If you are an A8 (or other type Audi) owner with the misfortune of a transmission that went bad and need a replacement, this article can help you out to get a quality rebuilt transmission at a reasonable price. This article is based on a personal visit to the ZF facility in May, 2003.
The manufacturer of the transmission, ZF Industries, has started an aftermarket remanufacturing program. This includes the 4 speed models found in the 92-94 100's, 95-97 A6 and V8 models. Five speed automatics include all transmission found in the A4's, A6's and A8's.
Click here to see a complete listing of ZF remanufactured transmissions (170K PDF file).
The remanufacturing is being performed at the ZF facility in Vernon Hills, Illinois. It's about 40 minutes Northwest of Chicago. This facility previously built new transmissions and did some remanufacuturing, but it is now solely dedicated to remanufacturing. Besides the Audi transmissions, ZF rebuilds BMW and other make transmissions at the Vernon Hills facility.
ZF is Supporting the Aftermarket
This is a new program for ZF, started in June 2003. Why is ZF now getting into this market? Because ZF feels this is the best way to service the market. To date (May 2003) most of the transmissions supplied to customers as rebuilt units are supplied through Audi's dealer network. They actually get rebuilt units from ZF in Germany. They are shipped overseas and then go through a distribution channel to the dealers. There are multiple mark ups, transportation costs, plus the core has to go back overseas. This leads to high prices.
ZF is also aware that many of these Audi's and VW's (they will be doing the Passat transmissions too, same as the A4 transmissions) are out of warranty now and there will be a greater need for a more economical repair method.
ZF will distribute the transmissions through key distributors and they will resell to transmission shops. In other words, you will only deal with your transmission shop. ZF will have rebuilt transmissions in stock and ready to be drop shipped to your transmission shop. The core goes back and it is rebuilt.
ZF has a test stand (input power and inertia loading) to test all transmissions. It has three loading devices, one for each axle plus one for the rear output shaft that would couple to the drive shaft. It is a required piece of test equipment to ensure a proper repair is completed.
The facility is extremely clean and organized. It has a HUGE amount of spare parts ready to go into transmissions, and some really neat ways to house them.