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6-sp auto gearbox - flushes, faults, failure and 'finking'
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waterbuoy
 


Member Since: 26 Oct 2013
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United Kingdom 2009 Discovery 3 TDV6 SE Auto Stornoway GreyDiscovery 3
6-sp auto gearbox - flushes, faults, failure and 'finking'

6-speed automatic gearbox - flushes, faults, failure and 'finking!'

Be warned, this is a long post so I'd suggest you grab yourself a drink before starting to read it. It is also relatively 'heavy' - a bit like me!

As some of you are aware, I have for the past ten days or so been dealing with 'issues' relating to the 6-speed auto box on my 2009 model D3. This has caused a few sleepless nights to put it mildly so I thought I'd put together a post to explain what has happened to me/my car, and some of the background behind this so that anyone else with similar issues may be forewarned.

I'd also like to pass on my thanks to (in alphabetical order) Disco_Mikey, Geoff, Pete Bell and Robbie who have all provided input and information to help me in my quest. I would also like to emphasise that, despite my concerns that this issue may affect the number of people who get their automatic boxes flushed in the future, both Geoff and Mike have actively encouraged me to publish this information so that the whole forum has access to this.


Affected vehicles
Firstly, I must emphasise that this issue (according to Land Rover) does not affect all model years. Land Rover say that it may affect vehicles within the following model/year/chassis no combinations:

Discovery 3 / LR3 (LA) - ZF 6HP Automatic Transmission
Model Year: 2008-2009
Chassis Range: 8A475162-9A513325

Discovery 4 / LR4 (LA) - ZF 6HP Automatic Transmission
Model Year: 2010-2011
Chassis Range: AA513326-BA588606

Range Rover (LM) - ZF 6HP Automatic Transmission
Model Year: 2008-2011
Chassis Range: 8A282106-BA356686

Range Rover Sport (LS) - ZF 6HP Automatic Transmission
Model Year: 2008-2011
Chassis Range: 8A165260-BA706935


Note At least one of the people who have helped me in this exercise think that the problem is not specific to just the above vehicles, and may be more widespread.

Edit Land Rover's gearbox fault finding guide (written forolder units but much of it applies to the more recent units) can be seen at http://www.disco3.co.uk/gallery/albums/use...Manual.pdf


The JLR perspective
The issue is the subject of a Land Rover Technical Bulletin, no LTB00514, issued 17th January 2013. This states that:

Situation: A customer may report that a gearbox/transmission fault is displayed in the instrument cluster message centre.

Any combination of the following DTC's may be stored in the transmission control module (TCM). P0729 to P0735, P0783, P2702 to P2704.

Cause: Internal lead free stator bush wear causing loss of pressure on E clutch. Suggested Customer Concern Code - P66.

Action: Should a customer express concern, follow the Service Instruction outlined below.


It then details that for all models the appropriate action is to replace the gearbox with a new unit, and lists the time that is 'allowed' for this on a warranty claim.


My own experiences - sequence of events, symptoms, faults etc
Shortly after having had the 75,000 mile service carried out late in 2013 (by a LR main dealer) the gearbox began to 'hesitate' when going uphill/under load, and occasionally seemed as if it was missing a gear. As this developed (over approximately 6,000 miles) the juddering that others have reported with older vehicles also began to appear, albeit intermittently.

On the basis of previous threads on the forum, research elsewhere on the web and speaking with a couple of dealers/garages/mechanics I arranged for the transmission fluid to be changed (the ZF fluid is reported to start degrading after approximately 60,000 miles).

On first impressions the change of fluid had a positive impact, although I freely admit that this may have been psychological rather than real. However, after approximately 15 minutes, and just before joining the motorway, there was a resounding thump as the gearbox initially missed an 'upshift'. It immediately found a gear and all seemed well, so I put it down to the recalibration of the gearbox and carried on.

Approximately 15 minutes later, whilst trundling down the outside lane at motorway speeds Whistle, the car stood on its proverbial nose as the revs suddenly switched from about 2000 to almost 5000! Shocked Shocked (I subsequently found out that this was because the gearbox had dropped down to third gear/limp mode!) Definitely a change of underwear job, followed by a change of lane as I pulled over to the hard shoulder to gather my thoughts. I noticed that the display was showing the inevitable F transmission fault indicator, so I drove to the next junction and returned back along the motorway to where the fluid had been changed, albeit much slower as the transmission was now limited to only 1st-3rd gears.

It was explained to me that all I had to do was 'recycle' the ignition for the F code to disappear, which it duly did. Other fault codes were cleared from the car, gearbox recalibrated (again) and we then had a test drive on the local roads - predominantly minor roads. All seemed good so I set off again as I had to travel 300 miles that night to get to Devon. A couple of miles later the fault reappeared, and I quickly became adept at pulling over and recycling the ignition to reset the fault code on the hard shoulder.

