Zf Lifeguard 6

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BMW Transmission Fault! Drive moderately P,R,N, D3 and D5 available Ranges may be engaged without depressing parking brake. Please contact the nearest BMW center is a common message that you get on the screen of your BMW Transmission Malfunction, Jaguar ( Gearbox fault gear box failure ), Range Rover, Bentley, Aston Martin or Rolls Royce if you have a ZF transmission 6hp26 6hp28 6hp32 6hp19 6hp21 and Ford 6R80

  1. Zf Lifeguard 6 Vs 8
  2. Zf Lifeguard 6 Fluid
  3. Zf Lifeguard 6 20l
  4. Zf Lifeguard 6 Fluid
  5. Zf Lifeguard 6 Specs

If you are getting that transmission malfunction / transmission fault message on your BMW Jaguar (gearbox fault gear box failure) Range Rover Ford or Hyundai then this web site is dedicated entirely to fixing that issue. That is the same message that I got on my BMW 750li 2006 e65 e66 with just 32,000 miles the next day after the purchase. My transmission is 6hp26 pretty much the same as 6hp28 6hp32 , and has similar structure to 6hp19 6hp21 gearbox. Very soon I was at one of the Chicago land BMW dealers paying $1400+ for “trying” to fix it, dealer dropped the oil pan, replaced the mechatronic adapter seal and installed a new oil filter/pan and put a proper amount of ZF Lifeguard 6 transmission fluid in to the gear box and told me that everything is fine. The next day I got the same message. I went back to the dealer and they quoted me $1100+ just for trying to locate what the problem is, they said that is the minimum that they will charge me. Since I was already down $1400 I figured it is time for me to try and fix it myself. I made a detailed video and posted it on youtube on how I fixed it so you can fix it yourself / do it yourself. The link should be available below. If you are in Chicago land you can rent my garage/ my lift /my tools for the weekend for $200 total and fix it yourself. When it comes to parts here is the list of all the parts that are REQUIRED and NOT REQUIRED but advisable for you to have prior to getting under your car.

To be 100% sure that this is your problem, simply warm up the car, drive for 30-45-50 minutes. You have to warm up the car because the cracked plastic at the mechatronic / mekhatronik bridge seal becomes more loose and rubber around the plastic starts to leak oil and does not build as much pressure when the oil is warm. Then after driving 30+min find an incline that is 20+% grade like a driveway, drive nose forward onto the incline the front of the car should be higher than the back, at least 20-30% incline. Then while you on that incline, preferably a driveway put your car into R reverse see if it engages, drive in reverse for a few seconds, then put the car into D, see if it engages driver forward, do this a few times, then try to cycle from R to P from P to D from D to P etc… See if you car starts to have issues, basically if the message will come up during that time then this is exactly the problem I am talking about. If instead of going in reverse when you put in R it goes forward, or vise versa then again it is exactly the same issue. If you need to restart the car for the message to go away again it is the problem I am talking about. If you can’t get out of Park without restarting your car then again it is all the same problem with the mechatronic bridge seal.

  • Duralife®Full Synthetic Automatic transmission fluid 6 HP( 6HP Fluid )is a multi-functional fluid that meets or exceeds the following Manufacturer’s performance requirements. + ZF 6HP19, 6HP21, 6HP26, 6HP28, 6HP32, 6HP34, all ZF4 &5HP-seriesTransmissions. + ZF Lifeguard 6 + Audi/VW G 052 162, G 052 025, G 052 990, G 055 025, G 055 005 A1/A2/A6.
  • Buy ZF Automatic Transmission Oil Pan Filter Kit and 6 Liters of ZF Transmission Fluid Lifeguard 6 - Replacement for BMW 7: Filter & Gasket Kits - Amazon.com FREE DELIVERY possible on eligible purchases.

ZF S671090252 ZF 6 Lifeguard (55-Gallon Drum) M465MVLV-55 OE & OTHER BRAND FLUIDS Transtar Part # Description M470DG128C Transtar 1-Gallon Concentrate. This product is ideal for a variety of jobs and can be used full strength or diluted. M470DG32R Transtar 32-Ounce Spray. Pre-diluted product for quick and precise cleaning. ZF Lifeguard 6 Automatic Transmission Fluid - ATF - is the equivalent to Shell M-1375.4. This fluid is specified for the BMW 6 speed automatic transmission used in the 335d and X5 diesel. Genuine ZF lifeguard fluid 6 oil (6 x one litre bottles). Suits Land rover / Ford Bf-Fg and Territory / Jaguar & BMW.

