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    Thread: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (baloney!!!)

    1. 10-13-2003 10:11 PM #1
      We all know that synthetics are much better lubricants than mineral-base oils. They protect better and last longer... BUT THEY DON'T LAST FOREVER... as VW implies with their "Lifetime" automatic transmission fluid (ATF). In a legal context, "Lifetime" really means the duration of "VW Powertrain Warranty". Upon its expiration, the $JOKE$ is on you. This "lifetime" language is not used only by VW but by many brands.

      After having done some reading about VW's mysterious lifetime ATF, I just replaced the ATF and filter for my NB at 50k. The filter & oil pan were coated with a layer of sediment of shiny, metallic shavings. I didn't take any pictures but here's a thread posted by an Audi owner who had sent his used ATF to a lab for an oil analysis...

      (note: Audi & VW use the same ATF): http://forums.audiworld.com/a8/msgs/22083.phtml ... look at the oil specs

      new -vs- old fluid

      new -vs- old filters

      "lifetime" ATF cultivates lifetime metallic sods (shavings)

      here are some photos of the filter & oil pan: http://www.audipages.com/Tech_....html

      ...and photos & report from a Passat'er: http://www.taligentx.com/passa....html

      Like other car-makers, VW knows that most owners don't keep their cars too far pass 100k. So they extend and/or delete the specifications on some costly items... i.e. 105k timing belt change on 1.8T engines, "lifetime" fuel filter and ATF. This is a marketing twist to help sell cars by advertising "minimal" maintenance.

      So, if you intend to keep your VW for a while, do your bank account a favor by changing the ATF on a regular basis. This task is a bit complicated, but if you have the right tools & technical resource and want to do it yourself, most major VW/Audi auto-parts retailers (ie ECStuning, GermanAutoParts) now stock these VW-specific oils and filter kit. For the 01M automatic, ask for the filter kit and ATF Pentosin G-052-162-A2, which is the same Part No. as VW's for Mk4. I would do the same with manual transmission oil, which is so much easier to change.

      BTW, if you ask VW service writers, they'll entertain you with that "sealed with lifetime" gibberish... by Corporate mandate, of course. But if you talk with a VW or Audi mechanic who has actually removed the transmission oil pan and changed the oil, he/she will tell you otherwise.

      UPDATE: relevant links for 01M transmission...

      01M DIY instructions: http://pics.tdiclub.com/members/driv...0Procedure.pdf

      New Beetle specifics: http://newbeetle.org/forums/technica...ion-fluid.html

      Valve Body Cleaning: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=3780457

      Wiring Harness replacement: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=3888041

      Pressure reading & adjustment: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zer...08524

      Front mounted ATF cooler: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=4457289


      My 01M current stat: 4th drain & refill + filter. Odometer reading: 218k miles.

      Cheers and good luck with your 01M !!!

      Last edited by Cadenza_7o; 07-27-2013 at 04:05 PM.

    2. 10-14-2003 09:05 AM #2
      The Audi vehicle maintenance schedules call for the same thing. A number of A8 owners were having transmissions replaced at 40k-60k miles until the person (PaulW) you linked to on that Audi forum started on a mission to get people to change the filter and fluid first (saved most of the ones initially told they needed a new one by dealers) and for everyone to adopt an interval around 40k miles. A the link you included that owner (of a 4.2 litre A6 )reported he had a sample of the fluid he removed during a change at 32k miles analyzed and the lab recommended an immediate change due to the level of contaminates. ZF, the maker of the particular automatic in these cases does recommend a more frequent interval if you speak with one of their people (they do not publish anything to this effect that is in the public domain).

      My experience with auto transmissions in the past has been the first change was most important as this encompasses the contaminates generated during break-in as well as normal wear (and fluid breakdown - which is much less of an issue wuth synthetics).

      By the way, I have similar lifetime transmission fluid advertising from BMW. I guess marketing is winning over engineering everywhere.


      Modified by wclark at 5:06 AM 10-14-2003


      Modified by wclark at 5:07 AM 10-14-2003


    3. 10-15-2003 09:56 AM #3
      80K on the synthetic fluid is about all you want to stretch the drains out to...IMO

      Here is a link to the 01M tansmission fluid change in case your interested in .pdf format:

      http://www.cst.cmich.edu/users...e.pdf

      DB


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      10-15-2003 02:46 PM #4
      I'm going to give a shot at changing mine soon, but why the hell does it have to cost $25-$30 for 1L of fluid?!

