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Gear up for a smooth ride

Ranojoy Mukerji offers some commonsense tips on keeping your gearbox in prime condition

india Updated: Nov 06, 2003 12:29 IST
Ranojoy Mukerji
Ranojoy Mukerji

One of the most important things in your car today is the gearbox, which transmits the power produced by your engine to the wheels. Most of us use manual gearboxes, in all kinds of cars, even if we drive C and D segment cars. One of the most common queries, which people have from me is whether one needs to change the oil in the gearbox. Some older vehicles like Ambassadors, Fiats etc recommended periodic lube changes for their gearboxes, but no modern car or MUV/SUV requires it. It is because the oil stays clean and runs cool. Unlike the fluid in an automatic transmission that is being constantly churned and contaminated by particles worn off the clutch plates, the fluid in a manual transmission or transaxle has life pretty easy. So it usually lasts the life of the transmission.

Most manual transaxles in front-wheel drive cars use automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to keep the gears lubed. ATF works well as it stays much more fluid at low temperatures. But ATF should not be substituted for gear oil. Always use the type of lubricant specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

Sometimes, when driving you might detect the clutch slipping even if you are sitting on the rear seat, which means you might hear the car’s engine increasing in revs, with not that much corresponding forward movement. This means that your clutch is slipping and you need to change it. Sometimes, however, chances are, the slippage is due to one of two things: oil contamination or a misadjusted clutch linkage. If your clutch has a lot of mileage on it (80,000 kilometres or more), chances are that it worn out.

Chattering and jerking can be caused by oil contaminated clutch linings, or by damage to the clutch itself. For the clutch to engage smoothly, the pressure plate must come down on the disc. In other words, the surface of the pressure plate must be parallel to the flywheel otherwise it will not engage smoothly.

Handy tips
Change oil in the gearbox after about 100,000 kilometres of driving
Use thinner oil in winter for more fluid changes
Get differential oil levels checked
Keep an ear out for slipping clutches
Do not drive with foot on clutch

First Published: Nov 06, 2003 12:29 IST