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Holy COW! I just put RP into my tranny not all that long ago. Looks like I'm going back to BMW "lifetime" fluid. Ugh. :mad: :crying:
 

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I'll be sticking with OEM, but it almost sounds like one of the Redline Shockproof gear oils - Superlight, or Light - might work.

I'm not sure about what's in this transmission, but in many cases the synchro blocker rings require some friction to work, and it's possible that some lubricants are either (a) too slick or (b) just flat incompatible with the material used.
 

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I've got Royal Purple in my tranny as well. No complaints so far. The master tech at my BMW dealer installed it. I'd like to hear from one our experts on this, maybe Dave Zeckhausen could chime in...

hmmm
 

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I was planning to get some RP fluids but after seeing this I think I'm going to hold off for now.

Seems scary...hmmm
 

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RP is going into my tranny and diff as I type this. If there are problems, will just switch back. I read the same on Roadfly and have little trepidation in going ahead. If there is a problem, I will simply switch back to OEM.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
JEM,

Do NOT use Shockproof lubes in a street car. The base product is very thin and augmented with a radical, unstable viscosity-augmenting elixor that has a very short lifecycle. It works cool as heck for racers, but viscosity drops like a rock in a few thousand miles. It's claim to fame is max RWHP with adequate protection for an enduro race or a couple weekend beat-runs. You don't change fluids weekly, right?

Red Line's extended interval, street-specific lubricant is MTL, not Shockproof.

As an aside, I see no reason to assume that Shockproof will not cause Getrag shifting problems like so many experienced with the MTL product. Neither product is approved and the MTL has a negative history in Getrag's.

Too many folks are misapplying fluids based upon tech support line distortion and race hype. Every time you call Red Line, a different tech will give you a different answer. This is what happens when there are no "standards" for usage and no application guidelines published for their products. If you get a knowledgeable Red Line tech, they will admit the Shockproof blends requires a frequent service interval....and they are a race-only lube that sacrifices hardware wear and fluid stability for RWHP.

I'm not sure what to run besides OEM fluid. That said, I do know of a few fluids you should NOT run in a valuable street vehicle.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
DrPaul,

If you follow DHoang's lead on roadfly with his 540i 6spd (same trans as M5), you will initially experience improved synchro operation and then....you'll switch back to BMW fill AFTER you replace your transmission at 47K miles. Little trepedation? I am carefully considering the results of his lubricant "experiment" that began 3 years ago and ended on a real sour note.

I hope you thoroughly read the thread before switching to a fluid with mystery additives that is not approved or tested for use in the additive/fluid-sensitive Getrag. Keep in mind that such problems don't surface for a couple years and you can't fix the damage by changing back to BMW lube or another flavor. The transmission will likely need replaced first, which will cost around $5K.

Let's see, we got cherry RED Line & grape Royal PURPLE ....and these cool-looking bottles say they work perfectly in EVERYTHING that uses multi-viscosity or straight viscosity or most any automatic transmission fluid like Mercon, DextronII, IIIE, V, type F, ATF+3, Honda etc, etc. Cripe, I only need one lube to replace 2 dozen! Maybe Valvoline, BMW and Castrol are the idiots with all those extra details, certifications and limitations clearly outlined on each product.

Not one mfr or API certification or approval mentioned on either product (hmmm). Sorry for sarcasm.
 

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Hi Lscman,
Much appreciated insight and advice. I may, in fact, switch back in short order (before the complications begin). I hope that you hear back from some of your contacts with further information, though expect that the Getrag folk will either remain silent or say" Stick to what we tell you and nothing else."
Thanks again
 

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Lscman - I'm quite familiar with MTL, my experiences with it in other vehicles has been mixed.

My own experiences with the Shockproof lubes have been limited, and in applications where it's changed every 3 months or so, though I know others that have run it in street use longer with reasonable results.

MTL is - like BG Synchroshift and the Royal Purple stuff - intended for transmissions that spec an ATF-type fluid (which I guess is most these days.) ATF isn't all that good of a lubricant, but its low viscosity means lower friction losses.

It sounds here like the main problem with non-OEM lubricants in the Getrag box is an incompatibility with the friction elements in the synchro blockers, not anything related to the lubrication of the geartrain and bearings. Whether the facings are wearing away, or whether they're simply getting saturated and failing to generate enough friction.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Good points, JEM:

The MTL product destroyed many Mustang T-5 transmissions in the '80's, before it was reformulated to prevent attacking a particular carbon blocker adhesive agent. They had Ford SVO/Motorsport and dealer going nuts with warranty complaints. The anger toward Red Line remains at Ford because many owners with busted transmissions switched back to Dextron III before submitting warranty claims. Kids were laughing about how they "got over on Ford" and made them eat the repairs at every track. And Red Line sat back and said "we don't specify which vehicles it's approved for...it's good for most...it's your call". No liability accepted.

