Transmission Service

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Setting the Adaptive Transmission Sequence:

The EuroVan uses an electronically controlled transmission which sets the shift points based on engine load and rpm information that is tuned to your specific driving habits.  Sometimes this information gets garbled or for whatever reason may need to be reset to the default patterns so that it can begin to re-learn from your driving habits.  The correct sequence is:

  1. Turn on ignition without starting engine.
  2. Turn off ignition.
  3. Turn on ignition again without starting engine and depress the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor and hold it there for at least ten seconds.
  4. Release the accelerator pedal and turn the key to start the engine in the regular manner.
  5. Drive away going through all four gears.

(Thanks to Ken Bogert, 95 EVC, for above info.)

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Replacement Parts for Maintenance

The official VW Recommended Maintenance Schedule for the EuroVan calls for the ATF to be changed every 40,000 miles.  If you talk to any dealer or mechanic who advises you that the transmission is a "sealed" unit, you need to immediately find another dealer or mechanic.

The automatic transmission being used on a Rialta motorhome instead of the much smaller and lighter EuroVan certainly makes this a "severe use" case.  Accordingly, Rialta owners should schedule a change of ATF about every 20,000 miles, or twice as often as the regular EuroVan.  Don't panic at this thought.  The total cost is less than $100 if you do it yourself, and you certainly can because this is a very easy system upon which to change the ATF and filter.  Considering the exorbitant cost of a new transmission, this is a wise investment and I strongly encourage all Rialta owners to get this maintenance done every 20,000 miles.

There are a total of four different items needed to change the ATF and filter.

Filter (Strainer)    VW # 01M 325 429
Filter Gasket
(installed on
neck of filter
in the picture
  VW # 01M 325 443
Pan Gasket   VW # 098 321 370
AFT Fluid, 4 liters   VW # G 052 162 A2

Some places may sell all three of the gasket and filter parts as a kit, VW #098 398 009A.  This fits all years of EuroVan 1995-2003 used for the Rialta.  An average price for the complete kit is about $30-$40.  If you attempt to buy these parts from a VW dealership, the price will range from $50 to $125.

The transmission is internally lubricated by a special mineral based semi-synthetic oil made by Pentosin of Germany and is sometimes referred to only by the VW specification "TL 52162", or "G52".  It is sold in plastic liters bottles and is available at any VW dealership or from a number of on-line shops.  The price is about $15 per liter.  You may use this type of ATF fluid or one of the others meeting the same specification.  You will need to buy 4 liters.

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Changing the Transmission Fluid and Filter:

Here are 2 versions of the procedure that you may want to print out:
The long, detailed version with lots of pictures.
The shorter, concise version mostly copied from this page.  Thanks to Nick Stephens for creating this file.(Updated 10/2/13)

NOTE: This procedure is for the 01P transmission.  Some of the very early 5-cylinder Rialtas used the 098 which doesn't have the drain plug or tube.  They can be messy because you have to dump all the fluid straight from the pan.

As a do-it-yourselfer you will find that this job is quite easy.  How and why some VW dealerships want to charge over $700 for this procedure is just mind-boggling.  This requires no special skills, no special tools and I can only assume that VW must think you'll never figure out from where to buy the new ATF.

The only tricky part is physically getting the new oil into the transmission because the stock vehicle was produced without a dipstick or filler tube.  You may wish to consider doing the dip-stick modification and full instructions are on the "Transmission Dip-Stick" page.  However, there are several easy ways to adding new fluid without having a dip-stick and long filler tube.  You may think up your own method but here is what I think the best:

You will need to purchase about 2 feet of 3/4" heater hose or clear vinyl tubing from your local hardware or auto parts store.  This tubing or hose will slip over the short plastic fill tube and the top end of the tubing or hose will be connected to a funnel in an easy to reach place just under the hood.  This will allow you to simply pour directly from the open liter bottle of ATF into the funnel where it will run down and enter the oil pan through the short plastic fill tube.

These pictures show the heater hose slipped over the fill tube on the transmission case and with a funnel on the top end of the hose in the engine compartment above.

(Note - this was not a EuroVan application but the procedure was the same.)

Transmission Fluid Change Procedure

  1. Remove the belly pan and then warm the engine some. (Not too hot or it may be uncomfortable to work on some of it)  You may wish to consider driving the front wheels up on ramps for better ground clearance while working on the transmission oil pan, but you'll need to have it level for checking the fluid level.  Once the engine is warm, turn it off for the time being.
     
