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2000 S type V6 dashboard warning light - GEARBOX FAULT


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Hello everyone,

puchased the car in June 2022 which  has only done 37,000 miles. Have done lot's of minor work myself, including  the usual fluid/ filter changes etc. and car drives absolutely perfectly.

The gearbox also worked perfectly but as the fluid had never been changed thought I would use  an autobox specialist  to change it.

cost was high ( £288 incl Vat) but I thought it important - (work carried out  September 2022) 

Got the car back and all was fine until this morning - GEARBOX FAULT - light on.  I have only done 350 miles since they changed the ATF so didn't expect that.

Now, of course, the fault may be a coincidence and not related to the ATF change,  but I'm a little miffed to say the least and will speak to the specialist tomorrow.

Any suggestions as to my approach?

would appreciate any advise

Thank you,


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Do you know if they used the correct fluid? Also is yours a 5 or 6 speed auto? I'm assuming petrol V6 which (i believe) should be the Ford 5R55 5-speed auto box which requires Mercon V or compatible fluid.

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Hello Dave,

thanks for your reply. 

Yes, mine's the 3 litre petrol with a 5 speed auto box, but I don't know what ATF they  put in it.  I' m hoping the fluid is correct, since they specialise only in autobox repairs, but I will ask of course.

I spoke  with them yesterday  and told them of the the GEARBOX FAULT warning light.  Was told to bring it back for a diagnostic which would be free of charge. Earliest date  is 31st January. Advised them the car drive's perfectly - no difference with the warning light on and asked if it is ok to use. Told me yes, provided things don't change. If it does bring the car in immediately and they will fit me in.

So, will post what happens.

thank you,


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I'm not sure how "sensitive" the Ford gearbox is to "odd" ATF, after all it has its roots in the C3 autobox as fitted to Cortinas, Granadas etc from the 70s, revamped into a 4-speed during the 80s/90s and generally was specified with Type F which was essentially the same as Dexron.

I'm not sure how it's been changed so they only specify Mercon V (not done enough research yet to find the reason) so keep an eye on things between now and 31st January - if you hear any odd noises or things seem to be warmer than usual then get it in to the gearbox people ASAP.

Could be something as simple as the level has dropped, it needs to be set with the engine and box hot and idling in P or N and a level plug removed so the excess overflows - a ramp is needed!

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Thanks Dave,

Apprciate your advise and as you say the fault could be lot's of things.

Checked the invoice from the specialist and they used Dextron 6 ATF,  (6 qty @ £12 plus vat - so assuming 6 litres)

 It's not a daily driver but I like to drive it once a week, or so,  for minimum 10-20 miles

Drove it today and all seems fine, as far as I can tell, and although these cars needs to be driven regularly , I'm a bit nervous about that , for all the reasons you mention above.

Plus if the gearbox really did go tit's up and I take it back - they will probably say - well you shouldn't have driven it!

So, I think I'll just start the engine once or twice a week, on my drive and take it in on 31st January and see what their diagnostics reveal.  

Will keep you posted.

Thanks again,


PS - I had forgotten how good these cars are to drive - and I'm told our early models are the best?

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Ah, Dexron (no "T" in it) 6 is too thin, should be more like Dexron III so that could well be causing the problem! I'd go for Carlube ATF-U or NAPA MVA ATF or Maxlife equivalent. Should be about 30-32 SAE viscosity, can't remember the viscosity of Dex 6 but know it's thinner.

I've not driven the later ones but i certainly like driving mine!

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Couple of links there that confirm alternative use for Mercon V and also to replace Dexron III. Seems like the "specialist" has used the wrong fluid!

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Hello Dave,

Thank you for that, which is very interesting.   Will check out the link and hold the details until I get their diagnostic result and depending upon what they say, will challenge them on the subject. 

Thanks again for your research.


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You're welcome Harry, it's a bit of a passion of mine as for many years i ran a Rover 827 Sterling (still got it but a careless MoT welder/tester has made it unsafe to be tested without some serious welding - long and painful story!) and that uses a Honda autobox which requires a specific ATF. It is an unusual design in as much as it is essentially a manual gearbox, electronically shifted using hydraulic clutch packs in place of the synchro hubs but with all gears in constant mesh. The adhesive used to bond the friction linings on the hydraulic clutch packs is destroyed by something in Dexron II-D ATF resulting in no drive at all so it must have a Honda Z1 ATF compatible fluid.

This is why i've done a fair bit of research into various fluids and their compatibility with certain boxes - still new to the S Type so on a steep learning curve.

Doing the research for you has done me a favour though as before the problem with the Rover happened, i had bought a few gallons (yes, it's still sold in gallons) of Carlube ATF-U which i use in both my Rover and 1988 Volvo 760GLE. Thinking i'd be set up for life (and longer!) for changing the Volvo ATF (assuming the Rover goes to a new home of some sort) i'm glad i can use it in my Jag as well.