    5. 10-15-2003 03:34 PM #5
      Quote, originally posted by sjoback »
      I'm going to give a shot at changing mine soon, but why the hell does it have to cost $25-$30 for 1L of fluid?!

      That's expensive. My dealer asks $15/1L and you can get them online somewhere between $10-$12.


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      10-15-2003 05:04 PM #6
      well yeah, its $12 a bottle for the 4 speed auto fluid, but the tiptronic fluid has a different part number and runs about $25 from vwparts.com. Cadenza, good post btw.

      Also, does anybody know if there is a filter on the tiptronic transmissions? it appears to be much different from the 4speed, and there are no signs of a filter with the valve bodies. hmm..


    7. 10-15-2003 05:35 PM #7
      Quote, originally posted by sjoback »
      well yeah, its $12 a bottle for the 4 speed auto fluid, but the tiptronic fluid has a different part number and runs about $25 from vwparts.com. Cadenza, good post btw.

      Also, does anybody know if there is a filter on the tiptronic transmissions? it appears to be much different from the 4speed, and there are no signs of a filter with the valve bodies. hmm..

      Oh, forgot yours is a Tippy. Did you check the link above for the Passat ATF change? That Passat has a filter. Here it is with pix and narrative: http://www.taligentx.com/passa....html


      Modified by Cadenza_7o at 1:37 PM 10-15-2003


    8. 10-15-2003 05:38 PM #8
      This link should be made a sticky! http://www.cst.cmich.edu/users...e.pdf

    9. 10-15-2003 08:59 PM #9
      Great post... I'm a firm believer in preventative maintenance

    10. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-17-2003 05:51 PM #10
      Great post.
      You know I asked the dealer the other day if I should change the fluid they said they would do it for $150 but said I shouldn't do it since it would "make it worse" and create problems.
      What could happen the seals may leak or something? I think i would be better to change it.

    11. 10-17-2003 06:34 PM #11
      Quote, originally posted by FrankBeauregarde »
      Great post.
      You know I asked the dealer the other day if I should change the fluid they said they would do it for $150 but said I shouldn't do it since it would "make it worse" and create problems.
      What could happen the seals may leak or something? I think i would be better to change it.

      I would double-check what this service includes. More likely it's a simple ATF check & top-off. Without dropping, cleaning the pan and replacing the filter, the shavings and grayish friction material you see in the photos would still be circulating in the tranny.


    12. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-17-2003 07:31 PM #12
      For $150 I would hope its more than ATF check & top-off, but your probably right. I remember asking about the filter and they said there wasn't one.
      I'll have to dbl check to see what the code on my trans is (maybe AG4?).

    13. 10-18-2003 07:37 AM #13
      Quote, originally posted by FrankBeauregarde »
      For $150 I would hope its more than ATF check & top-off, but your probably right. I remember asking about the filter and they said there wasn't one.
      I'll have to dbl check to see what the code on my trans is (maybe AG4?).

      Let us know what you find out. If $150 is indeed the price, then it's actually not bad.

      There's another service called "transmission fluid evacuation" or "flushing" service, whereby they disconnect the hoses at the transmission oil cooler and attach them to a pressure-flow machine - one for inflow, one for outflow. Using pressure, the machine forces in new fluid with one hose while receiving old fluid with the other. Once the outflowing fluid "looks" new, they turn it off and check fluid level... done. I'm not sure if VW uses this method but I would not recommend it without also cleaning the oil pan and replacing the filter. For trannies that haven't been serviced regularly, without doing the pan & filter, pressurized flushing actually stirs up the metal shaving at the bottom of the pan, which, in sufficient amount, will clog up the filter and eventually starve the transmission of oil. Many Jiffy Lube (or Iffy Lube) and EZ Lube offer this service as a short cut to the messy, time-consuming method of cleaning the pan & new filter.

      One exception: for relatively newer cars w/o the bad stuff in the pan, flushing is okay.


