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The Old Transmission Fluid Debate

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Old 07-16-2014, 01:59 PM   #1
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Default The Old Transmission Fluid Debate

So, I was about 100% ready to get the fluid changed in my new (to me) 2000 A6 with 125k miles.

I called a local German Indy shop that has great references and talked to the owner/mechanic.
He suggested that if it had never been done to not start now.
As an engineer, I know this makes no sense because there is no way old fluid is better then new fluid.
But he was fairly firm in his recommendation.

I have a recommendation for a second shop in the area, so I may see what they have to say.
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Old 07-16-2014, 03:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Jay View Post
So, I was about 100% ready to get the fluid changed in my new (to me) 2000 A6 with 125k miles.

I called a local German Indy shop that has great references and talked to the owner/mechanic.
He suggested that if it had never been done to not start now.
As an engineer, I know this makes no sense because there is no way old fluid is better then new fluid.
But he was fairly firm in his recommendation.

I have a recommendation for a second shop in the area, so I may see what they have to say.
When you have the fluid changed, change the filter and if the pan is full of 'stuff' consider removing and splitting the valve body and cleaning the screens inside it, one for each of the shift solenoids and one other one that is obvious with a split valve body but I forget exactly what it goes to.

There's a thread further down about a clogged valve body if you care to search for it.

Last edited by SloopJohnB@mac.com; 07-16-2014 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 07-16-2014, 03:58 PM   #3
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Second shop agrees with the first.

If it has not been driven hard, (Remember this is a 2.8 owned by a 70 year old) they said changing the fluid late does not seem to do much to add longevity.

If I were doing it myself, I might drain, clean, etc.

But guessing I am just as good leaving it as is for now.
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:24 PM   #4
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they said changing the fluid late does not seem to do much to add longevity.
Did they say the same thing for engine oil?

Just change it.
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:44 PM   #5
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Correctamundo!
I stand corrected…ZF link below: I add, ZF the trans maker says do it 30-50k miles depending on severity of usage.

Last edited by SloopJohnB@mac.com; 07-17-2014 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:45 PM   #6
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Correctamundo!
I add, ZF the trans maker says do it 30-50k miles depending on severity of usage.
I just picked up my 4.2 from getting the transmission fluid and filter changed for the first time (61k miles). There was a noticeable difference in the smoothness and speed of upshifts and downshifts.

The Indy shop, owned by a master Audi tech, said change it every 50k.
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Old 07-16-2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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Correctamundo!
I add, ZF the trans maker says do it 30-50k miles depending on severity of usage.
Actually what I found from ZF is 50K to 75K miles or 8 years.
One reference said 50K to 75K if used in severe conditions and lifetime if not.
Other said 50K to 75K in normal and more often is severe.

Nothing from ZF suggests not changing the fluid if it has gone over that.

I sent ZF technical service the question.
It will be interesting to see if/how they answer.

EDIT:
Just found out, ZF services North America is only 20 minuets away.

Last edited by N_Jay; 07-16-2014 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:25 AM   #8
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Actually what I found from ZF is 50K to 75K miles or 8 years.
One reference said 50K to 75K if used in severe conditions and lifetime if not.
Other said 50K to 75K in normal and more often is severe.

Nothing from ZF suggests not changing the fluid if it has gone over that.

I sent ZF technical service the question.
It will be interesting to see if/how they answer.

EDIT:
Just found out, ZF services North America is only 20 minuets away.
This might help:
Attached Files
File Type: pdf ZF .pdf (339.1 KB, 41 views)
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:53 AM   #9
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This might help:
Yep, found that one along with a bunch of others that imply (but never directly say) that the fluid never "needs" changing as long as you don't do any severe driving.

I just received word from "on-high".

The great priests of ZF have answered my lowly question.

Quote:
Hello Neil,

There isn't any risk if you drain and fill the fluid. Sometimes flushing a high mileage vehicle can cause problems because you may disrupt settled debris. I recommend changing the fluid and filter. The viscosity of the fluid breaks down over time and the ability to maintain the features of the additives can deminish. You may notice some changes in the shift quality at first if you have a 6 speed. The module may take some time adapting to the new fluid.

Kind regards,
Joe Laubinger
ZF Services, LLC.
1-800-321-0784
And so it is written, and so it shall be done!

Last edited by N_Jay; 07-17-2014 at 04:55 AM.
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Jay View Post
Yep, found that one along with a bunch of others that imply (but never directly say) that the fluid never "needs" changing as long as you don't do any severe driving.

I just5 received word from "on-high".

The great priests of ZF have answered my lowly question.



And so it is written, and so it shall be done!
It would be interesting to get his take on removing the valve body and cleaning the solenoid screens as well as the one screen inside the valve body.
I would only do that if the pan was crappy with debris…apparently the filter doesn't for those.

And PS…virtually all driving is 'severe service' these days.
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:56 AM   #11
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It would be interesting to get his take on removing the valve body and cleaning the solenoid screens as well as the one screen inside the valve body.
I would only do that if the pan was crappy with debris…apparently the filter doesn't for those.

