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BMW transmissions are made by “ZF Transmissions” …..

In our case, ZF Friedrichshafen AG is a world supplier of automotive and truck automatic and standard transmissions. You can read on Wiki about their long and extensive background and history.

What I want to focus on is the automobiles that use their transmissions. The BMW transmission in particular.,.. Jaguar, Land, Rover, Maserati, Peugeot, and Volvo use the same versions (internally) that are adapted to bolt to the respective engines in the respective brands of cars too..

Obviously ZF builds a heck of a transmission when a who’s who of automotive manufacturers use their products. Ford trucks have used the big ZF five and six speed manual transmissions for years. We can assume then that ZF builds a great transmission. Take care of it and use the proper transmission fluid as in the ZF fluid application chart., and don’t expect any serious transmission repairs for hundreds of thousands of miles.

It is consistent with an article I did on using the proper transmission fluid in your vehicle.

Certainly not every ZF transmission will drive that far, even with great maintenance, which means some cars that utilize ZF transmissions will need transmission repairs or a rebuilt transmission at some point. One piece of info not to forget is that these are excellent and pricey transmissions…simply put, maintenance beats an emergency, like having to have to buy a used transmission.

Here are just a few automobile applications below.

4-speed auto

  • 4HP14 transverse 1987–2001
  • 4HP18 longitudinal 1987–1998
  • 4HP18 transverse 1987–1999
  • 4HP20 transverse 1995–present
  • 4HP22 longitudinal 1980–2003
  • 4HP24 longitudinal 1987–

5-speed auto

  • 5HP18 longitudinal 1992–1999
  • 5HP19 longitudinal 1996–
  • 5HP24 longitudinal 1996–
  • 5HP30

Let me explain the difference between the terms Longitudinal and Transverse in reference to the manufacturers that use a “T” or “L” in the transmission description.

Lets use General Motors and ZF transmissions as an example:

4T60E and 4L60E. The T in 4T60E stands for ‘transverse’. Transverse engines and transmissions are front-wheel drive transmissions that are mounted ‘sideways’ in the engine compartment. Or a transverse engine is an engine/tranny combo in which the engines crankshaft is oriented side-to-side relative to the length of the vehicle. This is also sometimes called an east-west engine. Based on the transmission is bolted to the engine than we call that a transverse or “T” mounted transmission.

Our other choice, the 4L60E, the “L” stands for ‘longitudinal’. A longitudinal transmission is a transmission in which the engine and transmission run along the long axis of the vehicle, front to back. As 99 percent of the rear wheel drive vehicles use.

Starts to make a little bit of sense now. At least in terms of reading transmission designations.

Due to the popularity of ZF automatic and standard transmissions, we rebuilt plenty of them in the 25 years I owned my tranny shop. Of which I sold 3 and a half years ago. Lucky for you or I would not be filling you with my wisdom!

There is no way to escape a hefty bill when any ZF transmission need rebuilding or replacing with a used transmission. The units themselves are engineered beyond most standards. With factory trained assemblers at the manufacturing plants. Rebuild centers and rebuilders, including the rebuilder I employed and myself go to extensive and expensive, week-long training seminars to keep on top of the new units and learn general repair and diagnostic procedures.

Rebuilding a ZF transmission, whether it is a standard or automatic transmission, takes some extra specialty tools. Add them to the existing transmission specialty tools and you have a fortune wrapped up in transmission specialty tools.

Considering the above two paragraphs, it is easy to understand why it is important to use a supplier of transmissions that does the job properly, using factory parts and fluid. There is no way to get around the cost issue unless one uses aftermarket parts. Which is a total disaster from the first time you go for a road test after an overhaul is performed.

Shop by quality, not buy price. Be an educated consumer by reading our blog. Educated consumers make the best choice for their interests and don’t waste money on inferior products. It is cheaper to pay for a quality job one time than getting a budget price… where you are returning to the supplier for warranty work all the time. It makes you wonder how long the transmission will last when you have constant warranty problems.

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