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Maintenance :: Girl's Guide to Changing Transmission Fluid

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Old 05-20-2010, 09:44 PM
Gerldoc
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Maintenance :: Girl's Guide to Changing Transmission Fluid

I thought I had done most of the 50K maintenance on my 2005 MCSc (I'm actually at 52K) - but I neglected one thing - a transmission fluid change!

I think I fell for the "never needs changing" line that I had heard from the dealer... After reading some posts on it, I though hmmmmm...maybe I should just do it - what if it really could use fresh oil?

Well, in a nutshell, I am darned glad I did. After seeing the photo of the used fluid below at the bottom of this post, I think you'll agree!

This is NOT hard to do at all - just a bit messy!

So here's another guide for the other grrrls out there on how to do this...



THINGS YOU WILL NEED:

1) Ick clothes - wear ones that you wouldn't be upset if some oil got on
them (just in case!)

2) A car jack and 2 stands.

3) 2 quart bottles of manual transmission gear oil. Like many of the
others on this forum, I bought Redline MTL 70W80. Redline is not sold
at all auto parts stores. If you want to find out where to get it near
you, go here: http://www.redlineoil.com/ and type in your zipcode.

I paid $13.99 a quart (it's good stuff).



4) A shallow (and preferably somewhat wide) catch pan. I bought a
square plastic basin at a hardware store (the kind you would put in
the sink to wash dishes in).

5) One 8 mm. hex bit (socket drive) and socket wrench (or breaker bar)
Don't make the mistake I did! Without looking first to see what the
drain and fill plugs actually looked like, I had read about needing an "8
mm. hex socket" and bought that
What you want is a 8 mm. hex BIT with a socket drive. The drive is
going to be 3/8 inch (or possibly 1/2 inch) size. You will want to be
sure that the socket wrench drive is the appropriate size. If you have
a wrench with a 1/2 inch drive and the bit uses a 3/8 inch drive, you
can buy a 1/2" to 3/8" adapter for about 3-4 dollars.
A breaker bar is just a long (usually 18 - 24 inch) heavy metal socket
wrench, with either a 1/2" or 3/8" drive. it is used for the express
purpose of loosening bolts (like off of your wheels) and is a darned
handy tool to own. Auto parts stores will have them.


The 8 mm. hex bit was $3.99 at the autoparts store, and this is what it looked like:






6) A torque wrench (warning - despite temptation, DON'T use this as your breaker bar - it will ruin the calibration of the wrench!)

7) A plastic funnel and clear vinyl tubing, with 1/2" o.d. (outer diameter)
and 3/8" inner diameter. I got a 20 ft. coil of it at Home Depot for
about 6 - 7 dollars. You will only need about 3 to 4 feet of it.

8) A short piece of wood dowel, or - I used this - one of those skinny
bamboo garden stakes (the ones about 1/4 inch in diameter).

9) Some nitrile gloves and some shop towels are handy, since it IS
oil, and things WILL get messy, despite how careful you try and be!

10) Your favorite after-the job-is-done vice!



STEP ONE:

Before you actually get started...thers have suggested first placing the quarts of oil in a sink partially filled with warm water, so that when you go to pour it, it will come out faster. (It has the consistency of maple syrup!) I just placed mine is the warm sun, and it worked out fine.

Jack up the car, and place the jackstands under the squarish jack points at the front of the car (you can see the if you look under the edge of the door sills). You want to try and have the car end up as level as possible - so having the car initially positioned so the back end is a bit higher than the front should be perfect. (I was stuck doing this is my driveway, and due to the way it is, there was NO way to get my car as level as I wanted, but it was close.)

LEAVE THE JACK UNDER THE CAR - always a good idea in case one of the
stands should fail!!


STEP TWO:

Place yourself front and center of the car, and look under the front of the car towards the driver's side. About an arm's length away, you will see the transmission casing, and two black plugs:




Place your drain pan under this area, and a bit more towards the passenger side of the car (when the oil comes out the bottom hole, it will arc out towards the passenger side and you don't want it to miss the pan!)

