ATF in final drive??? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 5:39 am Thread Starter
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ATF in final drive???

So recently did a fluid flush in my fairly new-to-me 99 LT and discovered that the PO had put, what I think is, ATF in the thing. I replaced with syn hypoid gear oil, then rode a bit, then repeat to fully clear out any ATF.

There appears to be no problems with the rear end. no leaks, no play (that I can detect), no metal on the drain plug. My question is: is there anything I should be concerned about with having had ATF in there for who knows how long?

'Bout to do the trans also. lets see whats in that one.

- Justin
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post #2 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 5:53 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

It's important to use a proper gear oil in the fd due to the sliding action of the spiral bevel drive. The gear oil has special extreme pressure additives (EP) to cope with the pressure on the gear tooth faces. Some residual ATF won't matter, not important to get every drop out.

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post #3 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 6:24 am Thread Starter
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Re: ATF in final drive???

i know the reasons... I only hope that the ATF in there for however long it was caused no other issues. Again, all seems fine right now.

hopefully the transmission has proper oil in it.

- J
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post #4 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 6:29 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

Some folks have used red colored synthetic gear lube 'cause they thought it was good stuff.
I don't know if the red gear lube is better or not, but you might have confused that stuff with ATF?

I think that even if it was ATF in there, it wouldn't cause problems.
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post #5 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 8:06 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

BMW synthetic gear lube that was supplied by Spectro was red in color.
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post #6 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 8:45 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

Front wheel drive cars with automatic trans lub the differential with the ATF so should be OK

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post #7 of 19 Old May 26th, 2015, 9:02 am Thread Starter
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Re: ATF in final drive???

yeah I thought maybe it was red gear oil, but then the feel and smell of it screams ATF. I work around ATF a lot with old Honda forks so I usually have some on hand and unless it has the same feel and smell, it was definitely ATF.

I also know many of the Honda guys run ATF in the final drives of the older 80's bikes - goldwings, valks, magnas, ect - so that makes this suspect too.

Either way, it sounds like I shouldn't have an issue so that it a bit of a relief. Its fixed now so here's to hoping for no failures. I think I got the answers I was looking for so thanks guys!

- Justin
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post #8 of 19 Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 10:04 pm
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Re: ATF in final drive???

I'll throw my .02 in but I'm gonna say probably fine. I had the same surprise when I got my '00 LT, ATF in transmission and the final drive. I'm not sure how long it had been in there, but it was definitely ATF and not red gear oil, smell, oil weight, and clarity all proved it to be ATF.

Anyway, the skinny is that I have since put well over 20k on the bike and so far no signs of a problem. I'm sure that the lifespan of the transmission and FD have been slightly decreased but on the bright side, with all the detergents in ATF, the insides are probably gunk free and clean!

-Steve

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post #9 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 7:57 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by gary45 View Post
Front wheel drive cars with automatic trans lub the differential with the ATF so should be OK
Apples to oranges. Most FWD cars have a transverse mounted engine. This means no change in direction that requires hypoid gears. It isn't the differential that requires the EP lubricant, but the ring and pinion gears that are typically hypoid style or a different, but similar style in the LT with a long name I can't remember.

Also, gears can be made larger with lower contact pressure for use with oils that are lighter in viscosity or which lack EP additives. And auto transmissions have high pressure pumps that can deliver oil much better than the splash systems in manual gearboxes and final drives.

The engineers that designed the gear sets know the contact pressures and type (sliding in the hypoid style) and what is required of the lubricants. Deviating from this is fraught with peril unless you have the skill to evaluate how an alternative oil will work in the gears in question. Putting ATF in a hypoid final drive is a very bad idea.
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post #10 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 8:22 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Apples to oranges. Most FWD cars have a transverse mounted engine. This means no change in direction that requires hypoid gears. It isn't the differential that requires the EP lubricant, but the ring and pinion gears that are typically hypoid style or a different, but similar style in the LT with a long name I can't remember.

Also, gears can be made larger with lower contact pressure for use with oils that are lighter in viscosity or which lack EP additives. And auto transmissions have high pressure pumps that can deliver oil much better than the splash systems in manual gearboxes and final drives.

The engineers that designed the gear sets know the contact pressures and type (sliding in the hypoid style) and what is required of the lubricants. Deviating from this is fraught with peril unless you have the skill to evaluate how an alternative oil will work in the gears in question. Putting ATF in a hypoid final drive is a very bad idea.
Other than the spider gears and being larger, the hypoid gear "final drive" in my Taurus transmission was identical and I was extremely surprised to see it was not in a separate compartment with normal gear oil. It was transverse mounted, I believe a lot of front wheel drive cars are as you describe but there are front wheel drives that use hypoid gear sets running in ATF

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post #11 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 9:17 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by gary45 View Post
Other than the spider gears and being larger, the hypoid gear "final drive" in my Taurus transmission was identical and I was extremely surprised to see it was not in a separate compartment with normal gear oil. It was transverse mounted, I believe a lot of front wheel drive cars are as you describe but there are front wheel drives that use hypoid gear sets running in ATF
Was it AWD?

