Transmission Oil Change
Renewing the Oil in your Gearbox!
As everyone knows, the Renault box needs looking after if you want it to have a long life. This means changing the oil regularly and putting the correct lubricant into it. This is a fairly basic job that can be done by any owner who likes to work on his Esprit. This guide shows you what to use and how to do it.
The transmission oil should be changed every C Service, which is every 36,000 miles (see schedules for individual models). But as it's such a simple job it's worth doing more regularly, as many Esprits can take many years to reach this mileage. Lotus Esprit World will be changing the oil every two to three years, just to be on the safe side.
Time to complete: 1-2hrs
You will need the following parts:
3 litres of Transmission Oil
Castrol TAF-X 75W/90 (€9.80 per 500ml)
New plug with the magnet
part number R77 03 075 012 from renault
You will need the following tools:
Jack and Axle Stands (or lift)
Oil Capture device
Rags and WD40
*We used a Snap-on 10mm female square. (For removing or replacing standard transmission drain plug. 3/8" drive. 3/4" OD. 1" long).
Changing the Oil
The gearbox and final drive share a common oil supply in the Renault sourced boxes fitted to Esprits from 1987-2004, for which square headed drain and filler/level plugs are provided. The drain plug is located in the forward underside of the unit, and the filler/level plug in the left hand side, just forward of the gearbox mounting bracket (see pic at top of page).
PUK Esprit Racing supplied 6 x 0.5 litre bottles of Castrol TAF-X 75W/90 which is the only oil that should be used in the Esprit transmission. This information comes from Lotus' own testing and shouldn't be ignored.
Drain the transmission when the oil is warm so that it flows more readily, and whilst the impurities are held in suspension. Now jack the Esprit to make access to the transmission easier (unless you have a lift). This will also help the oil drain, but you will be unable to check the level of the new oil while jacked.
The drain plug is located at the forward underside of the transmission and is a square plug. This can be difficult to remove without a proper socket, as it's soft and can round off easily. We would advise using only a correct socket to remove this. They can be found at Snap-on website at a reasonable price (considering the pain it can cause if you round the plug off).
You can see from the picture the socket is like any other, but it's square. Use this to remove the drain plug. Make sure you have something at hand to collect the transmission oil once the plug is removed.
As you can see, the oil comes out pretty fast and we left a nice patch of transmission oil behind once we'd finished!
Clean and replace the drain plug when the old oil has drained thoroughly. Do not over tighten the plug.
The Level plug is on the left hand side of the transmission and is the same type of plug as the drain plug. Use the same socket to remove the Level plug. Access is a little tight and the plug can be a little stiff. So be careful.
Once the Level plug has been removed, clean it and put it somewhere safe.
Refill ONLY WITH CASTROLTAFX 75W/90 (Lotus part no. A082F6552S) up to the level plug hole (approx. 3 litres). Note that this product is a fully synthetic lubricant and is the ONLY oil approved for this application. The 0.5 litre bottles are small enough and have a long enough spout to make it very easy to refill. No funnel or pipe was needed and not a drop wasted!
Note: If the Esprit is not level (ie jacked at the rear), you will not get an overflow at 3 litres of oil, which is the indicator for the right amount of oil. To check for the correct level, you will need to unjack the Esprit and check the level.
Clean and replace level plug. Do not over tighten
This procedure has to be done. This shows you how you can do it yourself. It's not a difficult job to do, so you can save money with this D.I.Y. guide and also make sure your gearbox oil is fresh and changed when it's needed. Believe it or not, the gearchange improved noticeably after the oil change, so it makes it an even better piece of maintenance to carry out on your Esprit.
If you don't know when your Transmission oil was last changed. DO IT NOW. Order the oil and socket and spend an hour or so looking after your transmission and improving your gearchange. You can only go wrong if you don't do it!
This mod was performed by Lotus Esprit World on its 1992 SE
If you have any comments on this article email: email@example.com
For those with Citroen gearboxes, it's not too much different. We'll cover it in more detail soon(ish). But in the meantime here's a diagram from the workshop manual available from your local Lotus Dealer.
Info on Gearbox Oil
The TAF-X is no longer avaialble through Lotus so that is not going to be an option. Castrol Australia does not carry the oil and will not get it in. The options are for your customer to try and make a special order via Castrol UK or get an equivelant oil via Trivett if needed.
Castrol Syntrax 75W-90 meets all the same specifications as TAF-X and so does Redline MT-90 75W-90 which is also a good oil that we have used here before. I would use the Castrol Syntrax if it was my Esprit and the TAF-X was not an option.
Chris Tesoriero | Lotus Technician
Updated Info on Gearbox Oil
Reading through this document, Esprit Transmission Oil Change (lotusespritworld.com) , at the end it recommends an alternative oil to the “Castrol TAF-X”, ie. “Castrol Syntrax 75W-90”, I think there is a small error in this, I think it should be “Castrol Syntrans Tansaxle 75W-90”
If you immediately concur with my conclusion, then there is no need to read through the following which are the sources to bring me to the conclusion. I am far from an expert on transmission oil, just have a little more insight now.
Syntrax is for final drives, and is API GL-5 rated
- “Castrol Syntrax Long Life 75W-90 is a full synthetic multigrade final drive lubricant. It is Castrol's prime recommendation for final drives in heavy commercial vehicles, and is approved by MAN, Scania and ZF. Specially designed and approved by BMW for use in all BMW final drives fitted with conventional (non limited slip) differentials.”
Whereas, TAF-X and Syntrans are for transaxles rated as API GL4/5 and API GL4+ respectively
TAF-X TAF-X.doc (uleiauto.ro)
- “Castrol TAF-X is a fully synthetic SAE 75W-90 multigrade transaxle oil. It is formulated with specially selected additives to combine extreme pressure qualities with synchro-cone compatibility. It is designed to help improve cold weather gear selection and keep transmission noise levels to a minimum at high operating temperatures.”
Syntrans BPXE-9ZWGML.pdf (castrol.com)
- “Castrol Syntrans Transaxle 75W-90* is a full synthetic gear oil designed to provide enhanced EP performance compared with a conventional GL-4 fluid in combination with synchroniser compatibility. It is approved against VW 501.50 and is suitable for use in transaxles, manual gearboxes, transfer boxes and final drives where an API GL-4 lubricant is specified.”
So I have followed threads for the Citroen/Maserati gearbox (not Renault), the recommendation is to avoid API GL-5 oils due to attack on the brass synchromesh parts
- Maserati Merek link Transaxle/Gearbox (merakgroup.com)
- “Editors note: The factory manual calls for hypoid gear oil [GL-5], this is incorrect. Additionally, the capacity should be 3 quarts/2.83 liters to give 5th gear added & needed lubrication. The GL-4 gear oil will not degrade the brass synchrinizers as the GL-5 will.”
- Citroen SM link Transmission - Citroen SM Wiki (citroen-sm.org)
- Manual Transmission – “Similar to 5-Speed DS transaxle. It is a fully synchromesh design with a spiral bevel (not hypoid) ring and pinion. Consequently, the transmission does not need GL5 oil and, in fact, because of the brass synchros, GL5 oil should be avoided in favor of GL4 oil.”
- Citroen SM link Transmission Oil - Citroen SM Wiki (citroen-sm.org)
- “Requires API GL-4 oil.”
- “Do not use GL-5 oil. GL-5 oil will attack the brass synchros in the transmission and is not required for the differential. The SM (and DS) have a spiral bevel ring and pinion, not a hypoid ring and pinion, for which the EP formuation of a GL-5 oil is required.”