- 2 Min Read
- By: Chris Stovall
VW/Audi DSG Automatic Transmission Service DIY
As I recently wrote about, transmission services have changed significantly in the last 20 years. Transmissions themselves have changed immensely, and the latest and greatest transmission is the DSG (direct shift gearbox), available on several Audi and Volkswagen models. It's pretty different from other transmissions in its design, but it can be serviced pretty easily if you have the right tools, parts, and an afternoon.
You'll need a few tools to do your own service. You'll need a 14 mm allen socket, an 8 mm allen socket, a 24 mm socket (I like to use an oil filter housing socket), a torque wrench, an infrared temp gun, and the special filler adapter and fluid transfer pump. The kit available at FCP includes a filter, crush washer, and enough fluid for one service.
The special adapter needed is pretty cheap, I've found them for between $15 and $35. Do a quick search for a DSG fill adapter, they're available all over. You absolutely need it for a service, so don't try this procedure if you don't have it first!
First, make sure the car is cold. As I recently wrote about, fluid level is checked by running the engine up to a certain temperature, and letting the fluid drain out of the fill port – no dipstick. Audi recommends a maximum temperature before starting of 50 degrees Celsius, but I recommend a dead cold engine. Make sure the car is level and in Park when you are doing the service or your fluid level will not be correct.
Locate the filter. It's kind of hard to see, but it's behind the transmission cooler, underneath the brake master cylinder. Pull out the airbox and you can get it with some gymnastics. Pulling the battery (if it's in the front of the car) makes it very easy. Pull the cap up, and tilt it to allow the fluid to drain back into the transmission, then replace the filter and O-ring. Torque on the oil filter housing is 20 Newton meters, not a lot.
Let it all drain out
Next, get under the car, and pull the drain plug, which should be a 14 mm allen. Pull the fill tube out (should be an 8 mm allen) and try not to get covered in oil.
Drain plug, fill tube, and crush washer. Be very gentle with the fill tube.
Let it all drain out, and put the fill tube back in. The torque on the fill tube is 3 Newton meters, which is little more than hand tight. Don't overtighten it or it will crack – ask me how I know. Install the special adaptor, and connect your fluid transfer pump to it, and start pumping the new fluid in. Pump in 5.5 liters before starting the car. Leave your fluid transfer pump and tool in at this point, and then check the level.
Fill tool inserted, time to fill
Get in the cabin and start the car. With your foot on the brake, go to each position of the shifter and hold it for three seconds each time. Return it to park, leave it running, and get back underneath the car.
When it slows to a trickle, pull the tool and install the drain plug
Pull the pump off the tool and check for fluid coming out. If there's nothing coming out, hook your pump back up and add fluid until it comes out. Let the engine run at idle until the temperature of the front pan reads 35-45 degrees Celsius. When it does, add fluid until it pours out, and once it's slowed to a trickle, put the drain plug in, replacing the seal before installation. Torque on the drain plug is 45 Newton meters, and make sure the crush washer seats properly, or it could leak.
Reinstall the lower shield if you have one, and go for a drive. Your transmission should shift smooth, and there should be nodrama. Make sure to check the area around the filter for leaks, and then you're good!
Service interval for the DSG is between 35k and 50k, depending on who you ask, so check your owner's manual to be sure of yours. I recommend it every 40k, but that's my opinion. It certainly is not lifetime fluid...
Chris is a journeyman mechanic from Berkeley, California, specializing in late model Volkswagens and Audis. A glutton for punishment, his spare time is spent rebuilding every component of his ’83 Rabbit GTI.