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Discussion Starter #1
There are videos around and stories. None seem to answer the home-garage problems you will run into. This ZF transmission is hideous for both checking and changing. Bad design and here's why.

First you will need fluid and some way to get it in. You need to make this:

IMG_5956 by Larry Malinoski, on Flickr


Not the fluid pump, the 3/8" brass tube with 90 degree fixture on the end. I went to a local hardware store, bought the pieces, ground the plastic angle to fit and glued it into one end of the tube. The other end fit right into the fluid transfer pump line. Now I have an angled wand to insert in the tiny space between the DPF exhaust system and the fill hole. Without something like this - forget it.

For a fill I would dump the drain plug first. 10mm hex socket is fine. Pull the plug and dump. Never touch the fill plug cold. NEVER, The proper fluid level is inches ABOVE that fill plug cold. Pull the fill plug and you get a mess. I know. I did that yesterday.

The fill plug is 8mm hex. You cannot use a socket as there's no clearance. You must get a conventional 8mm hex to fit between the DPF and transmission fill plug. Now add about 3 quarts through the fill plug after draining the whole pan. Then, put that plug back in loosely. Now comes the real pain. Dress in long-sleeved shirt and gloves. Practice screwing out and in the fill plug with those gloves on. You need the sleeves and gloves because you are soon to be touching one hot mama of a DPF, no matter how hard you try not to.

For both fill and check you now need a second person to make sure all brakes are on and stay on. Start the truck. Show that person how to read the temperature on the transmission fluid in the EVIC. Today I started at 89 degrees and was done when the fluid hit 110. If you mess around and get to 120 degrees, button up and quit. That's the top temperature. Your helper, or you, must take 5 seconds in reverse, shift to Drive for 5 seconds, shift to Neutral for 5 more and repeat that shift/5 second timing a second cycle. After the second cycle, shift to Park and leave the engine on.

Now, for checking or filling, open the fill plug. If checking, a teeny bit should flow out. If none, use that fill wand and pump some in till it does. Now screw the plug back in by hand (gloves mandatory) and once started, your helper can shut off the truck for you to tighten up.

Yesterday I filled to overfill cold and buttoned up. Only took 3 quarts. Today after the shift cycle, I opened the fill plug and was shocked when nothing came out. Started to fill and another full quart went in, then another and then after 2/3ds of the third, it started to dribble out. The transmission did take about 5 2/3 qts. total. My cold fill yesterday was at least 2 1/2 quarts low, even though it looked full.

Enough comments on the hideous design and fill/check technique. You have to do it this way and it's a real .... Having things level and not on a lift compounds the issue as you cannot raise the front on ramps as the truck will not be level. You need that angled hard wand I made as any plastic hose will flop around and burn through on the hot exhaust. I also thing it's best to have a full gallon container new fluid ready if hand pumping like I did. Put a couple quarts in cold, do the start and immediately pump from a gallon container so you are not stopping, dripping everywhere connecting another bottle, knocking apart the pump, dropping oil on the floor and dragging your hair through that oil. I made a mess changing bottles and missing my drip pan while crawling through things in a panic while the engine was running inches from my face. Wife had a summary comment when I came inside.

"You stink! Go take a shower and what's all over your hair and back?"

That fill plug is less than 2" above the drain plug. Look at the orange measure I stuck in the picture. The real full level is inches above the fill plug and must be checked with the transmission procedure above so that a few quarts are up in the transmission workings and not drained into the pan. Already said it was a hideous design. This is something I do not want to get into again.

One of our members is taking some of my old oil and sending it for analysis. That will be informative when all is done and I hope to get or see a report. Would sure be burned up if the old, hot oil was still good. But, better me burned up than the transmission.
 

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Maybe the 14's have slightly different clearances? I have crawled under mine while changing oil preparing myself for the transmission fluid change and it appears to have plenty of room to check the fluid and get a hose in there to fill it. When I say plenty I don't mean a whole bunch but enough to get done what you need to. Shawn had a video showing him doing it. while he was under there I think.

I darn sure do think they need to put a dip stick on them, its just too simple. Or a fill plug for when the trans is cold and off.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You think, eh??? Try to practice getting hands and wrench in that space between the DPF and transmission. Note how many times you accidentally touch the exhaust with back of hand or arm. Do it lying down with your face inches away from the running exhaust and DPF.

Sometimes what you see and what it is are a bit different.
 

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I'm too old for that crap! I'll be digging into my vehicle repair funds for that one! :eek:

Hopefully not for several more years!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I got my timing and sequence ideas from YouTube videos. Did not know their "official" procedure form.

Repeat - you need to make the wand filler with elbow or bend. Without that you are going to be pushing up on a rope that could burn off touching the exhaust.

Thanks for the tips Captain.

I'll add the official ZF Trans Service Instructions that are a little more specific on required RPM and time in gear requirements. View attachment 51378
 

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With a lift, Cool Tech's lube transfer tool, and the linked instructions it's really not bad once you figure out what they want you to do. To buy the fluid & filterpan and pay a local shop to do it would not be expensive or difficult if you don't have access to a lift. Especially if you are only doing it once every 100,000 miles. You will need 6 quarts for a pan drop and less than 2 hours shop time with lube mover.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J1LPZ26?tag=vs-auto-convert-amazon-20. ($129.36)

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Valvoline-MaxLife-Multi-Vehicle-Automatic-Transmission-Fluid-1-Gallon/15125768. ($17.87)

Lube Mover - CoolTechLLC

http://www.ram1500diesel.com/forum/attachments/ram-1500-diesel-transmission/51378d1503701383-how-change-transmission-fluid-check-zf-trans-service-instructions.pdf


Plus you will notice the filterpan listed on Amazon gives the ability in the future to just buy the filter.
 

