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#3346559 - 04/18/14 01:31 PM Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF
CBR.worm Offline


Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 1774
Loc: Jupiter, Fl
First of all, I am not a believer in lifetime fluid.

We have an '08 E60 BMW W/ the ZF 6hp19(or 24?). The car has about 70k on it, I asked our dealer about a ATF change, they said it would be $1,000 and would void our warranty, but that they would do it if we really wanted to.

He explained that the fluid is a lifetime fluid, etc. I said that I did not believe in lifetime fluids and could not see any reason not to change it. He said that the fluid properties change as it ages and that the TCM compensates for these changes. He said that if you replace the fluid you have to do one of two things. One is tell the TCM to forget all learned value, the other is not do anything relative to the TCM.

He said that there are three very common failure modes for these transmissions, which is why Audi extended the warranty coverage on their vehicles with this ZF tranny.

The first is the mechatronic sleeve leaking, causing a low fluid condition and mass destruction (easy fix if caught early). The second is the mechatronic assembly (valvebody) solenoid failure, causing mass destruction in an instant with no prior signs, the third is replacing fluid and having the parameters be out of line enough that mass destruction ensues within a few thousand miles - in some cases after deleting learned values the transmission will slip and cook itself post haste.


he said the only solution is to change the fluid very regularly, or never at all.

Does anyone think there is any validity to this crazy claim of the tranny adjusting to the degrading fluid and being destroyed if new fluid is put in place? kind of a different take on the old don't ever change a high mileage ATF (which in my mind 70k is not high miles).

My inclination is to do it myself given the price, but these are kind of a pain to do. I just wanted to see if there is any validity to their claims. The tech I talked to seemed to be pretty on top of things.
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#3346574 - 04/18/14 01:46 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
The Critic Offline


Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 18966
Loc: Walnut Creek, CA
I thought BMW recently revised the interval to 100k for ATF. I've seem a couple of E90s with this recommendation. Are you sure that yours doesn't have the 100k recommendation in the manual?

With that said, in light duty use, I've seen a lot of cars go 150k+ on the original oil fill with no problems. Tranny failures due to oil issues are rarely proven and are not nearly as rampant as the people on this forum would like you to believe.
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#3346580 - 04/18/14 01:53 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
DirkDiggler Offline


Registered: 08/14/12
Posts: 176
Loc: Missouri
I was told same thing on our X5. It was a CPO that had approx 60k on it when bought dec 2010. I went to dealer @ 70k to have fluid changed and they wanted $900 and said it would fail. I used "bimmer shops" search enginge, found an awesome indy, and for $300, I got all of the fluid and new filter (the entire pan is a filter). I had it done again around 110k and have it on a 30-40k change process.
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#3346583 - 04/18/14 01:58 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
drtyler Offline


Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 213
Loc: Georgia
Here is a document from ZF that states a change interval between 80,000 and 120,000 km.

Document from ZF

After reading this, I don't see anything about resetting the computer.


Edited by drtyler (04/18/14 01:58 PM)

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#3346596 - 04/18/14 02:13 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
Miller88 Offline


Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 11601
Loc: Onondaga County
$1000 for transmission fluid change?

WOW! Guess I'm lucky with $12/gallon DexIII!
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#3346624 - 04/18/14 02:49 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
threeputtpar Offline


Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 2061
Loc: Appleton, WI
I'd suggest that you find another dealer that actually knows what they are talking about.

I didn't see if you were still under CPO warranty, but if you are just use the fluid that dealer stocks or Lifeguard 6 from ZF. I think Pentosin also makes a fluid for the 6HP trans. IIRC, it's actually blue in color for leak detection and aftermarket non-spec fluid identification.

If you're not under warranty, there are other fluids that are less expensive and suitable for the trans.
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#3346661 - 04/18/14 03:36 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
dparm Offline


Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 13031
Loc: Chicago, IL
Talk directly to the techs for the info you need. The service advisors are just glorified salespeople.
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#3346785 - 04/18/14 06:05 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
Ram01 Offline


Registered: 10/13/10
Posts: 916
Loc: New York Queens
Wow BMW is nuts 1000$ , fresh fluid is always the best

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#3346834 - 04/18/14 07:07 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: drtyler]
Wilhelm_D Offline


Registered: 01/28/09
Posts: 818
Loc: Tacoma, WA
Originally Posted By: drtyler
Here is a document from ZF that states a change interval between 80,000 and 120,000 km.

