter when the change is made.
Is there a noticeable bad quality or too little gear oil?
Over time, all oils lose their viscosity and their ability to lubricate mechanical parts deteriorates. In the case of gear oil, this can be noticeable as follows:
– With manual transmissions: engaging the first gears is jerky and difficult. The problem is more pronounced with cold starts.
– The gears change with a time delay. After engaging a higher gear, it takes time for the transmission to respond.
In both cases, it is advisable to check the transmission oil. It is also advisable to check the oil level if oil stains appear under the vehicle. An indication of insufficient or insufficient transmission oil can also be if there are jerking movements while driving or if the fuel consumption increases for no apparent reason. In the worst case, continuous driving with used or insufficient transmission oil can result in transmission damage.
In the event of problems: Check the transmission oil level
The quality of the gear oil and its level can be checked visually. However, the effort required for automatic and manual transmissions is different.
With automatic transmissions, you can usually check the level using a dipstick in the engine compartment and top up with oil if necessary. To do this, you should first warm up the engine , switch off the car and shift through all the gears again. Then park the vehicle with the engine running and check the oil level (please note any deviating recommendations in the operating instructions!). But be careful: you must not use any gear oil when refilling! The oil must match your vehicle and the oil already in the transmission . It is best to ask your dealer or a car workshop.
With manual transmissions, checking the oil level is much more complicated. Since the gearbox is in the middle under the car, the vehicle has to be on a lifting platform. A jack is not enough for this. After removing the gearbox cover, you will find an oil filler plug on the side of the gearbox. After unscrewing it, insert a wire into the hole to check the level. A special tool (a syringe) is required to refill the transmission oil with manual transmissions.
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CHANGE GEAR OIL: HOW TO PROCEED
Changing the gear oil is not an easy undertaking and not recommended for laypeople. If you still feel confident about replacing the fluid, here are some tips for you.
For a car with a manual gearbox:
– Warm up the vehicle and then place it on a lifting platform.
– Remove the cover of the gearbox and any heat protection that may be present.
– Have a sufficiently large container ready to catch the old gear oil.
– Remove the oil filler plug and then the oil drain plug.
– After the oil has drained out, replace the oil drain plug with a new one.
– Fill in the new gear oil suitable for the vehicle with a special syringe.
– Lock the gearbox and leave the car off the stage.
It is not easy to change the transmission oil in a car with an automatic transmission. When the oil is drained, a residue always remains in the gearbox. It is therefore better to have the automatic transmission flushed in a specialist workshop. This process is also possible with manual transmissions and can increase their service life. However, it is also more expensive than just changing the gear oil.
Tip: A transmission cure can work wonders on very valuable and old vehicles. A specialist workshop takes the transmission apart, cleans it thoroughly and then reassembles it.