Change manual transmission fluid on a Golf Cabriolet

Change manual transmission fluid on a Golf Cabriolet

These instructions are for a late model (1993) Cabriolet with a 5 speed manual transmission. It takes 2 litres of fluid. Other models of Mk1 Golf are different in that they may take less fluid and be filled from the speedometer cable drive rather than a dedicated fill point. I used 80w-90 oil. Check out this site for other Mk1 transmission types and information:

There are 2 17mm Allen bolts, 1 for drainage and 1 for filling.

(Excuse the oily, dirty transmission in the pictures - there was a leak from the oil pressure sensor at the time.)

  • Approx. time: 30mins
  • Approx cost: $30 AUD (for fluid and 17mm hex drive)

You'll need

  • 17mm hex drive
  • Replacement transmission fluid (80w-90)
  • Drain pan
  • Funnel (optional)
  • Gloves and rags (optional - the oil stinks)

17mm hex drive

Step 1 - Jack up the car and remove the transmission-side wheel

On level ground, jack up the front of the car and set it on jack stands. Remove the transmission-side wheel - this will reveal the fill 17mm Allen bolt. It faces horizontally pointing out from the car.

Step 2 - Remove the fill bolt first

Use the 17mm hex drive to remove the fill bolt. You should try to remove this one first as if it's stuck you won't have already drained your transmission oil in made the car immobile.

Mine was pretty stuck - I had to use the electric rattle gun to loosen it.

Transmission fill plug

Step 3 - Position catch pan and remove drain plug

The drain plug is located in the centre of the transmission directly under the car. It's the same 17mm Allen bolt. Removing the drain plug was also difficult and I had to use the rattle gun again. Let the transmission oil drain. Be careful - it stinks.

Transmission drain plug

Step 4 - Re-attach the drain plug and start filling

I cleaned the drain plug and replaced it in the transmission and prepared the new fluid. My car takes 2 litres of fluid so I used a measuring cup to measure it out. It's a real pain to fill the fluid from the horizontal angle of the fill plug - I ended up using a turkey baster funnel and spare length of power-steering fluid pipe, but some new transmission fluid comes in specially designed packaging for this purpose.

Fill the transmission with the required amount, or until it starts leaking out the fill hole.

Back to guides

Articles (car geek stuff)

10 classic cars you can buy (nearly) new today

10 classic cars you can buy (nearly) new today

So you want a classic car without the hassle of dealing with 30-plus odd years of issues? Here's 10 "classic" cars you can buy in near new condition today.

Are Mk1 Golfs reliable?

Are Mk1 Golfs reliable?

Is a VW Mk1 Golf a reliable car? Can you daily drive it and what are common issues you might encounter?

10 years of Kawasaki W800 ownership - an honest review

10 years of Kawasaki W800 ownership - an honest review

An honest review of owning a classically-styled Kawasaki W800 motorcycle for the last 10 years