BMW Transmission Solenoid Replacement – ZF 6HP-19X Six Speed Trans.

0
5635
BMW Transmission Solenoid Replacement – 4 Hours
Advanced repair level
Repair cost 2

The BMW Repair Guide used this 2006 530xi touring for the following article.

2006 bmw 530xi touring WBANN73576CN02628

Repair Summary
The following article gives detailed instructions on replacing the transmission solenoids in a ZF 6HP-19X six speed automatic transmission. Even though we have used a 2006 BMW 530xi to perform this repair, this article can be applied to any vehicle with the ZF 6HP six speed automatic transmission with minor modifications.

A BMW transmission solenoid replacement can help cure high rpm gear change slips, erratic shifting, and the infamous transmission “thumping” sound.

The ZF 6HP six speed transmission was one of the most popular gear boxes ever produced for passenger cars. It was manufactured from 2000-2014 and was used by many popular U.S. and European automobile brands such as GM, Ford, Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar…just to name a few. The ZF 6HP is also a BMW workhorse and can be found in most of the models produced throughout the mid to late 2000s including the E60 5 series, E63 6 series, E9x 3 series as well as the X3 and Z4. It is an extremely popular transmission with millions of them still on the road.

It is an inconvenient truth that as these transmissions start to age in our BMWs, they start to malfunction. Internal valve body gaskets and seals start to leak, causing erratic shifting and error codes. One of the most prevalent causes of shifting issues in the ZF six speed transmission is its electronic solenoids.

The BMW transmission solenoids are attached to the rear of the valve body inside the oil pan. The solenoids are electro-hydraulic valves that control the flow of pressurized fluid through the network of channels in the valve body. As the solenoids open and close the pressurized fluid engages the transmission’s clutches, smoothly shifting the gears. Over time the solenoids can become clogged with dirt from old transmission fluid, causing them to stick in the open or closed position. Their internal electronic components can also fail over time, making them inoperable. Either condition can wreak havoc on the performance of the transmission.

The most common symptom of a failed BMW transmission solenoid is gear change slippage at higher RPMs. Other symptoms may also include erratic, delayed, or rough shifting and the infamous transmission “thump” that occurs when shifting into reverse or while decelerating during driving.

The BMW Repair Guide strongly recommends replacing the valve body sealing sleeves and adapter while doing this repair. For more information on how to replace the sealing sleeves and adapter, please see our article BMW Mechatronics Sealing Sleeves and Adapter Repair.

This repair requires that your vehicle’s transmission adaptations be reset. The adaptations are “learned” changes in your transmission’s performance based on prior driving habits, driving conditions, and wear and tear of internal gearbox parts. You must clear the adaptations after completing this repair in order for your transmission to operate correctly and to avoid possible long term damage. A BMW diagnostic scanner is required to clear the adaptations. If you are interested in using the same diagnostic scanner we use, please click here.
Affiliate link disclosure – The BMW Repair Guide uses affiliate links in their site. For more information on affiliate links, please click here.

1. BMW transmission solenoids (required) – The following is a complete set of replacement solenoids for the ZF 6HP-19X six speed transmission. Always replace the transmission solenoids in a complete set (avoiding just replacing individual ones).

All BMW vehicles with the ZF GA6HP19Z transmission

2. Transmission oil pan gasket (required) – Always put a fresh rubber gasket on your transmission’s oil pan anytime it is removed. It is cheap insurance against future leaks.

All BMW vehicles with the ZF GA6HP19Z transmission

3. Transmission fluid (required) –  You will need to refill your ZF six speed transmission with fresh fluid after changing out the sleeves. We give you several quality brands to choose from depending on your preference.

For use in all BMW 6 speed transmissions
For use in all BMW 6 speed transmissions
For use in all BMW 6 speed transmissions

4. Transmission fluid drain and fill plugs (optional) – It is always a good idea to replace your drain and fill plugs when servicing your ZF six speed transmission to avoid future leaks.

5. Transmission electrical connection sealing sleeve (optional) – Even though the electrical connection sealing sleeve does not affect transmission function in any way, a worn sleeve can cause an annoying transmission fluid leak. Since you will need to remove it for this repair, now is a great time to replace it.

