When to change gearbox oil

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Your gear oil is constantly working to lessen the stressful impact placed on the vehicle’s gearbox, keeping operations at their peak. But just as most lubricants within the vehicle, it will need to be changed after some time. If it’s not, the slow accumulation of deposits can end up clogging your oil gearbox filter and potentially damage the components. As this will likely result in expensive repairs at the mechanic, you’ll want to avoid letting it get to that point.

When to change your gearbox oil

If your vehicle or car doesn’t have an oil life monitoring system, it can be hard to know when the time comes to change your gearbox oil.

But in general, there are a few rules you can follow to suss out when it’s time to fix the oil.

Manual gearboxes normally require an oil change every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

Automatic gearboxes usually have gear oil change intervals of between 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

You’re advised to change your gearbox oil filter at the same time as when you do your oil.

If you have a gearbox leak repaired, then always change your oil after the repair to make sure it’s fully topped up.

Because the variety is so wide, a good way to gauge the health of your oil is to check its colour.

New oils are brightly coloured – usually red – and semi-transparent, but they turn into a darker shade, lose transparency and can smell burnt due to oxidisation as they degrade or build up deposits.

To check your gearbox oil:

Open the bonnet and locate the transmission dipstick (its location should be shown in your owner’s manual). If your car’s model doesn’t have one, you will probably have to raise your car using a jack or lift, then carefully take away the transmission fill cap located on the transmission assembly.

Pull the dipstick out of the filler tube. If you have raised your car, insert a ruler, screwdriver or other implement into the system to sample the oil.

And finally, check the colour of the oil.

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If your oil is dark brown, black or light pink (something which occurs due to water contamination), then it’s time to change it.

Red-brown, semi-transparent fluid is often slightly degraded, but doesn’t necessarily signify a need for a change.

If you’re a rookie and feel a bit nervous about changing the oil in your gearbox, the best thing to do is contact a professional.

If you want to do it yourself, however, then Total advises you try these steps:

  • If your vehicle or machinery has a drain hole, locate it and place a catch pan under it.
  • Unscrew the drain bolt or remove the gearbox pan, then let all the fluid drain into the catch pan.
  • Remove the old gasket and filler, with replacement components to hand.
  • Inspect the gearbox pan, cleaning the magnet of any small pieces of metal.
  • Install the new gasket and filter, then bolt the pan back on to the machinery or vehicle.
  • Make sure you get the right gear oil for your car by checking the owner’s manual for the right type.
  • Check how much fluid your gearbox requires in your owner’s manual.
  • Put the right amount of fluid into your gearbox using an oil pump or pour it out after measuring.
  • Let the oil settle for a few minutes, then start the ending and run the vehicle for a short time.
  • Check the oil level to ensure it’s correct, and dispose of the oil responsibly.

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