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Robbie's Guide To ZF8 Auto Transmission Oil Change
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Robbie
 


Member Since: 05 Feb 2006
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United Kingdom 2013 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Baltic BlueDiscovery 4
Robbie's Guide To ZF8 Auto Transmission Oil Change

Click image to enlarge


1. As with all my guides this is my attempt to simplify and encourage what should be a routine maintenance task that is well within the gift of the average DIY-capable D4 owner. There may be better techniques out there so please feel free to add your own top-tips to the guide. Warning: Do not use the same oil change techniques as used on the ZF6 - the ZF8 is different.

2. Despite the extra gears available the ZF8 gearbox has far fewer components than the original ZF6 gearbox that was fitted to the D3 and early D4s. Like the ZF6 the 8-speed has proven to be an incredibly strong and reliable unit in a whole host of different premium vehicles. Unfortunately JLR has seen fit to follow the mistakes of the ZF6 by recommending that it does not need servicing before 150,000 miles or 10 years. In all regards the advice from JLR is wrong and should you follow this advice and your gearbox dies early then JLR will not lift a finger to help you. Automatic gearbox repair work is expensive and poorly gearboxes make for a miserable and uneconomic driving experience. As such it is unwise to ignore the advice from ZF and blindly follow the JLR service schedule. The fluid in an auto is used for lubrication, warming, cooling, hydraulic actuation, turbine flow, as well as a bath for the friction material and the electronics. The fluid has a hard life but with regular servicing this gearbox is capable of stella miles.

3. This guide uses my own MY13 D4 that has covered over 36,000 miles in the 3 years of my ownership. I don't tow that often and I only go off-road when I have to and not for fun. As such the gearbox and the transmission fluid have had a relatively easy life. My own intended schedule is to complete a single oil change at 36k and further changes every year after that. As the torque converter and other components retain around half the installed oil I will effectively half the age of the oil now and achieve a slow-time double flush by 50k with the minimum of expense or wasted fluid. Enough waffle - to the tools!

Click image to enlarge


4. For this job you need a set of axle stands or another method to give you a safety space, safety specs, an oil catch-pan, 10mm socket, 8mm hex, 10mm hex, ratchet, extension bar, ZF8 Lifeguard ATF (5L), plenty of shop towels and a torque wrench for the low torque values required. As ever, an impact wrench and additional lighting makes things easier. As temperature measurement is key you will also need either a suitable diagnostic tool, IR thermometer or similar. It is a good habit to measure what is removed so if you intend to do this by weight then remember to weigh your container beforehand.

5. The gearbox should be warmed-up before servicing. The vehicle must be parked in a safe location, on level ground, at off-road height or higher, safety stands positioned under the chassis rails, with the EPB applied and the gearbox in park.

6. First remove the rearmost undershield. This is secured by 5 flanged bolts with 10mm hex heads. These rust very quickly and thread into those flimsy clips, so penetrating fluid and an impact can be helpful. It does not weigh much but be careful of the hot exhaust pipes behind. With the shield removed you will see the black plastic sump of the gearbox:

Click image to enlarge


7. Towards the rear corner of the sump you will see the black plastic drain port with a 10mm socket hex fitting. Above and to the rear of it is the metal 8mm socket hex fill port plug, partly hidden by the exhaust cross-over pipe:

Click image to enlarge


8. The workshop manual calls for a special tool to remove this plug due to the lack of access. I have no idea as to why as there is loads of room around the port on mine. With the engine off and the catch-pan & rags to the ready, use a 8mm hex key on your ratchet to slowly remove the top fill port first:

Click image to enlarge


9. As the gearbox oil pump is unpowerd and the oil warm the oil level will be considerably higher than the fill port, so use the plug to regulate the flow to avoid it splashing straight off the exhaust and going everywhere. Once the flow stops use the 10mm hex key and ratchet to remove the lower drain plug. As this port is close to the exhaust you may need an extension/wobble bar or a longer hex key to avoid straining the plastic fitting. Again, use the plug to regulate the flow into your catchpan:

Click image to enlarge


10. Once the oil flow has stopped, inspect, clean and replace the drain plug. The threads on this plug will strip in a heartbeat so use a torque wrench with a low range to achieve between 8 to 10 Nm; the workshop manual recommends new plugs, but I reused the existing ones. You are now free to fill the gearbox with replacement ZF8 ATF utilising whatever kit you have to hand (bespoke oil pump, funnel and pipe, oil syringe etc).

11. First fill the gearbox until fluid starts to drip from the fill port before retuning to the driver's seat. The ZF8 needs to draw fluid to all the key components for the oil level check to be valid. Failure to follow the correct steps may damage your gearbox. The gears, clutches, torque converter and oil cooler system must all be allowed to fill:

Click image to enlarge


12. The ZF8 gearbox uses a small chain-driven vane cell pump, mounted to the rear of the TC to circulate the oil. It is a very efficient unit and places very little load on the gearbox; it too must be allowed sufficient opportunity to prime correctly:

Click image to enlarge


- Start the engine (to draw oil from the sump and pump it around the gearbox).

