VW Vortex - Volkswagen Forum banner

1 - 20 of 518 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Heads-up: VW

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://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 !!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,097 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
473 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Drivbiwire)

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?!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (sjoback)

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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
473 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

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..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (sjoback)

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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,370 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

Great post... I'm a firm believer in preventative maintenance http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,183 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid

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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (FrankBeauregarde)

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.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,183 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

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?).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (FrankBeauregarde)

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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,097 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (FrankBeauregarde)

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).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (wclark)

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.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,183 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (FrankBeauregarde)

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
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,183 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,092 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (FrankBeauregarde)

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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,383 Posts
Re: Heads-up: VW "Lifetime" auto transmission fluid (Cadenza_7o)

"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
 
1 - 20 of 518 Posts
Top