During the course of my journey to Devon and then back up to Scotland (about 1,000 miles over the next 2 days) I learnt the following:

1 When cold the gearbox worked fine in gears 1-6 - typically for the first 10-15 minutes of the day.

2 Once it had warmed up then the 'box would work OK in gears 1-4 in both auto and command shift - changing up and down through the gears as usual.

3 However, it would not change up from 4th to 5th in auto mode unless I was going downhill and took my foot off the throttle at exactly the right time.

4 The only reliable way to get from 4th to 5th was via command shift - even then I had to take the revs to about 2,500, take foot off throttle and then change up to 5th.

5 It would not hold 5th for any length of time, so I would change up to 6th as soon as possible. Once there, and depending on the road, I would either leave it in command shift or switch back to auto - the latter tended to result in more 'fault' situations arising. Occasionally it would change quite happily between 5th and 6th (either way) but, once it had dropped down to 4th, I had to use command shift to get it back up to 5th.

I was also introduced to the Land Rover documentation referred to previously, and it was identified that the car had recorded a lot of incidents of the fault code P0735 - 'gear 5, incorrect ratio' - this seemed to be consistent with symptoms I had noted.

Before venturing into a full rewrite of War and Peace, I'll summarise that further research confirmed that the issue was not specific to Land Rovers but is also relatively common with BMWs, that I was (hopefully) covered by the Land Rover Approved Extended Warranty, and that replacement gearboxes were available 'off the shelf' (wonder why that might be Whistle).

Long story short (very much so): the car was uplifted by Land Rover Assist last Friday (28th February) and was delivered to Morrisons of Stirling that afternoon (ie just before they had the 2014 plates going out, so were very busy). Car was examined by garage on Monday this week and faults confirmed, and then Field Engineer for the Warranty claim visited Tuesday PM to check paperwork (ie service history) and road test the car. Repairs etc were authorised immediately, gearbox arrived Wednesday and was fitted and tested by Thursday morning. It is now (Thursday evening) back on our driveway having been returned the 120 odd miles from Stirling this afternoon with a brand new gearbox fitted.

As I've previously mentioned on other threads, I think the additional cost of the full Land Rover Approved package is well worth it - almost seamless service, no need for me to contact warranty people at all and door to door service (including a complimentary hire car for the full week).


The actual failure itself
As already stated, the LR Technical Bulletin states that the cause of the failure is excessive wearing of the (lead free) stator bush causing a loss of pressure on the E clutch. I am no techie so please correct me and I'll update this. However, I think I have managed to identify that:

Stator - this changes the direction of flow of the transmission fluid within the torque convertor/gearbox, reducing the pressure on the pump/turbine as the gearbox rotates.

E-clutch - initially I thought that this related to an electro-magnetic clutch, but Robbie has advised that the E is just a designation, as in A-B-C-D-E. (If you are into the detail of the specific components then A, B and E are all multi-plate clutches whilst C and D are multi-plate brakes.) In this case, E Clutch is the one which relates to gears 4, 5 and 6 - consistent with the problems that I had experienced.

So far as my situation was concerned, the collective thinking is that as the stator bush had worn it had contaminated the transmission fluid. These contaminants were just enough to 'bind' the system together until the wear became so significant that the early signs of failure became apparent. Thereafter, changing the fluid removed the vast majority of the contaminants, effectively 'thinning' the fluid and allowing the gearbox to slip. This is consistent with the observation that the 'failed' gearbox would work OK for the first 10-15 minutes of each day (ie when cold),but once it had warmed up the faults would reappear.

It has already been stated elsewhere on the forum that changing the gearbox fluid will not repair a damaged gearbox, nor should it cause any damage (provided the correct fluids are used at least!). It could be argued either way that an earlier change of the transmission fluid may have prolonged or shortened the life of the gearbox (ie through either removing contaminants and therefore making less of a 'grinding paste', or through 'thinning' the fluid down at an earlier stage respectively). However, I do think that the gearbox fluid should be changed at an earlier date than is currently suggested by LR. A cynic/sceptic might argue that the current recommended programme of fluid changes might be designed to 'leave well alone' until the vehicles are out of warranty!!


Putting this into context
Firstly, my vehicle is very much a working vehicle. Whilst it may have covered less than 40k when I bought it in the autumn of 2012 (commuting from Peterborough to London each week), it is now up to almost 87k just 18 months later (and I 'protected' it for the first few months until I sold my Defender). Whilst not excessive, I realise that this is probably a higher annual mileage than most.

As my forum 'signature' shows, I have driven LR vehicles for many miles. I have never had to replace a clutch, and in the 4 automatic vehicles I have had only one (the 300 Tdi D1) has required any major transmission work (a new transfer box, but I was then living 1500 ft above sea level and towing very regularly). I therefore think that it is unlikely that my driving style will have had a detrimental effect on the gearbox.