Every transmission has sensitivities relating to it's design. This is why lubricant standards are normally tight and durability/lifecycle testing is done. Anytime you try a non-OEM lubricant in a modern transmission, you're entering uncharted territory. The point to this thread is that some Getrag 6 spd data is available for the 540i and lots for the sister Supra & it doesn't look good. In the case of Getrag's, it seems the vulnerability is related to detents &/or shifting. Supra Getrags have a particular component that permanently swells and deforms with certain fluids. It may be in the synchro assembly or sliders or linkage or forks.

Dr Paul,

The evidence shows that DHoang's transmission bit the dust in just 20K miles, first using Mobil 1 ATF followed by Red Line D4 ATF. It died with the Red Line product in the transmission for an extended period, if that means anything. It seems the damage occurs quickly and the damage is "terminal". The symptoms mirror those experienced by Supra owners before they ALL switched back to the OEM Toyota lubricant.

The genuine German Getrag Customer Service Rep for BMW transmission sales is returning from Vacation on 8/29. I'll let you know what he says with respect to OEM fluid characteristics and alternate lubes.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If anyone has access to Maserati Service experts, you might ask them what trans fluid is specified for the Shamal or Quattroporte 6 speed cars. They have the same Getrag S6S 420 G as BMW uses for M5 and 540i.

The Nissan Skyline R34 uses it too.
 

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Lupo///M5 said:
I've got Royal Purple in my tranny as well. No complaints so far. The master tech at my BMW dealer installed it. I'd like to hear from one our experts on this, maybe Dave Zeckhausen could chime in...
I'm not a chemical engineer, but I've been around the Internet long enough to know that this is one of those typical "sky is falling" threads that will eventually go away. The Royal Purple Synchromax is staying in my 6-speed transmission and the Redline 75W90 is staying in my limited slip.

What I haven't seen so far is a link to a documented failure of a tranny due to Redline fluid. Transmissions fail sometimes, regardless if you put in aftermarket fluid or not. To automatically assume that the fluid caused the problem and then run around telling people that synthetic tranny fluid is ALL bad is simply not responsible or useful. How about some real facts supported by real analysis of a failed tranny? How about getting a response from the techs at Redline and Royal Purple? Although it's hard to know exactly what they would be responding to, since I haven't seen any documented evidence of tranny failures correlated to synthetic fluid use.

So far, I've seen nothing in the Roadfly thread that is very compelling. In fact, here's a link to my contribution to that thread: http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums/e39/archives/forum.php?postid=3769434

Keep in mind that this "problem" supposedly started up among Supra Turbo owners. Perchance, are these folks drag racing? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Dave Z,

You say, "I'm not a chemical engineer, but I've been around the Internet long enough to know that this is one of those typical "sky is falling" threads that will eventually go away. "

With all due respect, here's my thoughts & background. You are clearly minimizing this issue by belittling my posted concern. In response, I feel free to note that I am interested in the technical issues here & not driven by profit margin or Royal Purple sales. I have substantial graduate-level schooling in petroleum, organic and chemical areas and degrees in both Engineering and Physics. I personally supervised & tested both synthetic and conventional lubricants at Chevron/Gulf for several years in the largest oil research and development laboratory east of the Mississippi (2800 employees, 50+ engine dynos, 12 chassis dynos, 2 cold room chassis simulators etc). My father retired from the business, working there for 42 years. I have strong opinions on this subject I'd like to share with M5 owners.

Based upon your post above, you are strangely ignoring, dismissing & minimizing the "curious" DHoang BMW 540i/M5 6spd transmission failure. If you want a link to it on roadfly (again), I can oblige. To be clear, this transmission died in a babied garage queen with 47K miles & it's failure mode mirror's those experienced by Supra owners using the same non-approved fluid. Why turn a blind eye or ignore similarity in failure mode between 6spd Getrag models & the overwhelming opinion expressed about alternate fluids in Supra forums? These folks running monster turbos have been experimenting with alternate fluids since the early '90's and the jury has spoken loudly. Please go there and solicit first hand feedback. I see no need to relay this info or provide 100 links. I summarized my opinion on these issues. You have no information suggesting these two Getrag transmissions are different with respect to lube sensitivity . I spent a long week burning a candle researching Supra posts and history. You defy BMW recommendations (so do I). You're strongly encouraged by the feedback from recent Royal Purple users with respect to shift quality. I am not. Draining factory fluid and filling with fresh OEM will make a remarkable change. I notice it every spring when I service my Corvette ZF using the same lube every year. This is a false impression experienced by owners of BMW's with fluid year's old; when they change fluid brand or type and attribute the improvement to the new blend. Same trick occurs when folks change 10 year old dryrotted tires and say the new model is "so much better". Based upon initial shift quality, you've apparently decided the Royal Purple product is compatible and does not exhibit the Red Line product compatibility issues. Why & how do you come to this conclusion? This is the EXACT same line of thinking many Toyota Supra and Mustang owners used to choose MTL and ruin their transmissions.