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post #12 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 9:22 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Was it AWD?
No - 2 wheel

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post #13 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 9:24 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

I used Redline Shockproof Heavy in my transmission and final drive. It has a reddish color to it. Almost like a strawberry milkshake. I didn't notice a difference in the final drive, but the transmission definitely shifted smoother.

Jesse Kriner
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post #14 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 9:39 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by gary45 View Post
No - 2 wheel
What year and model and trim? I have found a few Taurus diagrams, but can't find a FWD one with hypoid ring and pinion.

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post #15 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 12:10 pm
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Re: ATF in final drive???

It was a 91 v6 also we had a tempo, only 2 automatics I ever changed tranny oil on and it was 15 years ago so my memory is probably wrong

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post #16 of 19 Old Jun 4th, 2015, 5:14 pm
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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It was a 91 v6 also we had a tempo, only 2 automatics I ever changed tranny oil on and it was 15 years ago so my memory is probably wrong
I'd be very curious to see why a car maker would use a hypoid ring and pinion in an application that requires no change in axis of rotation. That would be bizarre. One of the reasons for using transverse engines in FWD cars was to avoid the need to make a 90 change in direction of power transmission. Same reason that RWD cars have longitudinal engines. Direction changes are costly. Most transaxles use a simple set of helically cut gears to transfer power from crank to input of transmission. And these will live a long time in ATF as they don't have the sliding friction (shear) that hypoids have to handle and which requires the EP lubricants.

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post #17 of 19 Old Jun 5th, 2015, 7:46 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I'd be very curious to see why a car maker would use a hypoid ring and pinion in an application that requires no change in axis of rotation. That would be bizarre. One of the reasons for using transverse engines in FWD cars was to avoid the need to make a 90 change in direction of power transmission. Same reason that RWD cars have longitudinal engines. Direction changes are costly. Most transaxles use a simple set of helically cut gears to transfer power from crank to input of transmission. And these will live a long time in ATF as they don't have the sliding friction (shear) that hypoids have to handle and which requires the EP lubricants.
Generally true but I had a 1980 Audi 5000S FWD with longitudinal 5-cyl engine. Audi was an early FWD manufacturer & am pretty sure they now use a transverse mount. - more efficient & also much more compact.

I also currently own a 3000GT VR4 AWD with transverse engine. Power transmission to the rear has to change direction twice with considerable losses. The answer there - more power! But that's for a different forum.

But bringing this hijacked thread back to bikes, what's up with the K1600 - slant 6 transverse engine with rear drive - does that make any sense? No wonder it needs 160 HP. I still would take it though.

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post #18 of 19 Old Jun 5th, 2015, 8:57 am
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by Jim_McG View Post
Generally true but I had a 1980 Audi 5000S FWD with longitudinal 5-cyl engine. Audi was an early FWD manufacturer & am pretty sure they now use a transverse mount. - more efficient & also much more compact.

I also currently own a 3000GT VR4 AWD with transverse engine. Power transmission to the rear has to change direction twice with considerable losses. The answer there - more power! But that's for a different forum.

But bringing this hijacked thread back to bikes, what's up with the K1600 - slant 6 transverse engine with rear drive - does that make any sense? No wonder it needs 160 HP. I still would take it though.
I suspect it has to do with two things:
1. Packaging - much as with transverse engine cars
2. Being more like the UJMs that for years outsold BMW

The two changes in direction of power flow for shaft drive bikes is a pain with this configuration. I think Honda got it right for a shaft drive configuration with the GW. Too bad they have fallen so far behind BMW on the technology curve everywhere else.

The thread wasn't hijacked. The discussion was very relevant to explain why you don't use ATF in an LT final drive even if some cars use it in their transaxles.

Now talking about the K1600 drivetrain configuration in a thread about ATF in an LT final drive is a real hijack.

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post #19 of 19 Old Jun 5th, 2015, 2:55 pm
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Re: ATF in final drive???

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Originally Posted by jkriner View Post
I used Redline Shockproof Heavy in my transmission and final drive. It has a reddish color to it. Almost like a strawberry milkshake. I didn't notice a difference in the final drive, but the transmission definitely shifted smoother.
+1 for Redline Shockproof in Transmission to improve shifting.

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