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ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles #5211758 09/13/19 12:56 PM
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Nate_L Offline OP
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I changed the factory fill (FF) trans fluid on my 2006 BMW 330i with the ZF6HP19 trans last August. I didnt like the idea of 12 year old fluid and filter, even though its lifetime there is plenty of evidence of these transmissions developing issues without proper maintenance. That being said, as long as usage and temperatures remain moderate the thinking is that the fluid and filter should be 'lifetime'. In the summer I did multiple 6 hour plus trips on the highway and drove the car hard whenever I get the chance. It’s been really hot out and I figured I was putting the trans through some pretty harsh conditions. I want to keep this car in good shape for as long as possible, so I thought changing the fluid and filter would be the best move in terms of longevity. Also there were a few shifts that I didn’t love (5-6 upshift at highway speed, 2-1 downshift on braking, 1-2 upshift under light acceleration). Immediately after the change, starting it up and driving it around felt fine but no immediate difference. However, that changed when I reset the transmission adaptives (clutch prefill and stroke learned setpoints). The trans then shifted way smoother than before and the bump from 5-6 at highway speeds was gone.

I got a used oil analysis done on the fluid, and here are the results. On the right is a VOA sample from here (https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/4364043/1)
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The fluid came out deep brown/black with what I assume is wear from the last 12 years and 120k miles. However, I did notice some shavings and black debris. The smaller particles are about 1/16" in size with a couple that are 1/8" and the big one being 1/4". I think this is fine, I don't see any obviously destroyed parts. I was told by a coworker in the transmission department in my old job that:

“ I would say this amount of clutch/trans debris is pretty normal (maybe even lower than expected) for 100K+ miles. The dark material is likely clutch material, but this is normal. Clutches adapt to the clutch paper wear over time, so it is unlikely to result in trans slippage. I would take a magnet and run it over the material to see how much metal you have. The metal you do have is likely just fine aluminum shavings and that is normal. The biggest thing is keeping debris out of the transmission main control. The filter is usually really really good at that - Transmission filters are really fine and will catch all of that debris.”

See the below link for pictures of the fluid (orange pail) and the pan with disassembled filter. Disassembling the filter was really interesting – I got to see more shavings that the filter trapped. They appear to be aluminum since the pan magnets didn’t pick it up, but the magnets do have a lot of little shavings that look like fuzz. I think the aluminum comes from the torque converter, but I am not sure where/how all that alum gets worn off the TC.

https://imgur.com/a/InYYOuZ

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

It seems as if the fluid was pretty well used. I planned to use a cheaper alternative for the next change ($25/liter is insane). However, I ended up replacing a few more liters with ZF LG when I experienced transmission slippage 10 months and 10k miles after this job. After much research on the topic, stressing, and replacing a few seals, the problem was finally solved by replacing the shift solenoids.

So since 120k miles ~9L of new fluid has gone in to the trans in the last 10k miles. It can't be a full 9L drain ad fill since I did 6L at 120k and then 3L at 130k. How 'fresh' is this fluid? What would be the next change interval?

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5211795 09/13/19 01:26 PM
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BMWTurboDzl Offline
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Thanks for sharing ! Pity that BS universal averages are based on 44k miles rather than something longer.

BTW there may be a specific re-learn procedure for your version of the ZF6HP. This is outside the adaptations re-set.

Re-learn procedure.

Last edited by BMWTurboDzl; 09/13/19 01:30 PM.

“It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.”

435i
Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5211823 09/13/19 01:50 PM
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I am aware of this. I believe it is important to re-do, but not entirely necessary. I think the way the transmission is programmed is to use look-up tables for clutch preload pressure and application pressure. Those values are learned through monitoring gearshifts. That is why there is both a dynamic/static shifting component to the learn (starting from stop and going to highest gear, and holding a gear and cycling speed). This adaptive drive procedure is designed to fill out those tables immediately so the customer doesnt experience any bad shifts. If the memory is cleared then the tables will get filled out eventually.

After doing the fluid change last year, I reset the adaptations and then did the relearn procedure. After the solenoids this year again I did the relearn procedure. Both times it has worked.

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5212119 09/13/19 10:13 PM
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I love how manufacturers aren't putting change schedules in their manuals, but the actual manufacturer of the trans recommends 60k mile changes.

"ZF Aftermarket recommends a transmission oil change for ZF transmissions every 100,000 kilometers or after eight years at the latest.

Important! Service intervals can vary with other transmission manufacturers. For example, for the Mercedes G5 or the Volkswagen DCT (DQ250), maintenance is scheduled after 60,000 kilometers.

