If you own an Aston Martin DB9, DBS, or Rapide from 2004 to about 2014 and it has an Touchtronic II 6-Speed automatic transmission, the official Aston Martin Service guide says the transmission is ‘Filled for Life’. In another article I debunked this idea (read the full article here), and uncovered the transmission manufacturer lists the service interval as a more realistic 80,000 to 120,000 kms (50,000 to 75,000 miles) or eight (8) years at the longest. If you have an Aston Martin made before 2011 you are likely due for an automatic transmission fluid change. If you are interested in doing it yourself (as I am) then you’ll need to know what very specific parts to track down. This article will point you at what you need and give you some options on where to get them.
These cars were fitted with the Touchtronic II 6-speed automatic transmission (and that’s all my article is covering – not the latter models 8-speed automatic Touchtronic III nor any of the the manual shift). This transmission is made for Aston Martin by a German company called ZF. ZF makes transmission for many manufacturers including Rolls Royce, Jaguar, and BMW. That’s good news, there are LOTS of BMWs so the aftermarket parts market is full of bits. We don’t have to only get our parts from our Aston Martin Dealers.
The specific transmission model is the ZF 6HP26. It was fitted to dozens of high power luxury cars of the same era. Although the transmission casing used in the Aston Martin is custom designed by Aston Martin, the internal transmission components are all standard ZF.
What Should be Serviced?
After researching this a lot I’ve learned that if we are going to open the transmission up to change the fluid, we’d be stupid to not service a few of the other simple parts that wear out over time. Here’s what I believe we need to change:
- Transmission Fluid
- Transmission Oil Sump Pan with integrated filter (and includes the new gasket)
- Mechatronic Bridge Seal
- Mechatronic Valve Seals
- Electronics Sleeve
The ZP HP626 requires very specific transmission fluid, not the off the shelf stuff at the local parts store or gas station. The fluid must been Shell standard M1375.4.
Aston Martin – Your Aston Martin dealer can supply the fluid. In their system it’s just called “Transmission Fluid” part number 4G43-19A509-AA/S (also confirmed in this ZF factory approved lubricants list). It’s actually distilled Unicorn tears and is available from a mere £47.49 ($61 USD) per liter from the parts team at HWM England (you can find it online for $77 USD). Wow. This is likely just rebranded ZF Lifeguard 6 fluid. If you get your fluid changed at the dealership service department, this is one of the reasons the price will be so high.
The best quality option is to stick to the official ZF recommended ZF Lifeguard 6 fluid. This is fairly available online since the transmission is used in so many cars. It is moderately priced (compared to the Aston branded version). I found it online on Amazon for about $18.32 USD per liter when purchased in a 6 pack. Also available from Amazon for $22 USD per liter separately.
Quantity Needed – The bad news is that we need ten (10) liters.
There are other automatic transmission fluids that meet the Shell M1375.4 standard. I expect these would work just fine, but in the back of my mind I am left with that little flicker of doubt. Is there some magic ferry dust ZF adds to their fluid that the others don’t? Do I want to risk my very expensive transmission to save just a few dollars? I’ll let you decide. Here are the fluids I discovered (so far):
Pentosin – Pentosin is a German brand that I’ve heard of before, and marketed in North America through CRP automotive. Several of the other fluids in the DB9 are Pentosin (including the Power Steering Fluid). Their fluid is Pentosin ATF-1, and according to the online spec’s it meets the Shell M1375.4 standard and they reference the proper ZF TE-ML 11B standard. You can find it on Amazon.com for about $22 USD (with free Prime shipping) in one liter bottles, or for $67 USD (with free Prime shipping) in a convenient five (5) liter bottle (which is just $13.40 USD per liter). Getting two 5 liter bottles would probably be the way to go if you opt for Pentosin.
Motul – Motul is a French brand that I’ve heard of before and seen a few other owners try. Their fluid is Motul ATF VI, and according to the online spec’s it meets the Shell M1375.4 standard and they reference the proper ZF TE-ML 11B standard. You can find it on Amazon.com for about $14.60 USD (with free Prime shipping) in one liter bottles, or even cheaper for about $72 USD (with free shipping) in an 8-pack of one liter bottles (which is just $9 USD per liter). Basically you can get 10 liters for about $100 USD.
Ravenol – Ravenol is a German brand that seems to be a popular lower cost alternative. Their fluid is Ravenol 6HP, and is specifically sold to be ZF 6HP compatible (see their online USA specs here and the online main company in Germany specs here). They really make a clear case that they are 100% compatible meeting the Shell standard and equivalent to the ZF part. Its also neat to see that they say the Ford Mercon SP fluid noted below is an equivalent. On Amazon it can be had for $21 USD per liter. There is also a convenient 4 liter bottle available for $65.59 USD on Amazon (that’s just $16.40 USD per liter). Might be worth a try.
