MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
September 10, 2019

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Seeking Transmission Fluid Excellence

New Infineum transmission fluid proven by severe test trials

As transmission makers work to minimize fuel consumption while improving acceleration and driving comfort, they are making significant changes to their hardware. Lighter weight systems, an increased number of speeds and new gear set designs with fewer shift elements are just some of the changes designed to improve driveability and fuel economy.

In the latest automatic transmission designs, fluids must be engineered to improve gear and bearing efficiency while also delivering wear protection over longer drain intervals - even when the components are heavily loaded. Today’s transmission fluids not only help to improve efficiency and driveability, they also have to ensure exceptional hardware protection.

Today, many OEMs mandate the generation of field test data in order to obtain their specific approvals. For example, Infineum International Ltd. has an impressive track record in managing and delivering field trials that help deliver the performance vehicle manufacturers and consumers can rely on. Recently, Infineum designed a new rigorous field trial or 62,000 miles to meet some of the most severe requirements for automatic transmissions. The company shared this test with MOTOR readers.

As performance requirements for the transmission market continue to increase, Infineum continually evolves to find the right fluid solutions. Field testing provides a true test of the quality of its technology. (All images — Infineum International Ltd.)

Demanding Field Trial Proves Product Performance
To assess the performance of its new automatic transmission fluid (ATF) formulation, Infineum designed a severe field trial to meet the challenging requirements for ZF systems. The testing took place in three of the latest production BMW 5 Series passenger cars, fitted with ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s eight-speed automatic transmission systems. Two of the vehicles were used to test the Infineum candidate ATF, while the other was filled with ZF’s standard factory fill fluid to act as a reference.

The new demanding field trials in extreme real world conditions push transmission technology to its limits, noted Infineum. After an initial 1,850 miles run-in period, the vehicles were loaded to their maximum allowable weight (1,100 pounds) and run over diverse driving conditions for 62,000 miles. The test route included a small proportion of city roads and cross-country routes. Almost 75 percent of the test drives were on highways, primarily selected to enable the vehicles to be pushed up to speeds of 120 mph.

To increase the severity of the trial, for 50 percent of the time the vehicles were hitched to fully loaded hard-top trailers, increasing air drag and adding another 4,400 pounds. This pushed the overall vehicle weight up to more than 4.5 tons, which meant the maximum speed was reduced to 62 mph to adhere to legal limits. In addition, the transmission fluids were not changed throughout the entire 62,000 miles field trial, although regular oil samples were taken for analysis.

Designed to meet the most severe requirements for ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s 8-Speed automatic transmissions, Infineum took three of the latest production BMW 5 Series passenger cars and loaded them to their maximum allowable weight. In addition, for 50 percent of the trial Infineum also attached a fully loaded air drag trailer to each vehicle, adding another 4,400 pounds, resulting in an overall vehicle weight of over 4.5 tons. The maximum highway driving speed was 62 miles to ensure the legal limit.

Assessing the Results From Start to Finish
Professional engineers and drivers carried out the driveability assessments. The first was conducted after the run-in driving period, the second at 31,000 miles and the last at the end of the test.

Here the shifts during a variety of driving operations, for example, acceleration, deceleration and kick down, (where the driver shifts down to accelerate quickly) were rated. While all of the vehicles showed fluid performance degradation at the end of the test, no issues were raised by the drivers.

Each of the three vehicles driveability was evaluated at the start, middle and end of the 62,000 miles test drive. The transmission demonstrated excellent shift behavior at each stage of the trial, indicating the remarkable anti-shudder durability performance of the fluid in these truly demanding conditions. When the transmission hardware was inspected at the end trial, all of the parts equipped with Infineum ATF gave an outstanding result — still almost like brand new and capable of going a much further distance.

However, some harshness of shifts during kick down was noted and an increase in the level of shudder when shifting from reverse to first gear was felt. In each of these tests, the Infineum candidate ATF provided better driveability performance than the factory fill reference fluid.

In particular, the transmission demonstrated excellent shift behavior indicating the remarkable anti-shudder durability performance of the new fluid under these tough conditions. The inspection gave an outstanding result – all of the parts were in near perfect condition.

In its final inspection, Infineum shared these outstanding results. Looking at the gears, one usually finds micro pitting, larger pitting or wear. But the Infineum ATF parts still looked almost like new. Finding zero issues with key components such as the gears, friction plates and bearings was truly outstanding after such severe testing over 62,000 miles and demonstrated the superior performance Infineum’s technology can provide in real-world driving conditions.

To assess wear performance, elemental analysis of the ATF was carried out during the trial. No concerning levels of wear element ingress for either the candidate or the reference oils were observed.

After 62,000 miles in these very severe conditions it would be normal to find micro pitting or pitting or wear in the gears. But, upon inspecting the transmission hardware at the end of the trial, almost no sign of these issues was found. In addition, no issues at all were reported with any of the key components, including the gears, friction plates and bearings.

Infineum noted that the results from this extreme testing program confirmed to the company the reliability of its new automatic transmission fluid. It demonstrated that Infineum’s ATF technology delivers superior performance that can meet even severe real world driving conditions.

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