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Gen 2 - Alternative Manual Transmission Fluid

17469 Views 42 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  mazda626awd
This is a bit of a sound-off thread. Got my car back after a harrowing experience in a gen1 mazda3 (this hooptie made my old SL1 look like it was loaded with features) . . . After $112 a lighter wallet I got:

What I want to know is this:
What alternative fluid have you tried in your gen 2?

Also, please note if you were trying to remedy any particular problem.

I'll start:
very hard to get into gear below 40 degrees F -- changed to RedLine MT-90 (Synthetic 75W-90; GL-4) at 25k miles

Nicer than stock for the first 3k, after that, about as good as stock, occasionally have 2nd gear 'bouncing' when I try to shift.

Brought it into the dealer at 41k miles . . . can't reproduce.

I'm curious if anyone's gone down to something like 70W-90 or even 80/85. I don't live anywhere even REMOTELY cold, but it seems (to me) from the complaints of others about the same thing that this wasn't tested anywhere outside of Virginia, Cali or Arizona.

I'm considering Amsoil (within owner's manual specs) first, then possibly considering Royal Purple, which someone said wasn't good for Mazda's about another vehicle.

Anyone tried RedLine MTL? Seems sort of extreme, or even possibly Smurf's Blood . . . their high-shock gear fluid.


I'm considering (at this point) writing Corporate for a refund on my extended warranty; it seems like . . . if it isn't something my wife and two of my non-gearhead co-workers would notice AND something that could be fixed by Midas, the dealerships aren't prepared to deal with it . . .

Sound off Gen2 M/T owners :)

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Well, GM trannies (1988+) were garbage. Like something I put together in my garage by myself. Japanese transmissions are a load better (smoother) . . . I just think that the Mazda trannies are extra tight.

Honestly, I don't think we're far off from seriously slick rides . . . corporate just isn't on board.

If I could find a reliable shop, I'd pay $3k to have the gears redone at custom ratios and have a special built clutch put in. No one is in the business of custom at a reasonable rate here though.

I've got a place that'd build me a furai right down the road for me . . I'd just have to pay twice as much as Mazda did to develop it.
Haven't changed it again -- wanted to give it another 5k miles.

Have redline MTF in it --- that made it a touch better in the cold, but may have caused the 2nd gear issue which hadn't surfaced before.

I'm going to go with Amsoil next.
How far off are you from putting the additional 5k on the car? I've been wanting to put a good synthetic in my MT.
500 miles to go -- going to put Amsoil in it this time. Honestly, I think it is a tolerances issue caused by the design. Mine isn't nearly as bad as TM's problem, but there's something there to it:
The 1-2 shift still grinds occasionally, I've gotten better at recovery (where I don't have to let the tach fall, drop it into 1 then back into 2).
The 'shifting cold' issue is actually where I get the opinion that it's tolerances; reverse dead cold is sometimes hard when the car is still off, putting it into other gears rectifies this, which leads me to believe it has to do more with one 'tooth' (for lack of better word) is narrower/wider than all the others by enough to make it rough and vice-versa on the other side.

TM actually has a unique setup, not in that he has a problem, just that the dealer gives half of a crap about it . . . I've given up, I'm sending Mazda a letter asking for my money back on the extended warranty based on the fact that they can't seem to fix even little things.

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Okay, it was almost a done deal with Amsoil, then I did another search and decided on Motorcraft (Yes, Ford Synthetic). The miata crowd has a lot to say about it and found some chatter on bob the oil guy site -- only bad thing to say was it was costly. $18/quart.

Well, $80 for fluid and $30 to have someone do it (I don't have the time lately) and I took her for a spin. A touch less notchy, but that's what the redline did on the first few thousand. We'll see. One positive note is that I hit first what I knew was incorrectly with the clutch as soon as it did it and it bit with no trouble, which I found (pleasantly) different.

The real trouble is finding out how it performs ultra-cold won't happen until October/November, but at this point (50k miles), I feel that the cash was well spent, since the dealer would have undoubtedly bilked me for more than what I paid.

TM -- keep us posted, and KEEP YOUR DEALER -- it's the first halfway decent Mazda dealership I've heard of with regard to service.

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Two bad 1st-to-2nd shifts in 300 miles . . . it's mechanical, not fluid.

Both went in without trouble, but sounded like a 1988 Oldsmobile.
Interesting thread since I want to change my manual trans fluid ('05 Mazda6).

I've used the special Ford fluid in my Contour SVT's back in the day. Those cars originally came with auto trans fluid in their 5-speed manuals and the new Ford expensive fluid replaced the auto stuff. They always shifted real nice and I remember something about it being 15W-40 Diesel oil + some other stuff (someone had an analysis done).