All BMW vehicles with the ZF GA6HP19Z transmission
Section 1 – Removing the transmission oil pan
The vehicle’s transmission oil pan must be removed to perform a BMW transmission solenoid replacement. There is a slight variation in the instructions when draining the transmission in an xDrive BMW versus a rear wheel drive model. The difference is in accessing the transmission fluid fill plug. Unfortunately in xDrive model vehicles, the front drive shaft blocks access to the fill plug, requiring the shaft to be unbolted from the transfer case and swiveled out of the way (see images below). Since there is no front drive shaft in rear wheel drive models, there is clear access to the fill plug and no extra steps are needed. We give instructions below on how to remove the fill plug in both models.

  1. Jack and support your car at all four wheels using wheel ramps or stands. The BMW Repair Guide does not recommend using jack stands to support your vehicle unless the wheels need to be removed for the repair. For more information on jacking and supporting your vehicle, please see our article BMW Jacking and Supporting for Repairs and Maintenance.
  2. Remove the engine (front) belly pan. This step differs among BMW models, but usually requires removing phillips heads screws like shown on the E61 touring wagon.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the engine (front) belly pan
  3. Remove the underfloor (rear) belly pan from the bottom of the car.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the underfloor (rear) belly pan
  4. Locate the transmission oil pan cover, approximately in the middle of the vehicle.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - locate the transmission oil pan
  5. Before draining the transmission, always loosen the fill plug first. Never attempt to drain the transmission until you have successfully loosened the fill plug. You do not want to find out after you drained the transmission that the fill plug is stuck and you cannot refill the pan.
  6. The fill plug on BMW six speed transmissions is located on the left upper rear of the gear box…above the oil pan. As discussed at the beginning of this section, xDrive cars require the removal of the front drive shaft to access the plug.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - locate the fill plug at the top rear right of the transmission ZF six speed transmission fill plug
  7. XDrive “all wheel drive” modelsLocate the front drive shaft where it is mounted to the transfer case. Using an E12 external torx socket, remove the four bolts anchoring the front drive shaft to the transfer case. If the wheels of the vehicle are off of the ground (and you are not using an impact wrench), you will need to find a helper to depress the brake pedal while you remove the bolts – otherwise the shaft will just spin freely. Grasp the drive shaft and gently lower it from the transfer case. You can now easily access the fill plug at the rear of the transmission.Front drive shaft bolts on xDrive modelsBMW transmission solenoid replacement - remove the front driveshaft mounting boltsBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Unbolt and lower the front driveshaft
  8. Rear wheel drive models – Locate the fill plug at the left upper rear of the transmission as shown in the step 6 image above.
  9. Using a T50 torx bit and a breaker bar, loosen the plug but do not remove it. DO NOT REMOVE THE PLUG. Removing the plug will cause fluid to pour out. You simply want to break it free and confirm that it can be removed during the filling process below.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the transmission fill plug
  10. Position a 5 gallon drain pan under the transmission. Locate the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan. Using a T50 torx bit, remove the drain plug and allow the pan to thoroughly drain.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the drain plug from the oil painBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Allow the oil pan to thoroughly drain
  11. When the oil pan has completely drained replace the plug. There is still a little bit of oil left in the pan…replacing the plug will keep it from draining on the floor (and on you) when the pan is removed.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Replace the drain plug to keep oil from spilling when pan is removed.
  12. Using a T40 torx bit, remove the 24 oil pan bolts. The oil pan bolts are at a very low torque, so they should come out easily. It is perfectly acceptable to reuse the oil pan bolts if they are in good condition. If for some reason you have to replace one (which rarely happens), you can reorder replacement bolts by clicking here.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the oil pan bolts
  13. Grasp the oil pan and carefully remove from the car. Remember the pan still has quite a bit of oil left in it. Dump the remainder of the oil in a drain pan.Grasp the pan and remove it from the transmissionBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Dump the excess oil into the drain pan
Section 2 – Removing the mechatronics (valve body) from the transmission

Be careful when removing the valve body from the transmission housing…dropping it can cause irreversible damage and will have you searching for a new replacement.