I'll be surprised if the specialist admits their mistake, also i wonder if they actually took the car out to get the transmission fluid hot enough to open the cooling system? From what i can work out from a brief read through the Jag WSM, it seems the box has to reach a certain temperature before it opens the fluid cooling circuit which then results in a drop in the level of fluid in the box. I may have misunderstood but it seems this can change the level in the box by ~1/2 gallon or 2.25 L which would be enough to show a fault condition. Also with the thinner Dexron 6 they used, there is the likelihood of overheating the torque converter, leaks due to it being too thin and generally low pressure, again because it's thin.

Your idea to see what they come up with is a good one, if they come up with a non-committal reason, challenging them on the fluid should be a good response. I believe later S Types with the ZF box used a thinner fluid similar to Dexron 6 so they may have just "assumed" (read "not bothered checking") the early cars with the Ford box would also use it. Checking the WSM, 2003 on cars used ATF equivalent to Shell M1375.4 which just happens to be equivalent to Dexron VI or Dexron 6 - clearly they've used the wrong fluid in your box! 😮


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Just to confirm the different fluids for the early and later S Types :


As you'll see, early cars use Mercon V, alternatives already linked to above and later cars use Shell M1375.4 equivalent to Dexron 6/Dexron VI so you can show that to the specialist too. 😉 😄

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Hello Dave,

thanks for the info. 

I've printed out the Lube table you provided and as you say, it shows Mercon V as the correct fluid for the 3l and 4L engines, so I'll take that with me when I take the car in.

Interestingly, the car handbook says the autobox is sealed for life and does not require ATF change, but as an ex engineer ( sounds like you are one as well), it's counter intuitive to me,  Seems opinion is divided on that. Our cars are 22 years old + and since I guessed mine (with 37,000miles) had never been changed thought it best to have it done. My friend whose  had his '99 model for about 12years (128,000miles) has never had his changed at all, and it runs perfectly - so who knows?

After the ATF change at the 'specialist'  I asked them about the condition of the box which seemed to surprise them,  (quite a natural question to me).

Anyway the technician who did the work said the box was in good condition, saying that the magnet in the sump had only a trace of metal on it. 

Your note about autobox fluid changes requiring a particular procedure is absolutely true, (not like an engine Oil change) wish I'd known you, back in the day when I cracked  the autobox casing on my Cadillac Eldorado due to overpressure. It was a combination of ignorance/stupidity and lack of research.  (basically, the dipstick showed low level so I simply topped it up - dumbass)  

The Rover Sterling was a beautiful car - they were top of the range I think.  shame your's is not on the road, they are rare classics now. Another friend had a Rover 600 which he loved, although not so luxurious, but engine overheating problems forced him to sell it.

Sorry to ramble on but, like you, I also had a Volvo 760 GLE, same year, I think, and it was probably the best car I've had, so your 760 is probably as good now, as it was then.

Anyway Dave, thanks again  for your advise.

will keep you posted.



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Hi Harry,

you're welcome, glad to help!

My thoughts exactly about changing the fluid, in another part of the Jag WSM, it states the box is filled for life but if a particular car is subject to heavy use, change the ATF at 80k miles. All other cars i've ever known specify 24k miles but the fact the ATF in the Jag is synthetic means it should last longer.

However, nothing lasts forever in lubricants as i'm sure you know. With that in mind i would probably extend the change interval to 48k using synthetic fluid but only on a car in regular use. For infrequent or shorter journeys i'd probably stick to the 24k - after all, fresh fluid every few years at a lower mileage is still cheaper than a rebuild on the box.

The Rover Sterling was indeed top of the range when new and still a beautiful car IMHO. In all honesty if it hadn't been for the abominable welding job (and then only half done) it would still be on the road now. Things aren't so easy for me these days as they once were or i'd have welded it myself in the first place, i may have to do it bit by bit as and when i can and return it to the road.

I have also owned a Rover 600 and also it's USA built stablemate, the Honda Accord Coupe 2.2 - the UK model so didn't come with the V6 C27 engine they got stateside sadly.

No worries about rambling on, my 760 has 233k miles on now and is throwing a few electrical gremlins (fuel gauge and Bulb Failure Unit) but other than that is going well. Had to weld a small patch for the MoT about 18 months back but other than routine servicing it's behaved well and is surprisngly economical on a longer run.

Yes, you're correct about me also being an engineer - my view on "filled for life" gearboxes and engines etc is that the manufacturers say that so when the unit gives up the ghost due to insufficient lubrication, they can say it's the end of it's life and you need a new one at however much, just to bump their spares sales.