      Modified by Cadenza_7o at 3:53 AM 10-18-2003


    14. 10-19-2003 10:15 PM #14
      I dont have the manuals on the A3 or A4 platforms but I checked in the bentley publishers forum and someone named TomB indicates the A3 trannys do have one. The usual access is by removing a pan on the transmission, which in most cases is also the way it is drained. This makes sense deom a design standpoint (no drain and removing the pan) because the pan (and often a small magnet in the pan) needs to be cleaned and changing the fluid without changing the filter and cleaning the bottom of the pan is just asking for more problems than not touching anything. By the way TomB also recommends Amsoil ATF. I have used the stuff with great success on other cars but I havent determined if it is the right choice for VW/Audi yet, beyond some positive anecdotes.

      Personally I havent seen a modern automatic without a filter, and I think it would be totally foolhardy to offer an automatic with a "lifetime" fluid and no filter, but I have seen dumber stuff (lifetime transmission fluid for one).


    15. 10-20-2003 05:50 PM #15
      A fellow VwVortex'er by the name of Vroomm (or something like that) reported using Redline D4-ATF for about a year now w/o any problems. This is a mix of 60% Redline + 40% VW ATF. Personally, I would like to see an oil analysis or more positive users' feedback before switching.

    16. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-21-2003 05:41 PM #16
      Ok I called 4 dealers in my area today.
      Dealer #1 was the guy I called last week and said $150 to change. When I talked to him today and asked if they would drop the pan and change the filter he said no, they don't do transmission work. All they would do is change the fluid.
      Dealer #2 was real nice explained the whole process to me and said it would cost $235 (+/- depending on how much fluid it took).
      Dealer #3 said it would cost $185 and explained that the filter didn't need to be replaced. He said unless it's torn or damaged they just clean and reuse them. I said I would insist on a new filter and he said it would be $40 more.
      Dealer #4 said it would cost anywhere from $275 to $300 for everything.
      They all agreed it would take about 2.5 hours to do. Oh and I asked Dealer #2 about the fluid. He said it is a synthetic mineral oil and can't be mixed or substituted with anything else.
      Nobody said anything about the pressure machine that was mentioned.

    17. 10-21-2003 07:07 PM #17
      After having seen the pan, I would insist on having it cleaned. There's a magnet strip at the bottom of the pan to hold down the metal shavings. A simple drain & refill won't flush the shavings out, nor will it flush out the friction material (gray powder) you see on the filter. Dealer #3 said that they will only clean the filter. This sounds like BS to me because the filter element is enclosed by the housing with no way of removing except with a chisel. If they clean by soaking it in a detergent and rinsing, and re-rinsing it till all the bad stuff comes out, the process takes more work than than it is to replace it. I don't think VW mechanics know anything about transmission besides changing the oil & filter at most. When a tranny breaks, they replaced it with another. Transmission specialists are a different group altogether.

      A filter & gasket kit cost me $22, so $40 from the dealer sounds right.

      ATF: this is a sticking point. "Synthetic mineral" is an oxymoron, but there's such a thing as "synthetic blend" or a mixture of both Synthetic and Mineral. Synthetic oil is made of a different stock, completely man-made. I believe the best way to describe VW's (Pentosin) ATF is "refined mineral oil" with a healthy additive package to help the oil last longer. The Pentosin bottle itself has no mentioning of "synthetic", but the re-packaged VW bottle does... however, they both used the same Part #!!!

      FYI, German laws requires that an oil be "full synthetic" to be labeled as such. In the U.S., we haven't gotten around to this regulation yet. Which gives oil corporations a loophole to milk their customers with false advertising.


      Modified by Cadenza_7o at 3:20 PM 10-21-2003


    18. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-21-2003 07:38 PM #18
      Yea, germanautoparts.com has the filter, seal and gasket for like $28. I think I remember someone saying fluid was like $15, I guess it takes about 6L so about $90. $118 for all the parts if I try it myself. (They told me it takes 2.5 hours so minus parts it comes to about $50 to $90 per hour for labor )
      It doesn't look hard only thing is I don't have access to VAG-Com tool. I wonder how important that step is?