The root cause of the problem is the part that looks like the one below. It is called a Mechatronic Bridge Seal adapter. The problem with the part is that it is made of plastic and a piece of rubber. The plastic eventually cracks, ones the plastic cracks the oil pressure is not sufficient to be transferred from mechatronic unit to the transmission itself. That Mechatronic bridge seal cracks all the time on all 6hp26 6hp28 6hp32 and same design different part number for (6hp19 6hp21). The zf transmission 6hp26 6hp28 6hp32 6hp34 6hp19 6hp21 was put on many different BMW, Range Rovers, Land Rovers, Jaguars, Hyundai, Ford, Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce the more exhaustive list is below.

Looking at the big picture and not only in theory but at BMW dealer the only part they would replace is

Mechatronic Seal Adapter ZF 6HP26 & 6HP28 & 6HP32 &(ford 6R80)

The above part is sold as either BMW/ZF part or an aftermarket part, please buy an OEM product it should have a stamp ZF inside of it. (you can buy the whole kit from me, link is below)

The reason I said the only part they would replace because that what it says in the bulletin for BMW when the car comes for the warranty, CPO non BMW warranty usually does not cover this kind of repair.

Besides being made of plastic and rubber, the REAL reason why this part breaks, are the 4 other seals that nobody usually replaces anywhere, not BMW dealer, not independent mechanics, nobody, BUT if you don’t replace them in about 10,000 you will get exactly the same problem, and you will have to repeat the service. The part that you also HAVE TO or NEED to replace while you are replacing the Mechatronic bridge Seal Adapter are the 4 tube seals that are hard to find but are for sale.

4 seal tubes for ZF transmission 24107519314

These 4 tubes provide a kind of vibration dampening for the mechatronic unit that attaches to the transmission, over time these 4 tubes sink into the transmission and become flush with the transmission, and that causes the Mechatronic Bridge seal to be under more stress and thus causing the failure.

Now, one other part you will also need is the Mechatronic Sealing Sleeve (that is the one I got charged $1400 for replacing), I don’t feel very bright about it and have a slight feeling of being ripped off.

mechatronic seal kit OEM ZF all you need to fix your transmission faultWhile at BMW, BMW dealers usually puts the OLD fluid back in and top it off with the new ZF transmission fluid Lifeguard 6 That ZF lifeguard 6 cost about $30 per liter, for the whole procedure you will need about 9-10 liters

Now here is where you can either “SAVE” a lot or not. In theory you can put the old transmission fluid back into transmission if you are about to sell the car, or you can buy about $300 worth of new ZF transmission fluid (as I did to my car). Or you can save a ton by buying 9-10 liters of Ford Mercon SP fluid that in theory exactly the same as ZF transmission and save $200+ instead of buying the new ZF lifeguard. So if you going to be my client, instead of putting the old transmission fluid back in, and not having enough $ to put a new ZF transmission lifeguard 6 in, at least spend some $ on Ford Mercon SP fluid. It will be a proper repair.

In regards to OIL PAN / filter. The OEM oil Pan/Filter cost around $140. If you decide to put a new filter/pan, the reason I write pan/filter because it is ALL IN ONE, filter and PAN in one, there are some sellers that sell just the filter but there is no way to install just the filter into the pan, you don’t have to but it is advisable to put a new filter/pan into your transmission. Aftermarket oil pan/filters could be found for about $40, aftermarket one might leak oil after the repair.

6HP26/28/32 part number: 1068 298 075 01

6hp19 6hp21 part number: 0501 216 244 01

If you don’t replace the filter/pan, then you at least need to replace the gasket on top of the filter, otherwise there won’t be enough pressure built. These gaskets are:

O.-Ring Suction Tube Plastic Pan: 0501 319 012 01

If any of that been helpful please leave a like on my videos. If you are in Chicago land simply bring your car over to my garage in Fox Lake, IL and I can take care of it over the weekend, please bring all the parts as well. You can help if you want. Also if you want to do the repair yourself, you can rent my lift and all of my tools / equipment for the weekend for $200 total, you can start Friday evening, and have to finish by Sunday evening. Make sure to have all the parts with you.