I have heard that certain enthusiasts in Germany of certain marques have resorted to drilling and tapping drain and refil plug holes in their engines and gearboxes so they can renew the fluids, rather than have those items expire due to lack of lube.

Good luck with the autobox specialist, between your invoice showing Dexron 6 and the lube chart specifying Mercon V, they should agree they filled it with the wrong fluid.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Dave,

long story short - took the jag out late last week for a short run (still drives perfectly) before taking it back to the specialist and guess what - the  gearbox fault light went out. 

Kept my appointment with the them and told them I was now wondering why the fault wasn't showing.

Got the Jag back today and was told they found several error codes. 

P0705 - range sensor circuit malfunction

P0765 -shift solenoid 'D'

range sensor circuit intermittent malfunction

As an advisory they recommend replacing the solenoids and range switch  (cost£1000 approx) but since car drives ok, just continue to use it and  return to them if situation worsens.

Questioned them about the ATF fluid compared with your spec - they said there might be some differences but they are confident Dextron 6 is correct and in any case that would not have caused the faults as above.

Drove the car home and it drives just as well as it has always done - so maybe I just have to wait and see?






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12 minutes ago, harryflier said:

long story short - took the jag out late last week for a short run (still drives perfectly) before taking it back to the specialist and guess what - the  gearbox fault light went out. 

Kept my appointment with the them and told them I was now wondering why the fault wasn't showing.

The fluid would have been cold and remained failry cool on a short run Harry, hence it would provide the pressure needed to operate the box correctly. Here is a link on the "Bob is the Oil guy" forum trying to compare the two :


The maximum viscosity of Dexron 6 is lower than the minimum viscosity of Mercon V meaning it is too thin for use in the 5R55E gearbox in your Jag.

Takes a bit of finding in that thread but it's in there.

Also a bit of anecdotal evidence  as it concerns Honda ATF Z-1 and Honda ATF DW-1. In the USA, Honda faced a class-action lawsuit from upset owners of cars older than ~2006 because they discontinued Z-1 and replaced it with DW-1 insisting it was backwards compatible.

In short, DW-1 is roughly similar to Dex 6 and Z-1 was roughly similar to Mercon V and the disgruntled Honda owners had symptoms ranging from leaks and poor changes to fried torque converters becausse the TCs had overheated due to the thinner Oil!

If the two fluids were so close and interchangeable, i'm sure JLR would have said you can use Dex 6 in older transmissions, they insist it must be Mercon V and also, on some of the Hondas, i've known of some very strange faults such as speed sensor intermittent and/or failed, poor shift quality, overheating and so on because owners in this country have used DW-1 because that's what Honda supplied them with. I moderate on a Honda V6 forum (a UK forum as well) so have seen many things come up as a result of incorrect ATF.

My ultimate opinion on this is that you should have the ATF changed at the earliest opportunity, perhaps by a Jag specialist, to the correct Mercon V or equivalent.

While reviewing the results of my search on "viscosity comparison Mercon V and Dexron 6" i also found this link :

https://team.valvoline.com/product-recommender?engine_id=d9ebd677d89e7c4d034aaaa34ecfccd3&year=1999&make=Jaguar&model=S-Type%2C X200 (1999-2007)&engine=S-Type 3.0 V6 (1999-2001)&mileage=0 - 74%2C999&retailer=&path=rawfinder

They also say if you need Mercon V NOT to use Dexron VI - let's face it, if you're on an Oil manufacturers website, chances are you'll buy the product from them so they have no axe to grind in terms of recommending a different fluid to what is needed. They will recommend the correct fluid and i've just tried their "Product Recommender" again this time with the same spec (1999 S-Type 3.0V6) but with higher mileage of 75000+ and it still returned the same Valvoline ATF for Mercon V and second choice was Valvoline MaxLife MVATF (MultiVehice) which is very similar to the Carlube ATF-U i suggested further up.

As an exercise, i checked using the same details agin except the year, changed that to 2006 and it came up with a different ATF - Valvoline Extended Protection Full Synthetic ATF to be exact. The second choice again was MaxLife MV ATF which is a more universal fluid.

I would either have another go at the (alleged) automatic transmission specialist and get them to change the fluid for Mercon V or a good equivalent or take it to a Jag specialist and get them to do it. I've always maintained it's cheaper to change the correct fluid than change the gearbox! I know this will likely cost you money to have the fluid changed again but better that than having to fork out for a replacement gearbox and/or torque converter.

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Hello Dave,

Thanks for your reply on what should have been a straightforward job for a 'specialist'

I really appreciate the time, effort and research (apart from your obvious in depth knowledge) and the courtesy you have shown me and in view of that I am not going to use the Jag until I arrange for the ATF to be changed to Mercon V or the Valvoline equivalent you mention. I anticipate that will be sometime next week. 