I'm going to order some Motul 300 (75W-90) from Amazon and give it a go. The Valvoline full synthetic 75-90 just isn't working very well after 12,000 miles. Cold performance wasn't that great this past winter either.
I'm almost thinking of bleeding the clutch to fix the 1-to-2 issue . . . so far, I haven't had any better thoughts than changing the fluid again with the liquid-gold from Ford.

I really wish I had a short-shifter (that even my 2003 CR-V had) so it was less sloppy . . . I really feel like I could figure the problem out (or fix it) if I did.
I'm at a second change of the Ford Synthetic.

I didn't see any improvement on the last change, so I'm just going to keep this setup until I feel any change . . . I think this is pretty good stuff.
Not related to the fluid change, but I figured since there were enough of us with M/T's subscribed, I'd let you know what just happened.

95,000 miles.

3/21 - Car was unable to get into reverse normally. Cycling through all other gears did not help. The shifter had to be held just outside of the reverse position while releasing the clutch, allowing the synchronizer to pull it into gear without grinding.

Once on the highway, it was noticed that the 5&6th gears result in the shifter moving forward/back with the engine taking load/removing load -- NOTE: it moves in the same direction for both gears/load situation, which led me to believe this was a cable/mounting issue and not directly transmission related.

I removed the cup holder/shift knob/boot to inspect the movement of the cables/stalk and they seemed to be normal, nothing inhibiting them, no loose or broken pieces on the floor assembly.

3/22 -- Car is now more difficult to get into 1st and 2nd

3/26 -- brought it to Riley Mazda for the problem, hoping it was cable-related; they've decided that one or several of the synchromesh gears are farked up and I need a new/rebuilt tranny; "internal failure" was the technical dianosis

I asked if, based on earlier difficulties for 2nd gear if they could check with Corporate and Mazda NA/The dealership (not sure what the percentage is here) was willing to offer $1200 of a new tranny/clutch

Seems sort of sudden . . . driven maybe 500k miles on manuals and never had something like this come on so quickly.
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While I'm no Amaco Technician, I don't understand why synchmesh gears would cause the symtoms you describe, I woudl wonder about engine/transmission mounts wearing/broken given your comment about shifter moving when load is put on or taken off? No TSB's that you are aware of. That's the damm problem with manuals now, every issue is "the first time we've seen that". I think every dealer should have one tech who only drives the manual cars - I sometimes think have the techs only know about em from the service "manual" not driving one.
The 5-6 twitch I agree on. I'm just not sure about 1-2 being so hard to get into.

The problem is I'm gone 11hrs a day and put 85 miles on it every day of the week so diagnosing the problem is hard.

I'm so used to detailed information that the 'dumbing down' that takes place between tech and service rep, then rep to customer is a huge void for me. I always provide super-specific detail to them, but don't get it back.

I'm going to pore over the repair manuals for the next few days and see if I can identify where everything is and where to look; IIRC, I have to completely remove the air box to see the select cables even, which is a major PITA.
Ernie - any updates?
No updates to speak of; trying to get a call back from a mechanic that understands that, if the tranny is getting replaced, Mazda is doing it, but I want to pay them to verify that it's not motor mounts/tranny mounts or misplaced cables.

Going to shoot for next Friday. I really gotta get something done with this before the 30 days on the offer expires.

It's not fun to drive anymore; shifting feels like a standard GM, which I drove for years. I've 'figured out' how to get where I need to in the low gears; typically if it won't go into reverse, I have to ease the car forward a tiny bit, then it slides into reverse.

I'd considered sending a "why does a transmission only last 95k miles?" letter to corporate, but I figure that'd get me where I already am anyhow.
I hope it works out for you. Between my "hesitation/hiccup" issues at the start of ownership (& which still exist) to your higher mileage issues I'm not confident I should be keeping this car for long.

My manual "addition" limits my options. It's infuriating that if I want a manual, Mazda will only offer me base models and all the used eurpean manuals are too rare & $$$ right now. I long for the days that part swaps were a more viable option. I wonder if I could sneak a 14' mazda6 wagon w/a 6sp diesel over here in a shipping container???
The new model's supposed to have a stick above the base trim (but not on the top). The diesel that is coming later this year is supposed to come in manual/above base trim as well.

I'm eyeing a fully-loaded 2014 Diesel (auto) as a second/third car, but I have to see how this plays out. If I had money for a second manual, I'd get a loaded BRZ and call it a day.