  2. Position a large drain pan under the transmission.  Remove the plug on the bottom to allow some of the fluid to drain.  When it slows down, remove the tube inside the same drain hole.  Once this slows down, remove four of the five 10mm hex head bolts holding the transmission oil pan leaving one bolt in one corner snugly installed.  Be prepared for the pan to break the seal and drop the hot/warm oil at any moment.  You may want to keep a hand against it until you are ready to catch the fluid.  Use a rag if the pan is too hot to the touch.  Tap or slightly pry on one of the free corners and the whole pan should break free allowing the fluid to drain into the pan.  Keep your hands and arms away from the hot fluid.  Once most of the fluid has drained, remove the last bolt and remove the pan allowing any fluid in the pan to drop into your drain pan.
     
  3. Keep the drain pan under the transmission and remove the filter and it's gasket by simple pulling down on the filter.  You may need to remove the gasket if it sticks in the hole.  When you remove the filter, additional fluid will drain into the pan.  Allow sufficient time for all the fluid from internal parts of the transmission and valve body to eventually drain or drip out.

     TIP - Some people have allowed the transmission to drip overnight thereby removing the maximum amount of fluid possible.  This technique probably gets 1/4-1/2  of an additional liter.  No matter what there still remains fluid in the torque converter that won't drip out but at least you can get the most out that is possible.
     

  4. NOTE - If you have already completed a modification of adding a dipstick and tube to the transmission, then you will be refilling the fluid through the top of the dipstick and you can skip this step.

    You will need to remove the red plastic seal over the top of the black plastic fill tube at the front of the transmission.  Once you remove the remove the red seal, you then have to remove the cap.  In order to do this, you can either leave this tube in place and struggle to remove the red plastic seal at the top along with the cap underneath it.  Or you can temporarily remove this entire fill tube which will make it much easier to remove the seal and cap.  Because you've already removed the pan, it is very easy to remove the entire fill tube assembly.  Carefully depress the exposed ends of the prongs of the fill tube from the underside where it fits through the hole and while pushing up at the same time, the entire fill tube will come free.  Once you have the entire fill tube assembly out, it is much easier to remove both the red seal and cap without damaging or breaking them.  You can now remove the red plastic seal by sliding a small flat screwdriver blade into the slot on its side to release the tab which will allow the seal to open up and be removed from the fill tube.  Underneath of the red seal you will find a plastic filler cap that is held on with some small detents that need to be depressed and this cap will come off.  They can easily be re-installed when finished so you needn't purchase replacements.

     

     CAUTION  - If you temporarily remove the entire fill tube, make sure that you clean the area at the top of the hole in the transmission case where the tube fits.  Make sure dirt or debris doesn't fall through the hole and contaminate the exposed parts of the valve body.  This is a good place were road debris and sand tend to accumulate so make sure that you don't allow any to fall through the hole onto the valve body.  Assuming that you have the pan already removed, you can shove a clean rag into the hole from underneath to prevent any dirt from entering while you clean the area above where the filler tube will get re-inserted.  Once you remove the red seal and cap, slip the hose or tubing over the open end of the fill tube and re-install the fill tube into the transmission case to prevent any dirt from falling thought the hole.  The tube assembly has a flat fin at the middle of the tube.  One side of the fin is rounded while the other side is flat.  The rounded edge goes against the transmission case.
     

  5. Wipe out the inside of the transmission oil pan making sure that all debris and sludge is removed.  There is a flat magnet about 1" X 3" attached to the inside of the pan which should be thoroughly cleaned.  It's very strong and may need some coaxing to get it out.  Make sure the edges of the pan where the gasket mounts are clean.  Because VW uses a rubber gasket and not the cork and sealant mess found on many American cars, the edges should just wipe clean.  Do not scrape or grind on the edges.
     
  6. Install the new gasket onto the pan along with the five steel ferrules into the gasket at each screw hole if they are not already installed.  These ferrules provide the exact space required when the bolts are tightened down and don't allow one bolt to become over-tightened and distort the gasket which could lead to a leak.
     
  7. Using a clean cloth, wipe all debris from the mating surface of the transmission to insure a good seal to the new rubber gasket.  Do not scrape the aluminum surface.
     

  8. Install the new filter and it's gasket (round seal) to the valve body.  Its just a simple push fit.  It will tend to hang down a little bit because of its own weight but once the pan gets installed, it is impossible for it to fall off.
     

