Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Andrew asks: Seems to be a lot of controversy about when to change the transmission fluid in VW TDIs – both the manual and the automatic-equipped versions. According to the owners manual, the manual transmission should be changed at 40,000 miles and I do not see a recommendation for the automatic. Also, to my surprise, the manual recommends timing belt change at 130,000. Do you agree?
My reply: But is there controversy?
The factory specifies changeout intervals – and also when changing isn’t specified. It’s fairly common for manufacturers to recommend never changing automatic transmission fluid. The recommendation for a manual (or a different make/model automatic) may be different.
But there is always a recommendation.
Unless there’s sound reason not to, I would always hew to the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. If only for warranty reasons. But also for engineering reasons.
Failure to service the vehicle per the factory regimen can and usually will void the warranty in the event of a failure that can be attributed to improper maintenance.
Failure to abide by the recommend service procedures (and time/mileage intervals) can also lead to problems the engineers who helped write those procedures wrote them to help you avoid.
Like, for example, a timing belt failure – which can be catastrophic if the engine is an interference design and will be a major hassle regardless if it happens when you need to be somewhere or need the car to work right now.
It is probable you could drive past 130,000 without changing the belt, but be aware it could fail at any time; basically a ticking time (and money) bomb. The car is no longer reliable. And if the engine is an interference design, not getting the belt replaced could lead to having to replace the engine.
If it were me, I’d go ahead and get the belt done (or do it) on my terms, at my convenience – rather than wait for the Big Surprise!
Get price quotes; find the best deal – then get the work done when it suits and you’ve made arrangements to be without the car for the day or two it may take to get the work done.
Much better than being confronted with a repair you didn’t plan for that needs to be handled right now…
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