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Old 01-16-2019, 10:41 PM   #1
Mister_Cee
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1996 SW2
Default Manual transmission oil change interval ??

1996 SW2 Manual Transmission

I've read various opinions in previous posts, here, ranging from 50,000 miles to 100,000 miles to "There's no mention, in the maintenance schedule, of this service being required".

The only reference I can find, in the Maintenance Schedule booklet that came in my car's Owners' Manual, relates to the automatic transmission.

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Old 01-16-2019, 11:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

We used to do them when the car got to 6k miles. I guess the theory is within that mileage is when you tend to get fine metal shavings off the gears. After 6k miles you could change it whenever you wanted, I don't believe our dealership used a "set" mileage schedule after that. In the early years of the s-series automatics, it was recommended at every 30k, then sometime in 2000 or so, they changed it to 50k. Don't know the reasoning for that one though.

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Old 01-17-2019, 04:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

"We used to do them when the car got to 6k miles".

bluesl2,

Thanks for the response.

That seems about what was done to my SW2 The dealership changed it at 5,421 miles so probably at a 6,000 mile service.

"After 6k miles you could change it whenever you wanted, I don't believe our dealership used a "set" mileage schedule after that".

What I'm wondering is, since there is no mention of it being a suggested service for a manual transmission (other than the initial 5,000 or 6,000 mile initial change) does "whenever you want" suggest that it's purely discretionary and really isn't required?

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Old 01-17-2019, 07:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

On the '99 I had the 6000 mile dealer service including transmission lube change. Then a couple of years ago my passenger side axle snapped. That was probably 180-190K miles. When we rebuilt the car and did the differential pin mod at 204,067 miles we also changed the fluid.

...
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Old 01-17-2019, 09:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Cee View Post
What I'm wondering is, since there is no mention of it being a suggested service for a manual transmission (other than the initial 5,000 or 6,000 mile initial change) does "whenever you want" suggest that it's purely discretionary and really isn't required?
Either that or, "after 100k, it's well out of warranty so we don't care what you do"

FWIW, my opinion is that it is discretionary.

On my '98, I changed it to a good synthetic (Transynd) that OldNuc mentioned at roughly 100k or so, and stopped worrying about it. Worth it IMO for the peace of mind. Given that diff pins tend to occasionally be problematic, I thought it was a good investment. Figured my car would rust away before I had to worry about the trans again

FWIW, I have a 2001 owner's manual, and Saturn took out the initial 6,000 ATF change for the manual trans - there is no mention of changing the AT at all for the 5 spd. My 1998 owner's manual has the 6k ATF change.

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Old 01-17-2019, 10:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Cee View Post
"We used to do them when the car got to 6k miles".

bluesl2,

Thanks for the response.

That seems about what was done to my SW2 The dealership changed it at 5,421 miles so probably at a 6,000 mile service.

"After 6k miles you could change it whenever you wanted, I don't believe our dealership used a "set" mileage schedule after that".

What I'm wondering is, since there is no mention of it being a suggested service for a manual transmission (other than the initial 5,000 or 6,000 mile initial change) does "whenever you want" suggest that it's purely discretionary and really isn't required?

It is not required IF you have the Saturn manual trans fluid in there. As the dealer did the 6K service I suspect you have Saturn fluid. Check your level and as long as it is about 1/2 way up on the crosshatch leave it alone.

The OEM Saturn manual transmission fluid is not the same as Dexron-3 or Universal ATF and there is no real direct substitute for it either.

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Old 01-17-2019, 10:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Thanks for all the responses. Much appreciated.

"I suspect you have Saturn fluid"

Until they closed up shop, here, I always took the SW2 to a Saturn dealership, (even for oil changes and new tires) so I'm assuming the same as you suspect. I just checked my service records, and my final visit to Saturn was for a free "Thanks for being a loyal part of the Saturn family these past years" oil change on 09/09/09.

"The OEM Saturn manual transmission fluid is not the same as Dexron-3 or Universal ATF and there is no real direct substitute for it either".

I've read you, and others, say that very thing and that's one reason I really wanted to avoid putting anything else in there unless it was absolutely necessary.

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Old 01-18-2019, 08:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

My '95 owners manual states in the maintenance schedule that it's to be changed at 6k, and no need to change after that.

And it specs Dex IIE, Dex III, or the Saturn part number fluid.



I think we had the dealer do the 6k, and I've changed it two more time since then just because. Regular Dex III fluid both times, and the car shifts just fine. If I had some synthetic left over from a change on one of the auto trannys, I might dump it in, but the disposable beater commuter gets the disposable beater commuter fluids.

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Old 01-18-2019, 10:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

I change mine every 60k with dex-III. Never had a transmission issue.