  9. Put the tube and plug back in the pan.  You can do this before or after installing the pan.
     

  10. Install the oil pan with the gasket attached.  Be sure that you have installed the new filter before attaching the oil pan.  I'd like to collect a nickel from everybody that has replaced the pan only to find the new filter still sitting on their workbench.  Snug up each of the five 10mm hex head bolts and torque to 106 inch-pounds (12 Newton-meters)
     

  11. With the engine still off, add 3.5-4 liters of ATF into the filler tube at the front of the transmission.

     

  12. Start the engine and run the gear selector through all gears.  After the engine and transmission are warmed up (the transmission oil pan should be warm to the touch as the fluid should be at 95-113 degree temperature) and with the engine running, remove the plug to drain out the excess fluid.  You may want to check before the fluid is at temperature to verify that there's excess to drain out since it can take some time to add more and you don't want it too hot or the level will be low.

       
     CAUTION  - While the engine is running, keep your fingers and clothes away from the serpentine belt.  In addition, the pan and fluid will get very hot as will many of the coolant hoses nearby.  It is best to wear a long sleeve shirt to avoid any burns.  Avoid the radiator fans which will come on automatically as the engine coolant temperature increases.
     
  13. Once you are certain that the level is correct, replace the Allen head plug at the back of the transmission oil pan and use a 5mm hex wrench to tighten securely.  You can now shut the engine off.
     
  14. If you have used a hose or tubing to add the new fluid, simply pull or carefully pry the end off of the black plastic fill tube.  Push the cap back down in place and re-attach the red seal (if you were careful about removing them then this means you can reuse them now.  Otherwise, if you removed them while the fill tube was still attached to the transmission, you may have damaged them because of the restricted work area).

     CAUTION  - The transmission case will be hot while you attempt to replace the fill tube cap and seal.  You may wish to consider allowing it to cool somewhat before proceeding.
     
  15. Use a clean cloth and wipe any traces of ATF from the external surfaces of the pan, overflow plug, and all around the rubber gasket where it meets the transmission case.  Start the engine and allow it to run for several minutes and then recheck for any leaks.
     
  16. Replace the belly pan.  Properly dispose of the used fluids either through a local store recycling program such as Auto-Zone's or a recycling service through your municipal trash collection service.  Now pat yourself on the back because you just save $200-$700 depending upon how outrageous your local VW dealer wanted to do the job.

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Transmission Rebuilds

There are many horror stories of Rialta and EuroVan owners having to pay upwards of $8,000 for a new transmission from the VW dealership and these transmissions are not truly new but rather factory rebuilt units.  There are other alternatives such as obtaining one from one of the few specialized transmission rebuilders around the country at a significant savings in cost.  They can ship the rebuilt unit to you or your mechanic where you are still faced with the cost of installation. 

The current recommendations for sending off your transmission for a rebuild are:

Import Performance Transmissions in Hawthorne NJ
or
German Transaxle in Bend OR

Based on replies to emails I sent to each, my choice would be IPT.

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Additional Photos

 

Note- All of the following photos depict certain actions while changing the automatic transmission fluid and filter.  Some are taken only to provide documentation of the layout of parts so that re-assembly can be done without guesswork.  All photos are in high resolution which means your web browser may automatically resize the image so that it fits your screen resolution.  If it does resize the photo, you can click the resize gadget in the lower right of the photo to instruct your browser to view it in full resolution.

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Cooler Installation Information

 

The first link is to a file that lists the needed parts and recommended suppliers.  The second is a pdf (1.41MB) that shows an installation on a 24 valve engine (AXK).  The third is to a page where you can download files needed to make a DVD of an installation.  The last 8 are direct links to the video on YouTube.
Notes: I've made some small changes to the installation procedure I use that are not included in the file or video, but are cosmetic in nature.
Please don't order the kit from Rialta Heaven as mentioned in the video. They get them from Makco, then mark them up about 50%. They were kind enough to make the video, but I'm a little upset with them adding advertisements to it after I'd proof-viewed it.

  • Transmission Cooler Parts List Text file
  • Transmission Cooler Installation File (619KB)
  • Transmission Cooler Installation Video Download
  • YouTube video Part 1
  • YouTube video Part 2
  • YouTube video Part 3
  • YouTube video Part 4
  • YouTube video Part 5
  • YouTube video Part 6
  • YouTube video Part 7
  • YouTube video Part 8

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    Page Updated: 21 June 2013