[This is (physically speaking) the hardest part of the job. MINI factory apparently likes to torque the plugs in really tightly, and they can be hard to remove - I had read this over and over. However, at 5'6" and 135#, I was able to loosen both plugs with just my El Cheapo 10 inch socket wrench - it just took some muscle and leverage.]

Using your socket wrench/breaker bar and the 8 mm. hex bit, LOOSEN THE TOP (FILL) PLUG.

I repeat - LOOSEN THE TOP PLUG FIRST!!

Reason being, if you loosen the drain hole first and all the oil drains out, and then you find that you can't get the top plug out, you are now stuck with a car that will need to be towed to a mechanic!!!

Once the top plug is just loosened, go to the bottom (drain) plug and JUST LOOSEN it - once budged this little bit, you will be able to unscrew both plugs by hand.


STEP FOUR:

Remove the loosened bottom (drain) plug by unscrewing it with your hand. Be sure that the catch pan is situated right, because at first, the oil will come arcing out - then it will drip. Let the oil all drain out (about 10 minutes or so.)

After all the oil has drained out, replace the drain plug, and tighten it firmly with your hand.






STEP FIVE:

Take your 3 to 4 foot vinyl tubing, and insert the dowel (or piece of tomato stake, as I did!) into one end. This will stiffen the tubing so that you can easily feed it down through the engine bay to the fill plug below.

Here is a handy area through which the tubing can go, practically straight down, to the drain pan:





Remove the piece of dowel/stake, and insert that end into the top (fill) hole - it only goes in about 3/4 of an inch or so - not far.

Back in the engine bay above, place the funnel into the other end of the tubing. Keep the drain pan in position under the plugs.




Now, retrieve the oil from the sink (or the sun) and pour it into the funnel.
Pour until the oil starts to come back out of the fill hole. You will use about 1 3/4 quarts of the oil.





STEP SIX:

Once you have filled the transmission case, torque both plugs -

For the MCS, torque both plugs to 32 ft.-lbs.

For the MC, torque the top (fill) plug to 22 ft.-lbs. and the bottom (drain) plug to 30 ft.-lbs.


STEP SEVEN:

Remove the jack stands and jack. Take the car for a spin - you will probably notice that the shifting seems smoother!
Dispose of the used oil as you would any other oil - NOT by pouring into a storm sewer or drain! Take it to a local auto parts store that will dispose of it for you, or to the hazardous waste removal area for your county.


Here is a photo of the used oil:

As you can see, it has a blackish-maroon color:






AND HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE!!!






Obviously, there were a LOT of metal shavings and tiny metal bits

And MINI says that the oil never needs to be changed!!!???
 
  #2  
Old 05-21-2010, 09:34 AM
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Thanks for posting this, and it's very well done too!

I'd love to see more "grrls" doing their own work on their cars....I taught my daughter how to work on her car one summer when she was in college. We bought her a VW bug and spent all summer doing all sorts of stuff including a new engine, redoing the seats and a whole bunch of other maint, like brake adjustment, trans lube, tightening the steering box and so on. We then took a 4,000 mile trip in it across country to her school! it was a fantastic summer, a great learning experience for her and she's used the skills she's learned ever since.

I think the most important thing she learned tho was the confidence to tackle mechanical things on her own, without needing a "guy" to help her. She's married with 5 kids now and she's still the go-to guy in their household when things don't work.

A lot of times the excuse I hear has to do with not being strong enough - however I find it's usually down to not knowing how to use the tools and how to apply leverage - something that seems to be inate knowledge for guys but not so much for grrls. So guys, get the women in your lives involved with their cars, don't do it for them, teach them how to do it themselves, everyone will benefit if you do, including them!
 
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Old 05-22-2010, 09:27 AM
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Good Job!

I did this 6months ago and used Redline also. However, my wifes Mini shifts really smoooooth (like mine use to) but now mine feels rough. Not sure if its the Redline or the Trans. (hopefully the Redline) Maybe I will search for something better or if its possible maybe something thicker. I am guessing that since I am in AZ. that the fluid is thinned because of the high heat we get here.