When being used for work it rarely weighs less than 3 tonnes - after our last working trip we actually weighed it and, with an empty tank, it came in at 3180kg (with me on board). Therefore, it is effectively being driven with the equivalent of 5-7 large blokes on board, very close to the maximum GVW, most of the time. I do tow, but not for long distances, and only intermittently. Thus far one return trip to Paris at 2,000 miles, plus probably 30 other trips of up to 50 miles each. However, the trailers that are towed usually weight between 2 and 3.5 tonnes.

Roads wise, I am approximately 100 miles from the nearest motorway and live in quite a 'lumpy' part of the world. Although I live on the coast, we have to go over one of two small passes to get anywhere once we get to the head of the loch.

All of this would perhaps indicate that my vehicle probably works quite hard in the higher 'intermittent' range of gears - ie 3rd-5th. There is very little stop-start in traffic that many have to put up with, and motorway cruising probably accounts for just 15k of the 47 that I have added to the car. Our actual work is predominantly off-road (ie on riverbanks or in the sea) but the actual off-road mileage is less than 2.5k a year.

The final point to make with regard to context is that this is not a problem which is specific to Land Rovers, be they D3, D4, RRS or FFRR. The issue is known to exist with BMWs of similar vintage which also use the same gearbox, and further info is available about this on the web.


Looking ahead
So far as I have been able to determine this is still a relatively unusual failure on the D3 or D4 even though it potentially spans a 4-year period of manufacture. I have been unable to find any direct reference to it here on the forum, although there have been a couple of recent posts which suggest that the issue may be looming for some. Similarly, it was the first incident that the dealership said they were aware of.

The first piece of advice I would therefore give is that if you have a vehicle within the range that the Technical Bulletin refers to, and intend to keep your vehicle for a while, then you should seriously think about getting a warranty for it if possible.

Similarly, if you are about to buy a vehicle from a LR dealership then I would also suggest that you fully explore the options of either the LR Approved or Select Warranties, depending on the vehicle mileage. As already stated, the issue is known to Land Rover, and I feel that this helped significantly when the dealer made the claim on my behalf. One of the most nerve-wracking issues for me was that my last service (75k) was carried out a few miles after it was supposed to have been (due to a different dealership putting the service back) and, based on the experience of others, I suspect that some alternative warranty companies may have tried to squeeze out of the claim at this point.

I have already been asked what I think about 'flushing' the gearbox. My opinion (and nothing more than that) is that we should flush the gearboxes more regularly than we do at present. They are no longer a simple 3-speed with overdrive that was capable of doing in excess of 300k without any maintenance, but are increasingly complex beasts that engage 'fuzzy logic' to work. A 'clear head' can only help with this. However, I would suggest that you don't flush if your transmission is already demonstrating 'issues' and you don't have a warranty in place. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure that you get your fault codes read before and after having a flush.


Costs and other options
Had I not been covered by the Warranty, a new replacement gearbox would have set me back just over £5k including fitting. This does not include the cost of the replacement vehicle, recovery and return of the car etc.

Two other obvious options exist (to me). The first of these is to source a second hand gearbox and use this - likely cost of the box is £500-£1,000, plus 8-10 hours labour to fit (it isn't a body-off job). The second, which is what some BMW drivers seem to be doing, is to get the unit repaired. I understand that the cost of this is typically £1,800 to £2,000.

As I've already said, my thanks go to those who have helped me through this process, and to Martin for his support in agreeing to this being posted. Where contentious, the thoughts/opinion are my own, and I have tried to emphasise this wherever appropriate.

For Geoff and Disco_Mikey my early concern was that this information might jeopardise their flushing business. However, the further I have explored the more it has become apparent that preventative flushing should, in my opinion, help rather than hinder.


Edit Steve at Advanced Factors has advised that:

A new transmission from ZF with TC and ready flashed to the vehicle on delivery (although other modules need updating) I would resell at £2300 plus VAT on top of this they charge £100 delivery plus £500 old unit surcharge. This would suit my box code of 068 020 045 - JLR part number TGD500460, I think this is suited to only pre 2007 models.

Other year models may be a different price, and the £500 (plus VAT) old unit surcharge is refundable on return of the (complete) old unit to ZF.