I won't be using the 'specialist' as I don't tust them anymore not giving a sufficiently good explanation for the use of  Dextron 6 and the  'new' fault codes which seem to have coincidentally 'popped' up. 

So, I'm going to swot -up this weekend to learn and digest what you have suggested and gain a much better knowledge on the subject when I select a reputable garage for the ATF change. 

thanks, once again, Dave, I'll post the results.









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You're very welcome Harry, glad i could help!

I hope you're able to find a suitable place to change the fluid to the proper stuff and clear the faults so it can be monitored afterwards.

Looking forward to a successful conclusion from you in the near future!

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Hello Dave,  

Well, having spent most of the weekend trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, I have come to the same conclusion as you. Dexron V1 mainly because of it's lower viscosity, is the incorrect ATF fluid, and as you quite rightly advised initially, it should be Mercon V or equivalent. (My understanding is Dex V1 is equivalent to Mercon LV  and perhaps from that tenuous, but erroneous  link, interchangeability may be assumed -  but it's incorrect - Mercon LV cannot be used.

so, I questioned the specialist (politely)  who said they use Dexron V1 routinely in their work on the basis that Dexron V1 is backward compatible and is suitable for most transmissions. ( maybe so, but not true for our particular vehicles)

However, to his credit he did say that they would replace the fluid (FOC) with whatever fluid I wanted and apologised for not advising me on the type of fluid they were proposing to use initially,  (citing a previous similar experience he had with a customer.) 

Bottom line is I'll select a fluid ( probably German manufactured - Ravenol ATF Mercon V) which is available specifically for our vehicle/gearbox type and is licensed and approved for Ford transmissions. 

Well, I'm drained now, (excuse the pun) - what an exercise this has been!

Once again, thanks for your guidance,





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1 hour ago, harryflier said:

Bottom line is I'll select a fluid ( probably German manufactured - Ravenol ATF Mercon V) which is available specifically for our vehicle/gearbox type and is licensed and approved for Ford transmissions. 

Strange you should pick on that particular fluid Harry, it was brought to my attention the other day on the Honda forum i mentioned that i moderate on by the site owner who is a Honda specialist in his own right and regularly evaluates various automotive fluids for use not only in his own fleet but customers cars too.

He confirmed it's an excellent fluid and knowing he will often send a used sample for testing independently (not sure if he has on this one but i'd guess so) and test it throughly in his own cars, i'd have no hesitation using it myself or recommending it.

Glad the "specialist" decided to back-pedal, sometimes life is a learning curve and hopefully they've learned something here.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello Dave,

It's been a while, but finally managed to get  the 'specialist' to change the ATF fluid yesterday. Only did 200 miles on the dexron VI they put in, so hopefully minimised any potential 'damage'

Couldn't obtain the Ravenol as planned - no availability, so I supplied them with 10Litres  of  Dexron III

Car drives same as before and assume they actually did change the fluid. ( got 4Litres back). 

Decided to go with them in order to see if the fault codes they advised  (£1000 to repair) were still showing because I wasn't convinced of their authenticity, even though  might have been advised in good faith.

Turns out all codes clear(WTF) ?

will have fluid changed to Ravenol in two years if possible and will  monitor  autobox  very carefully for any changes/faults.

Onto the next job - offside passenger door lock issue (horrible job)

Thanks, for your help Dave

Take care,








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Glad to hear it's all sorted now Harry, keep an eye on it as i suspect there will be some Dex 6 left behind which may thin the Dex 3 a bit causing the same fault codes but it seems as if things are fixed now.

I'd probably go with a year for the next change to a better fluid than Dex 3, just to be on the safe side.

What's the problem with the door lock/latch?

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Thanks for your msg Dave.

Yes, I think you're right, so to be on the safe side I'll change it next year for the German manufactured Ravenol (Mercon V)  even though there  seem to be some supply problems right now. If not, then Valvoline ATF for Mercon V. 

took the Jag out tonight for a 30 mile drive and the autobox seems to be functioning extremely well ( subjective - I know and probably the kiss of death), but very happy at the moment.

the door  handle will not open the door from the outside and is jammed somehow, Door opens from the inside ok. Maybe child lock or latch stuck or something. I purchased a used replacement from a breaker who specialises in Jags and will fit it when the weather improves - non urgent job. I examined the replacement and figured out how best to change it but still seems a fiddly job because accessibility is limited. Thought i might drill a 50mm hole in the inner door skin which would give easy access to the linkage clips Any better ideas?





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You're welcome Harry - if you found the Jag seemed to have stronger low down torque and less revving before the torque converter did its stuff then you are probably right and it isn't subjective.

It sounds as if one of the link rods has detached between the outer handle and has jammed. I'm not 100% with the arrangement on the S Type but i'll have a look and see what i can find.

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