If anyone has a suggestion as to which type of Man. Trans. oil to use or if its wise to get something thicker please feel free to clue me in.
 
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Old 05-22-2010, 10:59 AM
Gerldoc
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Originally Posted by MINIdave View Post
Thanks for posting this, and it's very well done too!

I'd love to see more "grrls" doing their own work on their cars....I taught my daughter how to work on her car one summer when she was in college. We bought her a VW bug and spent all summer doing all sorts of stuff including a new engine, redoing the seats and a whole bunch of other maint, like brake adjustment, trans lube, tightening the steering box and so on. We then took a 4,000 mile trip in it across country to her school! it was a fantastic summer, a great learning experience for her and she's used the skills she's learned ever since.

I think the most important thing she learned tho was the confidence to tackle mechanical things on her own, without needing a "guy" to help her. She's married with 5 kids now and she's still the go-to guy in their household when things don't work.

A lot of times the excuse I hear has to do with not being strong enough - however I find it's usually down to not knowing how to use the tools and how to apply leverage - something that seems to be inate knowledge for guys but not so much for grrls. So guys, get the women in your lives involved with their cars, don't do it for them, teach them how to do it themselves, everyone will benefit if you do, including them!

Well said!!! Gender (and age) only matter to the point where one cannot physically lift something heavy, or have the manual dexterity to accomplish something.

I'm not giving away my age, but let's just say that my first car was a VW bug, and it was back when they populated the roads! But I am, and will always be, a science geek who likes working with her hands, and I grew up with a father who was an engineer and never said "No, you can't do that" to me - he showed me how to use his woodworking tools, and I became adept at using everything from a drill press to a lathe (and I still have all ten fingers ) Now I am a Primary Care doc - can I afford to have someone else work on my car? Yes - but I'd rather learn new things and help others to do the same. If I can do it, anyone can!

SO - kudos to you for being the type of man did not let his child's gender decide what he taught her to do!
 

Last edited by Gerldoc; 05-22-2010 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:13 PM
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When I changed my transmission fluid at about 60.000 miles I was surprised at the amount of junk in the bottom of the drain pan. I would certainly recommend changing that fluid much sooner that I did. I used the Synthetic Manual Synchromesh Transmission Fluid that is made by AMSOIL. I now have 98,000 miles on my 03 MCS and the shift is as smooth as a hot knife through butter. Be sure to get the MTF fluid and not the MTG. The MTG is 75W-90 and is much to heavy.
Gene
 
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:45 PM
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does the R50 require more fluid then the MSC's
 
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:36 AM
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Hi! New member here. My very first post in a thread that is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Awesome job with sharing your how-to. Thank you and drive safe .
 
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:09 AM
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Thanks for an awesome post! I'm still waiting for my mini to be delivered buy once my free maintenance period has run out I have every intention of doing as much as I can on my mini on my own. Great details and images!
 
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:05 PM
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This is great! Thanks! needed this!
 
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:06 PM
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@silvereagle

I also have the 2003 MCS and bought it used @83k miles.

I want to change the oil in my manual tranny, I have the amsoil 94. But can't locate the drain and fill plugs.....


which side is it on? I tried taking off the driver side wheel already with no luck....

Is it the same as the pictures on this post?

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-02-2010, 08:27 PM
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Yet another "Home Run How-To" !!!
Reminds me, I need to do the same thing.

Thanks!

Jim
 
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:27 AM
Gerldoc
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Originally Posted by gta18 View Post
@silvereagle

I also have the 2003 MCS and bought it used @83k miles.

I want to change the oil in my manual tranny, I have the amsoil 94. But can't locate the drain and fill plugs.....


which side is it on? I tried taking off the driver side wheel already with no luck....

Is it the same as the pictures on this post?

Thanks!

Yes, I would think it would be. If you position yourself facing the car at the front and center, and look under the front towards the driver's side of the car, you should be able to see the drain and fill plugs. Look for a structure that matches the photo. There is no need to remove any of the wheels.

Let us know if you were successful!
 
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:36 PM
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Very impressive!
 