ZF also offer a refurbish and return service, slightly cheaper than the price of a new unit.
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Last edited by waterbuoy on 10th Mar 2014 12:38 pm. Edited 3 times in total 
Post #12492997th Mar 2014 7:05 pm
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Landie71
 


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United Kingdom 2014 Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 XXV LE Auto Causeway GreyDiscovery 4

Very interesting reading - thanks for sharing & with such detail Thumbs Up
  
Post #12493487th Mar 2014 8:09 pm
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gensetsteve
 


Member Since: 01 Jan 2014
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United Kingdom 2011 Discovery 4 3.0 TDV6 Commercial Auto Belize GreenDiscovery 4

I buy my vehicles for transport rather than a hobby. So to recap apart from the crap Engine, turbo actuator, egr system, dpf's, diferentials, 6 speed box, electronic handbrake and duff compressors there not a bad vehicle or have I missed some things.
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Post #12493547th Mar 2014 8:14 pm
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beanie
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Yep you missed the tailgate latch cable failures, but then if they were perfect we'd have nothing to post about Rolling with laughter

Good post, glad you got it sorted in the end Waterbouy Thumbs Up
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Post #12493637th Mar 2014 8:23 pm
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Farsco
 


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Good result in the end but what a nightmare time for you.

nice to see the 2007 vin numbers not in there for a change.....for now Rolling Eyes
  
Post #12493747th Mar 2014 8:38 pm
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IroningMan
 


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Useful stuff - thanks for posting, OP.
  
Post #12494417th Mar 2014 10:04 pm
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CDS
 


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What a complete headache, good result in the end. Personally I'd agree on the earlier flushing, also I's rather have it flushed to find out that I've got an issue while close to home rather than it throw it's toys out of the pram in europe somewhere!!
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Post #12494757th Mar 2014 11:17 pm
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caverD3
 


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Interesting that the issue is only from MY2008 as they are basically still the same unit. Maybe a change in the clutches?
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Post #12494767th Mar 2014 11:35 pm
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NickJ
 


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^^^ yes, why is it these VIN number ranges?
  
Post #12495058th Mar 2014 5:54 am
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gensetsteve
 


Member Since: 01 Jan 2014
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caverD3 wrote:
Interesting that the issue is only from MY2008 as they are basically still the same unit. Maybe a change in the clutches?


Mine is in that range and its 2010 looks like any D4 with 6 speed box
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Post #12495428th Mar 2014 8:29 am
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geoff.
 


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England 

and in my opinion it can happen to any D3 Sad
  
Post #12495438th Mar 2014 8:30 am
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Robbie
 


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As alluded to earlier, I am not convinced about the problem being limited to a VIN range. Perhaps the given range is more vulnerable due to quality issue with the bronze bushing, but it could actually be an agreed commercial position between LR and ZF to replace and return all gearboxes from that point. The fact that this issue is prevalent on other vehicles fitted with this box also suggests that the VIN range is not dominant.

I do not think there is anything wrong with the E clutch either. Once the bushing is damaged the load paths change and the subsequent misalignment causes stress on the E clutch. Bad oil can also prevent the bushing from receiving the lubrication it needs. Bad oil can also mask gearbox issues for a while, but the failure is real and will bite at some point.

The ridiculous LR gearbox oil service interval is the real villain.

Change the oil early and often. Single flushes from 30k is my recommendation, or at the very least a double flush at 60k. Beyond this you are looking at dialysis with a small amount of risk. Do not listen to any car manufacturer who tells you to service something that they do not make only after their standard warranty expires.

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Post #12495498th Mar 2014 8:50 am
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DG
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I thought the reason that they use defined VIN ranges is because they can identify a material change in manufacturing at which point the issue may manifest ....rather than just guessing ...no Confused
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Post #12495518th Mar 2014 9:13 am
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NoDo$h
 


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Quote:
but it could actually be an agreed commercial position between LR and ZF to replace and return all gearboxes from that point.......

The ridiculous LR gearbox oil service interval is the real villain.

Change the oil early and often. Single flushes from 30k is my recommendation, or at the very least a double flush at 60k. Beyond this you are looking at dialysis with a small amount of risk. Do not listen to any car manufacturer who tells you to service something that they do not make only after their standard warranty expires.


And that sums it up for me. I recall an evening in a pub outside Yeovil with some erstwhile members of this forum discussing this very issue a little over a year ago. There was a Russian TSB advising changing the gearboxes for a given vin range and when I pursued it with LRCS they came back with some utter BS that Russians have different driving conditions. I suspect the true answer was that a higher percentage of high-end JLR products in Russia have access to automatic weapons. Whistle

Glad they are finally acknowledging the issue exists, although in Russia they were applying this fix to vehicles out of warranty as well.

Given your description of your driving conditions it suggests there is some element of truth in the original LRCS reply, in that vehicle usage may accelerate the problem. I suspect however that all boxes are likely to eventually fail from this, although for many the vehicle will be at economic end of life by the time this happens.

Great post, thank you for sharing
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Post #12495528th Mar 2014 9:13 am
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Berty
 


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5K for a gearbox Shocked Shocked . Just looked at LR warranty won't cover my D3 now. Guess its people like warranty direct then. thanks for posting - one more thing for me to worry about going wrong, but at least I will know what it is and what I need to do. Will be getting a flush soon I think.

thanks
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Post #12495548th Mar 2014 9:17 am
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