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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Purpose:
To summarize the initial filled w/chatter analysis thread and bring into focus discussion of higher viscosity transaxle oil options. We’ll get “You’re over thinking this / Go Ride” comments, but I felt Snow’s sharing of increased viscosity being advisable (vis a vis Weddle) is worthy of consideration.

A teaser: Amsoil win’s nothing here, Redline has been displaced as the default AGL replacement.

The focus here he will be Turbo tranny’s although you can apply this to the 1000’s tranny’s as well. In the old post I referenced “chain stretch” attributed to high viscosity. I’ve looked into this more and now consider that an old wives tale.

This is NOT a summary. The quick and dirty version is here:


Background:
Something like 95% of folks will not have a transmission problem, but those that do often experience expensive case damage, ruined vacations and etc. Meanwhile, this discussion has never been about “cheaper”. The criteria remains: Higher quality, accessible, with a solid cost return to value. As always, regular maintenance remains rule #1.


Getting Started:
Our transmissions are akin to a transaxle: The fluid must handle both a final drive (high pressure on the ring gear and calling for EP additives) and the thinner needs, and AW requirements, of the transmission. How thin? We’ll get to that, a bit more color first.

Others have tried to address why these sometimes fail. I don’t have the full genesis of who did what, but the top two beliefs had been “Cheap Bearings”, and “Not Enough Oil to The Bearings”, both generally aimed at the idler shaft bearings. This has not been debunked, but Snwmbl (Snow) has taken this farther than those before him and concluded that a contributor, if not the underlying cause, is mfg. bearing clearance tolerance is too loose and side case bearings lack (who knows how frequently) adequate preload. Here is his thread on this:

17 XP4 1K rebuild
(I’d start at post 340, but the entire thread is a great read.)

There isn’t any question in my mind that these things are true:
  1. Most won’t get bit by this.
  2. If you are worried take these steps, in this order, as deeply as you see fit.
    1. Run the best oil you can.
    2. Go easy on RPM, speed, and load until things warm up and oil has had a chance to splash/climb around in the tranny.
    3. Replace the tranny bearing before it fails (Snow has them listed in his thread)
    4. While you’re in there think hard about spending the time/money to have the bearings pre-loaded as Snow has shown us (with all due credit to Weddle Industries)
FWIW, I’m at 2b.

However, Snow reports Weddle suggests running quite a bit thicker viscosity oil. Danger Will Robinson, Danger! Not for everybody, but for a lot of you that’s an idea fraught with risk. Probably Snow included. Now we can dig in.


Digging In W/Data:
Look at Table #3 somewhere below and look at the 40c viscosity of what Polaris engineers recommend, what Amsoil recommends for their warranty coverage and what RedLine recommends. Pretty darn thin right? Let’s look deeper:

Let’s use Table #1 to translate between gear oil (SAE J306), and engine crankcase oil (J300)
Table #1
676478



Things to know as you look over table #1:
  1. Polaris AGL has been tested. It’s alleged to be roughly 0W-5W engine /20-30 (crankcase) oil, or what in gear oil would be roughly 70W-75.
    1. 5W engine oil is roughly analogous to GL-3 diff fluid and was used in low power applications in the past. Long superseded, but it has precedent.
    2. AGL is a marketed as a “full synthetic”. Given the poor numbers we see it’s almost certainly a Group III synthetic with a low VI.
  2. Polaris markets, and does not specify for our use, what is called “Angled Gear Lube” (This is not AGL. It’s named by a marketing weenie that should be shot). Said oil is widely accepted to be an 80W-90 equivalent, or something akin to 30W-50 engine oil (with a different, one hopes, additives package).
    1. Clearly we now what Poo engineers see as “out of bounds” too, right?
  3. Amsoil and Redline both specify 75W’s, and both on the thin side. Think 10W-15W, and both in turn have higher “hot” viscosities.

So What Is AGL?

