One of the most common complaints I hear on the Scion FR-S, Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ forums and facebook groups, aside from talk about crickets and a few other repetitive posts is the question:

“Is there something wrong with my FR-S manual transmission, shifting is difficult/weird/notchy…”


Notchy, weird, difficult, or whatever adjective you want to throw in there for “not normal operation”. Unfortunately this is a problem for ALL Scion FR-S, ALL Toyota 86 and ALL Subaru BRZs – doesn’t matter if you just took delivery five seconds ago and are just backing the thing off the trailer or if you’ve been on the road for two years, there’s something you need to know:

If you have a manual trans Toyota 86, Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ, You need to change your transmission fluid, like STAT.

This disgusting mess is from a low-mileage FR-S - which shows you how dirty your transmission fluid likely is. If you feel like your shifting is "Notchy" or "Stiff", change your Transmission fluid.

EW! Look at that gunk! That disgusting layer of filth is what you will find – no exaggeration, you WILL find this much crap in the gear oil inside your trans. That’s thick with metal particles, which is bad for the transmission (as it wears out parts) and it also is what can give you a notchy-feeling shifter.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms of the “notchy shifter in Scion FR-S”:
*First gear is clunky
*2nd feels notchy
*3rd may be difficult, especially when shifting below 3000rpm.

So how do you get rid of all the filth in your transmission case, ruining your gears, as well as fix the clunky notchy shifter in FR-S & BRZ?

Believe it or not, the fix is way simpler than you think. Just change the transmission oil! Drain the OEM gear oil from the car, you may want to flush the trans with a bit of extra fresh oil.



We recommend using Motul 300 Gear oil for differential and transmission oil changes, as we’ve put together in this convenient kit. Why Motul? Motul is an extremely high grade, fully synthetic oil specifically engineered for the demanding conditions of keeping race engines and gearsets lubricated. 

IMG_8126 IMG_8119

What’s more, running Motul Motor oil can actually allow your car to make more HP at the wheels, and it’s also why Motul is a favorite of the NASIOC forums – not to mention the blend of detergents that make Motul superior to the usual stuff you’d find at Autozone. Speaking from personal experience, a very close friend of mine and Subaru Expert trusted nothing but Motul in his 300+AWHP Daily-Driver WRX. (FYI guys… a stock WRX of that gen is around 160-165AWHP on a AWD Dynojet) because Motul was the only oil that he found that wouldn’t get consumed by the motor.

Toyota recommends you change the transmission oil every 22,500 miles, or 22 months, whichever comes first, which means a lot of you out there with more miles on the car are likely overdue.

Fortunately, if you’re in SoCal, we offer this service here at our on-site install shop, ModAuto. Call us at 714-582-3330 to make your appointment today!

We’re big believers in Motul here, after having done the research for ourselves and tried it out firsthand on our own cars – our President Ron’s 996TT kept consuming the Mobil1 European blend the manual specified, and after 3500mi and no drop in oil level, even Ron, a notorious skeptic, was convinced.

For a little more background on Motul, check out this video featuring ModBargains president Ron about the benefits of running Motul in your FA20 engine and why he runs it in his Porsche 996TT.



Changing the gear oil will make a big difference in extending the service life of your transmission & rear differential.

About the rear differential – it’s important you change the oil in your differential, too, since the diff is the part of your car that’s sending the power to the ground, and it has a similar service interval. Especially if you like to get slide-happy with your FR-S or BRZ. Don’t lie, we know you’ve TOTALLY gotten sideways a few times – or at least tried. Trick is, sliding around like that is hard on your differential.
Guess what else!

Remember how disgusting the factory gear oil was in your transmission? Your diff is filled with that garbage too!
Since your differential is also filled with similarly terrible gear oil from the factory, it stands to reason that you can expect your differential to be full of metal shavings and all sorts of crap, too.

While you’re at it, and since you already have the gear oil and gear oil pump tool out, it’s a great idea to change both the differential gear oil and the transmission oil at the same time! It’s worth noting that you should change the differential fluid about every two years to be on the safe side and ensure your LSD keeps you from the dreaded one-wheel-peel.


Here’s what you’ll need to do it yourself:

Tools Required
10mm Hex Key socket
10mm Socket

Torque Wrench
Fluid transfer pump if not using Motul Gear 300
Bucket or oil drain pan to catch used oil
Clean-Up Rags

Parts needed
API GL-3 or better rated fluid for the transmission (2.2L) (like Motul Gear 300 Diff & Gear Oil)
API GL-5 fluid for the differential 1.3L (like Motul Gear 300 Diff & Gear Oil)
Rear Differential Drain Crush Washer
Rear Differential Fill Crush Washer
2 Crush Washers for transmission

Here’s an excerpt from your Owner’s Manual, courtesy of FT86Club that outlines the capacities and the procedure to be factory correct.

fr-s-trans-capacity fr-s-trans-capacity2 fr-s-trans-capacity3

If you need to have your Scion FR-S Transmission Oil Changed or need your BRZ Differential Oil Changed, we can do that for you here if you’re in Southern California, come by our install shop, Mod Auto, where our experienced, professional techs can do the transmission and rear differential oil change for you – call 714-582-3330 to make an appointment, visit or email to get more information.




We hope this has been helpful and informative – if you haven’t yet, check out our huge photo gallery from our 86Day Celebration that drew over 120 Local FR-S, BRZ and AE86s to celebrate the spirit of 86. Thanks for reading.

If you have any questions about your FR-S, BRZ, how to mod it or how to best maintain it, we invite you consult the Mod Experts at ModBargains – give our friendly, knowledgeable and experienced Experts a call today: 714-582-3330.

Story by Nicholas Gregson

Want to read more? Check out a few of our other FR-S/BRZ/Toyota 86 related posts:
Race-Ready Apex Wheels for Mustang, FR-S + BRZ, now available at ModBargains!
Quick Snap: Scion FR-S on Forgestar F14s
April ’14 COTM: Shutter’s Scion FR-S
Scion FR-S Gets Upgraded with Carbon Fiber Aero Parts
13 Great Exterior Mods For Scion FR-S & Subaru BRZ
6 Mods To Get The Most Out Of Your Scion FR-S / Subaru BR-Z
Quick Snap: Scion FR-S on Klutch SL5 Wheels at Sundown
Product Spotlight: Scion FR-S/BR-Z Duck Bill Style Trunk Spoiler

Full Blown Scion FR-S Turbo Kit Now Available for Installation at ModBargains
Scion FR-S GReddy High Performance Intake: Installed Photos

Quick Snap: Subaru BRZ Gets ST Coilovers & Enkei RPF1 Wheels
Expert Review: Plug-and-Play E85 Power for FRS/BRZ with Vishnu Openflash Tablet