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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I did a lot of research as to what in the world our mystery factory fill ATF could be, and I think I finally found it. After a lot of searching, and phone calls to shell USA I have deduced the following:

According to the australian petrolium institute: http://www.lubeandtune.com.au/html/lubekey.asp their ASP15 classification includes the following fluids:

-Ford Specification No. M2C 919D

-Mercon SP Fluid Part No. XT-6QSP

-Shell ATF M-1375.4

-ZF 6-speed Automatic Transmission Fluid, (Shell M-1375.4)

Mercon SP Fluid is a newer transmission fluid made by shell for Ford dealers. Its easy to find online, and it retails for around $4:00+/quart. Things get really interesting when you look at the specs of lifeguard 6 found in the MSDS:

http://www.tsgparts.net/images/pdf/Lifeguardfluid6.pdf and compare them to the specs of Mercon SP:

http://www.fcsdchemicalsandlubricants.com/Main/additionalinfo/Product Data Sheet MERCON SP.pdf and http://www.fcsdchemicalsandlubricants.com/Main/msds/us175325us.pdf

VERY similar specs, and the same color fluid.

You can get the lifeguard6/Shell M-1375.4 fluid for $4.68/quart here: http://www.ryderfleetproducts.com/cgi-bin/ryderfp/products/srm/oid/146491/erm/product_detail.jsp

Before you get this fluid consider the following; which are my opinions, drawn from online research. Shell was tapped by ZF/Ford, to make this fluid for maximum fuel efficiency. it has very similar specs to amsoil's fuel efficiency transmission fluid:

http://www.amsoil.com/storefront/atl.aspx (Scroll to the bottom of the page).

If you are in/out of warranty, want to change your ATF fluid, with oem, for considerably less than what the dealer will charge, then get the mecron SP stuff. Now for those who have higher torque vehicles with the 6hp19/26 transmissions, you might want to opt for a fluid that will trade you gas mileage for decreased fluid temps. This is especially true if you plan on occasional racing, or power increasing modifications. If you look at amsoil, and redline, you find that they each offer a line of racing/high temp fluid products. These products offer better thermal protection for racing or high torque vehicles. Looking closely, there're specs differ from the fuel efficient lines. Most notebly: KV @ 40C 7.5-10cst; KV @ 100C 34-53cst VI: 177+, Flash point 225 F+. Clearly the higher the fluid's KV/VI/Flash point, the more sheer stable it is under abnormal stress.

The above listed racing fluids are on the high end. You can have slightly more thermal protection than stock with several other fluids(KV 40C: 7-8, KV 100C 34-38, VI 165+, Flash Point 212 C+:

-Castrol multi-vehicle atf TE ML 11A

-Pentosin ATF 1 TE ML 11B

-castrol transmax Z TE ML 11B, 14C!

None TE ML optoins include:

-amsoil universal atf

-valvoline max life

-royal purple max gear

-etc.
 

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Thanks, this is good info - I'll be getting my first AT daily driver in 25 years of driving when I get my 335d, and I'm a bit worried about the effects of 425 lb-ft on the AT over time.....
 

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BMWCCA 149159
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Is Mercon SP Really the Same as Lifeguard 6? Blackstone Labs Results Coming

It has been reported by the OP on this thread that Mercon SP is the same forulation as Shell M 1375.4 also known as Lifeguard 6.

I for one hope this is true as I have been paying around 18 bucks a liter for Lifeguard 6.

Today I sent Blackstone 4 samples

First was Lifeguard 6 from BMW new
Second was Mercon SP new
Third was Lifeguard 6 I drained from the pain at 37, 500 miles
Fourth and unrelated was my oil sample with 9K miles of Castrol 5W40 Synthetic

Once I get the results from Blackstone on the various ATFs I will post them for the forum members who can then make an informed decision.

Too many times manufacturers have reported that their ATF is compatable with BMW automatic transmissions without posting any data to support their claims as in testing.

Analytical testing is one thing but an analysis should confirm that these specs are close to the same ATF.

Also I am interested in how good the ATF is at 37,500 miles. Besides a color change I could not detect any real smell difference (seems like all ZF ATFs smell bad) so that should also help dispell the need to change the ATF or not at say 50K miles.

$4.99 for Mercon SP at O'Reilly's is considerably cheaper than 18-19 bucks from a few suppliers like BavAuto.
 

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BMWCCA 149159
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Results of LG6 and Mercon SP plus LG6 analysis at 37,500 miles/ OC at 9000 miles

Recently after reading that Lifeguard6 (Shell 1375.4) is the same as Mercon SP I decided to sent Blackstone 3 samples:
LG6 new
Mercon SP new
LG6 with 37,500 miles

I also sent them an oil sample of my Castrol 5W40 Synthetic with 9000 miles (42-51K miles)

The results which I will post later once I can edit the personal information out is that Mercon SP gave the same results as Lifeguard6
From Blackstone-----------------------------------------------------------

(This sample of Mercon SP looks very similar to the Shell Lifeguard 6 sample. Note that both oils
contain calcium, phosphorus, and boron as additives, but this sample of Mercon SP contains just a little bit
more of each element. The viscosity of each sample was near exactly the same. No moisture, insolubles, or
wear metals were found in either sample. Both the Mercon SP and the Shell Lifeguard 6 should work well for
you as automatic transmission fluid. The Mercon SP is red in color and the Shell Lifeguard 6 is gold, but the color should not affect how these oils perform.)