    19. 10-21-2003 08:48 PM #19
      I bought my kit at Germanautoparts. They also sell the Pentosin ATF but don't list it on the website. Call them up. I think they're expanding and haven't a chance yet to update their website.

      The temperature is important but IMO, not Swiss-precision. If you have the Bentley manual, it says that the ATF should be 95-113*F while you check the fluid level. 95-113*F is hot-tub warm. Check the links above, including the Acrobat file put together by Drivbiwire. He's done a good job, very clear.


      Modified by Cadenza_7o at 4:58 PM 10-21-2003


    20. 10-22-2003 01:52 PM #20
      "maintenance free" is BS. The sad thing is buyers believe and are willing to take the risk in the long term. My uncle bought a brand new MB kompressor, took it for a long trip and refused to check the oil mannually since the computer says the oil level is OK. he gloated on how little maintenance is specified for his car, that's from a person that siezed his lawnmawyer motor

    21. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-24-2003 05:00 PM #21
      I emailed Red Line and asked them what was a compatible fluid for the transmision, and they said Red Line D4ATF, is safe and compatible with the original ESSO fluid.
      Also emailed Amsoil who said their ATF is safe as long as the VW tranny doesn't use Type LT 71141 Transmission fluid.
      I think I'll use the VW stuff to be safe. Hopefully I'll have time to do it tues or wed next week.

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      10-25-2003 09:50 PM #22
      too bad their automatics aren't "lifetime" either. I can't believe VW still can't build an automatic that will hold up or can at least be rebuilt. Now VW is sourcing autos from Japan...

    23. 10-26-2003 09:37 AM #23
      Quote, originally posted by FrankBeauregarde »
      I emailed Red Line and asked them what was a compatible fluid for the transmision, and they said Red Line D4ATF, is safe and compatible with the original ESSO fluid.
      Also emailed Amsoil who said their ATF is safe as long as the VW tranny doesn't use Type LT 71141 Transmission fluid.
      I think I'll use the VW stuff to be safe. Hopefully I'll have time to do it tues or wed next week.

      I got the same responsefrom Amsoil on that spec fluid. They tend to be very careful about recommending any of their products, particularly transmission oils and fluids. They recently announced a fluid for Allison transmissions and it would surprise me if they werent working on a fluid for the ZF trannys that require this spec ESSO fluid (most of them) since these transmissions appear in an awful lot of car brands, especially those from Europe.


    24. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-29-2003 04:22 PM #24
      Well I got all the parts but now a friend of mine told me that it would be best to leave the fluid alone.
      Said if a transmission has a lot of miles on it and the fluid has never been changed it may loosen some crap that could cause sticking of control valves in the valvebody.
      Has anyone had problems after changing fluid?

    25. 10-29-2003 04:52 PM #25
      Quote, originally posted by FrankBeauregarde »
      Well I got all the parts but now a friend of mine told me that it would be best to leave the fluid alone. Said if a transmission has a lot of miles on it and the fluid has never been changed it may loosen some crap that could cause sticking of control valves in the valvebody. Has anyone had problems after changing fluid?

      What he says is true but it only applies to pressurized flushing and without replacing the filter & cleaning the pan.

      If the tranny hasn't been serviced in the last 100k, you shouldn't do a PRESSURIZED flushing. This is done by a machine by hooking up in-flow and out-flow hoses to the AFT cooler. With the engine running, the machine pumps in new ATF with one hose and receives old fluid from another. Once the old fluid looks like new, they shut off the machine, check the fluid level.... done. Most of the time, these idiots don't even change the filter. Due to the pressure and engine running, all the gunk from the oil pan and torque converter broke loose and circulate everywhere in the tranny. It can clog up the filter so bad that oil starvation is possible. This is why you sometimes hear people reporting tranny failure within a few days after a ATF flushing.

      What you're doing is completely different. First, the filter is replaced and the pan is cleaned. Second, the tranny is NOT running. Third, there's no pressurized pumping involved.


    26. 10-29-2003 05:12 PM #26
      Frank - read this thread regarding tranny flushing: http://theoildrop.server101.co...00456


      Modified by Cadenza_7o at 1:56 PM 10-29-2003

    27. 10-29-2003 09:49 PM #27
      We have a 2001 Jetta GLS automatic. For those with automatics, there are two fluids, one transmission and the other a gear oil. Both should be changed IMHO.

