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Thread: HowTo-> Change Transmission Fluid and Filter in 850i/Ci 4-speed autos (4HP24 E/H)

  1. #1
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    Post HowTo-> Change Transmission Fluid and Filter in 850i/Ci 4-speed autos (4HP24 E/H)

    If you have a ZF 4HP24 transmission in your car, whether it be a BMW 850i, 850Ci, Jaguar, or Land Rover: this guide should provide a fairly definitive process for changing the fluid, filter, and drain plug and gaskets.

    I have now changed transmission fluid twice in the ZF 4HP24 E/H and am quite pleased with how easy the process is, especially given the fact that the BMW 850i comes with a transmission dipstick/fill tube, which allows owners to get the proper amount of Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) in the system, check the level regularly, and provide an easy way to fill the system.

    Critical note: to check the level of your transmission fluid, you must run the car at least 30 minutes at highway speeds (not in winter) to warm up the transmission fluid to operating temperature. When you check the level the engine must be running/idling.

    ATF

    *At least 8 quarts of ATF. For 4HP24 models, you can use Castrol DEX/MERC {DEXRON-III equivalent}, Valvoline DEX/MERC {DEXRON-III equivalent}, Advanced Auto DEXRON-III/M, Royal Purple Max ATF {DEXRON-IIIG and H equivalent}), or AMSOIL Synthetic Multi-Vehicle Transmission Fluid {DEXRON-IIIH equivalent}.

    **While this thread is about the ZF 4HP24 E/H transmission, I want to say that both Royal Purple Max ATF {DEXRON-IIIG/H and BMW LA2634 and LT 71141 equivalent}) and AMSOIL Synthetic Multi-Vehicle Transmission Fluid {DEXRON-IIIH and BMW LA2634 and LT 71141 equivalent} can be used in the ZF 5HP24 and ZF 5HP30 transmissions

    *Note about DEXRON. DEXRON is a trademarked name that denotes a rating system for ATF that was designed by General Motors. As DEXRON has progressed through the years, subsequent DEXRON iterations have improved and are designed to be backwards compatible with transmissions calling for earlier DEXRON iterations. For more information on DEXRON, see the GM Tech Link Blog, the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEXRON"]Wikipedia article on DEXRON[/ame], and this thread over on bobistheoilguy.com forums.



    Parts and Tools Needed

    *Transmission filter (use a quality unit)
    *Transmission filter rubber O-ring
    *Transmission oil pan rubber gasket
    *Transmission oil pan drain plug
    *Transmission oil pan drain plug gasket
    *Transmission cooling line O-rings (2)
    *Thin/long funnel
    *Several lint-free cloths
    *Large oil catch bin
    *Some empty plastic bottles so that you can transfer the used ATF and dispose of it at your local auto parts store (or Walmart). Please ask your local Fire or Police department for locations where you can take hazardous waste for proper disposal.

    Tools:
    *Torx wrench T27
    *19mm Combination wrench
    *Large spanner or large combination wrench for fill tube nut
    *10mm hex socket for hex bolts/brackets
    *Brake parts cleaner for cleaning up the oil pan and transmission casing
    *Lint-free cloths
    *Latex/rubber Gloves (ATF is bad for skin)
    *Safety goggles (it's also real bad for eyes)
    *A cup of tea or a beer for when it's all over

    Process

    1. Drive the car for at least 30 minutes at highway speeds, I recommend shifting manually through each gear in Manual (M) mode so that each gear is fully cycling fluid, drive it hard. Also be sure to drive it some in Reverse (R) and (D) on Economy mode so that you get it into 4th gear/final drive.

    2. Now get the car raised on your lift or jack stands. Pop the hood, pull out the transmission dipstick and leave it out of the car. Turn the engine off if it isn't off already.

    3. Unscrew the transmission drain plug with a metric hex wrench (it should be around 4 or 5mm IIRC), let the transmission fluid drain out until it slows down.

    4. Now, using a large combination wrench, unscrew (counter clockwise) the large hex nut on the front of the transmission oil pan. This hex nut holds the fill tube onto the transmission oil pan. Be ready with your catch drain bin because a little fluid might come out of there.

    5. Now, as uniformly as possible, start unscrewing the 6 hex bolts/oil pan mount grommets. I recommend taking the 2 in the front and the 2 in the rear first. Then take off the two center bolts off with one hand while supporting the transmission drain pan with the other hand (unless you have a small jack to support the drain pan with). When you get those off, the drain pan will be free and will still contain some residual Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) inside, so again, be ready with your catch bin.

    6. Now you can visually see the valve body and transmission filter. The transmission filter is held on with 3 Torx T27 bolts. Unscrew them all as uniformly as possible and try to keep them clean. When you remove the filter a lot of ATF will drain out.

    7. Next, unscrew the transmission fluid cooling line and remove it from the transmission. This cooling line is directly underneath the intermediate plate assembly (which is sandwiched in between the bell housing and transmission body). It takes a 19mm combination wrench to loosen. Once off, let it hang out of the way of the hole so that it can drain.