And PS…virtually all driving is 'severe service' these days.
I would guess that given removing the valve body is not routine maintenance under any conditions, they would not be recommending it.
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Old 07-17-2014, 08:33 AM   #12
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here is link to valve body thread/discussion. You're right, removing the valve body isn't considered maintenance; but if my pan looks like this one…it's coming off!!!

http://forums.audiworld.com/showthre...hlight=nialist
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:57 AM   #13
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What ZF says that if there is excess metal particles, metal pieces or burnt fluid, the transmission must be rebuilt or replaced, and a fluid change should not be done.

I would guess that the transmission in the other thread is what ZF would consider a candidate for rebuild.
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:21 PM   #14
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What ZF says that if there is excess metal particles, metal pieces or burnt fluid, the transmission must be rebuilt or replaced, and a fluid change should not be done.

I would guess that the transmission in the other thread is what ZF would consider a candidate for rebuild.
That is what the guy in the other thread was told but he went and pulled/cleaned the valve body anyway. I suspect in 5-10K miles he might want to redo his fluid/filter change if not the valve body clean because there is often a great deal of debris in the torque converter shell from the lockup clutch as well as the debris circulated in the trans itself.
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:29 PM   #15
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The MB transmissions mostly have TC drain plugs also, so the non-flush drain gets more fluid.

Honda recommends a 3X or 4X change for getting a full flush. (like when the wrong fluid is used)

No one seems to be recommending power flushes except AAMCO!
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Old 07-17-2014, 03:55 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by N_Jay View Post
The MB transmissions mostly have TC drain plugs also, so the non-flush drain gets more fluid.

Honda recommends a 3X or 4X change for getting a full flush. (like when the wrong fluid is used)

No one seems to be recommending power flushes except AAMCO!
The only way I would get anything from AAMCO is if I had a lifetime warranty with them (ZF authorized? I wonder…) and the power flush was part of the recommended maintenance schedule. On their heads would be any bad effects from the power flush!

Shirley, I jest. I just would never go to AAMCO with a German car.

Last edited by SloopJohnB@mac.com; 07-17-2014 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 07-18-2014, 08:53 AM   #17
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I have 3 Audis that I maintain. The first is a 2001 A6 that my mom owns, that I started maintaining at about 100,000. The second is my gf's 2001 A4, which we bought with 95,000 miles on it. The third is my 2004 A6, which I bought with 93,000 miles on it. I changed the transmissin fluid on all 3 of these cars, for the first time, right around 100,000 miles. Since then, I change the fluid every 50-75K. I drop the pan, change the filter and use Amsoil fluid.

Most of the time, the fluid is still very red, clean and there is minimal metal on the magnets and in the pan. I wouldn't hesitate to go 100,000 on the Amsoil if I needed to.

Having said that, not changing fluid will NEVER give you any benefit. The 01 A6 now has 180,000 miles on it, the 01 A4 has 160,000 and my car has 270,000 on it. I've never had a transmission issue (I REALLY hope I'm not jinxing myself). I'd say changing at 100,000 miles and then every 50-75K after that is reliable maintenance.
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Old 07-18-2014, 09:02 AM   #18
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The "Changing your fluid late is worse than not changing it at all" old-wives(mechanics)-tale is dying hard.

I am not a real AmsOil fan, so I am going with ZF brand fluid.

Last edited by N_Jay; 07-19-2014 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 07-19-2014, 09:08 AM   #19
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Well put. As far as i can tell, Audi dealerships will only address tranny issues and service these if you are warranty guy, or have codes stating you have issues developing. I also researched the stance ZF engineers took on such claims of "lifetime" fluid. 30-50k fluid and filter changes are their standard practice. The valve body thing is up to you, but don't flush the fluid as you will create more issues than you can imagine. That hydraulic oil is also acting as a detergent and is designed to pick up impurities and sediments to be carried to the filter and magnets. At least this is what we accomplish with a turboprop hydraulic oil servicing schedule. When we have flushed them in the past as Hamilton engineers request, the new fluid will attack seals and create bigger problems in a matter of minutes.

What you are trying to do is dilute the fluid that is stored in the transmission and torque converter, which depending on your transmission, can be up to 9 litres total. Most kits come with 4 litres, i had to use 6 + spillage, for a total of 7 litres to get the correct overflow at correct temp range when servicing. But i punctured my pan at 60mph and the 20 seconds between impact and pulling to shoulder ran a bit of fluid out i reckon. Follow the rules (no RTV, level vehicle, temps, torque) when servicing and be sure to torque your pan correctly, in steps. Since my fluid change, smooth shifting and no issues (knocks on faux wood patio tabletop) Even put a BMW 335 to shame yesterday on the road nearing the highway and thought man, that shifted fast from 3rd to 4th!
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:40 AM   #20
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Got he fluid changed, and can definitely feel the transmission is smoother with more consistent shifts.
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:40 AM
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