Also redline D6 ATF might be equivalent to Shell M-1375 (ZF Lifeguard 6 oil) but Motorcraft Mercon SP is still cheaper

Total dealer charge for this kind of repair is about $2700 without new oil, without new filter (that is in Chicago land), could me more or less elsewhere.

  • Keep in mind not to over tighten the bolts otherwise the plastic seal will crack.
  • However, I advise all of my clients to come back in 2 weeks so I could check that there is no oil leaking from any of the bolts, not tightening enough will cause hot oil to go through the seal, usually the problem with aftermarket pans.
  • Wear gloves with the plastic knuckle cover otherwise you will burn your knuckles while closing down the filler plug.
  • When putting the mechatronic unit back into the transmission MAKE SURE the parking break lever is in proper position and fits the hole, it is hard to see if there is not enough light.
  • The sealing sleeve should fit tight so that the lever on the bottom would close properly. If you won’t close it properly the oil will leak from the back of the mekhatronic sleeve.

Here is the video of the repair:

Below are some messages and models where this problem is common. Don’t replace your transmission yet if you have any of the cars below, try just replacing the bridge seal adapter.

Transmission Fault- Drive Moderately

Transmission Fault, only P, N, R, D3 and D5 are available, drive moderately

Transmission issue, transmission problem, gear not engaging, instead of R going into D, instead of D goes into R. Gear goes back to P.

Your transmission type:

Transmission Kit for 6hp26 you can get here: 6hp26 6hp28

6hp26:
2001 –2008 BMW 7 Series E65 730i, 735i, 745i, 760i, 730d and 740d E66 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
2002 – 2005 Jaguar XK8 / XKR X100 2003 2004 Gear box fault Gearbox failure
2003 – 2012 Aston Martin DB9 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
2003 – 2010 BMW 5 Series E60 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2003 – 2010 BMW 6 Series E63 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2003 – 2008 Jaguar S-Type 2004 2005 2006 2007
2003 – 2009 Jaguar XJ (X350) 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
2003 – 2012 Rolls-Royce Phantom 2011
2004 – 2006 BMW X5 (E53) V8
2005 – 2011 BMW 3 Series (E90)
2005 – 2016 Ford Falcon (BF,[7] FG,[8] FG X turbocharged inline-six and V8)
2005 – 2014 Ford Territory (SY AWD;[9] SZ petrol)[10]
2006 – 2010 Jaguar XK/XKR (X150)
2007 – 2013 BMW X5 (E70), except 4.0d
2007 – 2012 Maserati Quattroporte
2007 – present Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
2008 – 2012 Aston Martin DBS V12
2008 – 2012 BMW 7 Series F01 , except 740d xDrive, 760i/Li and Hybrid 7
2008 – 2011 Kia Mohave
2008 – 2012 Jaguar XF (X250)
2006 – 2009 Bentley Arnage
2008 – 2011 Bentley Brooklands
2010 – 2012 Aston Martin Rapide
2011 Hyundai Equus

6HP28: Transmission Repair Kit same as Above 6hp26.
2009 – 2012 Jaguar XF (X250)
2009 – 2014 Jaguar XK (X150)
2010 – 2012 Jaguar XJ (X351)

6hp26X Kit is same as above for all wheel drive with external gear box.

2003 – 2013 Range Rover
2006 – 2013 Range Rover Sport, 4.4- and 5.0-litre AJV8 models
2005 – 2013 Land Rover Discovery
2007 BMW X3 (E83) 3.0d (some models)
2005 – 2011 BMW 330d (E90/91) Xdrive

6hp32 Kit same as above:

BMW E65 745d (LCI)

6hp26A 6hp28A 6hp32A Your figure 8 item is different from 6hp26, the 6hp26A comes with internal all wheel drive, and the kit is different from 6hp26X (external all wheel drive/ rear wheel drive 6hp26). Kit for 6hp26A 6hp28A 6hp32A is here: 6hp26A 6hp28A

2002 –present Volkswagen Phaeton (Typ 3D)
2003 –2009 Audi A8 (D3, Typ 4E)
2006 –2009 Audi S8 (D3, Typ 4E)
2003 –present Bentley Continental GT
2005 –present Bentley Continental Flying Spur
2006 – 2011 Audi S6 (C6, Typ 4F)
2008 – 2010 Audi RS6 (C6, Typ 4F)
Volkswagen Paheton 5.0 V10 TDI (6hp-32A, internal 4×4)