Two things first:
  1. While AGL is servicing a "transmission", and a manual transmission is the closest automotive equivalent, we don't have synchro's to contend with or commensurate "yellow metals".
  2. DDF can be (has been) argued to be a transaxle worthy fluid itself. We know DDF to be thinner than 5W, and at or just below GL-4 (likely just below).
Poo came up/AGL prior to our transaxles. believe it's genesis was as a transmission fluid.

So AGL appears to be transaxle capable lubricant slighly thicker than DDF, substantially thinner than Angle Drive Fluid, GL-3 or 4 capable, and fully synthetic. It's probably Group III base oil. I believe the reason we use AGL in our machines is that:
  1. Poo engineers didn't have a business politics case for yet another lubricant in their inventory.
  2. AGL it's the closest match they had in inventory.
It's not hard to imagine a better set of criteria. We can stipulate a GL-5 rated transaxle lubricant of roughly 10W - 15W, a D-97 at or below -50, and as thick as we can get at 100C. Lets make it Group IV or V while we're at it and look for VI's over 170. If we can get J2360 and MT-1 that's even better. How far can we push cold viscosity? Without a poo engineer we don't know, but we know Amsoil doesn't stipulate their UTV offering coming in at 120cST @ 40c. Best we stay under 100 unless we're making cold performance compromises.


Hot?
“Hot”, 100c, viscosity is how thick (better to think “how not thin”) the oil is at 212F (Usually over the temperature for our simple transaxle’s run, but it’s what we’ve got). Cold is 40c, or 104f. THINK ABOUT THAT! We’re looking at “cold temperature” that is akin to a really hot summer day!! Keep this very much in mind!! We’ll see what oil really does when it’s even sort of cool in a moment.

You’ll also note when you look at Table #2 below that once we pass 40C the viscosity curve really flattens so if our transaxles run at 80C instead of 100C it doesn’t really matter. FWIW, Snow shared Weddle stated tranny's run hard can exceed 200f (93c). Pretty much what we'd expect.

It’s much tougher to do in a gearcase, but this spread between cold and hot viscosity is called “Viscosity Index” (VI). An engine oil can do this with something called a “Viscosity Improver” but gearcases literally tear those apart (shear), so that’s not practical (usually). You either accept a low VI or you engineer a better oil via excellent base stock - exclusively the domain of Group IV synthetics. Not something labeled “full synthetic” by a marketing weenie, but something that is, from a chemists perspective, a true synthetic. Think Amsoil, Motul, Red Line, and Royal Purple. There’s probably a few I’ve missed too.


Interim Conclusions:
To this point we know that a large VI “flattens” the viscosity / temperature curve, so one characteristic we seek is a high VI, and we know to be wary of what “cold” temperature means. Let’s look deeper at “cold” as I’d promised:

Table #2
676479


Notice that as oil’s warm, even to 40C, the variance in their viscosity becomes minor, amounting to a few centistokes . Those can matter, but look at what happens as oil gets even slightly cool! At 32F/0C there are THOUSANDS of Centistokes of difference. Now take a look at the blue line. That’s a generic Synchromesh fluid, something found on transaxles around the nation. Then notice 75W-80 is pretty close. 80W-90? Now you know why Poo won’t use “Angle Drive Fluid” in a transmission - the bearings would be lubricant compromised in cool weather.

Note also AGL is thinner than anything on this table!

I hope the point is clear: Change viscosity with great care, realizing that you will gain tiny steps in hot viscosity at great cost to cold viscosity. We can address this with some skill but it’s not as simple as “go run a 75W-140”.