  1. Identify the transmission valve body attached to the bottom of the transmission housing. BMW transmission solenoid replacement - identify the valve body on the bottom of the transmission.
  2. Reach up behind the right rear of the transmission and release the electrical plug from the valve body by turning its locking ring counterclockwise. Sometimes this ring can get stuck…use a large flat blade screwdriver to turn it if necessary. Pull the plug free from the transmission.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Reach behind the transmission and find the electrical plugValve body electrical plugBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Use a flat blade screwdriver to loosen the connection if necessary.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the electrical plug from the valve body.
  3. Release the electrical connector sleeve locking mechanism on the back of the valve body by pulling it down.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Release the electrical connection sleeve locking mechanism
  4. Reach up behind the transmission again and pull the sleeve out of the valve body and remove from the vehicle. Please note that removing the sleeve from the car on xDrive models can be a little tricky because of the transfer case…take your time, it will come out.BMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the electrical connection sealing sleeve
  5. Remove the ten T40 bolts securing the valve body to the transmission. There are seven in the front and three in the rear as shown in the diagram below. Make sure to hold the valve body as you remove the last bolt. Dropping the valve body can cause severe damage and may require purchasing a new part. ZF 6HP-19X valve body mounting bolt layoutBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the T40 mounting boltsBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the T40 mounting boltsBMW transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the valve body from the vehicle
  6. Place the valve body on a clean bench.
Section 3 – Replacing the BMW transmission solenoids

Replacing the BMW transmission solenoids is a very straight forward procedure. It requires separating the electronics module from the top of the valve body then replacing the solenoids which are held in place with a simple metal plate. It is strongly recommended that you replace the valve body sealing sleeves and adapter while doing this step in order to properly fix your transmission. Please see our article BMW Mechatronics Sealing Sleeves and Adapter Repair.

  1. Using a T27 torx bit, remove the six bolts anchoring the valve body to the black plastic electronics module as shown in the following diagram.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - remove the T27 bolts securing the electronics module to the valve body.
  2. Carefully flip the valve body over and begin removing the electronics module. The module is mounted very tight…DO NOT force it off. We like to start at the solenoids and move our way forward down the sides (see image below). Move slowly and methodically…never force the module off. If you are having trouble separating them, make sure you have removed all of the bolts (refer back to the diagram above). bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Starting from the rear. start to separate the electronics module from the valve body.Continue working down the sides of the valve body towards the frontbmw transmission solenoid replacement - Carefully separate the electronics module from the valve bodybmw transmission solenoid replacement - The valve body with the electronics module removed.
  3. Flip the valve body back over. Using a T27 torx bit, remove the nine bolts securing the solenoid retaining plate to the valve body.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - remove the nine bolts securing the solenoid retaining plate to the valve body.Remove the solenoid retaining plate.
  4. Unpack the new BMW transmission solenoids and verify the colors match. Note – ZF has replaced green valve body solenoids with blue. They are interchangeable and function exactly the same.
  5. Remove the first solenoid from the valve body by grasping it firmly and pulling it out. It is held in place by two o-rings.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Grasp the first solenoid and pull it free from the valve bodyThe solenoid is held in place with two o-rings.
  6. Replace the solenoid with a new one of the same color, noting the correct orientation as shown in the following image. You may have to push firmly to get it in. bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Firmly install the new solenoid.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Make sure the solenoid is aligned correctly as shown.
  7. Continue to replace the other six solenoids.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - intsall the other six solenoids
  8. Double check to make sure all of the new solenoids are aligned correctly. Replace the solenoid retaining plate and torque the bolts to 6 Nm (4 ft-lb).bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Torque the mounting plate to 6 Nm (4 ft-lb).
  9. Carefully reinstall the electronics module…never try and force it back on. Start with the front making your way back towards the solenoids. Make sure the piston rod in the front of the valve body lines up with the pin on the electronics module as shown below.Make sure the piston rod aligns correctly with the pin on the electronics module
  10. Moving to the rear of the module, make sure the metal electrical connectors in the module line up with the solenoids (see image below). bmw transmission solenoid replacement - make sure the metal electrical connectors in the module line up with the solenoids
  11. Reinstall the nine T27 bolts anchoring the electronics module and torque to 6 Nm (4 ft-lb).Torque the T27 mounting bolts to 6 Nm (4 ft-lb).
Section 4 – Reinstalling the valve body onto the transmission

It is very important that the valve body and transmission surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with CRC Brakleen before reassembly. Even the slightest amount of debris can keep the valve body sleeves and adapter from properly sealing causing shifting issues. If you have not replaced your valve body sleeves and adapter, we strongly suggest you read our article on how to do it now.