6HP19 Transmission kit: ZF 6hp19Z 6hp19 6hp21
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
BMW X3
2009–2012 Hyundai Genesis Sedan 4.6 liter V8
BMW 520i (E60)
BMW 530i, (E60), pre-LCI
BMW 630i, (E63), pre-LCI
BMW 325i, 330i, 335i (E90), pre-LCI
BMW 116i, 118i, 120i (E87), pre-LCI
6HP19A
Applications[edit]
Audi (B6) S4 (Typ 8E/8H)
Audi (B7) S4 (Typ 8E/8H)
VW Phaeton (Typ 3D)
VW Touareg (Typ 7L)
Audi Q7 (Typ 4L)
Audi A6 (Typ C6/4F) 3.0 TDI / 3.2 FSI

(6HP19 1071 010, 6HP19 1071 010, 6HP19X 1071 020, 6HP19A 1071 040, 6HP21 1071 030, 6HP21x 1070 050 ) All are the same kit as above ZF 6hp19Z 6hp19 6hp21.

Parts numbers etc:
0501 219 952 01
0501 319 279 01
0501 319 280 01
0734 317 370 01
0734 317 371 01
0734 317 372 01
0501 319 279 01
0501 319 280 01
0501 319 281 01
0501 216 272 01
24107519314
24197529715

BMW Transmission & Differential Oil

This page covers fluid information and recommendations for BMW manual and automatic transmissions, rear differentials, and front differentials on xDrive models. Note: for the purposes of this page, 'Vintage' refers to all BMW cars built up to and including the E30 3-series.
Jump to:
Fluid for manual transmission
Fluid for automatic transmission
Fluid for front axle or transfer case
Fluid for rear differential

BMW Manual / SMG / DCT Transmission Fluid


Vintage 5-speed manual
Most manual transmissions on vintage models do not have a fluid label on the transmission because nearly all gearboxes took the same fluid - a universal GL-4. If no label is present, the official recommendation is any GL-4 gear oil. Our favorite is the Red Line MTL. However, some transmissions will have an orange ATF label and you should use a Dexron III ATF fluid. The 1984-1986 325e/528e should have a green 'Special Oil' label on the transmission. These transmissions use a specific Mobil SHC 630 synthetic fluid (SAE 90 weight). Because of the narrow applications we don't have a recommended alternative to the Mobil fluid.
Recommended replacement interval: 30,000-40,000 miles
Shop MTL for BMW Manual Transmissions:

Red Line MTL

1990s-2000s 5-speed and 6-speed ATF (excluding E46 M3, E9X M3, Z4M)
From the mid-1990s, nearly all BMW manual transmissions, except 6-speed M models, use a Dexron III ATF oil, indicated by an 'ATF' label on the transmission. You can find a Dexron III spec almost anywhere but we are impressed with the performance of Red Line ATF D4 in manual transmissions. In our experience, it outperforms even fresh factory fluid, especially in colder temps. For track use, an ATF may become too slippery at high temps, in which case we recommend the Red Line MT-LV which has a slightly heavier weight that holds up better.
Recommended replacement interval: 30,000-40,000 miles
Shop ATF for BMW Manual Transmissions:

Red Line ATF D4

Fuchs ATF D4

2000s-2010s M 6-speed and SMG (not DCT) MTF
This is the era that BMW started using 'Lifetime' fluids, indicated by a 'MTF' label on the transmission. The 'Lifetime' has never been fully explained and we don't buy into it, especially when fresh fluid typically makes a huge improvement in shift quality and smoothness. The fluid formula has changed over the years - MTF-LT-1, LT-2, LT-3, LT-5, and FFL-4. There are discernible differences between them and LT-2 has the strongest following among enthusiasts. Our observations are that these LT fluids are acceptable in normal day-to-day driving and in cold temperatures but are permanently affected by high temps, such as on track. We have found that the Red Line MT-LV is superior than ATF D4 and factory MTF for these cars in all conditions. SMG transmissions use the same MTF oil as the manual transmissions, however, the SMG Hydraulic Pump uses Pentosin CHF 11S hydraulic fluid.
Recommended replacement interval: 30,000-40,000 miles
Shop MTF for BMW Manual Transmissions:

