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6 Speed M/T Shifts Poorly When Cold

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
Another issue I have with my 2013 GTI is with the transmission (6 speed manual). It seems that when the transmission oil is cold the shifts are 'clunky', like the synchros are not working properly. The shifts are only smooth when the transmission oil has warmed up, then it shifts quite well.

In the summer after it has been sitting overnight and I get in and start driving, it takes about 1/2 hour of driving before it starts to shift smoothly. In the wintertime it takes about 1 hour of driving. In really cold weather, like -4 F (-20 C) and colder, it never shifts smoothly regardless of how long I have driven it. It seems like at these cold temperatures the transmission oil never reaches its normal operating temperature.

Has anyone else experienced this? In particular I'd like to hear from other owners who live in cold climates, like central Canada.

Is there anything that can be done to improve the shifting of the transmission, like a multi-grade transmission oil with a low winter viscosity?
 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
I would recommend changing the transmission oil with OEM spec fluid. I had similar issues during winter and it helped a great deal
OK, noted.

Actually, the transmission oil has never been changed in my car as far as I know. I'm the second owner, but I'm pretty sure the first owner made not changes to the car since he had the car on lease and barely drove it. So the oil that's in it now is in all likelihood from the factory.

Do you know anything about the factory oil and the OEM oil sold by the bottle. Are they different?
 

GeorgiaBII

Drag Race Newbie
OEM = Factory.

Just buy the oil that is spec'd in your manual for the manual transmission and change it out.
 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
Yup, I'm thinking that is the first thing to try.

The best explanation for the problem that I can think of is that there was a production error on the assembly line, and they put the wrong oil into the transmission. It could have been by accident or intentional. For example perhaps they ran out of the correct oil. So, rather than stop production, they decided to use a similar but off-spec oil.
 

torga

Autocross Newbie
Very doubtful they would use out of spec oil in the factory. The more likely scenario is that 7yo gear oil needs to be changed for fresh oil.
 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
Well, I'm not convinced about that. The oil isn't exposed to high temperatures like in an engine so it's not supposed to break down. In fact it's supposed to last for the life of the car. Furthermore, as far as I know it's synthetic oil, which makes it even less likely to break down. Plus my car only has 38k km (24k miles) on it.

If there was a production error, it could also be from the factory the oil came from. The oil that they delivered to VW might have been manufactured incorrectly or simply labeled incorrectly. You can't tell what specification an oil is just by looking at it, so these types of errors can happen.
 

GeorgiaBII

Drag Race Newbie
Look in the owners manual it specifies a transmission oil change interval. I dont know where you've gotten your info but it's wrong. The oil was spec when it was put in. The additive package will degrade with shear that is found in a gear box.
 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
There is no such thing as a lifetime oil.
Can't remember exactly, but think a dealer told me this.

I don't understand where the my car may have the wrong oil in the transmission idea came from.
I came up with this idea myself. If you think about it, it isn't so crazy. VW rigged the the emissions controls on their diesel engines so that they could sell more of them. So it wouldn't surprise me that if their production line ran out of the correct transmission oil, the production manager would just use the next closest thing in stock so that they could keep shoving cars out the door. Under Winterkorn, profit came above all other factors.

Easy job to change it & enjoy a smooth gear change.
I'll bring it to a shop to have it done. I'm expecting that it won't make any difference, hopefully I am wrong.
 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
Look in the owners manual it specifies a transmission oil change interval.
Not in my manual.

I dont know where you've gotten your info but it's wrong. The oil was spec when it was put in.
Production errors can happen, unintentionally or intentionally. It wouldn't surprise me if this happened at VW from time to time just to keep the production line moving. Putting a slightly off-spec gear oil in a transmission doesn't really affect safety or the reliability of the transmission, at least during the warranty period. So, I could see a production manager using a slightly off-spec oil if they ran out of the correct oil.

The additive package will degrade with shear that is found in a gear box.
I only have 38k km (24k miles) on my car.
 

cbenjes

Ready to race!
Another issue I have with my 2013 GTI is with the transmission (6 speed manual). It seems that when the transmission oil is cold the shifts are 'clunky', like the synchros are not working properly. The shifts are only smooth when the transmission oil has warmed up, then it shifts quite well.