  1. Use some CRC Brakleen and a clean rag to thoroughly wipe down the valve body where the mechatronics sealing sleeves and adapter attach. Make sure to remove any old residue that may keep them from creating tight seal.CRC Brakleen - use it for cleaning the transmission valve body surfacesbmw transmission solenoid replacement - Thoroughly wipe down the surfaces of the valve body where sealing sleeves attachbmw transmission solenoid replacement - Thoroughly wipe down valve body where adapter attaches
  2.  Spray the valve body’s electrical connector with some CRC electronics cleaner.CRC Electronics Cleanerbmw transmission solenoid replacement - Liberally spray the valve body electrical connection with CRC Electronics Cleaner
  3.  Lift the valve body up and align it on the transmission. ***VERY IMPORTANT – Make sure the pin on the shift bracket lines up properly with the piston rod in the valve body. It is a very common mistake to put the valve body back on without lining them up. (see image below).bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Makes sure the shift bracket pin lines up correctly with the valve body piston.Valve body piston rodbmw transmission solenoid replacement - the correct orientation of the pin in the piston rod.
  4.  Install the ten T40 mounting bolts and torque to 8 Nm (6 ft-lb).bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Torque the valve body mounting bolts to 8 Nm (6 ft-lb).
  5.  The electrical connection sealing sleeve has a tab in it that must line up with a notch in the electronics module for it to properly install. You will not be able to close the locking mechanism until the sealing sleeve is properly installed into the valve body.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - sealing sleeve tab.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Notch in electronics module
  6. Reach up and behind the transmission and install the new electrical connection sleeve. Turn it slowly until the tab on the sleeve lines up with the notch in the electronics module. Push the sleeve in as far as it will go and close the locking mechanism. If the locking mechanism will not close, then the sleeve is not seated properly in the valve body. Try reaching up and tilting it up and down until the locking mechanism closes. bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Close the electronics sleeve locking mechanism
  7. Install the electrical plug back onto the sleeve. Turn the locking ring clockwise until it is snug.
Section 5 – Replacing the oil pan

Once you have successfully completed the BMW transmission solenoid replacement, the next step is to replace the oil pan.

  1. Install a new rubber gasket in the transmission oil pan.
  2. Using a rag and some CRC Brakleen, thoroughly clean the transmission surface that the oil pan attaches to. Make sure to remove any dirt, grime and oil…all of these can affect the gasket’s seal and cause leaks.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Use some CRC Brakleen to clean the transmission surfacebmw transmission solenoid replacement - Thoroughly clean the transmission surface so the gasket gets a good tight fit.
  3. Lift the oil pan back into position. Make sure the oil filter fits snugly into its opening in the bottom of the transmission.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Lift the oil pan into positionbmw transmission solenoid replacement - Make sure the oil filter fits snugly into the opening in the transmission.Oil filter opening
  4. Using the T40 torx bit, hand tighten the mounting bolts back into the pan.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Hand tighten the transmission pan bolts
  5. Torque the transmission oil pan mounting bolts to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb).Torque the transmission oil pan mounting bolts to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb).
Section 6 – Refilling the 6HP19X transmission with fluid

Refilling the BMW 6HP19X six speed transmission is a two step process. First the transmission oil pan must be initially filled. After the initial fill, the transmission must be warmed up to its final fill temperature (100F) before topping off with fluid. Per the manufacturer (ZF) specifications, the vehicle must be running and the transmission in park while topping off the transmission – topping of the transmission with the engine off could cause an under filled transmission. 