Red Line MT-LV

BMW LT-2

BMW LT-3

BMW LT-5

2000s-2010s DCT
The Double-Clutch transmission uses a set of two clutches that are 'wet' clutches. The clutch discs are immersed in the same oil used to lubricate the transmission internals. The wet clutch system ensures smooth operation and engagement. BMW requires a special DCT-specific fluid, although they also label it as 'Lifetime Fill'. We don't buy in to the lifetime fluid policy and have experienced the benefits of fresh fluid on our daily and track cars.
The OEM DCT fluid is made by Pentosin and works just fine for normal street use. Red Line DCTF is an upgraded formula that works on normal street cars and holds up better for sustained track time. With more power or higher heat the fluid thins out and breaks down which causes the clutches to slip. A stronger oil like the Red Line fluid will not break down as easily at higher temps.
Recommended replacement interval: 30,000-40,000 miles
Shop DCTF for BMW:

Red Line DCTF

Pentosin DCTF


BMW Automatic Transmission Fluid

Note that changing the fluid on automatic transmissions can be a very technical process that requires a precise procedure, special tools, and/or professional-level diagnostics software. There is no doubt that fresh fluid will perform better than used and dirty fluid. However, most of the problems we hear come from an improper transmission flush where particles and debris block fluid flow or from failing to set the correct fluid level after. We believe automatic transmission fluid service should be left to a professional BMW technician and that extended fluid service (>50,000 miles) is acceptable as long as the fluid level is regularly checked and maintained.
Vintage 4-speed auto
ATF Dexron III is the fluid standard for 4-speed BMW automatics (ZF 4HP). This is also the most common ATF you will find at auto parts stores (it's compatible with most GM and Ford auto transmissions).
Zf lifeguard 6 alternativeRecommended replacement interval: 40,000 miles
Shop ATF for BMW Automatic Transmissions:

Red Line ATF D4

Fuchs ATF D4

1990s-2000s 4- & 5-speed auto
BMW 4 and 5-speed automatics are made by either ZF (4HP) or GM (5L40-E/A5S360R). The recommended ATF for either is Dexron III (D4). This is also the most common ATF you will find at auto parts stores (it's compatible with most GM and Ford auto transmissions). BMW has transitioned to a newer Dexron VI spec, which is backwards compatible with Dexron III. If your car is serviced at the dealer they will likely install D6. BMW recommends using only the same fluid in the transmission when topping off the oil level. They do not recommend mixing ATF oil brands and specs so keep track of what oil is in your transmission.
Recommended replacement interval: 60,000 miles
Shop ATF for BMW Automatic Transmissions:

Red Line ATF D4

Fuchs ATF D4

All 6-speed auto
The BMW 6-speed automatic is made by either GM (6L45/6L50) or ZF and was used mostly in mid-2000s RWD and AWD models. BMW used the ZF GA6HP19, GA6HP26, and GA6HP28 throughout the model range. Contrary to what's written online, the ZF 6HP can be serviced with a full oil pan and gasket kit available. However, professional servicing is recommended due to the precise procedures required. The OEM ATF is a ZF Lifeguard 6 which carries a Dexron VI (D6) rating. BMW refers to it as 'ATF 2'. Cars that originally used D6 cannot use D4 (all 6- and 8-speed automatics) so keep track of what oil is in your transmission.
Recommended replacement interval: 80,000 miles (BMW's estimate is 100,000 miles)
Shop ATF for BMW 6-speed Automatic Transmissions:

Red Line ATF D6

BMW ZF Lifeguard 6 ATF 2

Pentosin ATF D6

All 8-speed auto
The BMW 8-speed automatic is made by ZF and was used mostly in mid-2010s RWD and AWD models. BMW used the 8HP45, 8HP50, 8HP70, 8HP75 throughout the model range. The ZF 8HP can be serviced with a full oil pan and gasket kit available. However, professional servicing is recommended due to the precise procedures required. The OEM ATF is a ZF Lifeguard 8 which carries a Dexron VI (D6) rating. BMW refers to it as 'ATF 3'. Cars that originally used D6 cannot use D4 (all 6- and 8-speed automatics) so keep track of what oil is in your transmission.
Recommended replacement interval: 80,000 miles (BMW's estimate is 100,000 miles)
Shop ATF for BMW 8-speed Automatic Transmissions:

