MR2 Manual Trans Fluid

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Jul 5, 2020
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Sioux City
I am looking for a good gear oil/manual transmission fluid for my 91 MR2 non-turbo (s54 transmission). I currently have Pennzoil Syncromesh in it and it doesn't shift all that smooth, or at least not as smooth as I think it should. The S54 trans is somewhat of an odd topic as ATF (Dex III) is specified for build dates 01/1990-04/1990 and anything later is 75w90 GL4, mine is 02/1990. I don't think it really makes a difference though as internally there are no differences in the build dates to my knowledge.

Redline Superlight Shockproof and Lightweight Shockproof is very popular in the MR2 community, it seems like Redline's more recent MT-LV may be a really good option too, maybe better than the other two. But I have no local dealers of Redline, I know I can order it online but I like to shop local if possible so I can pick it up anytime I need it. I've seen some some Toyota 08885-81007 MT Gear Oil LV (redline MT-LV shows it is directly compatible) in newer manual Toyota's, but it's wildly expensive and I doubt my dealer has it. I have searched locally and can't find any GL4 or MTF/MTL fluids besides the Pennzoil Syncromesh. I'm not sure how I feel about using ATF and its not popular in the MR2 community, maybe for good reason or maybe just peoples desire for boutique oils? I have a local dealer of Schaeffers and I really like their fluids, but I don't think they have anything that would work in this application. I'm curious if there are any other more common choices that I might have overlooked that may work well for my application? I feel like biting the bullet and ordering Redline might be the best choice though.
 
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If yours calls for Dexron III, there is nothing wrong with the widely-available Pennzoil synchromesh. Napa carries Valvoline Synchromesh or can get it the next day.

The only GL4 75w90 I've seen on the shelf of a US store is Liqui-Moly 20012 at Napa, though others may be available online. If your local Napa doesn't have it, they can get it quick.

I found a British site that's willing to ship Castrol Syntrans Multivehicle (now called Castrol Transmax Manual). If you buy 3 bottles, it's still cheaper than Motorcraft over here (the popular Motorcraft 75w90 is made by Castrol)

The Redline Shockproof seems like a good choice if it's already popular in the Mr2 community. You can also ask Redline itself what they recommend for your Mr2. They have good customer service.

Maybe Toyota found the ATF too thin and thus switched to the 75w90 later on (which is twice the viscosity of Dexron) :unsure:

Be lucky yours is an early build because you can actually find oil for it :D
 
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My brother has a 91 MR2 Turbo purchased new back in 1990. Have been using Mobil 1 LS 75W-90 and Castrol LS 75W-90 before that, but both are GL-5. IIRC, they are backwards compatible so you should be fine with either one of them. However, if you are set on using something that specifically says GL-4 on the bottle, you also use Motul 300 75W-90. They come in both LS and non-LS. They are harder to find but you can find them on Amazon.

https://www.motul.com/us/en-US/products/gear-300-75w90
 

TacoFergie

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Sioux City
If yours calls for Dexron III, there is nothing wrong with the widely-available Pennzoil synchromesh. Napa carries Valvoline Synchromesh or can get it the next day.

The only GL4 75w90 I've seen on the shelf of a US store is Liqui-Moly 20012 at Napa, though others may be available online. If your local Napa doesn't have it, they can get it quick.

I found a British site that's willing to ship Castrol Syntrans Multivehicle (now called Castrol Transmax Manual). If you buy 3 bottles, it's still cheaper than Motorcraft over here (the popular Motorcraft 75w90 is made by Castrol)

The Redline Shockproof seems like a good choice if it's already popular in the Mr2 community. You can also ask Redline itself what they recommend for your Mr2. They have good customer service.

Maybe Toyota found the ATF too thin and thus switched to the 75w90 later on (which is twice the viscosity of Dexron) :unsure:

Be lucky yours is an early build because you can actually find oil for it :D

It did call for Dexron III but it looks like they have been backwards compatible to use 75w90. I don't know that there would be an issue if I tried ATF? But I'm not sure and I agree with what you said that maybe they saw some issues (probably wear related) and that was the reason for the change.

I have seen the Valvoline Syncromesh but didn't think it would be any better than Pennzoil Synchromesh, I could be wrong though. The closest Napa is about 60 miles from me. We have O'Reilly's, Advanced and Auto Zone. Plus implement stores. I think the Liqui-Moly would be great if I could get a hold of it too, they seem to have great fluids.

I also didn't consider OEM fluids besides Toyota. There might be something there too. But I imagine they won't be cheap either.

My brother has a 91 MR2 Turbo purchased new back in 1990. Have been using Mobil 1 LS 75W-90 and Castrol LS 75W-90 before that, but both are GL-5. IIRC, they are backwards compatible so you should be fine with either one of them. However, if you are set on using something that specifically says GL-4 on the bottle, you also use Motul 300 75W-90. They come in both LS and non-LS. They are harder to find but you can find them on Amazon.

https://www.motul.com/us/en-US/products/gear-300-75w90
The E153 trans is quite a bit different than the S54 besides the power handling. But they are spec'd for 75w90 GL4 as well. However I know the S54 does prefer a thinner weight, those who have used MT90 claim that it's a bit sluggish. What is the LS Specification you are referring to? I guess I have dismissed M1, just simply didn't even think about it since they're usually up to date to the most recent specification changes. I have seen some people talk about Motul but I haven't looked too much further either. I'll have to look into it, Thank you!
 
