Sign in to follow this  

Cold Weather Gear Changes

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

Around this time of year we get quite a few questions about experiencing difficult gearshifts in cold weather, so we thought you might find this useful.

Using the incorrect viscosity gear Oil in your car can make gear changes very difficult when the gearbox, and Oil are cold. This is why we often don't recommend using thicker gear oils than the manufacturer specifies. It is easy to think that increasing the viscosity from a 75w-80 to 75w-90 or 75w-90 to 75w-140 isn't going to affect the cold properties of the Oil, but it does.

Below are some figures showing the viscosity of a selection of oils at 40C measured in mm²/s ( 1 millimeter²/second = 1 centistoke, A centistoke is a decimal fraction of the CGS unit of kinematic viscosity stokes, which is equal to centimeter per second (cm²/s). 1 stokes is a kinematic viscosity of a fluid with a density of 1 g/cm³ and a dynamic viscosity of 1 poise… In short the thickness of Oil!). 40degc may not seem cold but this is the temperature at which the viscosity is measured and is the information you will find on the Oil technical data sheets.

I have listed specific brands and products to make it easier to see the differences in viscosity.

Fuchs Sintofluid FE 75w = 40.8 @ 40°c

Fuchs Sintofluid 75w-80 = 49.8 @ 40°c

Fuchs Sintopoid 75w-90 = 90.5 @ 40°c

Fuchs Sintopoid LS 75w140 = 170 @ 40°c

As you can see from that, they are all 75w oils, but there is a large difference in the viscosity at lower temps; the Sintopoid 75w-90 is over twice as thick as the Sintofluid FE 75w when cold and the 75w-140 is almost twice as thick as the 75w-90.

So, if you've got a car that needs one grade of Oil as standard, but you've modified it and decide to try a thicker Oil, or someone puts the wrong Oil in, it might really affect the cold gear shifts. Usually, increasing the quality is a better option than increasing the viscosity when thinking about upgrading from standard fluid.

Also, viscosity ratings are not exact points, but are a band that the viscosity should fall in. The Motul Gear 300 75w-90 has a viscosity of 76.2mm²/s at 40°c and the Castrol Universal 75w-90 is 84.8mm²/s, so you can see there is some variation in oils that appear to be the same viscosity.

A lot of gearboxes specify an 80w-90 rather than a 75w-90, but I would always tend to go for a 75w-90 instead as there can be a large difference is the viscosity when cold. The Motul Gearbox 80w-90 is 164mm²/s, so over twice as thick as their Gear 300 when cold. If you're using an 80w-90 and are having stiff cold gear changes, changing to a 75w-90 is likely to improve things.

If you have any questions or need further advice please post here or email us at



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can vouch for this,

The super clunky Getrag boxes on the M3, and MKIV supra really suffer for the first few shifts when its really cold, The R154 is a little heavy too.. all the boxes that you have to shift a lot of metal to cope with a lot or power :)

My Hilux is an auto, but the diffs and transfer box take MTF... I'll be hitting the Opie Ols site for those bits, plus Oil etc for my V8 swap :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep an eye on the site for offers as it looks like you'll need a few things

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this