    8. Leave the car like it is for at least 30 minutes to an hour so that it can fully drain as much as possible from the radiator and torque converter, you won't drain all the ATF in the system, but you'll get about 5 quarts out.

    9. Meanwhile, prepare you new transmission filter by lubricating the round hole and the new rubber o-ring with some new ATF.

    10. With the O-ring lubricated and gently pressed onto the round protrusion on the top of the new filter, gently push it up into the valve body of the transmission and start screwing in the torx bolts. Tighten them by hand and DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN THEM. They should just be snug.

    11. Now, replace the small rubber o-ring on the transmission cooling line that you removed earlier, the BMW part # is 17211742636 (there are two cooling lines, we only removed one in this HOW-TO, but if you prefer, you can remove the other line and replace both O-rings. If you do that, order QTY 2 of 17211742636). Slide on the new o-ring to the cooling line, push the line up into the transmission and then begin screwing the large 19mm hex nut into the hold, tighten it down snug, but not too tight.

    12. Next, clean out the transmission oil pan real good. There are two round regions near the front of the oil pan where there should be two powerful magnets. These magnets are there to catch stray metal shavings that are suspended in ATF, and help to clean up contamination in the fluid. Clean both magnets, degrease the outside of the oil pan, and wipe down the inside with a clean lint-free cloth. If you have the time and capability to, I'd recommend bead blasting the exterior of the oil pan and having it either powder coated or painted with a heat resistant paint. If you go this route, only do the outside, not the inside! Replace the magnets onto the two circular portions in the pan. I also recommend using a brass or copper wire brush on the threads of the nipple on the oil pan (where the fill tube screws onto).

    13. Take a clean fine lint-free cloth and gently scrub away any gunk around the bottom of the transmission where the oil pan gasket is pressed up against the transmission. By cleaning this area, you will allow a better seal to form between the gasket and the oil pan, preventing future leaks. It is important to clean this area very well. Don't use any chemicals, just a dry, new, clean cloth. Also, do not wipe the valve body with a cloth, you risk contaminating the transmission with fibers or dirt and you won't stop the dripping.

    14. In all likelyhood, your 6 mounting bracket w/hex bolts are probably either rusty of full of gunk. I cleaned mine with a rotary wire brush and sprayed them out with brake parts cleaner. I also wire brushed each of the 6 hex bolts and then gave them all a coating of copper-based anti-seize compound so that they won't seize or rust. If you can't replace them, clean them up real nice and use a very small amount of anti-seize on them. Don't overdo it, you don't want to risk getting any anti-seize compound into the transmission!

    15. Next, replace the drain plug and be sure to install a new drain plug gasket. I would recommend replacing the drain plug and the drain plug gasket. The parts from BMW are $3 to $4 and is part # 24111421387

    16. Place the new transmission oil pan gasket on top of the cleaned oil pan and press the pan with gasket up onto the valve body. Do not use any gasket sealant whatsoever. The seal will hold if you clean the area beforehand and do this process right. Have your mounting brackets with hex bolts installed ready to secure them. Start with the middle brackets first, screw them on, but leave them loose, don't tighten yet. Next install the rest of the brackets and then uniformly tighten them all down. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN THEM. Using a ratchet, just get them snug. The transmission valve body where the oil pan screws onto is aluminum and those hex bolts are steel. That means you'll strip the valve body threads first and quite easily. Gently tighten them snug and then give them an 8th turn to tighten them up. Sorry I don't have any torque values for this, but just be very careful.

    17. Now clean up the fill tube end, hold it onto the oil pan nipple and then start screwing the large hex nut on by hand. Then using your combination wrench, screw it down so that it is snug. Once snug, go an 8th of a turn to tighten it down.

    18. Double check to make sure that all of the following are installed and tightened down: drain plug and gasket, 6 hex nut brackets for oil pan, cooling lines, fill tube nut.

    19. Lower the car (or remove jack stands), use a thin and long funnel into the fill tube, and put 4 quarts of ATF in.

    20. Start the car, pull the e-brake up high, with your foot firmly on the brake, cycle through reverse, then to neutral, then to reverse, then to neutral, then to drive, then to neutral, then to 1, 2, 3, D, then to neutral, etc. The key is to let the car idle on all gears, and go between Park/Neutral and Drive/Reverse to allow the fluid to get into the gears. Drive the car at highway speeds, manually shift through all the gears, reverse the car a little bit. Drive fast for about 30 minutes until everything is nice and hot. The transmission will most likely be jerky and not shift well because the fluid isn't at the right level yet.

