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Old 10-16-2020, 10:44 PM
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The can of wurms....

At 93k my E53 torque converter failed and produced a bunch of metal shavings that of course went touring through the ZF 5HP24, it made a strange ringing noise. I did not drive it much after that happened as it started to slip pretty soon. It broke at least one O-ring and the AT started to slip. The fluid that came out was black as the night but the friction plates were essentially still ok, changed them anyway as a precaution. Took the whole AT apart, cleaned it all, installed a refurbed TC, all new seals, a couple of new bearings and filled it up again with OEM fluid from the dealer ($19/qt at that time). I did not find any deposits, sludge or other accumulations in the AT other than the usual on the magnets and a coating at the bottom of the pan. It has been fine since and is now at 127k. I feel the torque converter was the cause of the problem.

At 125k drained the AT again when the engine had to come out for all new seals as it was leaking too much oil from various places. The fluid from the AT was pretty black again and somewhat thinner than it went in. I was glad to have a chance to refill it with fresh Lifeguard fluid.

On my 2009 E70, which has the ZF 6-speed with the mechatronic, I replaced the fluid and pan/filter somewhere between 80 and 90k. Last year I made some very long drives with it (the odometer increased from 132k to 150k) and found the shift quality deteriorating. Just recently drained and filled it again and also replaced the pan. Used Lifeguard 6 for this one. After a reset of the adaptations it is shifting beautifully again. I would consider the next service to be due in 50k miles.

I also drained and flushed my 2005 Toyota Tundra AT again as it exceeded 200k. Did so the first time at 100k and the fluid seemed almost new. This time the liquid showed a bit more discoloration than the first time but not shockingly so. As an additional precaution I did a second drain/fill about a 100 miles later. The truck never had any issues with shift quality. It was never used for towing and mostly did light duty and a lot of long distance highway miles. It did do service as a commuter vehicle for a few years.

I am not a lubricants engineer but personally I believe that these fluids do deteriorate with time and above all with use and temperature cycles. (I was appalled at the condition of the fluid in the transfer case of my Cayenne at 56k.) So, even if I were to acquire a vehicle with high mileage, I would still drain/fill and replace the filter. The reduced ability of the additives to provide complete lubrication/protection, I believe, will do an AT no favors. I find it hard to believe that solids accumulate and then get dislodged in a mechanical unit where fluids are pumped around at substantial pressure. I am surprised this is a discussion. No one hesitates to refresh their diffs or the TC. Note that these are only my opinions based on what I have seen from my vehicles (and had some intimate moments with the innards of my 5HP24 ), not a recommendation or call to action.

2003 4.4i black ext./black int./black headliner (kid's runabout)
2009 E70 35d, black ext./black int./black headliner (grocery-getter and general runabout, 2b4sale soon)
2006 4.8iS Le Mans blue/cream int./black headliner, SOLD in 2012 sadly...

Hmmmm, love those black headliners!

Other hardware:
2005 Tundra crew cab, weekend hauler. Sold
2015 Cayenne S (wife's new DD and definitely wroooommmmm)
2016 Tundra 1794 edition crew cab, luxo hauler
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:12 AM
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Devon,UK
Posts: 9
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Originally Posted by Purplefade View Post
For what help it is, at 180k miles itís really a gamble. A simple drain and fill ďprobablyĒ wonít hurt anything, most likely, but I would not do a power flush or reverse flush - my personal opinion, they just break too much crap loose and can contaminate the valve body.

Gramp used to say, if youíre not a gamblin man and it ainít broke..., donít fix it.

So, the answer is, at 180k, itís really up to you and the risk youíre willing to take. Me, I change mine every 50k miles like religion and I am happy to say..., so far..., so good.

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Yes just a simple drain Old oil replace filter then new oil
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 887
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If you really want the old fluid out, drive it for a week or so and drain and fill again. I did three cycles on mine all a week apart to get as much of the old fluid out as I could .

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Old 10-17-2020, 11:29 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Huntersville, NC
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Originally Posted by roryb View Post
Sorry for pulling up a old thread but my 2004 e53 is on 180k and no proof that the gearbox oil has ever been done. At this mileage should I change oil and filter or just leave it
Originally Posted by srmmmm View Post
I think Overboost changed his original fluid (GM 5L40-E) at about 180,000 miles and found it "honey" colored, but with no notable debris or sludge in the pan.

I have never changed the fluid in mine, regularly tow a 1300 pound PWC trailer 5 months per year, and have experienced no operational issues.

I have gathered through the forum and ZF's website that their models are more sensitive to not changing fluid every 60-70,000 miles.

2002 X5 3.0 383,700 miles (GM 5L40-E)
2014 428i 71,700 miles (ZF 8-speed) Fluid change coming at 72,000 miles

2004 325i sold at 123,600 miles Fluid never changed

2001 325i sold at 66,000 miles Fluid never changed

1970 Firebird Under restoration 500HP capacity Turbo-350 30,000 mile fluid change interval for sure!
I worried for years on whether or not to service my transmissions in my E53 and E46 because of the mileage and the fact they had never been changed. I finally did the first services on the E53 at 180,000 miles and the E46 at 208,000 miles.

I used Valvoline MaxLife in the E53 GM L-480E and ZF Lifegaurd 5 in my E46 ZF 5HP19 with Genuine BMW filters and gaskets for each and over 5,000 miles later in both cars, no issues at all. Just happy driving!
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Old 10-17-2020, 12:38 PM
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Location: SA, TX
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I'll add a data point. 190,000 mile ZF 6hp19 in our E61 got fluid changed along with the 3 tube seals, bridge seal, mech sleeve, and filter/pan. Went with Liqui Moly Top Tec 1800 on that gear box. Everything has been great since.

Now, the wife's 167,000 mile E70 X5 w/ 6hp28x is another story. I'm looking for a replacement gear box currently for that one. It has a bad e clutch bearing and won't handle the pressure shifting into 4th or higher (e clutch engagement necessary). Tried to hail mary that one with a valve body rebuild, tube seals, mech sleeve, and 3 different fluids. Pentosin, Redline, and Valvoline. The Valvoline actually allowed the trans to grab 4th, but not every time and definitely not very smoothly.

Red has 124,000 miles on it and will be getting the same treatment the E70 did (VB rebuild, seals, etc) this year. Will likely throw the Valvoline or Liqui Moly in that trans when the time comes. LoL, anyone want to buy the 7qts of Lifeguard 6 I have sitting on the shelf.
2005 X5 4.4i Build 04/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, Pano, Sport (Purchased 06/14 w/ 109,000 miles) (Sold 8/15 w/121,000 miles)

2006 X5 4.8is Build 11/05 Maintenance/Build Log
Nav, DSP, Pano, Running Boards, OEM Tow Hitch, Cold Weather Pckg (Purchased 08/15 w/ 90,500 miles)

2010 X5 35d Build 02/10
Nav, HiFi, 6 DVD, Sports Pckg, Cold Weather Pckg, HUD, CAS, Running Boards, Leather Dash, PDC, Pano (Purchased 03/17 w/ 136,120 miles)
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 20
Caryalon is on a distinguished road
I own a transmission/driveline shop. We shy away from servicing transmissions over 125k miles, if it hasn't been serviced before, especially since most people who are looking to service them are experiencing a problem and are hoping for a cheap fix.

We recommend servicing auto transmissions every 30k miles, manuals, transfer cases and diffs every 50k miles.
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