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Old 01-18-2019, 02:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

I changed mine when I noticed that the rubber vent hose cracked at the fitting on the transmission and fell off I didn’t know exactly when it happened, but it went thru some winter driving that way.
The MP3 has had at least 4 oil changes. Not bad, compared to a dirtbike where, in mountain riding, I changed it every day

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Old 01-19-2019, 01:40 PM   #11
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

The manual transmission doesn't "require" periodic fluid changes, like an automatic does.

The manual gearbox uses synchronizers for the spinning the gears, when you manually shift them.

So basically the fluid doesn't suffer as much abuse or degrade as quickly, as it does inside the automatic transmission designs used. This is also why the manual transmission doesn't have cooling lines.

I do agree with other posters, that a periodic fluid change at your discretion won't hurt the transmission, and may even be beneficial because oils do degrade over time.

My 1993 Grand Am manual had GM Synchromesh fluid, that according to the GM product label, never needed changed.

At the same time, synchronizer-designed manuals are only estimated to have an average lifespan between 200,000-300,000 miles, which is one of the reasons that semi-trucks don't use them for their manual transmission models.

So, in my own opinion, the maintenance is not in there(other than the 6k-mile "break-in" service change interval), as the manual transmission is considered to be a "life-of-the-vehicle" component.

Given that GM never anticipated these cars being able to literally last for a million miles or more, could be why they never bothered to place a schedule for maintenance.

A lot people(except Saturn S-Series owners, and maybe Honda owners) will only own a vehicle for an average of 6-7 years, which typically averages about 75,000 to maybe just over 100k, before they trade the car in or sell it for a newer model(which when those that sell their Saturn S-Series for pretty much any other car, usually come to later regret that decision.)

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Old 01-19-2019, 05:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesl2 View Post
We used to do them when the car got to 6k miles.
I guess I baby mine lol (99 SL1 Automatic). I just did an oil change last weekend and that 2,000 since I bought it (which it had an oil change when I got some new tires anyway). I plan on doing a change every 4,000 from now on.

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Old 01-20-2019, 01:54 PM   #13
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

In 1983 i bought a 1978 Olds Omega from my dad - that had 330,000 miles he had put on it since new. It was a limited edition car - as it was equipped with a Borg Warner five speed manual.

I drove it to California from Michigan. A year or two later - I hit a big rock from a landslide and broke the transmission casing.

When I took the tranny apart - the Dextron II looked and smelled new - and nothing inside the transmission evidenced wear - despite the fluid being original, with 350,000 miles on it.

The car was 99 percent highway miles - and I expect that made a difference.

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Old 01-20-2019, 02:23 PM   #14
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

If you said you drove it back from Cali without oil, that would be a retailer’s AmsOil sales pitch from 1985! ...and, I use AmsOil in my MP3 and engine.
—————————-
MP2 and MP3:
Would there be any benefit to JB Welding a magnet to the transmission case down near the drain plug, but nowhere near the teeth for the Speed Sensor? Wouldn’t want to magnetise it.
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“Our shiny, silver-colored 1" x 1" x 1/2" neodymium magnet looks innocent, but is industrial strength, pulling something like 25 lbs with enough strength left over to erase all your credit cards.”
$10 (cheap!)

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Old 01-20-2019, 09:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Well, I decided to go ahead and replace it. However, it broke... https://i.imgur.com/ABi5fjw.jpg

The socket went on, gave it a good turn and it just snapped. So now I can't get it out from there. The socket can't seem to get a grip of it anymore.

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Old 01-20-2019, 10:38 PM   #16
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

If you use the BIG search box art the top of the page and search for broke ECTS you will find out how to remove it and exactly what to use. Basically you pull the guts out of it and use a large easy-out and the large is important or that also breaks.

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Old 01-20-2019, 10:57 PM   #17
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Oh my bad this was the wrong thread but ya I need to get over my phobia of Google :P.

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Old 01-20-2019, 11:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Quote:
Would there be any benefit to JB Welding a magnet to the transmission case down near the drain plug, but nowhere near the teeth for the Speed Sensor?
There is a magnet in there already.


You can't clean it though without splitting the case. Those ridges were metal sludge and wiped off.

...
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:12 AM   #19
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
There is a magnet in there already.
[IMG]
You can't clean it though without splitting the case. Those ridges were metal sludge and wiped off.
Mine looked like that when I had the MP3 apart. It is a very weak magnet.
My thinking is that, as the transmission wears, microscopic pits & chips beget more chips. A strong magnet would supplement the original magnet. —Especially for transmissions that were never opened and have loaded-up magnets.
Probably the best addition would be a magnetic drain plug.

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Old 01-22-2019, 11:39 AM   #20
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Default Re: Manual transmission oil change interval ??

By the time that interior magnet is fully loaded with magnetic dust the trans will be sufficiently worn a deaf person will be squawking about the whine.

The usual causes of early transmission replacement are quill seal failure and front output shaft roller bearing. Neither of these failures provides any indication before failure.

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