ZF 8 issues/my driving style issues?

ZF 8 issues/my driving style issues?

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Discussion

SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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Right, I am fully aware that this could be me not used to driving an auto (it’s my first) but I cannot get on with the zf8 in my 320d.

I have had it just over 4 months and it just seems to mainly frustrate me. When pressing on or accelerating down a slip road etc it is silky smooth, but under light throttle it seems quite jerky.

For example, I go through some lanes every day to work which are a little twisty and a bit “up and down”. The gearbox on light throttle (often the case stuck behind someone going slowly or you are limited due to the rock hard ride) seems obsessed with getting to the highest gear at all costs. So it will change up to 7th or 8th at 45ish mph (which is like 1000rpm) then immediately think “oh st wrong gear” then change back down again. Sometimes it will decide to do this while it’s still changing up resulting in a sudden judder.

In general at lower speeds/light throttle the changes are not smooth at all (you can feel slip from the torque converter meaning a slight jolt) so when it is changing all the time up and down you notice it. If it was seamless I couldn’t care less what gear it’s in.

The way round for this is to drive a bit more lively and the gearbox is sweet and smooth, but obviously in the real world this is not ideal and you can often then find yourself going a little too quickly. Also the dog isn’t a fan when you are pressing on.

So, is it me? Is it my driving? Am I expecting too much from what others describe as one of the best autos on the market?

It’s getting to the point (as other issues are annoying me like squealing brake shoes from pull off that the local dealer are incapable of fixing/replicating the fault and the dealer pursuing me for the cost of a part replaced under warranty at the time that they are now claiming that it was retrofitted and I am chargeable - it’s not retrofitted) that I im considering jumping ship as I have been offered the bmw plus 800 quid from a dealer to replace with a gtd estate as the experience is soured somewhat.

It would be nice to keep the car as it’s lost 3k in 4 months but at the same time if I try and stick with it and and still want to kill the box in 6 months the cost to change will be much more.

So, is it me? A GTD is being brought in from a sister dealer to a local site next week so want to make a decision soon ish.

Please advise.

Thanks.

miniman

19,710 posts

205 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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Same box in my XF doesn't exhibit those characteristics, in very similar commuting conditions, although I suppose extra torque of 3 litre might let it trickle along happily in a "too high" gear.

cerb4.5lee

11,855 posts

123 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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I think it's a case of a good gearbox...mated to a poor engine.

SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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TBH the engine isn’t slow (I had a 118d manual as a courtesy car and even that felt fairly nippy) but I do understand what you mean.

I used to have a mk6 GTD and there was a noticeable torque curve on that. The 3 series seems to not be like that (but I suppose an auto box does that anyway). It can shift fairly well if you want it to though. But you could be right perhaps there just isn’t that low end torque like in the 6 pots to chug along at low rpm

Prinny

1,224 posts

42 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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The ZF8 is usually reckoned to be a very good autobox, so some more info please, that might help in determining a cause.

1 - what mode are you using it in? (sport/normal/eco-pro)
2 - do you have/use wheel paddles/ do you ever knock the lever left?

In my experience (none in a 320d specifically), eco-pro should only ever be used on the motorway as it dulls throttle response too much for the nip & tuck of traffic in a commuting scenario, while at your 40/45 b-road speed, knocking it into sport locks out 8th (maybe 7th too), so the car isn’t contantly trying to run at 1000rpm & then changing back down.

Paddles don’t specifcally matter as such, but I’ve always used them (when I have them) to try and promote a bit of engine breaking, or, as in the common rolling up to a roundabout scenario, getting the box into the gear I’ll want ahead of time, then letting the box slip back to auto 15sec later after the hazard/junction/whatever is passed.

The 320d is a good 2l diesel, as 2l diesel’s go, but it’s still always going to be constrained by the desire to be in the torque ‘sweet spot’, for emissions purposes, and that’s not the best for performance. Maybe (without being with you in the car, it can only be conjecture on my part) you’re trying to drive around the issue and therefore coming into conflict with the programming of the gearbox, which wants to do it differently?

