Even though I live in west central Florida, not exactly a cold climate, my car (2007 Aston Martin Vantage V8) will not shift from first to second when the gearbox is cold. After 10 minutes or so of driving, once the gearbox oil has reached operating temperature, shifting is noticeable improved.
Information gleaned from the Aston Martin Owners Club and 6 Speed online discussions lists indicated that Aston Martin was aware of this problem and devised a fix, issued under Service Bulletin 0236. (Partly photographed below).
The solution required a new transmission bell crank shift lever, along with changing the Transaxle oil to a special blend manufactured by Castrol. This oil is a lighter viscosity. No doubt other additives were added to this oil to enhance the gearbox's ability to shift while cold.
Castrol identified this oil as Castrol BOT 270A
When contacted Castrol indicated this oil was specially developed for Aston Martin and was not available to the public. Itsís only available from Aston Martin dealers.
The part numbers for Service Bulletin 0236 are listed below
6G33-75106-AA/S Transaxle Oil Castrol BOT 270A (Quantity 5 Liters).
6G33-7C270-AA New Bell Crank Lever.
4G43-27-10245 Transaxle plug sealing washers (Quantity 2)
702210 Gearbox mount bolts (Quantity 8)
Changing the gearbox mounting bolts might be overkill. I suspect most dealers simply reuse the old bolts.
Below is a photograph of the Castrol BOT 270A oil one quart container purchased from the dealer.
The oil is sometimes supplied directly to the dealers is a slightly different container. (Photographed below).
Unfortunately this bulletin was only available by customer complaint only, for cars under warranty within a specific VIN number range. My car was out of warranty, so I would have to pay for this.
The bell crank lever is anywhere from $650.00 to $800.00, with the oil costing upwards of $65.00 per quart. Labor will range from 2.5 hours and up.
Note that the Aston Martin mechanics make more per hour than my Cardiologist. Be prepared to pay approximately $2000.00 US dollars for this work.
I decided to have Service Bulletin 0236 done.
I live in Florida, almost equidistant between the Aston Martin dealers in Pinellas Park Tampa and the dealer in Orlando. I decided to go to the Orlando dealer.I arrived at the Orlando dealership at approx. 9AM and was greeted by the service manager. My request to speak to the mechanic was gladly granted. The mechanic said he was familiar with the bulletin and had done this particular process a number of times.
I noted that the bulletin required the removal of a specific amount of plastic from the gear shift base. This was done to make it easier to select reverse. Since I had no issues getting into reverse, and since I believe that if is not broken donít fix it, I asked the mechanic not to do this part of the service bulletin.
I also inquired if he was going to drain the oil cooler, he said that was not necessary, as only a small amount of oil remained in the cooler once the transaxle was drained.
The car was place on a lift and the under tray and center pipes removed. The transaxle was supported and the transaxle mount bolts removed. The transaxle was lowered enough to gain access to the top of the gearbox where the bell crank levers are located.
Below is a photograph of an out of car gearbox, with the original bell crank levers. The Service bulletin requires lowering the gearbox just enough to gain access to replace the longer crank lever (blue arrow).
The larger lever was removed and compared with the replacement. Photographed below are the backs of the original lever with its counter weight, (red arrow) and its replacement.
The blue arrow (photograph below) indicates the original bell crank lever's pin with the counter weight attached. The red arrow indicates the new revised bell crank lever's pin as specified under Service Bulletin 0236.
Note the slight difference in the locations of the actuating pins (blue and red arrows). The revised lever's pin is marginally farther away from the attachment point (green arrow) that the original lever.
Essentially the new bell crank lever (red arrow) lengthens the distance between the gearshift cable attachment point (red arrow) and the lever's attachment point to the gearbox (green arrow) This slight offset of the pins would make the first to second gearshift throw slightly longer (more distance to travel), but also increase the force applied to the gearbox. It would appear that less effort is now required at the gearshift to get the car into second gear.
The manual calls for 5.3 Quarts of transaxle fluid, however by not draining the oil cooler. only 5 quarts of the Castrol BOT 270A oil was needed.
The real question is, does the modifications specified by Service Bulletin 0236 work?
The short answer is YES and NO.
I waited until the next morning, when the car was cold to test the first to second gear shift. It was flawless, the gearbox behaved exactly as if it was fully warmed up.
A few weeks went by, and in late November, one night the temperature in west central Florida (Tampa area) dropped overnight to approx. 40 degrees. The next day, the gearbox refused to go into second gear after exiting my driveway. After a few minutes of driving it became slightly better, and after it reached operating temperatures it was fine.
It appears that Service Bulletin 0236 might very well be a fix for warm temperatures only. When cold (below 40 degrees) my car exhibited the same reluctance to shift into second gear as it did prior to Service Bulletin 0236.
Any car currently having this first to second shift problem is probably out of warranty. That said, my advice for anyone having this problem is to have it done.
While not a complete cure, it does improve the shifting (at least in Florida) enough to warrant the expense.
If money is an issue (and it always is) then skip the bell crank lever upgrade. You will save some money and I believe the effect should be minimal at best.
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