Red Line ATF D6

BMW ZF Lifeguard 8 ATF 3

Pentosin ATF D6


BMW xDrive Front Differential and Transfer Case Fluid

BMW Xi and xDrive models use a center transfer case to distribute power to the rear and front axles. This is a chain-driven transfer case mounted on the back of the transmission with a driveshaft extending from the front and rear of the housing. The front differential is a traditional hypoid gear design very similar to the rear differential but in a smaller size.
Center Transfer Case
1999-2003 325Xi/330xi and X5 Models (NV Transfer Case)
BMW recommendation: ATF Dexron III rated
Our recommendation: Red Line D4 ATF
Recommended replacement interval: 50,000-60,000 miles
Shop ATF Transfer Case Oil:

Red Line ATF D4

Fuchs ATF D4

BMW DTF-1

Lifeguard2003-present xDrive Models (ATC Transfer Case)
BMW recommendation: DTF-1 (previously TF0870) 75W GL-4
Our recommendation: same as BMW. The ATC transfer case has a proprietary blend and we do not offer an alternative at this time.
Recommended replacement interval: 50,000-60,000 miles
Shop DTF Transfer Case Oil:

BMW DTF-1

All Front Differential
BMW recommendation: SAF-XO, 75W90 weight, GL-5 rated
Our recommendation: Red Line 75W90
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles

Zf Lifeguard 6 Vs 8

Shop Front Axle Gear Oil:

Red Line 75W90

BMW SAF-XO 75W90


BMW Rear Differential Gear Oil

BMW rear differentials are either open without a limited-slip feature or with limited-slip (posi-traction). Nearly all non-M models use an open differential and rely on traction control to limit wheel spin. Vintage models and M cars use some form of limited-slip - clutch-type, viscous, or Torsen designs.
The ideal operating temp for diff oil is 150°F. If you exceed this at the track you may want to invest in a diff oil cooler which will also increase capacity. You can move up to the next highest weight (90 to 110) but realize there may be other consequences including limited slip behavior or not reaching your optimum temp.
Vintage-1990s Open or Limited-Slip Differential
BMW recommendation: SAF-XJ, 75W140, GL-5 rated*
Our recommendation: Red Line 75W90 or 75W110
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles
* - The SAF-XJ synthetic fluid replaces the previous factory recommendation of SAF-XLS mineral oil for clutch-type limited-slip differentials. This must have been part of a larger effort to switch to full synthetic instead of mineral-based oils. The 75W140 weight is strange to us but it's the only gear oil listed in BMW's official fluid guide for these differentials. We have used Red Line 75W90 in just about everything with great results and have adopted the new 75W110 for hot climates or heavy track use.
Shop 75W90 Rear Axle Gear Oil:

Red Line 75W90

Red Line 75W110

BMW MSP 75W140

Rear Open Differential, before 7/2011 production
BMW recommendation: SAF-XO, 75W90 weight, GL-5 rated
Our recommendation: Red Line 75W90
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles
Shop SAF-XO Rear Axle Gear Oil:

Red Line 75W90

Red Line 75W110

BMW SAF-XO 75W90

Rear Open Differential, after 7/2011 production*

Zf Lifeguard 6 Fluid


BMW recommendation: G1 synthetic, 75W85 weight, GL-4 rated
Our recommendation*: BMW G1 if under warranty, Red Line 75W85 GL-5 (Red Line-approved)
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles
* - BMW curiously switched gear oils from 7/2011 without any changes to the differential itself. Normally, GL-4 and GL-5 oils should not be mixed. They are incompatible with soft metals such as brass, used in high pressure applications like a transmission. The differential does not see the same high pressures and Red Line has approved their 75W85 GL-5 oil as an alternative to the factory GL-4. The fully-synthetic base oil from Red Line will cling better to metal surfaces and have greater strength especially when temperatures rise.
However, failing to use a GL-4 oil may cause warranty issues if you make a claim for differential/rear axle work. Any fluid other than the factory-approved type will likely void the warranty for that particular part. If you wish to stay compliant the factory GL-4 is your only choice. Red Line also makes a GL-4 75W85 oil (MT-85) but their official recommendation is the GL-5 75W85 because its additives and formula make it a better overall oil.
Shop G1 Rear Axle Gear Oil:

BMW G1 75W85 GL-4

Red Line 75W85 GL-4

Red Line 75W85 GL-5

Rear 2001-2013 M-Variable Limited-Slip Differential
BMW recommendation: SAF-XJ+FM, 75W140, GL-5 rated
Our recommendation: Red Line 75W140
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles
Shop M-Variable Diff Oil:
Zf Lifeguard 6