Therefore feedback on modes, etc could help others with more expertise/direct knowledge than I. (Certainly compared to the older gearboxes like the ZF6-speed, the 8 is much better at locking up, much better at efficiently transmitting drive, rather than slip, so to hear you saying you feel slip suggests something’s at odds with intended, I’d say).

HTH.

Edit - while it’s a diesel & there’s a certain set of PH ‘hate’, I do of course mean ‘engine braking’, not using the paddles to try & kill it! laugh

Edited by Prinny on Sunday 31st December 18:34

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SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
quotequote all
Prinny said:
The ZF8 is usually reckoned to be a very good autobox, so some more info please, that might help in determining a cause.

1 - what mode are you using it in? (sport/normal/eco-pro)
2 - do you have/use wheel paddles/ do you ever knock the lever left?

In my experience (none in a 320d specifically), eco-pro should only ever be used on the motorway as it dulls throttle response too much for the nip & tuck of traffic in a commuting scenario, while at your 40/45 b-road speed, knocking it into sport locks out 8th (maybe 7th too), so the car isn’t contantly trying to run at 1000rpm & then changing back down.

Paddles don’t specifcally matter as such, but I’ve always used them (when I have them) to try and promote a bit of engine breaking, or, as in the common rolling up to a roundabout scenario, getting the box into the gear I’ll want ahead of time, then letting the box slip back to auto 15sec later after the hazard/junction/whatever is passed.

The 320d is a good 2l diesel, as 2l diesel’s go, but it’s still always going to be constrained by the desire to be in the torque ‘sweet spot’, for emissions purposes, and that’s not the best for performance. Maybe (without being with you in the car, it can only be conjecture on my part) you’re trying to drive around the issue and therefore coming into conflict with the programming of the gearbox, which wants to do it differently?

Therefore feedback on modes, etc could help others with more expertise/direct knowledge than I. (Certainly compared to the older gearboxes like the ZF6-speed, the 8 is much better at locking up, much better at efficiently transmitting drive, rather than slip, so to hear you saying you feel slip suggests something’s at odds with intended, I’d say).

HTH.

Edit - while it’s a diesel & there’s a certain set of PH ‘hate’, I do of course mean ‘engine braking’, not using the paddles to try & kill it! laugh

Edited by Prinny on Sunday 31st December 18:34
Thanks for the response. Generally I keep it in comfort mode and occasionally into sport if i want to floor it. I only used eco in the snow to prevent wheelspin. I do occasionally use the paddles/knock the shifter, but generally the paddles only if i dont want to wait for kickdown.

I did try driving a bit more with the shifter knocked left, but I found it was then hanging on to revs too much and was still a bit jerky when changing. On tuesday when doing the commute I will try it through the lanes.

However I also didn't mention the up/down/sometimes a jerk scenario was happening to me on the a57 going to/from friends in Sheffield at the weekend, and when using the a52 near Derby. Although the a57 is a bit hilly it is a dual carriageway with a 50 limit (same for the 52 but a bit less hilly) and it did still keep wanting to change up, then down then up, then down. It just didn't want to hold a gear at 1500 ish rpm.

Perhaps Im not cut out for Auto life, as in those scenarios in a manual it would probably have stayed in 5th rather than going to 6th.

Wills2

15,710 posts

118 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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ZF8 is a nice gearbox but there are still plenty of ghosts in the machine to annoy, lots of fanboys think it's amazing but it's got too many gears and shuffles about a bit and can find itself in no mans land if you coast up to a roundabout and then try and nip out, slow uphill left hand turns still fooled it as they do every auto box I've ever driven.