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It did call for Dexron III but it looks like they have been backwards compatible to use 75w90. I don't know that there would be an issue if I tried ATF? But I'm not sure and I agree with what you said that maybe they saw some issues (probably wear related) and that was the reason for the change.

I have seen the Valvoline Syncromesh but didn't think it would be any better than Pennzoil Synchromesh, I could be wrong though. The closest Napa is about 60 miles from me. We have O'Reilly's, Advanced and Auto Zone. Plus implement stores. I think the Liqui-Moly would be great if I could get a hold of it too, they seem to have great fluids.

I also didn't consider OEM fluids besides Toyota. There might be something there too. But I imagine they won't be cheap either.


The E153 trans is quite a bit different than the S54 besides the power handling. But they are spec'd for 75w90 GL4 as well. However I know the S54 does prefer a thinner weight, those who have used MT90 claim that it's a bit sluggish. What is the LS Specification you are referring to? I guess I have dismissed M1, just simply didn't even think about it since they're usually up to date to the most recent specification changes. I have seen some people talk about Motul but I haven't looked too much further either. I'll have to look into it, Thank you!
LS = Limited Slip additive for LSD.
 
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It did call for Dexron III but it looks like they have been backwards compatible to use 75w90. I don't know that there would be an issue if I tried ATF? But I'm not sure and I agree with what you said that maybe they saw some issues (probably wear related) and that was the reason for the change.

I have seen the Valvoline Syncromesh but didn't think it would be any better than Pennzoil Synchromesh, I could be wrong though. The closest Napa is about 60 miles from me. We have O'Reilly's, Advanced and Auto Zone. Plus implement stores. I think the Liqui-Moly would be great if I could get a hold of it too, they seem to have great fluids.

I also didn't consider OEM fluids besides Toyota. There might be something there too. But I imagine they won't be cheap either.

You can always try the Valvoline. If you don't like it, it's easy enough to change to something else :)

Napa has free shipping over $35, and 20% off this month with at least 3 items. At $20 each, two bottles will get you the free shipping. You probably need 2-3 bottles anyway.

O'Reilly has Royal Purple Synchromax and Redline MT-85. Order it in-store and it arrives in a few days, or buy it online and get free shipping. Autozone has the same RP Synchromax also online-only and free shipping.

GM Synchromesh is like Pennzoil but synthetic. Honda MTF might work, too.
 
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Sounds familiar to the Land Rover R380 that originally specified Dexron IID and then changed to MTF94 which is a 75w80 GL4 lube.

I actually found a balance between both that worked really well. I use Castrol Syntrans 75w FE which is a manual transmission fluid, GL4 rated that has the viscosity closer to that of an ATF.
 

TacoFergie

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Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
157
Location
Sioux City
LS = Limited Slip additive for LSD.
Would the limited slip additive have a negative or positive affect on the syncros? I know that GL5 is generally bad juju on MR2 forums and tends to wreak havoc on the synchros if left in. The S54 trans uses splash lubrication and GL5 is so slippery that it doesn't allow the synchro's to engage quite right. The E153 has a pump and relies on both splash lubrication and through the passages via the pump. For some reason GL5 is somewhat tolerated in the E153 depending on the fluid but not so much the S54.
Read through this.
I have redline MT in my mazda now, but had the Ford XT-M5-QS fluid in it before. Next change will be back to the ford fluid. It seems to work the best.
This post provides some viscosity options.
Thank you for those links! I did not see that thread in my search. MolaKule is a very informative source with tons of industry knowledge! It makes more sense why GL5 fluids don't work so well in most manual transmissions. I'm curious about the Ford XT fluid but dang that price is crazy!! Which Redline MT are you using? For the S54 it seems like MT90 is too thick (for street driving) which is why Shockproof's I listed seem to be the choice for many, curious if that may be beneficial to your situation.
You can always try the Valvoline. If you don't like it, it's easy enough to change to something else :)

Napa has free shipping over $35, and 20% off this month with at least 3 items. At $20 each, two bottles will get you the free shipping. You probably need 2-3 bottles anyway.

O'Reilly has Royal Purple Synchromax and Redline MT-85. Order it in-store and it arrives in a few days, or buy it online and get free shipping. Autozone has the same RP Synchromax also online-only and free shipping.

GM Synchromesh is like Pennzoil but synthetic. Honda MTF might work, too.
Thats a good point, I think the Valvoline was like $7qt. I haven't seen much or heard much on Royal Purple Synchromesh, generally I haven't been too wowed by RP in the past but I rarely say never to anything.
 

TacoFergie

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Well, after looking through many more specs and looking at a few other places in town I ended up ordering Redline MTL as it's a it's a little lighter than a 75w90 but is made for GL4 manual transmissions. It seems like it will be a good fit, guess I'll find out!
 
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