2005 Honda Element Manual Transmission Oil Change

I have a 2005 Honda Element with 35K miles and a manual transmission. I would like to change the transmission and differential fluid now but the owner’s manual says not until 120K miles. 120K miles seems like a very long time and thoughts or ideas out there?

Yes, it seems like a long time. Honda’s manual transmission oil is basically the same as synthetic oil. I use synthetic oil in my transmission and change it every 15,000 miles. Now, keep in mind that I drive a 98 Civic and you drive an 05 Element. If your Element uses different transmission oil than my Civic, you might have different rules to follow. Your mechanic will charge at least $40 for this service and Jiffy Lube and similar businesses will use regular motor oil in your transmission. So if you change your own motor oil, you can handle changing the transmission fluid. If not, get it done at the dealer.

With an automatic transmission, a 35k miles fluid change is a necessity but with a manual transmission about every 100k is fine. Gear oil does not break down like auto trans fluid does since it is not subjected to near as much heat.

It does not need it, but it would not hurt (other than busted knuckles) to change it early.

In an automatic transmission, the oil is a Working Fluid; it transmits power and develops a lot of heat. It needs changing more often; it also picks up wear debris from the bands. In a gearbox and differential, the fluid is just a lubricant, and unlike in a crankcase, is not in contact with hot surfaces or combustion products. Therefore, it can have a very long drain interval. In American cars, the manual often does not even mention changing it! Just checking the level, unless you are towing a trailer. Having synthetic in your manual gearbox and changing it every 15,000 miles is a waste of money, in my opinion. Honda worries more about its clients than US manufacturers; in the 1970s, Honda manuals said to change these fluids every 10,000 miles. Hondas have improved much since then, and they now feel more comfortable with the driving habits of Americans. Most posters with US rear drive cars have probably never changed the fluid in rear end or manual gear box.

I would shorten Honda’s recommendations, and change at 80,000 or so. There are 3 instances for a much shorter interval:

  1. If the differential is a Postitraction (antislip)type, GM recommends 12,000 miles
  2. If you are towing a trailer, 15,000 miles is a good interval for gear box and differential
  3. If you are backing into water when unloading a boat, change the fluid right afterwards.

If you check the fluid with your finger, you will see it’s in like new condition. Both gearboxes will have a magnet (usually part of the drain plug) to catch any steel particles. You are wasting your time changing it.

Where do you drive it. That matters too. If you are on the central coast of Ca. you can wait for the 120,000 miles. If you drive through mud and snow all the time, nobody will think you are crazy to change it.

None of the drain plugs in my Honda are magnetized. I checked.

My '95 Chevy S-10 with manual tranny calls for trans fluid change every 30k. I changed it for the first time at 50k. The fluid was black with lots of metal shavings. On subsequent changes, the fluid is darkened but only has a bit of shavings on the magnets. Truck now has 164k and no tranny problems yet. Mine takes about $35 worth of GM fluid and is very easy to change. I personally think if your Honda fluid is easy to change, go ahead and do it. Make sure the correct fluid is put in. 120k is an awfully long time.

Thanks for the reply, I am in your camp about this issue.