In the summer after it has been sitting overnight and I get in and start driving, it takes about 1/2 hour of driving before it starts to shift smoothly. In the wintertime it takes about 1 hour of driving. In really cold weather, like -4 F (-20 C) and colder, it never shifts smoothly regardless of how long I have driven it. It seems like at these cold temperatures the transmission oil never reaches its normal operating temperature.

Has anyone else experienced this? In particular I'd like to hear from other owners who live in cold climates, like central Canada.

Is there anything that can be done to improve the shifting of the transmission, like a multi-grade transmission oil with a low winter viscosity?
Manual transmission fluid is one of those topics, like motor oil, that is subject to multiple opinions, staunch loyalty and frequent word-battles. I can provide my opinion and experience. Many people swear by OEM, AMSOIL, etc. I have used Redline MTL in my Mk6 and Mk7 GTIs, '99 and '98 New Beetles, '91 Jeep Wrangler, '13 Jeep Wrangler, and '06 Civic. In each case, the feeling of the shifter as the gears meshed into one another was vastly improved, regardless of the weather and temperature. Maryland winters are frequently in the teens and single digits in the dead of winter. I've never had a problem.

In my most recent vehicle, the '16 GTI, I replaced the OEM with MTL at 13K miles and again at 45K miles. I could tell the difference in the feel of the shift each time, so my duration is 30-40K miles for the 6sp MT. Even my daughter could feel the difference in her '98 New Beetle when I changed her transmission oil. In my '99 New Beetle, I lost a syncronizer at 105K miles, after which I replaced the OEM oil with MTL. That transmission was fine for another 160,000 miles before the vehicle got totaled.

Like I said, this response could generate a lot of haters to provide their opinions, but I know what worked for me. I'm sold. Give it a shot, the only thing you have to lose 3 the funds for 3 quarts of MTL.
 

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Passed Driver's Ed
Manual transmission fluid is one of those topics, like motor oil, that is subject to multiple opinions, staunch loyalty and frequent word-battles. I can provide my opinion and experience. Many people swear by OEM, AMSOIL, etc. I have used Redline MTL in my Mk6 and Mk7 GTIs, '99 and '98 New Beetles, '91 Jeep Wrangler, '13 Jeep Wrangler, and '06 Civic. In each case, the feeling of the shifter as the gears meshed into one another was vastly improved, regardless of the weather and temperature.
This is the issue I have - the feeling of the shifter as the gears mesh. I was driving my car last night, and it was only about -4 C (25 F) Even after an hour of driving around the transmission shifts still weren't smooth, in particular from 1st to 2nd. It's a subtle feeling. Probably most people wouldn't even notice or care, but I can feel that it isn't as smooth as in my previous cars. It feels like the synchros are grabbing slightly.

Maryland winters are frequently in the teens and single digits in the dead of winter. I've never had a problem.

In my most recent vehicle, the '16 GTI, I replaced the OEM with MTL at 13K miles and again at 45K miles. I could tell the difference in the feel of the shift each time, so my duration is 30-40K miles for the 6sp MT. Even my daughter could feel the difference in her '98 New Beetle when I changed her transmission oil. In my '99 New Beetle, I lost a syncronizer at 105K miles, after which I replaced the OEM oil with MTL. That transmission was fine for another 160,000 miles before the vehicle got totaled.

Like I said, this response could generate a lot of haters to provide their opinions, but I know what worked for me. I'm sold. Give it a shot, the only thing you have to lose 3 the funds for 3 quarts of MTL.
Thanks for the advice, it's an option to consider.

Right now I'm reluctant to deviate from the OEM oil. So, I'll probably try replacing the OEM oil first. If there's no improvement in the shifting then I'll consider an aftermarket oil.
 

zrickety

The Fixer
I like Mobil 1 gear oil. Run it in all my vehicles. It may be a little stiff on a cold morning, for the first few miles that's normal. I used to live in upstate New York. It's not Calgary, but I had my share of cold weather.
 
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