It is surely your perogative to sell Synchromax & even rebutt or dismiss my concern as a flash in the pan. I personally hope we can find a good alternative fluid & I sincerely hope it's the Royal Purple you're selling! You can shoot down my posts and concerns if you wish, but there's quite a bit of evidence that my concerns are warranted.

My goal here is to solicit first-hand feedback on this issue from 540i or M5 owners with respect to troubles experienced with alternate fluids. I successfully did this ---> found DHoang & an army of Supra owners running Toyota OEM fluid in high HP cars with 6 speed Getrags. I'm not here to annoy or criticize Red Line or Royal Purple users or retailers. I have used both products in the past in different vehicles.

I'd be delighted, Dave, if you could/would get some concrete information about fluid compatibility from Getrag or Royal Purple. I am pursuing this with a vengeance. I have stale trans fluid & 5 quarts waiting to be poured into my transmission.

Rick
 

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Lscman said:
With all due respect, here's my thoughts & background. I am interested in this topic & I am not in sales. I have substantial graduate-level schooling in petroleum, organic and chemical fields and degrees in both Engineering and Physics. I personally supervised & tested both synthetic and conventional lubricants at Chevron/Gulf for several years in the largest oil research and development laboratory east of the Mississippi (2800 employees, 50+ engine dynos, 12 chassis dynos, 2 cold room chassis simulators etc). My father retired from the business, working there for 42 years. I have strong opinions on this subject I'd like to share with M5 owners.
Then it sounds like you are in a better position than I am to have an intelligent discussion with the engineers at Royal Purple and Redline. You have the training and background to cut through any marketing spin that these folks may try to put on tranny failures. I suggest you call or email Patrick Burris at [email protected] or 1-888-382-6300 ext 241
Based upon your post above, you are strangely ignoring, dismissing & minimizing the "curious" DHoang BMW 540i/M5 6spd transmission failure. If you want a link to it on roadfly (again), I can oblige. To be clear, this transmission died in a babied garage queen with 47K miles & it's failure mode mirror's those experienced by Supra owners using the same non-approved fluid. Why turn a blind eye or ignore similarity in failure mode between 6spd Getrag models & the overwhelming opinion expressed about alternate fluids in Supra forums?
Has this transmission been taken apart and analysed? Has it been determined by any method other than similarity of failure mode that the fluid was, in fact, responsible for the failure?
You're strongly encouraged by the feedback from recent Royal Purple users with respect to shift quality. I am not. Draining factory fluid and filling with fresh OEM will make a remarkable change. I notice it every spring when I service my Corvette ZF using the same lube every year. This is a false impression experienced by owners of BMW's with fluid year's old; when they change fluid brand or type and attribute the improvement to the new blend. Same trick occurs when folks change 10 year old dryrotted tires and say the new model is "so much better".
I hear you on this point and I'm always shaking my head when someone replaces their old, worn-out Potenza S03 Pole Postions with Kumho tires and remarks how much better tha latter ones are! :)

With respect to the fluid, however, I have done enough brand new cars to know that there is a significant improvement even when the factory fluid is fresh. I replaced the fluid in my 2001 540i/6 with Royal Purple within a couple weeks of purchase and I've got 30,000 trouble-free miles on it so far.
Based upon initial shift quality, you've apparently decided the Royal Purple product is compatible and does not exhibit the Red Line product compatibility issues. Why & how do you come to this conclusion? This is the EXACT same line of thinking many Toyota Supra and Mustang owners used to choose MTL and ruin their transmissions.
What I can't do is run around and spend all my time chasing every rumor or theory down to ground or else I would never get anything done. As much as I would like to drop everything and start working the phone, interviewing engineers, getting people to send me chemical analysis (and learning the new field), I just don't have the resources to do it. And I've seen enough threads like this one to not get all excited and fired up ... yet.

I certainly encourage you to do what you can to try to understand why DHuang's tranny failed. But I don't see how you can blame the Redline fluid simply because the failure modes were similar to the Supra. You need more information to back up that conclusion. All your training and experience in the petroleum industry doesn't give you permission to shortcut the scientific process and come to a conclusion based on 2nd hand information gleaned from message board posts.

By the way, as to your comment about profit motive affecting my position on this issue, it has nothing to do with it. True I carry Royal Purple, but only in limited amounts and not at a margin sufficient to be worth the time to process an order. Royal Purple is one of those products that I stumbled onto (via Ben Liaw at Rogue Engineering) and liked so much that I decided to add it to my portfolio of products so that other folks could benefit as well. If I learned that it was harming my transmission, it would be out of there in a heatbeat and off my web site two heartbeats later. I have no great financial stake in the fortunes of Royal Purple.
 