Can you link to the hesitation thread, I'm sorta lazy :D

I'm seeing what "feels" like hesitation; it's a slight back-and-forth motion when I'm feathering the throttle (usually when following some drag-ass on the road). This is a new development that seems like either a throttle cable issue, or timing issue . . . but I wouldn't put it past a motor-mount issue since there is no REAL loss of power. Right now nothing feels exactly right and I'm super sensitive to that.
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I'm guessing it's not the same thing. The Fox bit the dust today; I was passing a fuel truck and she threw a CEL . . . after that, she was riding rougher than before.

I got back onto the highway for fear of no cell signal and limped down to Stamford Mazda. I was sure it was something to do with the switch/sensors or throttle body, now I'm not so sure. Hopefully with the idiot-light in full brightness they can figure it out and give me a definitive answer about the hesitation.

I'm starting to suspect the plugs I replaced. They weren't pre-gapped (so I gapped them correctly) and I didn't check the exact torque or goop the ends like I probably should have. Being that she ran BETTER when I did the replacement, I took that as a sign everything was right but I doubt everything these days.

I'll report back when I know more. I've got NO time to be out of a car, so I gotta get it fixed.
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That sucks.. I hope the lights/cel will help figure this out for you. I'm just back from vacation so my car feels new after driving a 11 Cx-7 rental. It was easy to go from one mazda to another but just made me realize I'm not an CUV/SUV driver. Some things I liked but it's still too damm high!
You want to drive a REAL SUV, get yourself a loaded Ford Flex. Truly the only time I enjoyed commuting.

My wive has a loaded Tribeca. That thing is so badass in the snow (when she's not around to act like she's gonna puke from drifting), especially with the DWS.

It really needs the mazda treatment; soft-to-firm suspension like a 3-series and a manual transmission :D

So the CEL's fixed (#3 coil needed replacing) ... I'm going to get the tranny/clutch replaced as per the deal, but it's gonna have to be right. I'm not dropping much cash into it after that . . . if it keeps giving me trouble, I'm selling and, honestly, not looking back at Mazda.

I'm irritated that Subaru stopped making the Legacy GT this year *sigh* my options are truly limited.
Yes. Only as of Monday. Everything is fixed.

I had Mazda do the Clutch/Transmission, and do front swaybar bushings (while everything was apart), cost ~$2400 (under budget, after the comped me the $1200).

Clutch was feather-light when I got it back, took a few days getting used to.

Hesitation was still there.

I replaced the other 3 coils and re-did the spark plugs with OEM. The "upgrade" Pulstar ones were completely roached. Only #4 didn't have the electrode tip melted off . . . 20k miles on plugs? Crap.

Car rides like new now; just need to replace the steering wheel switch (volume stopped working) and the rear swaybar bushings (have some urethane ones I want to add).

Ford --- I honestly didn't know that, I'm hoping that was NOT what went into my car. Redline wasn't bad . . . I'm back on OEM now and it feels a bit 'clicky' to me. We have an abnormally long throw for modern 'sport' sedans too . . .

You might want to dig for an updated recommendation on bobistheoilguy . . . those guys are freaks over there :D In a good way.
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If a coil goes bad on your car or is in the process of going bad. Will it always throw a CEL?

Changed my plugs recently and once of my coil packs was green in color on the rubber that attaches to the top of the spark plug

I had hesitation before and after the plug change and the plugs that were in there were the oem original 80k miles plugs.

So confused

Sent from Free App
If a coil is in fact bad, I'm guessing it's going to throw a CEL. HOWEVER, at this point, I question whether the coil was bad or not, since the plug beneath it was genuinely bad.

I don't know about Mazdas, but some (or all?) Hondas have a 'limp mode' where if there is a specific code, the engine isn't as responsive . . . and your fuel economy goes to crap --- presumably to prevent further damage. Hondas do weird things with the computer to save fuel economy though; they cycle down the alternator so you can have 2-3v variations in voltage when you're driving (I had a CR-V that ATE headlights due to this).

If that *IS* the case, clearing the CEL could have fixed the immediate super-rough running of the engine. It may not have been a bad coil . . . but I decided that an ounce of prevention at this point was worth a pound of pain.

You see, I'm guessing here . . . because I KNOW 'Mazda Factory Trained Technicians' are guessing . . .
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Gearing is definitely designed for people that don't know how to shift. For the 2009+ (Not sure about 2013 and 2012), 5th and 3rd seem to exist as engine breaking gears for me.
2000-2200rpm is suitable for driving where it doesn't lug; 3000+ the car is plenty frisky.

If I come up with another problem, I'm going to get suspicious, because using the clutch is what you're SUPPOSED to do.

At any rate, I find that used manuals tend to have had pretty poor previous owners with regard to maintenance and just not shifting right . . .
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