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I learned a lot from this video,
Pay special attention about 12min15sec into the video.
I'm pretty sure that this applies to out trucks,
correct me if I'm wrong though.


Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
 

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As an engineer myself it is hard to believe that even a German engineer would design a system that required a transmission fluid fill/check procedure this darn complicated. I cannot imagine any vehicle coming from a typical dealer after a fluid change will have the correct level. Perhaps someone with a flat rate manual can let us know how much time FCA allows to do this.

On the Weber video it looks like he drained out about as much fluid as he added in the beginning.

There must be a better way, which seems to me the to be the old Torqueflite way with a dipstick, which also required the shifting between gears to circulate the fluid through all parts of the transmission.

Unbelievable!
 

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Yeah I never took into account any possible thermostatic bypass valve. But I'm ok even if the Ram has one of sorts as (we have the oil cooler/warmer heat exchanger which may do the same with respects to a bypass I don't know) I drove it to the shop and let it cool to range from normal operating temp. BTW we used the trans temp from the EVIC. Last the trans fluid does not have to be green to meet spec. The Quantum I used isn't and I don't think the Amsoil is either and they are spec fluid for our trans.
 

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As an engineer myself it is hard to believe that even a German engineer would design a system that required a transmission fluid fill/check procedure this darn complicated. I cannot imagine any vehicle coming from a typical dealer after a fluid change will have the correct level. Perhaps someone with a flat rate manual can let us know how much time FCA allows to do this.

On the Weber video it looks like he drained out about as much fluid as he added in the beginning.

There must be a better way, which seems to me the to be the old Torqueflite way with a dipstick, which also required the shifting between gears to circulate the fluid through all parts of the transmission.

Unbelievable!
Including pan 'with filter' it is 1.7 Hrs.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That's about $170 labor plus parts. Dealer parts are crazy expensive.

Amsoil fluid is red. Smells like "dead". Wife not happy with smell in truck when we took it to church this morning. Seems I must have had some on shoes or shirt when I sat down to remove key. Scrubbed seat and floor. thinking stink may also be from spillage on exhaust/DPF that burns up.

Amsoil transmission fluid is quite unpleasant.
 

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I did the previous generation ZF on my BMW..it wasn't too bad but I lifted all 4 wheels to do it. It worked very similar. One thing to note is with this method, you are only replacing maybe 50% or so of the fluid. It is my understanding that the dealers can put the transmission into a mode that will actually 'eject' nearly all of the fluid, then they put back in the specified amount. With the previous generation ZF, the temp was not important..the important thing was that after filling to the bottom of the fill plug..you had to put it in gear (with all 4 wheels off the ground so the transmission would pull several qts of fluid up..then while leaving the vehicle running...you could re-fill to the final capacity. I wonder if this is the true purpose of running it to temperature....to avoid needing to lift all 4 wheels off the ground. and put in gear.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Point taken that it's not an easy job without a lift or some way to get clearance under the truck so you can work. Forget ramps as the transmission has to be level.

This is a job best done at or by a garage with a lift.
 

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The temperature requirement may be because the fluid will expand as it becomes warmer. Changing fluid at operating temperature ensures the correct volume is exchanged. I remember changing fluid in my allison, (once up to operating temperature) somewhere I added a clear hose, placed it in a 5 gal bucket for discharge. added a length of hose (suction side) to the line going to the transmission. Started truck and let it pump fluid for a period of time, cycled through p, r, d and waited for the fluid coming out the clear hose to get bright like the fluid going in. I was done, used a 5 gal pail of atf, expensive stuff.
 

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That's about $170 labor plus parts. Dealer parts are crazy expensive.

Amsoil fluid is red. Smells like "dead". Wife not happy with smell in truck when we took it to church this morning. Seems I must have had some on shoes or shirt when I sat down to remove key. Scrubbed seat and floor. thinking stink may also be from spillage on exhaust/DPF that burns up.

Amsoil transmission fluid is quite unpleasant.
Captain, since doing this drain & fill, have you noticed an improvement in trans temps?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Captain, since doing this drain & fill, have you noticed an improvement in trans temps?
No. Let me qualify that by saying I have done nothing but watch the temperature each time I used the truck. Problem is I have not used the truck much except for local short runs. During this time it has stayed below 205 degrees where it normally ran 210. Now tomorrow I am leaving for Georgia. Be gone until after Memorial Day. Pulling my quad trailer up and back. Pulling my large Ford tractor while there. By next Tuesday or so I will have an answer and post it if there is a noticeable difference.
 

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I can't imagine the videographer being able to do much work on vehicles, but I could be wrong. Whom ever that removed the dipstick should be shot.
 

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No. Let me qualify that by saying I have done nothing but watch the temperature each time I used the truck. Problem is I have not used the truck much except for local short runs. During this time it has stayed below 205 degrees where it normally ran 210. Now tomorrow I am leaving for Georgia. Be gone until after Memorial Day. Pulling my quad trailer up and back. Pulling my large Ford tractor while there. By next Tuesday or so I will have an answer and post it if there is a noticeable difference.
Perhaps be gone until after Labor Day? :D Sorry Cap. I couldn't resist. :)
 
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