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The good oil.




Engine: 3.75 litres
Gearbox (5-speed): 1.8 - 2 litres (this is an 'over-fill' and is necessary on the 5-speeds - instructions here)
Transfer-case: 0.75 litres
Differential Front: 1.15 litres
Differential Rear: 1.3 litres
Steering-box: 0.215 litres



The engine is happy with a good quality 15W-40 mineral engine oil for summer, 10W-40 for winter, or if you live in a cold area. I (and others) often use 20W-50 as it's often all that's easily available and it seemed to be fine in my original worn 1600 engine in a temperate climate, but it's best to use the correct grade if you can.


API GL4 or GL5* spec, 80 to 90 weight gear oil: SAE 75W-80 or 75W-90 (if you live in a -40 to +35°C environment), 80W-85 or 80W-90 (-26 to +35°C environment), 85W-90 (-12 to +45°C environment). Change every 10,000Km.
*GL5 warning: While GL5 spec is specified by Avtovaz for the 5-speed gearbox, there is debate over GL5 use in many Lada and Fiat circles. Ladas use brass synchromesh rings and bronze coatings on the shifter forks, and Avtovaz claim trials show GL-5 is not aggressive towards these materials. However, this is not the experience of some Lada owners with some GL5s: Older style (and cheap) GL5 oils have high contents of sulphur that become acidic with heat and age and may destroy bronze parts used in gearboxes like the Lada and Fiat. For this reason Castrol recommended GL4 for gearboxes with bronze parts (GL4 has a lower sulphur content and hence doesn't turn as acidic, but it also isn't as resistant to oil shear as GL5 is). Many Niva owners have used GL4 and had no issue with it being a lower specification than the specified GL5, though I'd change GL4 more often than the GL5's 10,000Km service interval (as GL4 will loose its viscosity more quickly than GL5).
Nowadays though, many GL5s instead use alkylamines (eg Motul HD 80W90 Mineral or 75W90 Synthetic ), and these are far less corrosive to yellow metals than the old style GL5s. Such oils should be fine in a Lada gearbox. There's no industry test for brass and bronze deterioration I'm aware of, but If a GL5 causes only minimal weight loss in the copper catalyst weight loss ASTM D-5704 test, it's a good sign it's probably yellow mental friendly. A good rule of thumb is to use oil from a quality manufacturer, especially if you choose GL5.
Some oils may be too thick or slippery for the synchromesh; eg my 'box that ran perfectly with Valveoline synthetic 75W-90 had instant synchromesh issues with Castrol EPX 80W-90 (ie diff oil :lol: ), but returned to almost normal with Redline MTL-90 (well, for a while).
Synthetic oils are a bit of an unknown; they can seep past rubber seals easier than equivalent mineral oils, and they may (or may not) shorten the life of rubber and polymer seals. I'd love to hear results from people who have used synthetics long term in their Lada drive-trains?
Lada & Korean Parts Australia recommends a Castrol variant made especially for Mitsubishi synchromesh problems: Castrol VMX-M, a mineral 75W-85 GL4 (specs here). Don't put GL4 in differentials though (as they need GL-5). VMX-M is not available outside Australia, but a Fuchs GL4 for Mitsubishis etc may be available where you live (eg B&T Automotive in NZ stocks it). UPDATE: Castrol VMX80 has been reformulated as a GL4 in New Zealand (and probably elsewhere) and is recommended by Gee Motors (NZ's Lada parts dealer).

API GL5 spec EP90 (ie hypoid compatible) oil, same as the differentials (ie the transfer-case has a differential in it). Change every 10,000Km.
Do not use GL4 in the transfer-case, as it does not have adequate properties to protect its differential.


API GL5 spec EP90 (ie hypoid compatible) oil will do: 75W-90 winter, 80W-90 summer. Change every 10,000Km.
Front and rear diffs can use an EP90 heavy duty (HD) axle oil (eg Castrol EPX or Shell Spirax axle oil). But don't put it in the gearbox as the syncros may not work properly.
Lada & Korean Parts Australia recommend an 85W/140 weight for hotter climates, and Russian enthusiasts like 75W/140 weight (do not put a 140 in the gearbox though).
Do not use GL4 in a differential, as it does not have adequate properties to protect a differential.

If you have a LSD fitted, depending on the type of LSD, it will probably need a special LSD differential oil (check with the LSD manufacturer).


EP90 for the steering-box (anything the gearbox or differentials use is fine).
A common fix for leaky steering-boxes is to top them up with grease (make sure it's rubber and polymer firendly).


Brake Oil: DOT 4. Change every 1 to 2 years (brake fluid absorbs water, which then lowers its boiling point).
DOT 5.1 can in theory be used to top up if absolutely necessary - since DOT 4 and DOT 5.1 are both glycol-based brake fluids they can be mixed without interacting, though the different chemical compositions may potentially cause issues with seals etc in your brake system if there's a high concentration of DOT 5.1 (note: DOT 5.1 has a specified higher boiling point and a lower maximum viscosity than DOT 4). Do not ever top up with DOT 5 (which is silicone-based and should never be mixed with any other DOT fluid). DOT 3 is also glycol-based, but has a lower boiling point so should not be used in a Niva.


CV Joints, Ball-joints, & Tie-rod ends
Make sure you use polymer safe grease, ie mineral oil based so it is compatible with the polymer material of the Avtovaz/Lada CV boots, ball-joint, and track-rod end "rubbers", or else the "rubber" will quickly weaken and fail. Mineral-oil-based lubricants don’t attack most plastic materials, though additives to them can (moly disulphide additive can pentrate and weaken plastics but it is largely a necessary part of CV grease - hence I try and use the the lowest moly content grease which is recommended for CV joints). And take care not to get any solvents on these "rubber" parts.


Wheel-bearings & Drive-shafts
Normal multipurpose grease is fine for the wheel-bearings and drive-shafts, just make sure it's the heat-proof type suitable for automotive wheel-bearings.



Note: 4x4 gearboxes, transfer-cases and differentials can suck in water during river crossings, it is important change your oils if this happens or you risk damage. Check out the DIY gearbox and diff breathers to help avoid this happening.




See Also:

Gearbox oil "over-fill" top-up

Diagnosing Niva gearbox problems




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