Changing the transaxle oil in a Bus, Vanagon, or Eurovan is not easy—and even more difficult in 4WD (Syncro) Vanagon. Both the drain and fill plugs require a 17mm internal hex (allen) wrench or bit (GoWesty offers replacement filler and drain plugs with an EXTERNAL 19mm hex! Yeah!). If you have such a tool, draining is a snap. However, re-filling can be tricky, on your back, with no way to pump the oil into the side of the transaxle. Just getting the filler plug out can be tricky, especially on a Syncro where you have to work around the skid bars. So, if you are not willing to buy a couple of tools (17mm bit and hand pump) and get a little messy, just take it to a shop.
Check out this related article: Oil for Transaxles: What Should I Use In My Vanagon Stick-Shift Transaxle?
After reading this article, Paul writes:
'I was reading the tech article on the gear oil in the Vanagon transmission and wanted to add a comment, always remove the fill plug before the drain plug. When we did our Syncro's gear oil (the fill plug was so tight) it took the longest breaker bar we had and a lot of effort to get the bugger out, our impact wrench was useless because of the 30" of extensions you have to use to attach the wrench. If we had removed the drain plug then tried to get the fill plug out we could have been screwed.
Just a thought to help the non-mechanically minded, Paul'
Thanks for the tip Paul!