    21. After 30 minutes of driving, park the car and leave the engine running. Pop the hood, remove the transmission dipstick and check the level. If you don't see any fluid, add more ATF in small increments: don't add a whole quart or even half a bottle at once, do it very slowly so that you can slowly work your way up to the correct level. After you add a little bit, cycle through Reverse, Neutral, and the rest of the gears. Check the level again, add more if necessary, incrementally, and cycle gears. You may want to drive the car a few more miles and cycle through gears while adding more fluid. Ever so slowly keep adding fluid with the engine idling until you get just perfectly in between the high and low marks on the dipstick. When checking fluid, make sure you use a lint-free cloth and make sure you fully seat the locking dipstick so that you get an accurate reading. I recommend filling the fluid down to just above the low marking. This will allow you to drive the car for a few days and then check the level and fill appropriately then. This is a safety measure to lessen the risk of putting too much fluid in, which is a) bad for the transmission, and b) a pain because then you have to drain the oil pan again and start the filling process over again.

    22. Keep checking the level of the ATF with the dipstick every few days just to make sure the level isn't too high or too low. Also keep a spare bottle of ATF in your trunk and put a clean piece of cardboard under the car to keep an eye out for leaks.


    My recommend service interval for transmission fluid: Enthusiast

    Fanatical: Change filter/fluid every 10-15,000 miles
    Enthusiast: Change filter/fluid every 30,000 miles*
    Average: Change filter/fluid every 50-60,000 miles
    Below average: Don't change filter/fluid, after all it's "lifetime" fluid


    Now your car will feel like this: ...and last a lot longer.
    Last edited by mjrgroup; 09-24-2011 at 05:08 PM.
    MJR / 1991 BMW 850i / ZF4HP24 E/H

  2. #2
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    I know this may sound stupid but is the process the same for the ZF 5HP30 transmission other than the change of fluid and a few part numbers?

  3. #3
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    Michael, Looks like you spent more time on the write-up than the job.
    My buddy did this same job in less than an hour.
    Also no need to disconnect any tranny lines.
    Happy motoring.


    OEM e38 M-Pars refinished Hypersilver with Michelin PS2's 245/40/18 front and 265/40/18 rear, DRT drilled and slotted rotors, Hawk racing pads, Blue racing brake fluid, stainless braided flex lines, Brake Bomb, e36-Sport steering wheel w/airbag, tranny filter/pan seal, 88,000 miles and always more to do.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by skhosla View Post
    I know this may sound stupid but is the process the same for the ZF 5HP30 transmission other than the change of fluid and a few part numbers?
    No because the 5HP30 has no dipstick. The fluid must be checked within a precise temperature range (indicated through BMW DIS) and fluid must be pumped upward into the fill hole until it spills out. The job is not as easy, but can be done with the right tools.

    There is much debate on the compatibility of fluids on the 5HP30, but both BMW and ZF are extremely adamant about specifying ONLY Shell LA2634 for the black-tag 5HP30 and Esso 71141 (or ZF's own Lifeguard5 fluid) for the green-tag 5HP30. Why they wouldn't be the same, no one knows. I have sent an inquiry to ZF personally on this matter.

    Use other fluids at your own risk. Many here have - with no regrets, but I would rather not tempt fate just to save a few bucks on a car that has already cost me tens of thousands to maintain.
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    Last edited by olinjohnston; 09-26-2011 at 03:14 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by olinjohnston1 View Post
    No because the 5HP30 has no dipstick. The fluid must be checked within a precise temperature range (indicated through BMW DIS) and fluid must be pumped upward into the fill hole until it spills out. The job is not as easy, but can be done with the right tools.

    There is much debate on the compatibility of fluids on the 5HP30, but both BMW and ZF are extremely adamant about specifying ONLY Shell LA2634 for the black-tag 5HP30 and Esso 71141 (or ZF's own Lifeguard5 fluid) for the green-tag 5HP30. Why they wouldn't be the same, no one knows. I have sent an inquiry to ZF personally on this matter.

    Use other fluids at your own risk. Many here have - with no regrets, but I would rather not tempt fate just to save a few bucks on a car that has already cost me tens of thousands to maintain.
    Thanks for the info, do you think taking it to BMW would be the efficient way out or buying the tools and renting a lift?

  6. #6
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    The Shell fluid is very expensive $$$ Be prepared to shell (hehe) out a lotta loot.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skhosla View Post
    Thanks for the info, do you think taking it to BMW would be the efficient way out or buying the tools and renting a lift?
    Car horizontal on candles and a manual pump works very well also.

  8. #8
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    My 4HP24 transmission is leaking under the torque converter. I will withdraw the case and replace the O-ring and seals, including the system of the housing. I have a doubt: the oil filter housing must be replaced or just wipe it off. It seems to me that he has a metal gives? Your information will be very valuable for my work. Thank you very much

  9. #9
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    Faria, if you are going to overhaul your transmission, I'd recommend spending the extra $40 and replacing your transmission filter too!
    Last edited by mjrgroup; 09-27-2011 at 06:33 PM.
    MJR / 1991 BMW 850i / ZF4HP24 E/H

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