- With the engine still running slowly add more oil through the fill port until it starts to drip again.

Return to the driver's seat and with a firm foot on the brake and checking the EPB is still applied:

- Select Reverse for 5 seconds.

- Select Drive for 5 seconds.

- With the flappy paddle select 2nd Gear for 5 seconds.

- Select Neutral.

To fully fill the torque converter the vane cell pump must run at a higher rpm:

- Throttle to 2,000 rpm for at least 30 seconds.

- Select Park.

- Allow engine to idle normally

13. All the components of the gearbox will now be fully primed with transmission fluid, with the exception of the oil heat-exchanger system. This system is thermostatically controlled. For the oil to prime and circulate correctly the thermostat must be fully open. Using either a thermometer on the sump or a suitable diagnostic tool, monitor the gearbox oil temp until it exceeds 69 deg C. This can take a while, so you can get a brew. Temp shown on IID, bottom right value indicating 68 deg C:

Click image to enlarge


14. Having hit the magic temp I consider it good practice to repeat the gearbox selections above, but it is not called for in the workshop manual.

- Replace the fill port finger tight for now.

- Turn off engine.

15. Having primed all parts of the system correctly the final level check requires the gearbox to cool-down to below 30 deg C. Even on a cold afternoon I managed to eat my evening meal, do some other jobs and drink my first beer before it was cool enough for the level check. Having achieved below 30 deg C:

- Start engine again.

- Remove fill port plug.

- Slowly fill with ATF until a fine thread of fluid leaks from the port.

- Replace plug and torque to 35 Nm.

- Wipe area clean and inspect for leaks.

- Double check that the temperature has not exceeded 50 deg C during the filling (if it has then allow to cool and repeat the fill check).

- Turn off engine.

- Replace undershield and 5 x 10mm bolts.

- Remove catchpan, tools and the safety stands.

- Clean any spills.

- Measure or weigh the amount removed and compare with what you put in:

Click image to enlarge


16. The above gave me a fluid weight of 3.4kg which equates to around 3.9 litres. I used about 4.2 litres, albeit a small amount of this would have leaked out during the level checks. The fluid drained from my box was still green coloured and smelt normal. You do not want your oil to go anything near black as that means damage is being done. If you do have a diagnostic tool now is a good time to reset the gearbox adaptations.

17. Job done with over 4.5 litres ready for next year. I used Lifeguard 8 ATF which cost me about £50 total from the bay last year. It is a shocking price if bought direct from Land Rover.

Click image to enlarge


18. Hope this helps and remember for a healthy gearbox, change early, change often.

Thumbs Up

[With thanks to DG & geoff.]
 Land Rover - Turning Drivers into Mechanics Since 1948

Battery & Quiescent Current Drain Testing

Diagnostics for:
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Last edited by Robbie on 14th Feb 2016 6:54 pm. Edited 4 times in total 
Post #160977013th Feb 2016 8:26 pm
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HughMartin
 


Member Since: 30 Mar 2008
Location: Aberdeenshire
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Scotland 2012 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 XS Auto Aintree GreenDiscovery 4

Great write-up. I look forward to having a go at this myself.
 

Last edited by HughMartin on 14th Feb 2016 3:27 pm. Edited 1 time in total 
Post #160978013th Feb 2016 8:52 pm
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sputnixb51
 


Member Since: 23 Apr 2013
Location: Morayshire
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Scotland 2014 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 SE Tech Auto Corris GreyDiscovery 4

Robbie,Thanks, if not impolite where did you get the oil sucker(syringe) from please I have a metal one but it's pretty useless really, ta.
 

Last edited by sputnixb51 on 14th Feb 2016 12:34 pm. Edited 1 time in total 
Post #160978213th Feb 2016 8:59 pm
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Brian_DL13
 


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United Kingdom 2014 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Corris GreyDiscovery 4

Thumbs Up Thumbs Up
  
Post #160988114th Feb 2016 8:25 am
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Robbie
 


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sputnixb51 wrote:
Robbie,Thanks, if not impolite where did you get the oil sucker(syringe) from please I have a metal one but it's pretty useless really, ta.


It's a Sealey one so available from lots of places. I got it for filling diffs etc but it can be used for the gearbox, albeit you have to fill it more than once. As it is the only pump I have I didn't have much choice. I agree that the metal ones are hopeless.