Next is the LG6 from Blackstone
(This sample of Shell Lifeguard 6 uses calcium, phosphorus, and boron as it's main additives. The
viscosity read within the normal range for ATF oil and no wear metals, moisture, or insolubles were found.
The comparison between this and the Mercon SP ATF's additive package is about as close as can be
expected, though not exact. The additive packages are similar enough that they could possibly be from
different runs of the same fluid type. The only real difference was that this oil was gold in color whereas the color should not affect how these oils perform.)

Next is the summary of the LG6 with 37,500 miles from Blackstone
(The universal average column on the right side of this report shows typical wear for a generic BMW
transmission after about 34,000 miles on the oil. You ran your oil out to 37,500 miles, and wear
accumulation read below average for the most part. The only exception was the extra copper, but 103 ppm
isn't enough to consider a problem at brass/bronze parts. The copper is probably coming from the clutch
plates, and the extra may just be normal for your transmission and the type of use it sees. No moisture or insolubles found. Your transmission appears healthy.)

Last for those interested in the oil analysis summary from Blackstone
51,200 miles with 9K miles since the change using Synthetic 5W40 Castrol.
(No signs of trouble turned up in this first sample from your 335i's twin-turbo N54 engine. The
universal averages for this type of BMW 3.0L engine are based on about 5,500 miles on the oil. You ran
your oil all the way out to 9,000 miles, and wear accumulation was still below average across the board. No
moisture, coolant, or excess fuel was found in the 10W/40-grade oil. Air filtration was getting the job done at
silicon, and the low insolubles indicate that the oil filter did a good job of separating solid particles out of the circulating oil. Nice engine at just 51,550 miles.)

Please note that we all know our CBS determines the oil change interval but I wanted results based on some analysis just to be sure.

I will post the actual PDFs once I can scrub the personal info out. Clearly the LG6 is doing an excellent job, the Mercon SP appears to be the exact forumlation other than color than LG6 which is great news since Mercon SP is $4.99 at O'Reilly's and LG6 is close to $18-19 a quart.
Oil change seemed a little premature and I didn't pay for the TBN since I know it still has additives left.

Hope this helps those of us running the ZF 6 spd auto...
 

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Aleks
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That is very good to know thanks for the doing the leg work. I still don't know if I would put the Mercon fluid in. I'm just too paranoid :p Also the cheapest I could get the zf lifeguard 6 in Australia is $35 a liter, so you guys in the states need to stop complaining :D
 

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Recently I found a mechatronic sleeve leak in my 335 e92. Since i had to have the pan dropped anyway, I decided to replace the pan and the ATF fluid. I did a lot of research on replacement auto transmission fluids to see if there was an acceptable alternative to BMW's expensive fluid. I found a paper on ATF properties from Castrol. Based on the paper, (see below) I decided to use ZF Lifeguard instead of a cheaper alternative. There are some comparisons floating around the internet of Mercon and Shell 1375.4 spec fluid based on material safety data sheets which contain a few specifications such as flash point, viscosity index, boiling points etc., and some other factors which appear to be similar. MSDS papers are for work safety, not to determine compatibility across transmissions. As Castrol points out, ATF's are a complex set of compounds, such as friction modifiers that don't show up on the MSDS papers. For me, it's a cost benefit issue. If it turns out the products aren't the same and AT's suffer damage from the use of a incompatible fluids, it's an expensive problem to fix. I'd rather use a fluid from ZF and know I have something that meets the manufacturer's specifications, even if it means paying a few hundred dollars more.
 

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BMWCCA 149159
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2,876 Posts
I have a stock of LG6 which I will use (as I have already)
then based upon Blackstone analysis I will have no hesistation
using Mercon SP.
I am ultra conservative and would not risk my ZF transmission
unless I was certain it was the same. Read Blackstone's summary
and their analysis and decide for your self...
 

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Great BMW e90 info.

I have a stock of LG6 which I will use (as I have already)
then based upon Blackstone analysis I will have no hesistation
using Mercon SP.
I am ultra conservative and would not risk my ZF transmission
unless I was certain it was the same. Read Blackstone's summary
and their analysis and decide for your self...
Thanks for the info.....
I'll use Mercon SP for next ATF change.

Reference for BMW E90 ATF
1. Shell M-1375.4
2. Motorcraft Mercon SP.
3. Redline D6-ATF.
4. ZF 6HP19.
5. ZF6 Life Guard.
6. LA2635
7. LT71141.
8. Texaco ETL-70.
9. ETL-8027B.

For E90 Filler Plug Torque specification 35NM +-3NM.
Drain Plug Torque specification 8NM -0.5NM.

6 Quarts total, use 4.5 to 5 Quarts for refill.:yikes:
 
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