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Manual Transmission Fluid Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Manual Transmission Fluid Replacement

Jared Fenton

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$60

Talent:

***

Tools:

24mm socket, extensions, U-joint, transmission fill plug tool, large

Applicable Models:

Volvo C30 T5 (2008-13)
Volvo C30 T5 R-Design (2008-13)

Parts Required:

Transmission fluid

Hot Tip:

Use the special tool or a 24mm socket, extensions and U-joint to

Performance Gain:

Smoother shifting

Complementary Modification:

Check CV boots for wear

One of the easiest tasks to perform on your C30 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 Volvo 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.

Volvo specifies the use of 'lifetime' fluid. This means that the fluid is designed to never be replaced. I'm not a believer of lifetime fluids in general. 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 C30 (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.'

Volvo specifies the use of Ford Motorcraft XT-M5-QS 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 C30. At this time, Pelican Parts can supply you with either quart or gallon sizes.

Begin the job by jacking up the C30 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 C30 for more information.

The C30's manual transmission has two plugs for filling and emptying the transmission fluid, located on the side 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 either the special tool (Volvo part number 9997301) or a combination of a 24mm socket and a u-joint to remove the fill plug. One of the arms of the sub frame makes it difficult to remove the 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 five 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.

Remove the left front tire and locate the fill (green arrow) and drain (yellow arrow) plugs on the side of the transmission case as shown here.
Figure 2

Remove the left front tire and locate the fill (green arrow) and drain (yellow arrow) plugs on the side of the transmission case as shown here.

Remove the fill plug (green arrow) first.
Figure 3

Remove the fill plug (green arrow) first. You'll find that it is difficult to fit a socket on the plug due to the sub frame member (yellow arrow) being in the way. There is a special tool to remove the plug, or you can use a 24mm socket with a u-joint to loosen it. Once the plug is removed, you can check the level. The fluid should reach to just at the bottom of the fill plug port. Take your pinky and feel for the level. At this point you can top up if needed, or continue with a full fluid change.

Shown here is aPicture of Volvo tool 9997301 to remove the transmission fill plug.
Figure 4

Shown here is aPicture of Volvo tool 9997301 to remove the transmission fill plug.

Now locate the drain plug (green arrow) at the bottom of the transmission case.
Figure 5

Now locate the drain plug (green arrow) at the bottom of the transmission case.

Use a 24mm socket to loosen and remove the drain plug.
Figure 6

Use a 24mm socket to loosen and remove the drain plug. Make sure you have a large capacity drain pan underneath to catch the old fluid. I also recommend wearing gloves and old clothes you don't care about. Old transmission fluid can sometimes smell really bad. If you get any of it on your clothes, you'll never get the smell out.

After the fluid has completely drained from the transmission, replace the drain plug.
Figure 7

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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