  1. Remove the transmission fill plug.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Remove the transmission fill plug
  2. Using a fluid transfer pump, fill the oil pan with approved fluid until it starts to run out of the fill hole. Fluid transfer pumpbmw transmission solenoid replacement - Fill the transmission with fluid with transfer pump.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Fill the transmission until it it flows out of the fill hole.
  3. Replace the plug and snug up with a T50 torx socket. DO NOT torque the plug yet…it will be removed again to check the final level of the transmission fluid.
  4. Next, the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) level needs to be checked. In order to get a correct ATF level reading, the fluid must be at a temperature between 86-122 degrees Farenheit (we recommend 100F). The correct way to determine the temperature of the ATF is to use a diagnostic scanner. If you are a home mechanic and do not currently own a diagnostic scanner for your BMW, we encourage you to purchase one as soon as possible. A diagnostic scanner is as important to your tool chest as a set of socket wrenches. You can purchase a very affordable BMW diagnostic scanner by clicking here
  5. First, connect your diagnostic scanner to the OBD-II port located in the driver’s side footwell. Do not start the vehicle yet.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - connect a BMW diagnostic scanner to the OBDII port.
  6. With the vehicle off, scroll through the diagnostic scanner menu until you find the screen that monitors the transmission fluid temperature in live data. You want to keep the vehicle off because it may take you some time to find the correct screen. You don’t want to start warming up the fluid until you are all ready to go. The following image shows the correct screen on the Schwaben (Foxwell) diagnostic scanner. This screen will differ among scanner manufacturers.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - find the live data screen on your diagnostic scanner that monitors transmission fluid temperature.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - Current temperature of the transmission fluid
  7. Start the vehicle. Depress the brake pedal and hold. With the brakes applied, SLOWLY shift the transmission into reverse, then neutral, and then into drive. Pause in each gear about three seconds. Repeat this process six times, then put the vehicle back into park. This will circulate the fluid through the transmission. Closely monitor the diagnostic scanner.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - move the shifter through the gears six times to circulate the fluid through the transmission.
  8. When the diagnostic scanner shows the transmission fluid at 100 degrees Fahrenheit leave the engine running with the transmission in park and proceed to the transmission for the final fill.bmw transmission solenoid replacement - keep engine running until the transmission fluid temperature reached 100 degrees F.
  9. Remove the fill plug on the transmission. Add transmission fluid until it flows out of the drain hole. The transmission is now properly filled.
  10. Replace the fill plug and torque to 32 Nm (24 ft-lb).Torque the drain plug to 32 Nm (24 ft-lb).
  11. With the vehicle still running, check for any leaks in the oil pan gasket. If you see any visible leaks, use you T40 torx socket to snug up the mounting bolts (no more than 1/8 of a turn).
  12. xDrive models – Turn off the engine. Reinstall the front driveshaft to the transfer case. Torque the mounting bolts to 20 Nm (15 ft-lb).bmw transmission solenoid replacement - torque the driveshaft mounting bolts to 20 Nm (15 ft-lb).
  13. Replace the front and rear belly pans and lower the vehicle.
Section 7 – Resetting the transmission’s adaptation values

It is very important that at the end of any service work or repair to the ZF six speed transmission, the gearbox’s adaptations are reset. The adaptations are a “learned” code stored in your transmission’s computer module that changes the performance of your transmission based on past driving habits and driving conditions. They also make changes based on the wear and tear of internal parts. Not resetting the adaptations after this repair may cause reduced performance in your transmission and potential long term damage to its internal components. Resetting the adaptations is extremely easy and only takes a couple minutes. You must have a BMW diagnostic scanner to reset them. Don’t have a BMW scanner? You can purchase the same inexpensive scanner we use by clicking here.

  1. Plug your BMW diagnostic scanner into the OBD-II port and start the vehicle.
  2. Depending on which scanner you have, you will need to get to the screen that allows you to reset the transmission’s adaptations. Every scanner is different…the following images show how to do it on the Schwaben/Foxwell scanner.
    bmw transmission solenoid replacement - resetting the adaptations on a ZF six speed transmission bmw transmission solenoid replacement - resetting the adaptations on a ZF six speed transmission bmw transmission solenoid replacement - resetting the adaptations on a ZF six speed transmission bmw transmission solenoid replacement - resetting the adaptations on a ZF six speed transmission bmw transmission solenoid replacement - resetting the adaptations on a ZF six speed transmission bmw transmission solenoid replacement - resetting the adaptations on a ZF six speed transmission
  3. After the adaptations are reset, turn off the car and remove the key. You are now finished and can drive the vehicle.

 

BMW Transmission Solenoid Replacement Finished
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. And congratulations for Doing It Yourself!
lf!