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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Mechanical Maintenance: Break-in / Oil & Fluids / Servicing / Warranty > Transmission Fluid Options - Solved



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      03-16-2016, 08:45 PM   #1
zoppp
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Transmission Fluid Options - Solved

Edit 4-12-2016: Currently have 1k miles on the Valvoline Maxlife fluid I swapped in. Still running perfectly.


I'm going to be changing the transmission fluid on my e60 with the ZF GA6HP19Z soon (Same transmission as the e90s). Was wondering which ATF I can use.
I was reading around and I know the OEM fluid is ZF Lifeguard, but I am not paying $20 per quart for that.

People also said that the Castrol Transmax import Multi-Vehicle fluid works well but since then the formula has changed.

I went over to Castrol's website and they have an "oil selector" tool and its recommending that I use the Transmax Full Synthetic Multi-Vehicle fluid.

The issue is that when I look at the data sheet I don't see anything about the Shell M-1375.4 spec about it.
Data Sheet

Also heard that Valvoline MaxLife is suitable for the 6hp19
Valvoline Sheet

Any of you used these fluids before?

Last edited by zoppp; 04-12-2016 at 09:12 PM.
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      03-17-2016, 05:05 PM   #2
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Got an answer from Valvoline. Their Maxlife fluid still satisfies the Shell M1375 Spec
Valvoline Product Support Document
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      03-18-2016, 07:16 AM   #3
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Given how easy it is to get the ZF...why all the effort and energy spent to get something else? The cost factor is not much anymore considering its a 60-75K maintenance item on a premium brand car.

You can stay in your house, with your bunny slippers still on, click a few times with the mouse to theCTS and in a few days abox shows up.

Magic I tell you. Magic.

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      03-18-2016, 04:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvanlieu View Post
Given how easy it is to get the ZF...why all the effort and energy spent to get something else? The cost factor is not much anymore considering its a 60-75K maintenance item on a premium brand car.

You can stay in your house, with your bunny slippers still on, click a few times with the mouse to theCTS and in a few days abox shows up.

Magic I tell you. Magic.

- b
Because if I can spend less on a repair, I can put that money to other things like my water pump and have money left over.

ZF is crazy to charge $20-$30 a liter for a simple transmission oil.
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      03-18-2016, 06:29 PM   #5
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I'm simply scared to run anything but life guard 6. Maybe just me but the repairs or replacement costs on these ZF's are not something I'd want to be hit in the face with. But if it is shell m1375.4 specifications than I'm sure it's probably ok.. Maybe not the best but ok.. I actually really don't know but that's just my .02
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      03-19-2016, 10:36 PM   #6
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Finished the job last night. Was coated in transmission fluid but now its done.

I reset the adaptation values and took it for a drive and...

It felt just fine. No issues, and no more shuddering in 3rd gear. Checked the transmission temps in INPA and everything is running as intended. Will update this thread in the future.
The fluid cost me $35 all together

Goes to show you don't have to buy into ZF's bullshit. As long as the fluid meets the specs, you should be just fine.
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      03-20-2016, 06:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoppp View Post
Finished the job last night. Was coated in transmission fluid but now its done.

I reset the adaptation values and took it for a drive and...

It felt just fine. No issues, and no more shuddering in 3rd gear. Checked the transmission temps in INPA and everything is running as intended. Will update this thread in the future.
The fluid cost me $35 all together

Goes to show you don't have to buy into ZF's bullshit. As long as the fluid meets the specs, you should be just fine.
Nice that's great, what fluid did you use? Did u just drop the pan and replace or did you daring torque converter also? How many liters did you drain out?
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      03-21-2016, 02:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneykickin View Post
Nice that's great, what fluid did you use? Did u just drop the pan and replace or did you daring torque converter also? How many liters did you drain out?
Used Valvoline Maxlife Fluid. Just dropped the pan and replaced it.

Didn't do the mechatronics sleeve but it seems like it was replaced at some point because I noticed one of my exhaust hanger bolts wasn't OEM which tells me someone was servicing the transmission. No leaks from up there either. Was pretty sick of the job at that point anyways. I opened the fill plug all the way and fluid came puking out all over me and the floor so I had to do the rest of the job covered in fluid and kitty litter.

Just remember remove the fill plug first but not all the way or you will get fluid all over you.

Bought the pan/filter here: https://www.oembimmerparts.com/
Bought the Valvoline Maxlife fluid at Walmart. 8 1 quart bottles at $4 each.

Also took a long drive back to my university, Georgia Southern, today (200 mile drive). Transmission had no issues, also had a chance to take it to the top speed and no issues either. Everything felt pretty good and I think I managed to get 1-2 MPG back when cruising at 80 MPH.
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      03-21-2016, 02:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoppp View Post
Finished the job last night. Was coated in transmission fluid but now its done.

I reset the adaptation values and took it for a drive and...

It felt just fine. No issues, and no more shuddering in 3rd gear. Checked the transmission temps in INPA and everything is running as intended. Will update this thread in the future.
The fluid cost me $35 all together

Goes to show you don't have to buy into ZF's bullshit. As long as the fluid meets the specs, you should be just fine.
Basing your analysis on 20 miles of testing is hilarious and somewhat short-sighted.
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      03-21-2016, 04:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pits200 View Post
Basing your analysis on 20 miles of testing is hilarious and somewhat short-sighted.
You should have probably paid attention to where I said I will update the thread later. Im aware 20 miles is nothing. I took the car for a hard 200 mile drive and its still fine. Just trying to contribute to the knowledge-base here.
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      03-21-2016, 09:47 PM   #11
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I have maxlife in my zf too

Valvoline has a pdf that recommends maxlife for the shell spec somewhere online ( looks like they confirmed it for you too)

After driving for 100 miles, I feel like it shifts slightly worse than whatever was used previously. Fluid that came out was still okay in color, no black not burnt smell.