I've done about 80,000 miles in ZF8 cars from 184hp to 313hp and the traits were always the same. (I imagine someone will have already blamed your engine)


Maxus

555 posts

124 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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I'm on my 7th year of BMW 2.0d cars equipped with this gearbox (all 5 series), I have been nothing but impressed with the engine/gearbox combination. Once up to temperature and driving normally you can hardly feel the changes. It does use the torque of the engine in comfort mode which is great - keeps the diesel thrum down.
Regardless of driving condition the gearbox just does its thing and most of the time without me noticing.
I must say that you do feel more distant from the mechanics of what's going on in a 5 compared to a 3.
Sounds to me like something isn't quite right with your car. Do you do decent runs in it often or just short journeys? The DPF regeneration could display symptoms like you describe.

Prinny

1,224 posts

42 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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Interesting....

I ‘think’ what you’re seeing is maybe down to the fact that you are running right on the change points between gears. I.E. when you say you’re cruising on the a-road, you’re just on the cusp of the engine having enough power to drive in 8th on the flat, but an uphill section needs more power, and the turbo can’t run effectively at 1500rpm, so it’s changing down, in order to avoid labouring the engine. I used to get this in my volvo, where 31mph would sit in 4th, at 2k rpm, and 32mph was the switch to 5th. So, around town the engine always seemed to be revving higher than needed, but as above, as soon as the hills arrived, it’d have to drop a gear. A lot of mid 2000’s VAG were like this too - my feeling was that lots of German stuff is geared around the 50kph limit...

However, I wouldn’t expect the changes to be noticeably jerky, so maybe there’s something not quite right with your g/b? Have you got access to another one to try? As I said, I’ve no direct experience of the car/box combo (the closest was a week in a 520 about 2 yrs ago, so no real reference point to compare with).

Hopefully there will be someone along in a bit with more knowledge than I. Best of luck!

Mr Whippy

21,726 posts

184 months

Sunday 31st December 2017
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SteBrown91 said:
Thanks for the response. Generally I keep it in comfort mode and occasionally into sport if i want to floor it. I only used eco in the snow to prevent wheelspin. I do occasionally use the paddles/knock the shifter, but generally the paddles only if i dont want to wait for kickdown.

I did try driving a bit more with the shifter knocked left, but I found it was then hanging on to revs too much and was still a bit jerky when changing. On tuesday when doing the commute I will try it through the lanes.

However I also didn't mention the up/down/sometimes a jerk scenario was happening to me on the a57 going to/from friends in Sheffield at the weekend, and when using the a52 near Derby. Although the a57 is a bit hilly it is a dual carriageway with a 50 limit (same for the 52 but a bit less hilly) and it did still keep wanting to change up, then down then up, then down. It just didn't want to hold a gear at 1500 ish rpm.

Perhaps Im not cut out for Auto life, as in those scenarios in a manual it would probably have stayed in 5th rather than going to 6th.
The issue is it's programmed by dheads working at BMW.

Mine is annoyingly the same sometimes, and you can end up in a circle jerk with up/down shifting looking for where it'll accelerate in gear and not shift, then it does and you start accelerating too much or don't like it revving up, so you lift off and then it changes back up.

I drive mine almost exclusively with paddles now.

I can't cope with the comfort mode throttle lag or wky light steering for people who must want to steer with their little fingers.

In sport auto the gearbox turns to rag the tits off the engine mode, despite having twin sequential turbos and enough torque to be fast just revving to 2000rpm at part throttle.


Maybe on a motorway if I was really lazy and had given up on life itself I'd put it in comfort and find it useful.


It's annoying because I'm comfort the gear selections are tolerable and smooth, but then you have the daft throttle lag, as if you have loads of drivers drivers with lead boots and serious shakes and need to help the out.


Yes the ZF8 is imo a big pile of st in BMWs.
Great hardware, buggered up by dheads at BMW with their stupid calibrations.


Why oh why oh why it can't just see driver manual overrides and use them as a slowly developing table of calibration overrides to the defaults.

That way it'd learn how YOU liked your gears to be set and drive accordingly.

Sport, comfort and so on would then just set the aggressiveness of shifts more than artificially ragging the st out of the engine.

SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Monday 1st January 2018
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Cheers guys. I do around 18k a year on mixed back roads and NSL dual carriageways for work so dpf shouldn’t be an issue.

The changes aren’t jerky as such, but you can feel them (a bit like when in sport mode but not as sharp).

It’s good to hear that I’m not alone in that the gearbox is not the 8th wonder of the world!

I’ll have a play tomorrow to see if I can make things better.

It’s in BMW Friday anyway for the stupid squealing brakes so I’ll also mention the gearbox then.

Cheers

REALIST123

11,387 posts

96 months

Monday 1st January 2018
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To be honest, the ZF8 is very good when it’s in good condition but it’s not unknown for it to have issues such as you describe or to be noisy in 1,2 or several gears

The 5 series I’ve just sold was beginning to whine especially at low revs in lower gears. Sounded particularly bad creeping round a car park for example. (4 yo and 45k)

It’s changes were hardly noticeable though, but it would hang on to high gears at very low revs in Eco.

Unlike others I did use Eco on ‘normal’ roads as well as motorways. There’s little to be gained on the motorway, most of its benefits are gained elsewhere. I never found it that bad, though I had 3.0 6 with a lot of torque. It never needed more than the occasional paddle down change to keep up with things.

I have an XF now with the same box. This is silent, at the moment, and similarly smooth on changes, except at low speed accelerating when the 1-2, 2-3 changes can be felt. Then again it’s petrol with shorter ratios.

SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Monday 1st January 2018
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Right, well I just went out for a 30 mile drive through lanes, NSL dual carriageways and 40/50mph d/c. The gearbox performed faultlessly and smooth apart from at one point as I caught up a car going up a hill (and I eased the throttle as i was catching up) where it went to change up then backed out and changed down, and it did judder a little. However I suppose it cannot be telepathic. Perhaps I need to adapt my style to just lift totally off the throttle rather than slowly reduce throttle as I catch up a car.

I think it is potentially my driving that was the issue.

Thinking about it today I have been clock watching the “analogue” mpg graphic on the black panel display. So I disabled it in the idrive settings and will see how I get on (was fine on the drive other than the one wobble above).

I will see how I go this week I think but I’ll mention it to the dealer when it’s in on Friday.

Thanks for the advice so far I’ll update in a few days

Smuler

1,973 posts

82 months

Monday 1st January 2018
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SteBrown91 said:
Right, well I just went out for a 30 mile drive through lanes, NSL dual carriageways and 40/50mph d/c. The gearbox performed faultlessly and smooth apart from at one point as I caught up a car going up a hill (and I eased the throttle as i was catching up) where it went to change up then backed out and changed down, and it did judder a little. However I suppose it cannot be telepathic. Perhaps I need to adapt my style to just lift totally off the throttle rather than slowly reduce throttle as I catch up a car.

I think it is potentially my driving that was the issue.

Thinking about it today I have been clock watching the “analogue” mpg graphic on the black panel display. So I disabled it in the idrive settings and will see how I get on (was fine on the drive other than the one wobble above).

I will see how I go this week I think but I’ll mention it to the dealer when it’s in on Friday.

Thanks for the advice so far I’ll update in a few days
I read your first post. Not sure if I understood it fully, but if reminded me of the brief dissatisfaction I had with a DCT in my 335i which was my first non manual ; I googled the issue and suggestion was to reset throttle adaptions. Not everyone believed the methods but it Worked a treat. smile

I’d bought car used , previous owner was a very different driver to me so I figured it had learnt his style. wink

I googled just now and as an example this thread (didn’t read it all) seemed to be raising similar issues for ZF8 so I attach.

I actually now have the ZF8 in a X1; I Drive it really hard and I’ve had it from new maybe that’s why I have none of these issues ?

http://f30.bimmerpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=...

Mike335i

2,403 posts

45 months

Monday 1st January 2018
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Have used the ZF8 in am X1 2.0d, g30 520d and a 218d Gran Tourer. In each it shuffled around the gears so much it irritated, was far smoother downshifting than up and sport mode made it either rev beyond the powerband.

