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Pelican Technical Article:

Manual Transmission Fluid Change

Jared Fenton

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$20 to $60

Talent:

***

Tools:

17mm hex socket, drain pan of at least 3 quarts capacity, fluid

Applicable Models:

Jetta MkIV 2.0L (1998-05)

Parts Required:

Transmission fluid

Hot Tip:

Wear old clothes. If the fluid gets on them, you'll never get the

Performance Gain:

Smoother shifting

Complementary Modification:

Check CV joints for wear

One of the easiest tasks to perform on your Jetta is to change the transmission fluid. It's very important to make sure that the fluid in your transmission is at the proper level. Otherwise your transmission will experience significant wear. The synchro rings and sliders all depend on a slick surface in order to match speeds when shifting. If your transmission is low on oil, the wear on these components will accelerate significantly. In addition, shifting the car will be more difficult. One of the first things that you should check on a VW that is having problems shifting is the level of the transmission oil. In addition, keeping the differential inside and all of its associated gears well lubricated should also help increase your fuel mileage.

The transmission oil also helps to keep temperatures down inside your transmission. The engine is one of the primary sources of heat for the transmission, as it conducts and radiates through and around the points where the engine and transmission are mounted. The transmission also creates heat itself as the gears and synchros turn within its case.

Keeping the transmission fluid at its proper level helps to mitigate heat problems. Having a large reservoir of oil to spread the heat throughout the transmission helps to keep temperatures down. On some higher performance transmissions, often there is an external transmission cooler installed that operates similar to the engine cooler.

In my opinion, the transmission fluid should be changed every 50,000 miles or about once every two years. This number is a rough estimate, and may vary depending upon your use of your VW (track vs. street). There are many moving parts in the transmission. These moving parts have a tendency to drop small microscopic metal particles into the oil. Specifically, the synchro rings wear down slowly over time, each time you shift. While the transmission bearings are not as sensitive as the engine bearings, they can still exhibit wear from these particles in the oil.

VW specifies the use of 75W90 G 005 000 05 synthetic oil in the transmission. Based on my research I have found an equivalent for the manual transmission. Redline MTL is a fully synthetic 75W/80W GL-4 oil designed for use in manual transmissions. It has been the gold standard in many transmissions for years and is highly recommended to use in your Jetta. At this time, Pelican Parts can supply you with either quart or gallon sizes.

Begin the job by jacking up the Jetta and support it on four jack stands. You want the car to be as level as possible when checking the fluid level. See our article on Jacking up Your Jetta for more information.

The Jetta's manual transmission has two plugs for filling and emptying the transmission fluid, located on the side and bottom of the transmission case. If you are simply checking the level of oil in your transmission, start by removing the top filler plug on the side of the transmission. This is the plug that you add fluid to. You'll need to use a 17mm hex socket to remove the fill plug. When you have the plug removed, take your finger, and stick it inside the hole. Angle it towards the ground, and see if you can feel any fluid in there. Make sure you do this when the car is cold and parked on level ground. If you can feel the fluid level with your finger, then your fluid level is about right, or perhaps will need only a little topping off.

Draining the transmission requires removing the drain plug at the bottom of the transmission. It is important to have a drain pan of at least three quarts capacity to catch all of the old fluid.

Shown here is the gold standard for European transmissions, Redline MTL.
Figure 1

Shown here is the gold standard for European transmissions, Redline MTL. This fully synthetic transmission oil is suitable for GL-4 applications. This oil is a great alternative to the factory fluid and is available from Pelican Parts.

Shown here is the manual transmission on our Jetta project car.
Figure 2

Shown here is the manual transmission on our Jetta project car. Make sure that the car is jacked up and supported on jack stands. You'll also need the car to be perfectly level to get an accurate level measurement.

You'll need to use a 17mm hex socket like the one shown here to remove both the fill and drain plugs from the transmission.
Figure 3

You'll need to use a 17mm hex socket like the one shown here to remove both the fill and drain plugs from the transmission.

Shown here is the drain plug (green arrow) located at the rear of the transmission near the rear mount.
Figure 4

Shown here is the drain plug (green arrow) located at the rear of the transmission near the rear mount. Use the 17mm hex socket to loosen and remove the drain plug. Make sure you have a drain pan to catch all the old fluid. Make sure you also wear some work clothes. Transmission fluid smells bad. If you get it on your clothes, you'll never get the smell out.

Now remove the fill plug (green arrow) located on the front side of the transmission.
Figure 5

Now remove the fill plug (green arrow) located on the front side of the transmission.

After the fluid has completely drained from the transmission, replace the drain plug.
Figure 6

After the fluid has completely drained from the transmission, replace the drain plug. It's a good idea to use a hand-operated fluid pump to fill the transmission with the new fluid. There isn't a lot of space to fit a bottle up there so the hand pump is a great alternative. Fill the transmission with fluid until the level reaches the bottom of the fill port. Usually, you'll see the fluid start to spill out. At this point, you're finished. Re-install the fill plug.


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