Most dealerships advise that gearboxes do not need to be serviced. At VAGSpec Centre Cape Town we often have clients asking how gearbox oil can be ‘life-time oil’ as the dealers claim because with that logic, engine oil should never need to be changed either. In short nothing is lifetime. Especially the oil lubricating your gearboxes internals. Overtime, the oil becomes contaminated with dirt, moisture and debris and these foreign bodies find their way into the gearboxes internals. Essential properties of the gearbox oil also start to deteriorate inevitably causing damage to the gearbox.
We most commonly see gearbox-related symptoms start appearing between 120 000km and 150,000 km, although symptoms can present themselves sooner. Experience shows that preventative maintenance goes a long way in resolving an issue before there is one.
Gearbox Related Problems
You will know you have a gearbox problem when your car starts behaving strangely. The gear shifts becomes less smooth. You may experience the car ‘slamming’ into gear, skipping gears completely or not wanting to move out of a particular gear. Sometimes, the engine revs, but the car does not move forward or you may have a gearbox malfunction light appear on the cluster. Some of these symptoms may not be a problem initially, but they tend to get worse and after some time, become serious causes of concern.
When the symptoms become constant or the car stops driving altogether, it normally means it’s time for a gearbox repair. An unfortunate and costly exercise. The best option is to prevent the gearbox from getting to the point of no return.
Servicing an Automatic or DSG Gearbox
Although saving the gearbox is easier in the early stages of these symptoms presenting themselves, there is no harm in attempting a gearbox service even at a later stage. In some cases, changing the gearbox oil can restore the gearboxes performance extent. This is not however, guaranteed to resolve issues you may already be experiencing. That being said, the best is to service the gearbox regularly to avoid problems altogether.
At VAGSpec Centre Cape Town, we recommend servicing your cars automatic or DSG gearbox every 4 years or 60 000km, whichever comes first. Where the gearbox oil filter or oil strainer sits outside of the gearbox, it is advisable to replace these with the gearbox oil. It is also important to make sure the gearbox oil being used in the gearbox is not only correct for your cars gearbox but that it is a good quality oil. The oil should meet or exceed the minimum specifications set out by the manufacturer and the exact correct quantity should be used as filling too little or too much can be equally problematic. There is no shortage of premium products out there. Taking your car to a reputable workshop will ensure good quality products and parts are used and that there is solid workmanship that will meet or exceed your expectations. A reputable workshop will also offer a guarantee on the work carried out.