Alfa Romeo 164 3.0 12 Valve  Auto Transmission Fluid and Filter change

Alfa Romeo 164 3.0 12 Valve  Auto Transmission Fluid and Filter change

James Copp-Taylor

Back in the early to mid 2000s, I owned a series of Alfa Romeo 164 3.0 12 valves. The cars were agony and ecstasy, in equal measure. I adored them.

The 164 3.0 12 valve, uses the ZF 4HP18. This auto trans-axle was shared with the Saab 9000, but also found in the Citroen XM and Peugeot 605, among others. The unit has a lock up facility, in 3rd and 4th gear, to aid fuel economy.

In the Alfa and Saab, the cooling setup used a small, separate radiator, which was controlled by a thermostat, mounted into the front of the transmission. To the top of the transmission, a lid, covering the valve block.

Empty to full, from memory, the transmission take around 7-8 litres of Dextron 2 transmission fluid.

To change the fluid and filter, you need to order the correct filter, and order in two 5 litre bottles of Dex2, to be safe.

  • Jack the vehicle up, and support it safely, using axle stands. I tend to leave the trolley jack in place and place the spare wheel under the car.
  • The transmission has a drain bolt, this will drain a certain amount of ATF, I tended to drain the fluid, first, via this drain point.
  • The filter is located under a removable circular panel on the base of the transmission, the panel is held in with three bolts, 10-12mm from memory
  • The panel should come off by hand, it’s held in with a stout rubber ring seal, so may ‘pop’ suddenly. Have your drain tub underneath, to catch the remaining ATF, if you haven’t drained the transmission via the drain bolt, first, fluid will literally fall out in a torrent! A deep drain tray is a must.
  • recover the old filter, and install the new one.
  • Refit the cover
  • Refill the transmission via the Dipstick tube
  • Start filling, check the dipstick, regularly, and stop when you hit the point inbetween min and max.
  • Start the engine, select each gear in turn. Hold car on the brake pedal. Select R, D, then the lower ranges, then back into park. Spend a couple of seconds in each selection.
  • Turn off the car, check the level and top off to maximum.
  • Lower the car, go for a test drive, enough to warm the car.
  • Re-check the level and top off if required.

Drain the old fluid at a local recycling facility.