They worked OK when in traffic and cruising, but they took any fun out of driving that could have been there.

SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Tuesday 2nd January 2018
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Smuler said:
I read your first post. Not sure if I understood it fully, but if reminded me of the brief dissatisfaction I had with a DCT in my 335i which was my first non manual ; I googled the issue and suggestion was to reset throttle adaptions. Not everyone believed the methods but it Worked a treat. smile

I’d bought car used , previous owner was a very different driver to me so I figured it had learnt his style. wink

I googled just now and as an example this thread (didn’t read it all) seemed to be raising similar issues for ZF8 so I attach.

I actually now have the ZF8 in a X1; I Drive it really hard and I’ve had it from new maybe that’s why I have none of these issues ?

http://f30.bimmerpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=...
I did a throttle map reset but no different. However, the way it presented today suggests that it might not actually be the gearbox. I was in 8th at 75ish mph and it stuttered then. I managed to figure how to repeat it after and it happens if I am on very light throttle (almost coasting) then when I press the throttle further the car stutters/judders then gets going.



chrisgeary

84 posts

98 months

Tuesday 2nd January 2018
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That sounds familiar. Does it only happen in 8th around 1500rpm? I used to have an F11 525d with the ZF8. After a remap, it would 'stutter' in 8th at 1500rpm or so. Light throttle only and pretty regularly.

I could only ever get it to happen on the motorway at a steady speed (around 60mph or so) in 8th gear, always while going slightly uphill using more throttle to maintain speed. It certainly didn't happen when accelerating from rest in any throttle position or accelerating moderately or with full throttle.

2. A specific throttle position seems to trigger it, around 1500rpm, 8th gear producing just over 120lb ft torque on the 'sports display' readout or between 35 and 40mpg on the realtime mpg-o-meter. It almost felt like I was pushing through a dodgy part of the throttle, like a bad connection and if I push a little further, the power would come on stronger and the cutouts would stop.

Removing the remap resolved the issue (this happened twice which confirmed it).

SwissJonese

1,263 posts

118 months

Tuesday 2nd January 2018
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The 8 speeder step auto in my 118i was dreadful. Coming from a C350 Merc which had the most perfect auto I have every used, this BMW unit was truly the worst. Not quite the same as you but mine used to be jerky when cold. Felt like a clutch slipping and would almost kangaroo out of junctions. I spoke to a mechanic about it and he said yes quite common as it is trying to simulate a DSG? I sold the car within a year.

SteBrown91

Original Poster:

1,315 posts

72 months

Tuesday 2nd January 2018
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chrisgeary said:
That sounds familiar. Does it only happen in 8th around 1500rpm? I used to have an F11 525d with the ZF8. After a remap, it would 'stutter' in 8th at 1500rpm or so. Light throttle only and pretty regularly.

I could only ever get it to happen on the motorway at a steady speed (around 60mph or so) in 8th gear, always while going slightly uphill using more throttle to maintain speed. It certainly didn't happen when accelerating from rest in any throttle position or accelerating moderately or with full throttle.

2. A specific throttle position seems to trigger it, around 1500rpm, 8th gear producing just over 120lb ft torque on the 'sports display' readout or between 35 and 40mpg on the realtime mpg-o-meter. It almost felt like I was pushing through a dodgy part of the throttle, like a bad connection and if I push a little further, the power would come on stronger and the cutouts would stop.

Removing the remap resolved the issue (this happened twice which confirmed it).
No it does it under other gears/situations too (there’s a junction at the crest of a hill, did it there as I came up to it gently to allow a car coming the other way, as soon as I increased throttle it kangarooed. It’s almost like the turbo is stalling.

I’ve 90% made my mind up now I think, if this GTD is in good nick on Saturday think I’m going to have it.

chrisgeary

84 posts

98 months

Tuesday 2nd January 2018
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A healthy car shouldn't drive like that, might be worth getting the dealer to take a look/read fault codes etc.