Mk3 2.0 Sport gearbox notchy and stiff


Had the gearbox and diff oil changed by a Mazda dealer a month ago. Since then the gearbox seems to have got more notchy and stiff, particularly when going from 1st to 2nd gear. Any ideas? Could they have used the wrong oil or not filled the gearbox back up after draining? Car is a 57 plate 6 speed 2.0 Sport Roadster Convertible having done 33000 miles.

Or is this more normal now the weather is getting cooler?



This is a common problem with the six speed.
A different oil will make it better… Mazda only use mazda spec oil!!!
I use redline mt90

Think of it like this. in order to avoid injury and for optimum performance, althletes always warm up before exerting themselves. 

If you don’t already do this, allow your engine temperature to reach it’s normal operating temperature BEFORE driving anywhere in it, as you’ll soon be asking it to turn over at over 3,000rpm. This only takes a few minutes to warm up and allowing this will not only prolong the lifespan of your engine but will also reduce the notchy gear changes, which are a known condition in NC Mk3’s, particularly 1st to 2nd when the engine is cold/ still warming up.

I recently had a full service carried out on my recently purchased 2007 Mk3 and I requested upgrades to all fluids (gearbox, diff, engine, brake) from standard OEM and upgraded spark plugs (NGK) too. Even after this, the gear changes are still virtually impossible/ very difficult until the engine has warmed up. 

Driving a cold engine just doesn’t seem fair to me. 

Thanks for the reply Kimosabe. In my case warming the engine for 3 minutes would make little or no difference, the gear change is still very stff and notchy (1st to 2nd) even when driven for 30 minutes and only slightly better than when cold…

If this behaviour is normal then ok, just wanted to understand whether I have a problem or something common to all the six speed boxes with Mazda OEM oil.

Thanks, Jonathan.

What rodders said, quite a common issue in the NC 6 Speed box though not all of them by any means, I would go for another change to the redline.


I have a similar problem, but only when quite cold and only when changing from 1st to 2nd. It is quite notchy and stiff.

Our colonial cousins swear by FoMoCo Fully Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluid.

People the forum have pointed to this stuff over here:…8_F1045737_F1045737-2761

and I have seen similar recommendations elsewhere.

I have not tried it myself as I have never found it to be a show stopper, but I might well do so at the next service.

ETA: Silly I know, but make sure the clutch pedal is FULLY depressed and the clutch is completely out before shifting. I know that many cars have a very low biting point and even a slight drag won’t help matters. Just sayin’ like.

All depends on how you drive from cold, I drive straight away from cold gently that is the critical bit don’t go redlining it or anything. It gets to correct temperature quicker and also reduces fuel consumption, additionally there is no benefit to waiting.

The only time you really should wait is when you have been spirited and just to let things settle back down. 

Plus sitting letting the engine warm up won’t necessarily mean the gear box and diff are fully warmed so you won’t resolve the issue, I know many on here in relation to the notchy 6 speed box on the 2.0 litre have had much benefit from simply changing the oil to a different one.




My 2008 2.0 Sport (37000) is notchy when cold… Better when warm but still not great.

I am replacing the Gearbox oil on Sunday with Castrol Syntrans and will let you know if it is any better.


Thanks Kevinb111, I would be interested to know if there is any improvement after your oil change.

Bit of a shame that doing the right thing for my gearbox has resulted in a less pleasant drive. Beginning to wish I had never asked Mazda to change the gearbox oil.



Hi All, for info my Mazda invoice states they used SYNTRAX 75/90 Gear oil. Is that the normal oil Mazda would use or recommend?


Hi Jonathan, it’s not the one I used. I used Castrol Syntrans Multivehicle Manual Transmission Fluid 75W90 GL4 from Halfords here’s the picture etc,

The Castrol names are ridiculously confusing imho. There are different versions of Syntrans and the similarly named Syntrax GL5 transaxle oil.


Ok well I changed the Gearbox oil on sunday for Castrol Syntrans 75W90GL4 and already (75 miles) the gerabox is a lot slicker. Whilst 1st to 2nd gear was still a little “notchy” this morning for the first couple of changes it was nowhere near as bad as before.

The old oil that came out looked like new, certainly not 37000 miles old. So I am guessing it had been changed recently.

The Diff oil was black!