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:33 PM
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got a quesion. is Gear oil the same thing? i went to Pepboys/AutoZone, and all they have is either Gear Oil. or Automatic Transmission Fluid ( i got a manual)
 
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Old 07-08-2010, 12:58 PM
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Thanks for posting this. I think I should have mine changed too. Approaching 67,000 miles and I don't think this has ever been done.

I've been going to the stealership until recently and they kept telling me this doesn't have to be changed. Yeah right! They also couldn't figure out that my engine cooling fan wasn't working (the low speed fan) and probably hasn't been working for over a months when I first had problems. They had my car in for a week and said there's nothing wrong.
 
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:11 PM
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Were your drain and fill plugs magnetized? I have an 04 MC with 98000 miles and I changed the trans fluid other day. My plugs were magnetized and had a lot of shavings on both of them. I refilled with the AMSOIL fluid. Procedure was pretty much what you listed. Everything went fine.
 
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Old 07-11-2010, 01:26 PM
Gerldoc
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Originally Posted by bigfun04 View Post
Were your drain and fill plugs magnetized? I have an 04 MC with 98000 miles and I changed the trans fluid other day. My plugs were magnetized and had a lot of shavings on both of them. I refilled with the AMSOIL fluid. Procedure was pretty much what you listed. Everything went fine.

No, I didn't have the magnetized plugs, but those are nice. The metal shavings in the photo were what what was left at the bottom of the drain pan after settling... Hard to understand why MINI says the tranny fluid never needs to be changed!
 
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:01 PM
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Changed my MTL today. Had about 60K miles since last change and it looked pretty good.
I did install a magnetized drain plug. Purchased Here: http://www.drainplugmagnets.com/minicooper.php
Both plugs came out easily, thanks to a tip from one of the Techs where I work. He said to give the wrench a sharp push in the Tighten direction first. That will break it loose and then it will loosen easily. Worked great!
I didn't have any garden stakes handy, so I used a length of coat hanger in the tube to fish it through.

Thanks Again!!
Jim
 
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:01 PM
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I seriously cannot locate the drain and fill holes. I tried on 2 different days and looked all over. I have a 2002 R50 and there's nothing even close to resembling what's in the pics.
 
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:04 AM
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The transmission of your Cooper is different than the Cooper S transmission, so you'll need a different set of instructions to work from.
 
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:06 PM
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Is it better/easier to do this while the car is cold or after driving for a while? It's PITA to loosen the damn plugs.

Edited: Nevermind, just answered my own question when I went outside later to try again, haha
 

Last edited by Koreanadian; 09-02-2010 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bigfun04 View Post
Were your drain and fill plugs magnetized? I have an 04 MC with 98000 miles and I changed the trans fluid other day. My plugs were magnetized and had a lot of shavings on both of them.
The plugs in the Getrag six-speed used in the 'S' aren't magnetic, but there is a magnet inside the transmission housing itself to catch and hold shavings. So either the shavings in Gerldoc's picture were nonferrous (bronze, brass, aluminum, etcetera), or they had come to rest somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the transmission housing, rather than on the magnet.

Great HOWTO, Gerldoc! I just came due for "Inspection II" on my 2006 at about 75k miles, and I think I'm going to do the fluid swap in addition to all of the required service items.
 
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:08 PM
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hey folks I just bought some royal purple 75w-90 gear oil.. will this work?
 
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:52 PM
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I thought the trans oil was safely a lifetime fill. For what it's worth the factory's engine oil intervals seem way too long as well
 
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Old 09-09-2010, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by BMBULBE View Post
I thought the trans oil was safely a lifetime fill. For what it's worth the factory's engine oil intervals seem way too long as well
With the manual transmission, the original fluid probably can be legitimately used for several hundred thousand miles if you don't feel like changing it. It's not exposed to extreme heat or combustion by-products the way engine oil is, and a few shavings collected at the bottom of the transmission case aren't going to hurt anything.

But "lifetime" fluid doesn't mean that it can't leak out, or that after 100k miles it will still perform as well as it did when it was new.
 

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