Replace The Manual Transmission Fluid on a Scion FR-S
The manual transmission that comes on the Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, and Toyota GT86 has been described by most as "notchy". When the transmission is cold, getting the car into gear can take an uncomfortable amount of time and effort. When it warms up, things are better, but the feel was still frustrating for me.
One of the ways to deal with this issue is to upgrade the transmission fluid (or gear oil). Now, there are many opinions on which fluid is the best, but I chose Motul Gear 300 based on many positive reviews. If you'd like to hear my experiences after changing the fluid, check out the Conclusion section at the bottom of this article.
- Notchy or "clanky" shifting
- Difficult shifting
Warm up the transmission by driving around for a bit. The hotter the transmission, the easier the oil drain.
Jack up the front of the car and place on jack stands.
Jack up the back of the car and place on jack stands. We need the car to be level. Do it in this order since it might be difficult to fit your jack under the front otherwise.
Removing the Protective Shield
Remove the 10mm screws that hold the protective shield that covers the transmission. There are four under the driver's seat.
Three under the passenger's seat.
And four under the engine.
Remove the shield, set it aside, and keep track of all the screws.
Important: Attach the 10mm hex-bit socket to your torque wrench, and verify that you can access both the drain and fill plugs with it. Space is tight around the fill plug, so it can't hurt to test it out before draining your transmission.
Inspect the transmission for any oil leaks.
Draining the Transmission
Using your ratcheting socket wrench and the 10mm hex-bit socket, remove the fill plug from the transmission. It's the one near the top of the transmission.
Position your oil drain pan under the transmission and remove the drain plug.
Set the drain plug aside re-position the drain pan as needed.
While the oil is draining, clean the fill and drain plugs. There's a small magnet on the end of the drain plug that is designed to catch metal shavings. Get as much of it off as you can.
The oil will slow down to a trickle, then a slow drip. It's up to you how long to wait, but you want to get as much of the old oil out of there as possible.
Replace the drain plug (the bottom one). Tighten to 27.3 ft-lbs (37 N-m).
If you're using Motul 300, it has a built-in flexible nozzle. Extend the nozzle and insert the end into the fill hole at the top of the transmission.
Rotate the bottle so that it is as high up as possible. It's almost as if the designers of the car left room specifically for this step. On the first two bottles, it speeds things up if you squeeze the bottle. Just don't let the bottle suck the oil back up when you stop squeezing.
Fill up the transmission with 2.2 liters of oil. You'll know when you're done when oil starts flowing out of the fill hole.
Let the oil stop flowing out of the fill hole, then replace the fill plug and tighten to 27.3 ft-lbs (37 N-m).
Wipe off any excess oil from the transmission.
Replace the protective shield.
Pro Tip After starting the car, put the transmission into neutral and take your foot off the clutch. The engine will spin the transmission components, distributing the oil and warming it up. I do this every time I start the car.
Some people have said that it made shifting a more difficult than stock when the transmission was cold, but I actually found it a little easier. Once the transmission warms up, shifting doesn't feel like pushing past a wall anymore; there's a little resistance before it smoothly goes into gear. Going into first gear at a stop is also smoother.
Overall, I highly recommend changing the oil to Motul Gear 300. It's expensive, but it's not something you have to do very often, and it makes a huge difference.
- Transmission shield screws = 10mm
- Transmission Fill/Drain Plugs = 10mm hex-bit, 27.3 ft-lb torque (37 N-m)