Maybe I need to reset adaptations.

I didn't drop the pan, just did a drain and fill.
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      03-21-2016, 10:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stupenal View Post
I have maxlife in my zf too

Valvoline has a pdf that recommends maxlife for the shell spec somewhere online ( looks like they confirmed it for you too)

After driving for 100 miles, I feel like it shifts slightly worse than whatever was used previously. Fluid that came out was still okay in color, no black not burnt smell.

Maybe I need to reset adaptations.

I didn't drop the pan, just did a drain and fill.
How many miles do you have on your car? You should probably change the pan/filter.

And yes, reset your adaptations - you are supposed when you do transmission service.
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      03-22-2016, 05:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoppp View Post
Finished the job last night. Was coated in transmission fluid but now its done.

I reset the adaptation values and took it for a drive and...

It felt just fine. No issues, and no more shuddering in 3rd gear. Checked the transmission temps in INPA and everything is running as intended. Will update this thread in the future.
The fluid cost me $35 all together

Goes to show you don't have to buy into ZF's bullshit. As long as the fluid meets the specs, you should be just fine.
Kudo's for tracking down the PDF showing its rate. There are many other threads on this subject and I though I had seen most. I had not seen the maxlife before being Shell rated.

The prices have come down a lot and the ZF is not too bad considering the service interval of 60-72K miles. What you fail to mention is that you have now mixed ZF and Valvoline fluid in a very expensive transmission. Is it worth the $50 you saved? That's up to you. I personally say no not worth it, and used the CSC kit last summer.

What is bullshit is BMW saying 'lifetime' fluid and defining lifetime at 100K...ZF is a bit more realistic.

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      03-22-2016, 10:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bvanlieu View Post
Kudo's for tracking down the PDF showing its rate. There are many other threads on this subject and I though I had seen most. I had not seen the maxlife before being Shell rated.

The prices have come down a lot and the ZF is not too bad considering the service interval of 60-72K miles. What you fail to mention is that you have now mixed ZF and Valvoline fluid in a very expensive transmission. Is it worth the $50 you saved? That's up to you. I personally say no not worth it, and used the CSC kit last summer.

What is bullshit is BMW saying 'lifetime' fluid and defining lifetime at 100K...ZF is a bit more realistic.

- b
Eh, I get that it is a long maintenance interval, but that doesn't mean a manufacturer should feel justified to charge whatever they want for the parts in that repair. Most transmission fluid doesn't cost $160 for 8 quarts. It's not $50 that I saved, it's more like $130. If it was closer to $50 I would have bought the zf fluid. ZF charges that much because they know their transmissions go into higher end cars where people will pay more for their silly fluid.

Regardless, I'll let you guys know how the fluid goes in the long term.
I also mixed maxlife with the Esso fluid in my e46 zf transmission which was fine even after 5000 miles (couldn't test further because someone rear ended it).

Last edited by zoppp; 03-22-2016 at 10:55 AM.
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      03-22-2016, 12:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoppp View Post
How many miles do you have on your car? You should probably change the pan/filter.

And yes, reset your adaptations - you are supposed when you do transmission service.
No pan/filter replacement. Very high miles

I originally thought I had a GM tranny since I have a 328i, so I bought the gasket and filter for the GM tranny.

When I finally got the car on 4 jack stands and looked underneath and saw the yellow sticker and ZF logo, thats when I was like whatever, I'll just do a drain and flush since I'm already here. I had bought 2 jugs of maxlife since it would work as D6 fluid, but just threw it in the ZF since it is recommended.

One thing to note - Maxlife is not Shell M1375.4 approved. There is a difference between approved, meets specs, recommended, suitable. All carefully chosen words with varying legal definitions.
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      03-22-2016, 12:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stupenal View Post
No pan/filter replacement. Very high miles

I originally thought I had a GM tranny since I have a 328i, so I bought the gasket and filter for the GM tranny.

When I finally got the car on 4 jack stands and looked underneath and saw the yellow sticker and ZF logo, thats when I was like whatever, I'll just do a drain and flush since I'm already here. I had bought 2 jugs of maxlife since it would work as D6 fluid, but just threw it in the ZF since it is recommended.

One thing to note - Maxlife is not Shell M1375.4 approved. There is a difference between approved, meets specs, recommended, suitable. All carefully chosen words with varying legal definitions.
True, it isn't "approved" but yeah it does meet the specs.

Since you already changed out some of your fluid, you might be able to achieve a full fluid change once you change the pan and filter because that new fluid has been circulating around for a while now.
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      04-12-2016, 09:13 PM   #17
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1K Mile update:

Everything is running fine, took it on some mountain roads to stress the transmission and its still working flawlessly on Valvoline Maxlife.
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      04-14-2016, 11:52 AM   #18
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Max Life is good in all ZF/GM transmissions.
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      04-14-2016, 02:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Max Life is good in all ZF/GM transmissions.
Many people on the forums don't think so and will spend $100+ for the OEM fluid.
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      04-14-2016, 02:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoppp View Post
Many people on the forums don't think so and will spend $100+ for the OEM fluid.
They also think the diff/trans fluid is "lifetime"
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      04-14-2016, 09:52 PM   #21
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Quote:
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They also think the diff/trans fluid is "lifetime"
If they thought it was lifetime why would they worry about using oem in talking about the transmission fluid....
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      04-14-2016, 09:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoppp View Post
Many people on the forums don't think so and will spend $100+ for the OEM fluid.
Nah, some people have an extra 100 to spend on a one time replacement that youll do while owning the car, like tranny fluid.

Ive saved more than enough on other diy jobs that it didnt pay to risk for the minimal amount.
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