Red Line 75W140

BMW SAF XJ+FM 75W140

Zf Lifeguard 6 20l


Rear 2012-present M-Active Electronic Limited-Slip Differential
BMW recommendation: MSP/A 75W140, GL-5 rated
Our recommendation: Red Line 75W140
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles
Shop M-Active Diff Oil:

Red Line 75W140

BMW MSP/A 75W140

Rear M Performance Limited-Slip Differential (F22, F30, F32, etc):
BMW recommendation: hard to say because BMW does not publish a replacement fluid. We think it's MSP/A 75W140 (same as used in M Active diffs).
Our recommendation: Red Line 75W90 or 75W110
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles

Zf Lifeguard 6 Fluid

Shop M Performance Diff Gear Oil:

Red Line 75W90

Red Line 75W110

BMW MSP 75W140

Rear Custom Differential
Through our friends and diff experts at Diffsonline, we offer custom-built performance differentials. These diffs are usually built with some form of a limited-slip feature, using traditional clutch discs, a viscous unit, or helical gears. Below you will find fluid recommendations for each.
Recommended replacement interval: 40,000-50,000 miles
Traditional clutch-type: Red Line 75W90 for moderate street use; Red Line 75W110 for aggressive street and/or track

Zf Lifeguard 6 Specs

Factory BMW M Variable: Castrol-BMW SAF XJ+FM or Red Line 75W140
Diffsonline Helical: Red Line 75W110
Quaife: Red Line 75W110
Wavetrac: Red Line 75W110
OS Giken: proprietary OS Giken-branded 85W250
Kaaz: proprietary Kaaz fluid
Shop Custom Diff Gear Oil:

Red Line 75W90

Red Line 75W110

Red Line 75W140

BMW SAF XJ+FM 75W140

Red Line 'Non-Slip' NS Gear Oil
Red Line produces a Non-Slip version of their 75W90 and 75W140 gear oil. This fluid does not contain friction modifier additives and will make the clutch plates engage quicker in limited-slip diffs. This is good for track use but will be noisy for regular street use.

Terminology & Acronyms
Below are some explanation of the scientific terminology, jargon, and acronyms commonly used when discussing BMW transmission and differential axle fluid.
DexronDexron is actually a trade name used by General Motors (GM). GM and ZF are the original designers and suppliers for automatic transmissions to BMW (and many others). Dexron has been their brand-name for ATF since the 1960s but the specs have been adopted industry-wide. The chemical formula has evolved over the years and BMWs use the Dexron-III spec.
Dexron VI is backwards compatible to Dexron III, however, III cannot be used in place of VI.
GL'GL' is a rating used to differentiate various grades and formulas of gear oil. The American Petroleum Institute (API) issues GL ratings. The fluid must be compatible with the various metals used in transmissions and differentials. So while a higher GL rating means better fluid shear resistance, it may be harmful to certain types of metal (brass synchro rings for example). Pay close attention to the bottle label to verify the GL rating. BMWs usually use a GL-4 in transmissions and GL-5 for differentials but there are exceptions (see above).
HypoidA type of gear set where one gear is at a right angle to the other. These are the types of gears used in BMW differentials - an input shaft (pinion) contacts a crown wheel, which is connected to each axle shaft. The pinion and crown are at right angles to one another. The term is most often used in 'hypoid gear oil'.
MTL vs. MTFManual Transmission Lube and Manual Transmission Fluid. Both are for manual transmissions but due to the chemical differences there is a need to differentiate which cars they apply to. 'Lube' is for vintage models and 'Fluid' is for newer cars (late-1990s and newer).
ViscosityThe rating for the internal friction of fluid dependent on temperature. The SAE assigns the grade based on two temperature standards: cold (the “W” in 75W90) and high 100°C (212°F). These are grades based on a system devised by the SAE and not a measurable value (see cSt below). It means the oil performance aligns with a particular grade in the SAE system. The higher the number, the thicker the oil and the longer it will take to reach operating temperature. However, it does not mean that a MT-80 is twice as thick as a 10W40. It's only an assigned rating.
For actual measurable values, viscosity is expressed in centiStoke units (1 cSt = 1 mm2/s) and measured at two different temperatures: 40°C and 100°C (212°F). A higher cSt is a thicker oil, giving more protection but less efficiency. However, a low viscosity does not automatically mean less protection (the chemical makeup of the oil determines that). CentiStoke values are not as commonly referenced for gear oil as they are for engine oils.