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Standard Transmission Lubrication and Maintenance Facts..

Here is a subject that can cause a lot of opinions to be expressed. What type of lubrication is right for my standard or manual transmission? When should I change the lubrication or fluid in my manual transmission? Two great questions with surprising answers.

Unless you drive a car or truck that is made before the ’90’s, your standard transmission most likely does not use gear oil or differential oil. You know, 90 weight or 120 weight gear lube. The transmissions’ produced after 1990 are way more precise in how close their tolerances are. They also use several different types of synchronizer ring materials than brass, which mandates fluids that suit the exact need.

Since I am a synthetic oil nut, this will be somewhat simpler considering 99% of the manual and standard transmissions use a synthetic type of lubrication. All the others that use conventional lubricants can be converted to synthetic oils with out modifications or worry. It can only save money by allowing your transmission to last longer.

Briefly, when I speak with Brian at, we both agree that most standard or manual transmission failures are due to lack of maintenance and loss of lube, as in, little tiny drips of fluid that drip out of your tranny here and there and go unnoticed because the trans. gets forgotten, until BOOM, your tranny just exploded.

This is not that complicated of an issue. My recommendations for vehicles that get normal everyday use and are driven an average of 12000 to 20000 miles per year would be to do exactly what the factory says. Standard transmissions don’t require as much maintenance as automatic transmissions. Which makes it easier to forget. Mark it down so you remember. It cost way less to remember.

If you fit the above driving description than by following factory specs and using exactly what the factory uses in terms of lubrication, (you have to buy factory lube from the dealer) than you may expect to have a long uneventful standard transmission life. The reason I don’t like to buy standard gear lubes from after-market suppliers is that factory lubes use a specific set a of additives that match the materials used inside your particular transmission, and they are certified synthetic. Other than the factory lube is of a specific viscosity (oil weight), which is not our job to change, they also have an additive called friction modifiers that help the synchronizers do a smooth job of shifting gears.

If you drive a commercial vehicle which gets harder use-age than I would suggest cutting the factory mileage and or time in half. The newer transmissions use thinner lubricants ( don’t use heavier fluids…) which will break down under heat faster. Still way cheaper than replacing transmissions all the time. And it won’t tie up your valuable time being in the repair shop.

The last thing I can think of is this. If you don’t drive very much, as in less than 6000 miles a year or only once a week to church and the grocery store, than I would just do it once a year. The reason is that low mileage cars won’t heat up enough to burn any condensation out of the lubricating fluid, there fore allowing the transmission to possibly rust and corrode some of the internal parts. This is particularly important in very cold climates.

That is it in a large nutshell. If you want more information regarding transmissions, take a few minutes to read our Blog. There may be some pointers that will help you have a long term relationship with your transmission.

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