Document from ZF

After reading this, I don't see anything about resetting the computer.


Yes, but be sure to use ZF LifeGuard Fluid, which retails for $14 - $21 a liter, which ZF assures us they manufacture.

On a more realistic note:

Changing the Fluid and Filter on a ZF 5HP

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#3346926 - 04/18/14 08:32 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
CBR.worm Offline


Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 1774
Loc: Jupiter, Fl
Yeah, I figured it was a bunch of [censored]. I was surprised that they said they would void the warranty if I paid them do it.

The vehicle in question is a CPO. Actually the CPO warranty is about to expire, so I am not to concerned about the warranty, but the tech made me nervous for sure. Maybe the techs get commission for selling new cars as well...

That document is great. I planned to order the LifeGuard 6 and do it myself. I was surprised to see that the pan/filter is plastic.


Edited by CBR.worm (04/18/14 08:34 PM)
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#3350323 - 04/22/14 05:45 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
drtyler Offline


Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 213
Loc: Georgia
Here's a bit more.
Letter from ZF

Good luck with the change. There are quite a few DIYs for this job on the web. Here's one from BavAuto:
BavAuto Link



Originally Posted By: CBR.worm
Yeah, I figured it was a bunch of [censored]. I was surprised that they said they would void the warranty if I paid them do it.

The vehicle in question is a CPO. Actually the CPO warranty is about to expire, so I am not to concerned about the warranty, but the tech made me nervous for sure. Maybe the techs get commission for selling new cars as well...

That document is great. I planned to order the LifeGuard 6 and do it myself. I was surprised to see that the pan/filter is plastic.

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#3358949 - 05/01/14 02:37 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: drtyler]
BSchmidt25 Offline


Registered: 09/10/12
Posts: 1
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
BMW E60 owner here as well ('07 530xi) with the 6HP19X. I'm about to tackle this job too. This is very useful information, so thanks to those that have shared it. What are some opinions on the fluid options for this transmission? I was looking at both Redline D6 and Amsoil ATL. Consensus seems to be that the D6 is better. Is that still accurate? Any other good options?

I was considering proactively replacing the mechatronic sleeve while I'm down there. I don't have any problems with the transmission but I know of the issues with this part. Looks like it's a pretty easy job, but has anyone else done it? Tips?

Thanks in advance.

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#3360245 - 05/02/14 09:36 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
BMWTurboDzl Offline


Registered: 04/15/10
Posts: 1733
Loc: Atlanta,GA
I would stick with ZF LG6 as there is no compelling reason to use something else.

On a side note with regards to programming. I spoke with a ZF rep and he said it wasn't required because the mechtronics will adjust. Their own literature doesn't even mention reprogramming after an oil change.

FWIW I bought a change kit from thectsc.com and did a pan drop at 45k miles.


Edited by BMWTurboDzl (05/02/14 09:39 PM)
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#3360766 - 05/03/14 04:04 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
hattaresguy Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 7180
Loc: CT
Sure lifetime is fine, I know of a number 200k mile 722.6's that were lifetime and maybe done once if at all and still are fine. Granted that was a very good gear box but its old technology.


I'm starting to change my thinking regarding ATF changes, I have never seen an AT fail where lack of maintenance was the only factor.

I wouldn't worry about it.


Edited by hattaresguy (05/03/14 04:05 PM)

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#3361528 - 05/04/14 03:10 PM Re: Another take on lifetime fluid - BMW ZF [Re: CBR.worm]
ukmastermind Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 110
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I was just talking with my friend about his E60 (528i) and how he just had the tranny replaced under warranty for abrupt shifting. The fluid was never changed and the mechaatronic devices failed twice. The fluid was never changed and it had 99k!

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