Ford Mercon SP – Yes, Ford sells a fluid. Remember that Ford owned Aston Martin in 2004 when the DB9 was designed. Ford had the same transmission in the Lincoln Navigator. There are some raging online debates (read about it here) about whether the Mercon SP fluid meets the spec (how could it be so much cheaper and be the same thing). I personally couldn’t find an online spec saying it met the Shell M1375.4 standard, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t. This fluid is by far the cheapest of the bunch. It can be had for as little as $7.41 USD per quart on Amazon when purchased in a 12 pack. Also available on Amazon for $13.42 USD a quart individually. Based on the pricing, the best value is to just get the Amazon 12 pack if you go this route.
[Updated June 2021] I have done a video on the automatic transmission fluid selection and a discussion I had with Mike from Bamford Rose in the UK. Check it out if you are interested.
Transmission Oil Pan with integrated Filter and Gasket
The transmission oil sump/pan is actually made of plastic. Built into it is the transmission oil filter. To replace the filter, we have to replace the entire pan. The new pan will come fitted with a new gasket. The pan is readily available online.
There are plenty of aftermarket options for this part as well. What I’ve found online is that the cheaper aftermarket pans are just that – cheaper quality. Other video’s I’ve watched from BMW owners all seem to mention they should have probably spent the extra on a real ZF made part rather than the cheaper alternative. In one video (watch it here) the person was tightening up the drain plug and it just snapped off in the hole even before it was fully torqued, and he ends up trying to silicon seal the mess together (NOT what you want to do with your transmission). Here are he parts you can choose from.
The best option is to get the ZF original part. You can get this a few ways:
From Aston Martin the part is 4G43-42-10273. In the US and Canada it’s available online for about $212 USD at ScuderiaParts, or a little cheaper if you are in the UK or EU contact the parts team at HWM England. There is nothing bespoke about the Aston part, its merely a re-bagged ZF part (I ordered one to be sure).
You can find the ZF part number 0501 216 243 online directly through numerous sources including Pelican Parts for $89.50 USD. Many of them will list it as a BMW service part number 24 15 2 333 903, but rest assured it is the same part. I found it online at Amazon for just $77 USD.
As I mentioned there are many aftermarket versions of this part available and you can find those easily enough by searching Amazon or the Internet for “ZF 6HP26 Oil Pan”. I’m not going to list any since I’ve not ordered it myself to check it out. If you order something and had a good experience please leave a comment below with the exact part number and source.
Mechatronic Bridge Seal
Once the Transmission Oil Pan/Sump is removed, it will expose the ‘Mechatronics Unit’. This is the brain and valve body that does all the magic to coordinate the shifting of the transmission. This unit bolts up to the main transmission body, and in between the two parts are a couple of rubber seals. Changing these is also part of our mission.
The Mechatronic Bridge seal is the largest. It has been known to develop failures, and these failures lead to shifting issues and dreaded P-codes that turn on the idiot light on the dash and could mean big money repairs. The seal gets brittle over time bathed in the pressure and heat of the transmission. A failure of the seal leads to low fluid pressure, and all sorts of odd issues. The seal is actually simple to replace, and well worth the few dollars and extra effort.
From Aston Martin they call it the “Mechatronic Module Adaptor” part number 4G43-7H586-AA. It’s available from ScuderiaParts online for about $27.76 USD, or a little cheaper if you are in the UK or EU and contact the parts team at HWM England. There is nothing bespoke about the Aston part, its merely a re-bagged ZF part. (I also bought one of these to be sure).
You can find the ZF part number 0501 215 718 online directly through numerous sources. Many of them will list it as a BMW service part number 24 34 7 588 727, but rest assured it is the same part. I found it online at Pelican Parts for just $8 USD.
As I mentioned there are many aftermarket versions of this part available and you can find those easily enough by searching Amazon or the Internet for “ZF 6HP26 Mechatronic Bridge Seal”. I’m not going to list any since I’ve not ordered it myself to check it out. If you order something and had a good experience please leave a comment below with the exact part number and source.
Mechatronic Valve Seals
Also wedged between the Mechatronic Unit and the main transmission body are four small cylindrical rubber tubes that act as seals. Two are the same size, and the other two are unique. They also deteriorate in the heat and pressure of the transmission and loosing their suppleness to seal properly. We’ll find the old ones are hard and about 2-3mm shorter than the new supple ones. The good news is that they are inexpensive and it only take a few minutes to change them out.
From Aston Martin they are:
- Part number 4G43-29401-AA – Sealing Sleeve (25.90mm long) – Qty 2.
- Part number 4G43-29401-BA – Sealing Sleeve (31.40mm long) – Qty 1.
- Part number 4G43-29401-CA – Sealing Sleeve (40.70mm long) -Qty 1.
As before, the Aston Martin supplied parts are just re-bagged ZF parts (I bought a set of the Aston parts to be sure). As with the other parts they are most easily found using the BMW part numbers
- Short Length Seal – Qty 2 – ZF part number 0734 317 370 – BMW part number 24 10 7 519 314 – Seal for Auto Trans Valve Body (Mechatronic) – Valve Body to Transmission Housing (25.9 mm length)
- Available online for about $4.39 USD from Pelican Parts.
