An official ZF video surfaced on Reddit earlier today calling out BMW for even putting “lifetime oil” on their automatic transmission-equipped BMWs.
If there’s one video from ZF that BMW probably doesn’t want any of their owners to see, it’s probably this one. An interesting Reddit thread popped up earlier yesterday (Aug. 16, 2019) bringing up a two-year-old video uploaded to Youtube from ZF transmissions from a German Trade show where two of their sales reps, for the lack of a better term, throws some epic shade BMW’s way.
Basically, they say you should not listen to BMW’s provided sticker saying their automatic transmission oil is lifetime, and instead, you should probably drain and refill ATF fluid every 100,000 KM’s or 62,000ish miles.
Check out the video for yourself below.
In the video ZF explains that, if you’ve bought a newer BMW and take a peek underneath at your transmission filter, you’ll probably see a warning sticker from BMW warning you that ATF inside is lifetime.
ZF then goes through a very thorough but logical explanation how your automatic transmission goes through so much wear and tear, heat cycles, and daily abuse that, after thousands of miles, used ATF fluid simply can’t keep up with the demands of your typical automatic user.
This all makes perfect sense.
Only as of late have car manufacturers, probably in order to get you into an automatic in the first place, advertise their fluids as “lifetime.” Since a good number of BMW owners probably will not own their cars for more than 100,000 miles (for the long haul) the ATF fluid inside their transmissions probably can withstand the abuse they throw its way.
But, any car owner worth his weight in salt knows that what ZF preaches is true, there’s no such thing nor has there ever been a fluid that truly lasts a lifetime.
And this goes for any car that has a ZF transmission.
A simple search on Amazon reveals that their filter/oil pan combos plus the cost of oil will probably set you back a couple hundred dollars. But, for a service that you’ll only do once every three years or so, that’s pennies to the dollar compared to a new transmission after banking on your supposedly “lifetime fluid.”
In all honestly, ZF is probably pimping out their transmission oil filters integrated into their oil pans and, if asked, they probably have a good reason why they’ve combined both. But, in the land of OE automatic suppliers, if you’re not making your own automatics, ZF is king.
But when it pertains to those lifetime fluids, don’t listen to manufacturers. Change your ATF fluids and filter when the automatic transmission maker recommends. You’ll probably have to do a bit of research to find out who makes your automatic and what they recommend, but the information is out there.
Did you think your ZF transmission filter and fluids were really forever lifetime until now? Don’t know if you have a ZF automatic or not? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll help you out either way.