DIY VW DSG fluid drain and change service (also S-tronic)

difficulty: 2/5
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This article shows how to DIY a DSG fluid drain and change, also shown is VAS6262 tool

The DSG transmission requires a fluid and filter change every 40,000 miles.  In addition to lubricating the gears, the twin clutches are lubricated by the fluid.  Some people report smoother shifting after a fluid change.  S-tronic is just Audi's name for the exact same transmission.  This page shows a 6 speed 02e transverse DSG.  If you have a 7 speed DSG your clutches are dry but you still use fluid.  These were not sold in North America.  For technical information on the DSG transmission, see 1000q: DSG and S-tronic FAQ.

If you find the tips on this page helpful, please use the donation button at the top so that I can continue to keep publishing great articles for free. The Bentley service manual is about $80 and doesn't even mention most of the tips here. The VAS6262 tools are about $200. This page has color photos, more detail, and videos. If it saves you some money, please pass the favor on by supporting more articles. Thanks in advance!

Factory fill method vs. measure-refill method of adding fluid to the DSG transmission

old dsg fluidBoth the factory fill method and measure-refill method are listed in the procedure section.  Professional VW specialists who have serviced well over 100 DSG transmissions say that the measure-refill method works even better than the factory method because the factory method often results in the fluid level being up a little bit too low.  In other words, even with a level car, he always drains 4.5 L and only adds back about 4.0 L if using the factory method.  Other people have done it the factory way and reported that only a little bit of fluid came out after adding 4.5 L back in.  It's unlikely that all the transmissions are overfilled from the factory so this must mean that the measure-refill method is just more consistent.  It's your transmission and your decision which method to follow.

No matter the method you use, the car must be level or else the fluid level will be off!

The measure-refill method is: measure how much you drain and if it's 4.5 liters (+/- 0.1L) your transmission isn't leaking or overfilled.  Then just add back the same amount plus another 0.1 L to account for the filter and filter housing.  This does not waste any fluid.  To accurately measure how much fluid was drained, I used a measuring cup and water to label a waste bottle.  In the picture right, a little over 4.3 was drained from the pan plus some out of the filter housing.  Paul Newman would probably approve.

The factory method is explained in more detail below and is shown in the video.  It can result in wasting about .5-1.5 liters of fluid depending on how much you add.  It also requires use of a VCDS tool to measure the fluid temperature.  This is because as the fluid warms up it expands.  If the fluid is too warm, too much will overflow out the plastic snorkel insert and your fluid will be too low.

The other drawback of this method is that if your car was just driven, the fluid will be much to warm.  This is fine for draining but you must check the level beginning at a fluid temperature of 35oC (95oF) and be done no higher than 45oC.  Cooler is better due to the level error mentioned earlier.  You will probably have to wait a little bit for the car to cool down before adding fresh fluid.  Once the engine is running, the fresh fluid will absorb heat from the transmission once it circulates around.  On a warm engine, the fluid will warm up quickly even if it's just idling.

There is no dipstick on the transmission.

Only about 4.5 liters is changed through the drain plug during this service.  If you opened the transmission case and drained ALL the fluid, a fresh fill is a little over 6.5 liters.

The difference between VAS6262 and VAS6262a for DSG fluid and a DIY fill tool

assenmacher ast dsg adapter atf16dsgThe manual says that VAS6262 fill tool is required but because of the cost (~ $200 after ship), you can make your own using a drilled out spare drain plug VW# n 902 154 04 (n902 154 04) and a hose/funnel.  You can also tap the cap from one of the fluid bottles to make a replica of the VAS6262 if you don't want to use a funnel.  A DIY VAS 6262 will cost around $30.  If you don't want to drill and tap a spare drain plug, you can buy an Assenmacher AST DSG adapter (ATF16DSG shown below, about $35) and some hoses and clamps.  The adapter on the OEM tools look the same as the Assenmacher adapter.  The threads on the drain plug or adapter are 24 mm x1.5.

If you don't want to make your own tool, you can also just refill the transmission through the filter hole on the top.  It's a small hole and will take at least 40 minutes for it to drain.  A top fill is slower but cleaner than using VAS6262 or equivalent.  The reason dealers use this tool is because it's much faster to fill the transmission this way and time is money.

