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Old 05-24-2007, 06:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by bobski View Post
Don't use normal motor oil. Those manuals were written many years ago - oil formulations have changed since then. Synthetics doubly so. Modern motor oils have additional friction inhibitors that cause the syncros in Honda transmissions to slip too much. Too much slip means additional wear and potentially grinding gears.
Agreed! Learn from the rest of us, and do NOT do it! Save that Mobil-1 motor oil for something else...

And as someone who actually "ran the experiment" (before I knew any better), I can tell you that the manual transmission (on my CRX, which was originally speced for 10w30 motor oil) shifts noticeably better once I put a proper manual transmission fluid in. And you can even tell that the synchros are no longer "spinning" too much (like they were with the Mobil-1 motor oil), so I'm sure I am no longer wearing the transmission out as fast as I used to (when I was using Mobil-1 motor oil in it)!

All things considered, the extra money for a fluid specifically designed for your type of transmission, is money well spent! And in the case of older manual transmissions originally speced for 10w30 motor oil (back when motor oil designs were much different than they are now), the proper transmission fluid is a high-quality "Manual Transmission Fluid/Lube".

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Originally Posted by bobski View Post
Honda sells their own MTF (manual transmission fluid)... It's just motor oil made to the proper spec for Honda manual transmissions.
Yes they do.

And that fluid is no more expensive then Mobil-1 motor oil (but will still work better). And given the choice, you should use that over a 10w30 motor oil any day. But IMHO the Honda fluid (while much better than normal motor oil) is not the best choice. For one thing, (if memory serves correctly) I think the Honda fluid isn't a synthetic (but instead is a "normal oil" that's been mixed/formulated for transmission use). As such, it will work, but won't have the superior performance (especially the superior hot and cold performance) of a true synthetic MTF.

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Originally Posted by bobski View Post
Unfortunately, it costs something like $5 a quart,
But why worry about the cost per quart, when these manual transmission cars seem to have small transmission sumps (and you don't change your transmission fluid very often anyway)? IMHO trying to be cheap on such fluid is "penny wise and pound foolish", when premium transmission fluid can give you benefits such as smoother shifting, less transmission wear, and even possibly a little better FE (due to less friction losses in the transmission).

For example, my CRX (manual) transmission takes less than 2 quarts of fluid. Even allowing some "rinse" fluid (to better get all the old transmission fluid out when you change it), you still only need 3 quarts of transmission fluid (for that sump), to do a complete fluid change. So who cares if the fluid is $5/quart (or even $9/quart), when you are putting that little fluid in (and it can make that big of a difference in the performance of your car)?

So IMHO a few $$$ for a quality transmission fluid (formulated for your type of transmission) is money well spent!

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Originally Posted by bobski View Post
but it's the best thing you can use.
IMHO, no it's not!

That is the "official" (Honda sanctioned) fluid, but that hardly makes it the best choice on the market. My understanding is that Honda's fluid is adequate for the job, but nothing special. And if I'm not mistaken (it's been a while since I looked into this), I also don't think that fluid is a synthetic (but rather just a dino-oil with the proper additive package for manual transmissions).

OTOH Both "RedLine" and "Amsoil" make fully synthetic MTF fluids that are specifically designed for use in situations where the manual transmission was originally speced for normal motor oil.

Of the two, I'm currently using the "RedLine MTL" ("Manual Transmission Lube") in my CRX, and the thing is just great (shifting so smooth it's unreal + that fluid is rated to save a little on FE as well). However, the Amsoil MTF ("Manual Transmission Fluid") product is also supposed to also be pretty good (however I haven't personally used the Amsoil MTF, so YMMV).

NOTE: Price for RedLine products tends to vary a lot. So if you decide to go the "RedLine MTL" route, you could probably save a few $$$ by shopping around. Or, if you prefer the Amsoil product, send me a PM (as I'm technically an Amsoil dealer), and I should be able to arrange some discounts for your purchase.
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Old 05-24-2007, 07:22 PM   #12
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Synthetic oil is good for low temperatures and that's why I use it. It gets f***ing cold here in Michigan in February so it helps for shifting gears when it's well below freezing. And it doesn't cost that much does it? It's only two quarts. Again, I have used it for 11 years and never had any problems.
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Old 05-24-2007, 07:49 PM   #13
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(and you don't change your transmission fluid very often anyway)
Every 30,000 miles according to the CRX owners manual. That's every fourth oil change if you follow the maintenance schedule.
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Old 05-24-2007, 09:55 PM   #14
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Is there any feeling that in hotter climates, i.e. where it gets up to 100 and never goes below freezing, that MT-90 would be better?
No... 10W-40 is the heaviest recomendation, also per the honda manual. Don't use normal heavy gear oil, like in other manual trans and differentials.