What To Think?
Remember, I’m OK at this for a layman, but these are opinions, All said and done this is on you!
  1. If I was running in the desert, deep south, or otherwise never turning an input shaft below say 68F { (20c* 1.8) + 32 } you could run a high VI 75W-140 as Weddle suggests (They are in California, so for them maybe reasonable).
  2. The rest need to be more careful. We can run a 75W gear oil, but we need to stay on the lower centistoke (cold vis) side of that. Despite all we can do with VI improvers, talking about 140 weigh oils takes you well beyond Poo engineering and into unreasonably thick cool performance.
  3. What else should you look for?
    1. Snow has relayed that side pressure on the idler bearing is a problem. The “pressure” additive in oils is called “EP”, and is rated by GL ratings. You may want to prefer a GL-5.
Table #3a is an updated table of oils I consider the top tier for AGL alternatives. You should feel free to look at your own candidates. At this moment it seems Motul’s 300 gear oil is the best AGL general purpose replacement I can recommend. If you run warmer temps only you can step up, and you hot weather/desert only guys can go really go bigger.


The Data
Table #3a - Baselines & "The Winners"
676527


676498



Table #3b - Reference & "The Dogs"
676528



Blackstone AGL VOA:


The Bottom Line:
Remember, I’m OK at this for a layman but these are opinions, All said and done this is on you!
  1. If I was running in the desert, deep south, or otherwise never turning an input shaft below say 68F { (20c* 1.8) + 32 } you could, maybe should, run a high VI 75W-140 as Weddle suggests (They are in California, so for them that’s maybe reasonable).
  2. The rest of us need to be more careful. We can run a 75W gear oil, but we need to stay on the lower centistoke (cold vis) side of that. Despite all we can do with VI improvers, talking about 140 weigh oils takes you well beyond Poo engineering and into unreasonably thick cool performance.


Recommendations:
  • General Purpose AGL Replacement / All-Temperature
    • Motul Gear 300 - 105777
  • Rarely to never below 32F (machine starting temperature)
    • Motul 75W-90 Type 2 (Not sure this is enough better to compromise cold performance)
  • Never below 50f (ish): (is this perfect for you southern and west coast guys?)
    • Redline 75W-110, SKU 57804
  • Never below 70f: (Desert, Arizona, etc I suppose)
    • Redline 75W-140


Considerations:
  1. As you step up in temperature you’re getting more viscosity, but remember you add cold viscosity much faster.
  2. Use your own use-case to decide. An example:
    1. I’ve been out below freezing once when I wasn’t pulling out of a heated garage, and then it was probably 25f. Do I need to be using “General AGL/All temperature”? Nope. Yet I can’t run the southern/west coast guys, “Never Below 50F” oil either, so I’m a little trapped. Looking at Table #3 we see Motul 75W-90 Type 2. Too thick for “All temperature”, but for my use? It might be fine. But I’m not gaining much either! A few cSt at 100c? The new All Purpose Standard is twice as thick when hot as Poo’s AGL, so how much improvement do I need, and what is the compromise I’m willing to make?
  3. You may prefer completely different choices. You can evaluate your own oil favorites! Here's what I do:
    1. Cold performance:
      1. Obviously we're looking for a 40c cSt commensurate with your minimum engine starting temperature preferences.
      2. D97 Pour Point tells us how the oil behaves much colder. Some oils to much better than others and it won't always show in the VI. There are even things like Pour Point Depressers (PPD) that lower these numbers.
        1. I assume a low D97 implies a flatter curve than we'd otherwise expect in the colder regions. PPD presence doesn't mean their won't be spikes, perhaps at 0C or something, but we've only got so much data.
      3. You want a high 100C too. You're going to know just by looking at the VI.
    2. Don't forget you're looking for transaxle/Manual transmission rated fluids. A rear diff only fluid may not be adequate.
    3. I prefer GL-5.

Decisions decisions. I’ll bet a lot of you guys don’t need to be supporting super cold either. I won’t recommend a “general replacement” that won’t support it, but the push for more viscosity when hot has shown a number of interesting choices.


Closing Thoughts:
This is really splitting hairs. Still, once we started getting industry guidance to increase our oil viscosity I elected to look at this again. I’m not personally willing to jump as high as Weddle suggests, and can’t really understand what logic made them leap the rails so hard. Still, I have shown you how to make large jumps in viscosity and still limit loss of cold operation. To whatever degree of viscosity you decide is your cup of tea you’ve got the best in class I found. Use our own use-case, and weigh how far off the ranch you want to get chasing that 5%.