      To check the transmission fluid level and the gear oil level costs very little at a VW dealer. The gear oil level to tough to get to check and the transmission check requires it be on a hoist.

      It's in the Bentley.


    28. Banned baomo's Avatar
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      10-29-2003 09:55 PM #28
      Where is the gear oil, in the rear differential?
      (Sorry I don't have Bentley)

    29. 10-29-2003 10:04 PM #29
      This is for a 2001 Jetta automatic, 2.0l, 115 hp. No, it's the gears for the transmission, next to the engine. If you check the regularly scheduled maintenance requirements, it's mentioned briefly but is very important.

      I'm not a mechanic, just a DIYer but some mechanics refer to it as having two "sumps", one for the transmission fluid and the other for the gear oil. they appear to be right next to each other in automatics.

      I've checked mine myself and have to admit it was a pain. I had the dealer check the transmission fluid.


    30. 10-29-2003 10:40 PM #30
      For 01M transmission, the gear oil for the final drive is checked by removing the speed sensor gear. The gear (looks like a metal rod with helical gears at the end) is the dipstick itself. I haven't touched this yet... till the next oil change in another 5k.

      Frank - you oughta get a Bentley manual. It's cheap on Ebay.


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      10-30-2003 12:00 AM #31
      while the 01M uses gear oil for the final drive, the 09A tiptronic 5spd transmission does not have this. the final drive and the rest of the transmission are in the same casing and share fluid. I'll have a write up on changing the 09A fluid early next week. There seems to be plenty of info on the 01M, but almost nothing on the 09A.

    32. 10-31-2003 03:54 PM #32
      Quote, originally posted by sjoback »
      while the 01M uses gear oil for the final drive, the 09A tiptronic 5spd transmission does not have this. the final drive and the rest of the transmission are in the same casing and share fluid. I'll have a write up on changing the 09A fluid early next week. There seems to be plenty of info on the 01M, but almost nothing on the 09A.
      ,

      A write-up sounds great, Take pictures if you can. The 5 speed tiptronic is so new that most of us haven't put enough miles on them to warrant a fluid change yet. At 60,000 km (40,000mi) I will certainly change mine, it was easy to do on the past three automatics I've owned, with good results.


    33. 11-03-2003 06:55 PM #33
      ^^^

      Update: Pix of Auto tranny filter kit...


    34. 11-04-2003 02:39 PM #34
      Bumptronic for a great post!!

      Thanks!


    35. 11-04-2003 09:50 PM #35
      Quote, originally posted by art.clemens »
      too bad their automatics aren't "lifetime" either. I can't believe VW still can't build an automatic that will hold up or can at least be rebuilt. Now VW is sourcing autos from Japan...

      well well...

      my 2.0 is just sitting in my garage til friday so it gets towed to a tranny shop to get rebuild...i was told the same thing, its a lifetime fill, no tranny filter, just the oil...i didnt believe that, but it was the dealer's word...car was driving fine until it just kicked out of gear and then suddenly neutral bombed itself into 2nd gear and started peeling out on rt.17 going home...i took my car to the dealer and said that i needed a new tranny (this was at when the car had 88k miles) and i said the car still has the powertrain warranty, but i was the 4th owner of the car and i couldnt get a tranny, so i decided to change the fluid and the "filter" and the car actually went into gear, but slipping, so i was driving it like a manual, (i called it stickmatic at the time) put it to 1st, go to desired rpm then let go of gas, then shifted, but the funny thing was that i had to let the car warm up, then it goes to gear, but makes a weird whining noise, car was moving at least 10 mph until it goes into gear...later on during the month, problem got even worse, the tranny made like a supercharger whining noise and whenever i downshifted, it locked up the front wheels, then goes into gear, then i decided to stop driving it afterwards cause that was scary...

      oh well...i just cant wait for my car to be running again, but then im selling it and plan to get something else, yes its going to be another dub, but this time, im making sure that its a manual next time

      ill keep an update once i get the car running again...

      BTW for all the experts here, about the speed sensor being the dipstick, can i just pull it out or do i need a tool


      Modified by DaFabolous2.0 at 5:54 PM 11-4-2003


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