One other thing.... many talk about the syncromesh stuff.... when I bought the Royal Purple I almost bought their version of syncromesh (the descr said for man trans that use normal motor oil)... but I didn't and when I checked the RP web site they listed 10w-30, not their syncromesh, for Hondas, so it looks like I made the right call (although the "use MTF over oil" debate exists).
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Old 05-25-2007, 12:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by jadziasman View Post
Synthetic oil is good for low temperatures and that's why I use it. It gets f***ing cold here in Michigan in February so it helps for shifting gears when it's well below freezing.
I hear you. When I was using traditional regular oil in my car, it used to shift much harder in the winter when it was cold. Since switching to a good synthetic MTL, all shifting (both "hot" and "cold") is a lot smoother, and I just don't have the "it's really cold out" extra-stiff shifting I used to have!

And another reason to go with a synthetic, is to have an extra level of protection against heat. Remember, while there is less forces heating up a transmission than an engine, transmissions do have things that heat them up, and they also traditionally have much poorer cooling then most engines do. And so one of the dangers a transmission fluid faces, is occasionally getting "too hot" (causing transmission fluid breakdown, due to the heat) if/when the system is being driven hard in hot weather.

So IMHO it doesn't hurt to have a transmission fluid better able to handle heat (without undo breakdown), "just in case" you find yourself in an occasional situation where your transmission fluid is getting hotter than you would like...

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Originally Posted by jadziasman View Post
And it doesn't cost that much does it? It's only two quarts. Again, I have used it for 11 years and never had any problems.
Exactly!

Compared to say the cost of gas these days (or even just the cost of the labor to change the fluid, if you don't do it yourself), the actual fluid costs are negligible, since you are talking so little fluid. So why not go with a premium transmission fluid? IMHO the benefits far outweigh the slight extra cost!

NOTE:
RedLine makes both a "MTL" and a slightly thicker "MT-90". I currently have just the MTL in my CRX, and it seems to be fine for how hard I drive my car (as well as being the fluid rated for the best FE). However, I've seen some posts (mostly by racers, that push their transmissions harder than most of us would do), that under heavy usage/load the MTL produces higher wear numbers than some other fluids (presumably because that lube is on the thin side of the lubes that you might want to use in your transmission). So if you are concerned about this (and think you will occasionally be pushing your transmission hard), you could "split the difference" and put a mix of the MTL and the MT-90 in the transmission (giving you a fluid mix that is thicker than the MTL, but not as think as the MT-90).
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Old 05-25-2007, 05:53 AM   #16
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Thanks for weighing in on MTL vs MT-90, everyone.
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Old 05-25-2007, 10:10 AM   #17
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Remember that gear oils and motor oils are not rated the same. A 90wgt gear oil is similar to a 50wgt motor oil, and a 75W gear oil would be in the range of 10w to 20 motor oil.
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Old 05-25-2007, 07:19 PM   #18
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I ended up getting the amsoil synthetic 5 w 30 manual transmission fluid. It should be good in the really cold weather, and hopefully good for the tranny too. I returned the synthetic 10w 30 for 5 w 30 which i can now put in the engine.
Thanks for the heated responses!
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Old 05-26-2007, 12:02 PM   #19
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I ended up getting the amsoil synthetic 5 w 30 manual transmission fluid. It should be good in the really cold weather, and hopefully good for the tranny too.
Sounds like a decent choice. Be sure to let us know how it works in your car.

BTW: If your transmission drain plugs aren't already magnetic, spend a few dollars at a parts store for magnetic plugs (to replace the existing plugs), when you replace your fluid.

The reason for this, is that everytime you goof and "grind your gears" (which hopefully doesn't happen often, but even the best of us goof occasionally) you release small shavings of metal (from the gears) into the transmission fluid. And if those metal shavings aren't caught, they can continue to circulate in the transmission fluid causing additional wear. But if your drain plug contains a powerful magnet, those metal shavings will often get attracted to the magnet (where you can wipe off the magnet/plug the next time you change the fluid) instead of sticking around to cause extra wear in the transmission!

It's for this reason, that I find "magnetic drain plugs" to be cheap insurance. And this is especially true for transmissions, because many transmissions don't have any filters (so trapping the wear causing metals magnetically is doubly important when you don't have a filter to trap them). But even in car engines (which do have oil filters) it doesn't hurt to use a magnetic plug for the oil pan (because any metals caught by the drain plug's magnet, are metals that aren't circulating in the oil)...

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I returned the synthetic 10w 30 for 5 w 30 which i can now put in the engine.
Thanks for the heated responses!
You're welcome.
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Old 05-26-2007, 07:51 PM   #20
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Just a side note: All honda manual transmissions have a strong magnet placed inside the transmission housing to catch metal shavings.

Getting a magnetic drain plug is still a good idea as the magnet inside the trans is not accessible for cleaning unless you crack the transmission apart.
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