Volkswagen says the fluid and filter in a 01M never needs changed. What a big bunch of baloney. Fill for life is a lie. I would estimate most 01M’s have a lifespan of approximately 150,000 miles. I would recommend changing your fluid and filter in a Volkswagen 01M transmission at 60,000 miles. If Volkswagen gave a maintenance interval and owners changed “lifetime fluid” then maybe the 01M wouldn’t have such a bad reputation.
Changing the fluid and filter seems to be difficult for the DIYer because of the unusual fill/check procedure and the necessity for a scan tool that will show you trans temp.
Here’s how dark the fluid gets. When they get this bad the TCC chatters on apply and you could get chatters on shifts as well.
Here is comparison between new fluid and old fluid. Ignore the “differential unit” marking. Its from the transmission section.
While we are talking differential, the 01M has a separate-fill differential. The differential fluid level needs to be checked and filled as needed also.
Here is what happens to a 01M diff that isn’t full. This was a new install that someone didn’t fill, but if yours runs low, same thing happens.
The differential bearings spun out inside the case and destroyed the case. This unit was not rebuild-able.
I always break open the filter, because they are real good at trapping pieces that could indicate problems developing.
Here’s a nice clean filter.
And here is one with some problems developing. Plastic pieces of thrust washers and metal contamination indicate failure.
Here are some of the pieces I pulled out of the pan and filter.