At very high operating temperatures, oil ages faster than under normal conditions. Depending on driving style and individual driving profiles (e.g., a lot of high-speed driving, trailer operation or sporty driving), shorter change intervals are advisable."

Todays throwaway society at its best.

You did good though, most people would just drive it to destruction.


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Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5212154 09/14/19 12:12 AM
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I'm a little disappointed the previous owner didn't change the oil sooner, but realistically i'm not sure this would have helped much. I still had solenoid failure at 130k. $350 in parts, a day's work, and the car was back on the road. It took me about a month to commit to it, but it did solve the issue. Now I plan to drive to destruction.

Not sure if ZF should recommend a solenoid change too, at 120k miles. A bit much for preventative maintenance but would have saved me a lot of headache. In my case i'm not sure doing fluid at 'proper' intervals would have made much difference. Perhaps it would have given added peace of mind.

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5212893 09/15/19 12:51 AM
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MolaKule Offline
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Doing fluid changes at approximately 30k minimizes varnish buildup on solenoid valves, a major cause of sticking and failure.


"As engineers [and scientists] we are wired to solve problems and to create new things, to challenge the status quo and push the limits..." Ken Hurt, Embry-Riddle University, Class of '97.
Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: MolaKule] #5214360 09/16/19 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MolaKule
Doing fluid changes at approximately 30k minimizes varnish buildup on solenoid valves, a major cause of sticking and failure.

Good advice. I can only imagine how many people buy into the filled for life mentality and wreck their transmissions as a result.


God Bless Our Troops

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5214384 09/16/19 01:20 PM
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I have a couple of questions about that.

Which types of fluids are more prone to the varnish build-up? Dexron, Mercon, Shell M1375? And what would be the mileage that they start to degrade?

What exactly is varnish, and How does the varnish impact the solenoids? Does it affect the seals on the solenoids?

As far as i'm aware the ZF6spd transmissions are known for their failure at high miles, I don't think it's due to varnish in every situation.

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5214871 09/17/19 04:15 AM
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One of the things that varnish will do is eat up any clearance in the interface and cause things to bind up. Probably not a good idea for precision machined parts that need to move freely.


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Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5215017 09/17/19 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by demarpaint
Originally Posted by MolaKule
Doing fluid changes at approximately 30k minimizes varnish buildup on solenoid valves, a major cause of sticking and failure.

Good advice. I can only imagine how many people buy into the filled for life mentality and wreck their transmissions as a result.


Originally Posted by Nate_L
I'm a little disappointed the previous owner didn't change the oil sooner, but realistically i'm not sure this would have helped much. I still had solenoid failure at 130k. $350 in parts, a day's work, and the car was back on the road. It took me about a month to commit to it, but it did solve the issue. Now I plan to drive to destruction.

Not sure if ZF should recommend a solenoid change too, at 120k miles. A bit much for preventative maintenance but would have saved me a lot of headache. In my case i'm not sure doing fluid at 'proper' intervals would have made much difference. Perhaps it would have given added peace of mind.


Think of it like this, more frequent fluid changes on the transmission then it would've been reflected in a higher sales price for the car.


“It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.”

435i
Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: ctechbob] #5215131 09/17/19 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by ctechbob
One of the things that varnish will do is eat up any clearance in the interface and cause things to bind up. Probably not a good idea for precision machined parts that need to move freely.



That should show up in the UOA right? What are the consituents of 'varnish' and do they read high in the UOA?

If it's not measured in the blackstone UOA what company offers varnish detection?

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5216015 09/18/19 10:42 AM
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It is an actual build up on the parts.


"Think of all the Ford owners who will someday want an automobile." John Dodge

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: MolaKule] #5218613 09/21/19 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by MolaKule
Doing fluid changes at approximately 30k minimizes varnish buildup on solenoid valves, a major cause of sticking and failure.



Want to bump to ask this question again. I'm genuinely curious, what are the consituents of 'varnish' and do they read high in the UOA?

From what I understand varnishing is when you have solid compounds forming in the fluid, like a resin. I read some of Molakule's old threads. Would that show up in the UOA?

If it's not measured in the blackstone UOA what company offers varnish detection?

Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5226012 09/29/19 11:40 PM
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MolaKule Offline
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Varnish is mostly the result of oxidized polymers forming on surfaces and will not show up in UOA's.

Some transmission flushes claim to remove this varnish. Another theory is that the LXE esters in LubeGard Red will remove these varnishes over time.


"As engineers [and scientists] we are wired to solve problems and to create new things, to challenge the status quo and push the limits..." Ken Hurt, Embry-Riddle University, Class of '97.
Re: ZF Lifeguard 6 - FF - ZF 6HP19 - 120k miles [Re: Nate_L] #5232433 10/06/19 09:02 PM
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