VAS 6262 is the original tool and has a valve at the cap end which I think lets air in.  VAS 6262a is the newer part number and has that long u shaped metal tube to let air into the bottle.  My guess is that it leaks less at the cap valve.  I think that VAS6262 can leak if you point it with "dead end side" of the cap valve pointing down.  Tilt the bottle so that the fluid goes down the tube, not out the dead end side.  A DIY DSG fluid tool, 6262, and 6262a are functionally identical. (click to enlarge)
vas6262 dsg tool vas6262a dsg tool

Parts for DSG fluid change, click links to compare kit pricing

(double check the part numbers for your application, the price for a kit with generic fluid vs. OEM should be cheaper and just as good)

VAS6262 or equivalent (required for bottom fill)
VCDS cable and software from ross tech (required for bottom fill)

24mm hex socket (15/16 also works)
8, 14mm allen bit
torque wrench

DSG fluid change kit from kermatdi

5 liters of DSG fluid (6 if you're not sure, 7 for a new dry fill) VW# g052182a2
   Febi or Pentosin brand DSG fluid works fine too: from kermatdi

1 DSG filter VW# 02e305051c from kermatdi

1 filter cap o-ring VW# n91084501 (if not included in the kit)

NOTE: Sears carries 14mm allen bits but they are expensive. Harbor Freight carries a set of large allen bits at a much cheaper price and since you'll probably only use this tool for the drain, it'll work fine. You're not applying a high torque and if you're worried about stripping the drain you're doing it wrong.

DIY DSG fluid change procedure shown on VW Jetta TDI

A mk5 Jetta is shown but mk6 cars are the same.  There were DSG transmissions available in the mk4 New Beetle TDI so refer to the mk4 FAQ section for any small differences like fluid capacity if you have a Beetle.  The video below does not give all detail so please read the entire page here before attempting this on your car.

Raise the car by the jack points shown in your factory service manual and rest it securely on jack stands or a lift.  Make sure the car is safe and secure before getting under at all!  See the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer.  The jack points on my 2006 Jetta are shown here.  They may be different on your car so refer to your service manual.  The car must be level for this procedure or else the fluid level will be off.  The wood cribbing blocks seen in the video are custom made, here are my notes regarding them: 1000q: wood support blocks.

Remove the splash shield.  On the earlier mk5 cars there are 8x T25 screws along the sides and 3x T30 screws on the rear.  On the later mk5, mk6 and Audi A3, there may be an additional T25 at the center-front.  It likes to come off and be installed at a certain angle because of some nubs on the front.
jetta splash pan

Open the hood and remove the engine cover.  Just pull up at the corners and you can feel where the rubber ball-socket snaps are.  You can even grease the ball-sockets for a little easier removal: dweisel's cover grease tip  CAUTION: The fluid, exhaust, and engine will be hot, especially if the car was just driven.  Take all precautions to avoid being scalded.

Remove the air filter box.  See 1000q: air filter box for more details.  Remove the battery and battery shelf.  Some models have enough clearance to get to the filter.  Note: you will have to reset the one touch windows, memory seats, and steering adaptation after you disconnect the battery.  See 1000q: battery shelf for more details.

Wipe down the area around the filter cap because dirt likes to settle there.  Then use a 24mm socket to remove the filter cap.  Tilt the filter and let it drip a little into the housing.  Remove the filter and remove the cap's o-ring.  Suck out the fluid sitting in the filter hosing using an oil evacuator or hand vacuum pump.  Lube the new o-ring and filter base.
dsg filter

Underneath the car, use a 14mm allen bit to open the DSG fluid drain.  This is a large size so don't expect to find it that day at your local parts store.  Then use an 8mm allen bit to remove the plastic snorkel insert underneath the drain plug.  Make sure you have a pan to catch the fluid.  Measure how much fluid is drained.  If you drain exactly 4.5L, you can do measure-refill.  If you don't, something could be wrong.  The transmission could be leaking fluid or it's not perfectly level.
dsg drain plug location

Measure-refill VW DSG fluid change procedure

Install the plastic snorkel insert and tighten to 2.25 ft-lbs (3 NM).  Install the drain plug to 33 ft-lbs (45 NM).  Your kit may come with a new drain washer but if it doesn't, the washer doesn't appear to be a crush washer and the old one shouldn't leak.

Shake each bottle of DSG fluid to mix the additives.

Add 4.5 L of fluid to the transmission.  You can add 4.6 L to account for any drips and what was in the filter.

A top fill is recommended with measure-refill.  Use a funnel to avoid wasting that expensive fluid and just pour it into the filter housing.  Plus 3 Golfer reported that a hoppy-flo 1.0L funnel from walmart (shown below, click to enlarge) works fine and the tip fits the filter housing hole perfectly.  A pic by turbo-d shows it in use. It also has a valve to control how fast the fluid leaves the reservoir.