Thumbs Up
 Land Rover - Turning Drivers into Mechanics Since 1948

Battery & Quiescent Current Drain Testing

Diagnostics for:
Defender, FL2, D3, D4, Evoque, RRS & FFRR
A not-for-profit enterprise


 
 
Post #161005914th Feb 2016 2:09 pm
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sputnixb51
 


Member Since: 23 Apr 2013
Location: Morayshire
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Scotland 2014 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 SE Tech Auto Corris GreyDiscovery 4

Robbie,Thanks again and for the syringe info, one on its way to me. Thumbs Up
  
Post #161006814th Feb 2016 2:51 pm
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euangibson
 


Member Since: 24 Dec 2010
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Scotland 2012 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Firenze RedDiscovery 4

Very nice....
I know you were doing this for "preventative" reasons,but have you noticed any appreciable difference ?
 "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool,than to speak out and remove all doubt" ?.....what rubbish...

Locking rear E-diff
RLD spare wheel protector & sump guard
Extended roof rails
Series 111 mudflaps
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Post #161008414th Feb 2016 3:12 pm
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DerbyshireDisco
 


Member Since: 12 Mar 2012
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England 2013 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Loire BlueDiscovery 4

Thanks Robbie excellent instructions, I don't have the facilities to do such a job and I'm only on 27,000 so not really ready yet but very interesting none the less.
 Displaced Yorkshireman.
=^:^=
SDV6 Auto obviously, Loire blue/Ebony, ugly kid glass, RLD wheel protector, private plate and maybe side steps. 
 
Post #161009314th Feb 2016 3:17 pm
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davidhem
 


Member Since: 21 Feb 2013
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United Kingdom 2009 Discovery 3 TDV6 HSE Auto Galway GreenDiscovery 3

A great write up, especially the procedure for running through the gears etc.

I need to do mine as I am 60k.
  
Post #161010214th Feb 2016 3:47 pm
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Robbie
 


Member Since: 05 Feb 2006
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United Kingdom 2013 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Baltic BlueDiscovery 4

euangibson wrote:
Very nice....
I know you were doing this for "preventative" reasons,but have you noticed any appreciable difference ?


I've not driven it yet as currently doing oil changes on the mowers whilst I have the oil catch-can out. Hopefully there will be zero detectable difference as that is kinda the idea of more frequent drain & fills.

Thumbs Up
 Land Rover - Turning Drivers into Mechanics Since 1948

Battery & Quiescent Current Drain Testing

Diagnostics for:
Defender, FL2, D3, D4, Evoque, RRS & FFRR
A not-for-profit enterprise


 
 
Post #161010514th Feb 2016 3:51 pm
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Dave T
 


Member Since: 03 Jul 2009
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England 

Great write up....... I just don't need it for 3 years or so now Thumbs Up Whistle
 2015 RRS Corris Grey/Black roof
1994 Defender 90

2016 D4 Graphite Santorini Black
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Post #161010714th Feb 2016 4:00 pm
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blackdog1
 


Member Since: 11 Dec 2015
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England 2016 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 SE Tech Auto Corris GreyDiscovery 4

Thumbs Up First class instructions, and pictures.
  
Post #161022214th Feb 2016 6:45 pm
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Robbie
 


Member Since: 05 Feb 2006
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Posts: 17919

United Kingdom 2013 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Baltic BlueDiscovery 4

Thank-you.

Thumbs Up
 Land Rover - Turning Drivers into Mechanics Since 1948

Battery & Quiescent Current Drain Testing

Diagnostics for:
Defender, FL2, D3, D4, Evoque, RRS & FFRR
A not-for-profit enterprise


 
 
Post #161030814th Feb 2016 8:35 pm
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alastaid
 


Member Since: 31 May 2011
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United Kingdom 2010 Discovery 4 3.0 TDV6 HSE Auto Santorini BlackDiscovery 4

Robbie,

Thanks also for a fantastic write up, being an autobox ignoramus (D4 is my first auto), what constitutes heavy work for the box, obviously towing, climbing hills etc, but where does driving long motorway distances, at around 70, with the car not carrying much, cruising along in top stand?

Or put another way, if one car drives 30k around town only, and another car drives 30k nearly always at 70mph on the motorway, both carrying the same load, which box would need the oil change most?

Thanks

Alastair
  
Post #161034714th Feb 2016 9:18 pm
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Robbie
 


Member Since: 05 Feb 2006
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Posts: 17919

United Kingdom 2013 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 HSE Auto Baltic BlueDiscovery 4

Whilst town driving would probably trump motorway driving, cruising with the cruise control also works the gearbox quite hard. Whilst it may seem counterintuitive, coasting to a stop may be good for energy recovery and mpg but it also triggers a noticeable spike in gearbox temps.

The key thing is that the gearbox is great can cope with anything, if it is serviced regularly.

Thumbs Up
 Land Rover - Turning Drivers into Mechanics Since 1948

Battery & Quiescent Current Drain Testing

Diagnostics for:
Defender, FL2, D3, D4, Evoque, RRS & FFRR
A not-for-profit enterprise


 
 
Post #161036314th Feb 2016 9:43 pm
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