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So much for not having time to do research! You managed to get me worried enough that I started making phone calls and trying to learn more.

Here's what I learned:

The Supra tranmission is not as similar to the M5 tranmsission as you had thought. It specifies 75W90 gear oil rather than ATF. The only exception is the Turbo which specifies something called GLS V160, which is also a gear oil.

I called Royal Purple and spoke to Patrick Burris. There have been no complaints of incompatibility between Synchromax and any BMW transmission. And there have been no problems with their MaxGear 75W90 and the Toyota Supra.

Patrick assured me the Synchromax was completely within specification for the requirements of the Getrag transmission. If a dealer were to try to deny a warranty claim on a failed transmission, simply because they observed that the fluid was purple in color, they would make the right phone calls and ensure that BMW corporate got involved and honored the warranty. In order to deny warranty, they would have to test the fluid and show that it was not meeting specifications. They've had to intervene with Ford over a local service writer's warranty denial (with positive outcome for the customer), but haven't yet run into it with BMW.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Dave,

I did not come to a hasty, unscientific conclusion on DH's 540i. The failure is highly suspicious and consistent with Supra Turbo failures. That is an observation only. At this moment, my conclusion is the OEM fluid is good, safe and the jury is still out on alternatives. I am in a holding pattern until more information materializes. During this period of uncertainty, I will not be experimenting with alternative fluids.

I have Getrag engineering specifications for both the Supra Turbo and 540i transmissions & they are very similar. The later BMW/Maserati version appears to be a minor redesign. Rumor has it the OEM Supra Turbo V160 fluid is a shrinking, valueable batch of the obsolete Dextron II blend. Early Supra Turbo 6spd Operating Manuals specify Dextron II or Toyota OEM service fluid. Later manuals specified Toyota service fluid only. Some postulate this was because the aftermarket no longer sold Dextron II-specific fluid.

Red Line proclaimed they had no registered complaints against their early MTL...until Mustang owners spread the news all over and Ford threatened legal action.

I will continue to research this issue. Thanks for the Royal Purple Tech references, but I think I'll get my lubricant recommendations from the Getrag or BMW. If your contact at Royal Purple can't even tell you what the factory fill is in a M5, he sure as hell can't tell you if Synchromax is compatible. Think about it! The fact that they report no troubles (today) is not very compelling. RP's handful of E39 guinea pigs just left the nest to roam the streets. Five to ten years from now, maybe I'll consider their track record. I want my transmission to last more than 18 mo.

http://en.getrag.de/23
 

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One comment I'd like to throw in here...

Perhaps for folks under warranty, contaminated blocker ring facings would be considered a 'destroyed' transmission.

I doubt any BMW dealer would ever treat something like this as anything other than an R&R activity, but for a rebuilder with the appropriate toolset to tear down the gearbox I doubt it'd be that big a deal.

Not that I want my transmission torn down that often, but what we're dealing with here (assuming they're available) ought to be $250 in parts and six hours labor on the box itself, plus R&R time.

There are enough of these boxes 'in the wild' that there should be some independent experience with tearing them down and putting them back together. I'd expect to find this in the Supra world, and the E34 M5 world, at least.
 

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Lscman said:
If your contact at Royal Purple can't even tell you what the factory fill is in a M5, he sure as hell can't tell you if Synchromax is compatible. Think about it!
I don't follow your comment. I never asked my Royal Purple contact what the factory fill on the M5 transmission was.
 

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DZeckhausen said:
I'm not a chemical engineer, but I've been around the Internet long enough to know that this is one of those typical "sky is falling" threads that will eventually go away. The Royal Purple Synchromax is staying in my 6-speed transmission and the Redline 75W90 is staying in my limited slip.

What I haven't seen so far is a link to a documented failure of a tranny due to Redline fluid. Transmissions fail sometimes, regardless if you put in aftermarket fluid or not. To automatically assume that the fluid caused the problem and then run around telling people that synthetic tranny fluid is ALL bad is simply not responsible or useful. How about some real facts supported by real analysis of a failed tranny? How about getting a response from the techs at Redline and Royal Purple? Although it's hard to know exactly what they would be responding to, since I haven't seen any documented evidence of tranny failures correlated to synthetic fluid use.

So far, I've seen nothing in the Roadfly thread that is very compelling. In fact, here's a link to my contribution to that thread: http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums/e39/archives/forum.php?postid=3769434

Keep in mind that this "problem" supposedly started up among Supra Turbo owners. Perchance, are these folks drag racing? ;)
Thanks Dave, and I have to agree. I have heard this story before... well, actually read it. It anonymously crops it's ugly head up now and then and sends us all into a frenzy. I too have to consider this yet another "net folk tale" and until there's some hard evidence otherwise I'm sticking with Royal Purple.
:cheers:
 
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