Because the housing hole is small, it will take at least 40 minutes to add 4.5L but you don't have to do the factory method's overflow check which saves time.  The warmer the fluid, the easier it will flow.

If you do a bottom fill, some fluid will be in the fill hose and it makes it harder to calculate exactly how much fluid was put in.  You could just pour the fluid in the hose into an opened bottle when you're done if you wish to calculate how much was added.

Reinstall the filter and tighten the cap to 15 ft-lbs (20 NM).  You do not overfill the transmission and drain off any excess with this method.  You do not measure the fluid temperature.  Reinstall the battery, air filter box, splash pan, and engine cover.

If you just want to fill through the top and then do a factory method overflow check, make sure to add at least 0.5L more than you drained.  In that case, you do have to overfill the transmission and measure fluid temp.

It's normal for the steering wheel light to be on, see the FAQ articles mentioned earlier if they don't go away after normal driving.  Go for a test drive and check for leaks.

Factory method for VW DSG fluid drain and refill

The factory method is to overfill the transmission and let any excess overflow out the top of the snorkel and out the drain.  The transmission fluid must be at the right temperature or else the fluid level won't be right.

Install the plastic snorkel insert and tighten to 2.25 ft-lbs (3 NM).  CAUTION: A few people have broken the plastic snorkel! 3 NM is only finger tight, not wrench tight! If you break it, the replacement is VW# 02e 321 363 b (same PN for transverse gas or diesel DSG)

If you choose to do a top fill, lightly install the drain plug.  If you choose to do a bottom fill, install your VAS6262 or equivalent.

Shake each bottle of DSG fluid to mix the additives.

Poke a hole in the bottom of each bottle so that air can come in and let the fluid drain.  If your hoses are clamped securely, you can put a compressed air nozzle to the hole to help the fluid move.  Regulate the air pressure down to a very low setting because you don't want the clamps or hoses to pop off and spill that expensive fluid everywhere!  If you're just using gravity, the higher the bottle, the more the transmission will be filled.
dsg vas 6262

The factory service manual says to use 5.5 L but again, if you only drained 4.5L out, I would only open 5 bottles.  There's no need to open a 6th bottle just to drain it out later.

Reinstall the filter and tighten the cap to 15 ft-lbs (20 NM).  Reinstall the battery and air filter box.  It's normal for the steering wheel light to be on, see the FAQ articles mentioned earlier if they don't go away after normal driving.

Make sure the fill tool and hose are clear of any engine fans or belts.  Turn the ignition ON but DO NOT START.

Plug in your ross tech VCDS cable and look for the green LED on the cable.  Start the software and select the control modules.

Select Automatic transmission and then Select Measuring Blocks -08.
dsg fluid temperature

Select Group 19.  The first block is transmission fluid temperature.
atf temperature

You can now start the engine.  Make sure the brakes are applied this whole time just in case the car moves.  Have a helper, with parking brake on and foot always firmly applying the brakes, start the engine and shift through each position, pausing for at least 3 seconds at each position.  You can repeat as desired.  Return to park and leave the engine idling.  This fills up the filter and any air pockets.

Once the DSG fluid reaches 35oC (95F), remove VAS6262 and get the drain plug ready.  If you did a top fill, remove the drain plug.  Excess fluid will overflow over the top of the snorkel and out the drain hole.  The fluid should not be over 45oC and absolutely not over 50oC.  There's an extra squirt every 30 seconds due to a fluid pump.  Ignore this when determining the fluid level.
dsg fluid check

The service manual says to reinstall the drain plug 33 ft-lbs (45 NM)when the fluid slows to a drip. Because of the underfill trend mentioned in the introduction I plug the drain when it slows to a dribble and on the cooler side.  If you drained 4.5 L, added 5.0 L and notice any more than 0.5 L draining out, something may be wrong.  Your kit may come with a new drain washer but if it doesn't, the washer isn't a crush washer and the old one shouldn't leak.

Once the drain plug is in place, you can shut the engine off.  The rest of installation is the reverse of removal.  Go for a test drive and check for leaks.

Torque specs for DSG transmission

drain plug: 45 NM (33 ft-lbs)
plastic snorkel: 3 NM (2.25 ft-lbs)
filter cap: 20 NM (15 ft-lbs)

Here is another video on changing the fluid from 2009vwjettatdi

Do you have any questions about changing the DSG fluid?  Feel free to ask in the forums