I think I’ve also demonstrated the challenge Poo has in delivering a one size fits all oil. I’ve gone on record many times as saying I think they’ve under specified AGL as we need it, but once you look at the cold weather stuff deeply enough you can appreciate their challenge in delivering an international oil standard. Mind you I’ve shown far better oil selections exist so I’m not giving Poo a lot of credit.

Finally we now have a standard recommendation with literally double the “hot” viscosity of Poo’s factory AGL, we’ve held to tolerable 40C numbers, and improved the D97 pour point. Obviously all through selecting a high VI Group IV oil. As was the last standard, we still gain GL-5 too. I'm really pretty impressed with the 300 Gear old (not the NS version). Shame I missed it last time.

Hope this helps!

-d

Other thread on oils for consideration:



 

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Lots of good stuff there - thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you. I may yet update the thing to be hasher. The Amsoil universal really grinds my gears (pun intended). Their push to allow it to be a decent universal fluid that replaces both AGL and DDF is just stupid. It's literally thinner than AGL is at 100C. It may be a quality lubricant, but if we're talking about film strength it seems a loser to me.

But I'm pretty consistent. This "one fluid for both" idea is STUPID. AGL is questionable anyway, making it thinner is a terrible idea. Which is why one of the very few professions I loathe is marketing. A good sales person at least has integrity...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks 204, and Snow!

204: This stuff, and no, I don't do that "affiliate link" bs:

All: A few updates added to above. Nothing worthy of a re-read though, unless maybe you use Mobil1. Table 3 was added to give us a reference to a more commonly available "off the shelf" oil.

At first glance you'd want to reject the M1. But it's up against hand-picked Group IV and V synthetics, it didn't have much of a chance. Most of us would use it if we owned it already though, right? I'd probably take a few extra warm up miles with it before I stressed it, but it's probably Ok. I'd look for something transaxle rated next time though, and there are 3, maybe 4 oils there that are better choices. The Motul Type 2, as an example, beats it in everything.

But we'll see, I've not tried buying any of this stuff myself. Who knows what that's like.
 
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I use and have used Mobil 1 75W90 in my 2018 XPT (6000+ miles) and 2017 1000s (2500 miles)

I believe all of us in our circle use Mobil 1 75w90 in our Turbos from well below Zero to over 100+ degrees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yep. One man's opinions of course, but I'm really impressed with the stuff. Shame I'd missed it before.
 
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I'd toss in Supertech 75W90 Full Synthetic on your list. It's API GL-5, MT-1, MACK GO-J, SAE J2360 and MIL-PRF-2105E specs. Not sure about 40c,100c or pour point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Final change for a while. Tables are now 3a and 3B. Out of respect for those that need an oil "right now", or maybe don't have the easy shipping access some of us do, I've added an easily accessible "Off the Shelf" standard. That's Volvolines SynPower 75W-90, and it is really really impressive. I would not hesitate to run it in mine, and it's on hand in every Napa in my area, hopefully yours too!

My thanks to all!

-d
 
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Yep. One man's opinions of course, but I'm really impressed with the stuff. Shame I'd missed it before.
Good write up Mr Dafish thats a lot of work
Just to clarify you are recommending this for both the front diff and the transmission in all reasonable temps correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Max!

However, no sir. I have a strong dislike for any "univeral" oil. That is any oil that pretends to be both DDF and AGL. I'm not even sure these would work. DDF really needs to be thin, no more than 5W, to work right. I grant a few if these would likely work if you never got below 70f, but I'm not certain. I for sure will never try either.

Atb

-d
 

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Thanks for the clarification ...glad I asked
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Oh hell yes. Nice work sir
 

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Have you changed your recommendation for front diff oil?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Front Diff Fluid changes? Nope. Don't see anything changing there either. Hilliard has been super clear about what to use and why. I happen to think Amsoils ATHQT-EA is the best choice, but there isn't a lot wrong with Poo's DDF either.

atb,
-d
 
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