- Medium Length Seal – Qty 1 – ZF part number 0734 317 371 – BMW part number 24 10 7 519 315 – Seal for Auto Trans Valve Body (Mechatronic) – Valve Body to Transmission Housing (31.4 mm length)
- Available online for about $5.75 USD from Pelican Parts.
- Long Length Seal – Qty 1 – ZF part number 0734 317 372 – BMW part number 24 10 7 520 715 – Seal for Auto Trans Valve Body (Mechatronic) – Valve Body to Transmission Housing (40.7 mm length)
- Available online for about $7 USD from Pelican Parts.
As you can see, in this case it appears to be cheaper to get the ZF seals from Scuderia or your local Aston Dealer.
As I mentioned there are many aftermarket versions of this part available and you can find those easily enough by searching Amazon or the Internet for “ZF 6HP26 Mechatronic Valve Seals”. I’m not going to list any since I’ve not ordered it myself to check it out. If you order something and had a good experience please leave a comment below with the exact part number and source.
Ever wonder how the wiring of the car gets connected to the Mechatronic Unit? The wiring passed through a plastic electronics sleeve fitting. This fitting has three O-rings to seal it, but the O-rings are well known to flatten out over time exposed to all the heat, and this is by far the most likely place to develop a transmission fluid leak. Everyone recommends that you replace this sleeve when you service the transmission. The good news is that it’s cheap.
The Aston Martin calls it the “Transmission Controller Guide Sleeve” part number 4G43-7F183-AA. It is available from ScuderiaParts online for about $11.02 USD, or if you are in the UK or EU a little cheaper if you contact the parts team at HWM England.
As with the other bits, the Aston part is just a rebagged ZF part number 0501 216 272. You can find this online for about $19 USD at Pelican Parts. You can also find this part as BMW part number 24 34 7 588 725 – “Sealing Sleeve with O-Rings for Auto Trans Valve Body (Mechatronic)”.
As I mentioned there are many aftermarket versions of this part available and you can find those easily enough by searching Amazon or the Internet for “ZF 6HP26 Electronics Sleeve”. I’m not going to list any since I’ve not ordered it myself to check it out. If you order something and had a good experience please leave a comment below with the exact part number and source.
I’ve been looking around to see if there was someone selling a complete service kit that included all these parts for one decent price. I’ve found a few nearly complete options, but nothing that nails it completely.
ZF themselves offers a Service Kit – part number 1068.298.062. There online list should be your official guide as to what other cars the same transmission was fitted to, from BMW 750 to Rolls Royce Phantom. Their official kits are not widely found online, but it is available for about $175 USD on Amazon. This is good value for the parts it includes:
- Transmission Sump/Pan with integrated filter and gasket
- Seven (7) liters of ZF Lifeguard 6 Fluid
- Replacement pan bolts (21)
- Replacement fill plug
You’d still need to buy the extra 3 liters of fluid, the Mechatronic Bridge and Valve Body seals plus the Electronics Sleeve.
Pentosin makes a service kit (part number 1058206-KIT-4) specifically for the ZF 6HP26 that includes their fluid and the mechanical parts from another company called Rein. Available on Amazon.com for just $186 USD (with Free Prime Shipping) the kit includes:
- Rein brand Transmission Sump/Pan with integrated filter and gasket
- Rein brand Electronics Sleeve
- Reain brand Replacement pan bolts (21)
- Seven (7) liters of Pentosin ATF1 Transmission Fluid
You’d still need to buy the extra 3 liters of fluid, the Mechatronics Bridge Seal and Valve Body Seals.
I found a generic aftermarket brand (Bapmic) 6HP26 service kit online here at Amazon for just $58 USD. Oil pan and bolts, gasket, mechatronics bridge seal, electronics sleeve and a fill plug. All generic aftermarket stuff, but if you are doing your work on the super cheap, this could be an option. Add a set of aftermarket Mechatronics Valve seals for another $18 off Amazon, and for under $100 USD you have all your parts other than fluid. I’m not really endorsing this approach, just pointing out that it is an option.
If you are a purist and buy all the Aston Martin supplied parts from HWM and the ZF fluid from Amazon you are looking at about $450 USD.
If you buy the all the original ZF fluids and parts from my online links above you are looking at about $350 USD.
If economy matters most and you buy all the generic aftermarket parts and the Ford Mercon SP fluids you are looking at about $200 USD.
What Would I Recommend?
Easy. Buy the official ZF parts. Get the original ZF brand Oil Pan/Sump, Mechatronics Valve and Bridge seals, and the Electronics Sleeve from either your local Aston Dealer or Online. Buy the ZF Lifeguard 6 fluid online. Going with all ZF parts will give you peace of mind and the best chance for years of perfect running.
You can see me going over the parts in my Transmission Fluid Change video here:
And discussing the Fluid choice here: