to replace ATF or not to replace ATF that is the question - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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#1 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 09:40 PM
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to replace ATF or not to replace ATF that is the question

I keep hearing theries about replacing automatic tranny fluid after a certain amount of miles.....i have a 95 325i and bought it at 117k miles. Have no idea if the tranny has been serviced before or not, how do i find out?? also lets assume the worst and it hadnt been changed....should i change it or not (just prevenatative) as the tranny seems fine.
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by therompster View Post
I keep hearing theries about replacing automatic tranny fluid after a certain amount of miles.....i have a 95 325i and bought it at 117k miles. Have no idea if the tranny has been serviced before or not, how do i find out?? also lets assume the worst and it hadnt been changed....should i change it or not (just prevenatative) as the tranny seems fine.
Change it......with Red Line D4 Synthetic Transmission fluid, 5.3 Qts


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Pelican Technical Article: BMW Automatic Transmission Fluid Change

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#3 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 10:43 PM
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#4 (permalink) Old 01-30-2009, 11:32 PM
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and changing it at these higher miles wont ruin anything...if thats the case where are these theories coming from, they have to have some soft of basis.
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#5 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 12:03 AM
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They do, have a click on Google about it.

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#6 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 12:05 AM
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I did trust me but im not sure its correc they sound like croc theories, what do you think?
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#7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 12:18 AM
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I'd think a change to new fluid is the better bet, but then I'm a full manual gear box driver... Keep asking around!

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#8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 08:35 AM
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It's a false myth. Transmission fluid, esp original bmw fluid is just a mineral oil based ATF that does break down over time. It just isnt doing its job properly after a certain point and parts will wear down faster and faster. A good fluid to use is either redline or royal purple, those are the two I use exclusively and have had good results with both.

To all those naughty nay sayers who say that its bad after a certain point its really illogical. Oils break down. The oils job is to lubricate parts and flow thru the system smoothly and to remove foreign particulates from sensitive parts. The longer it goes without changing, the more particulates and pieces of gunk are floating around in your oil gumming and grinding up internals of your tranny.

The logic for not changing tranny fluid is no different then not changing engine oil.. If someone goes 20k miles without changing their engine oil you dont go, hey guys, its been so long ill just keep it in there.. no, have him change it before the next time he restarts his engine.

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#9 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 10:31 AM
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nukeduster: To all those naughty nay sayers who say that its bad after a certain point its really illogical. Oils break down. The oils job is to lubricate parts and flow thru the system smoothly and to remove foreign particulates from sensitive parts. The longer it goes without changing, the more particulates and pieces of gunk are floating around in your oil gumming and grinding up internals of your tranny.
nukeduster...^I could have not put it better, I did my trans service @ about 90,000, as matter of fact right before I performed the trans service....the trans warning light came on & the trans seemed like it was stuck in 1st gear, when I shut the car down a couple times the light went out & the trans started shifting normal again......so, for me I would think maybe a valve or a check might have gummed up & started sticking....when I drained it, the fluid was not cherry red, it had a slight tint of brown.....very little metallic on the magnet & in the pan.....the filter was a little dirty.....
So after I replaced the fluid & filter, the trans felt like it was shifting better....the best thing about the whole thing.....Is the "Piece of Mind" after the trans service was done!

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#10 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 03:25 PM
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therompsterg, here a few basics about cars and trans you must understand. A car company is in business to sell cars. They design vehicles to last a certain amount of time within design limits, hoping to sell you another vehicle later. All vehicles and parts have a service life based on approx time/mileage limits.

Average service life of a gas powered vehicle is approx. 165K before you can expect to replace major componets. That said, your trans is "sealed for life", meaning that it is expected to last a certain amount of time before replacement (see milage above). Once you reach this mileage anything after that is a bonus.

Case in point-a few years ago, I had a 92 model vehicle that had approx 130k miles which ran fine. The only problem was it was leaking oil from around the oil pan and valve covers. I paid the mech. to replace the oil pan gasket, and valve cover gaskets because I was told the motor had many more miles left in it and it was bullet proof. 2K miles after paying for all of the gasket replacement, the motor spun a bearing end of story. Gasket replacement expense waisted.

Now a trans is not exposed to carbon break down like a motor, but it too is still exposed to wear/tear based on heat/cold, speed etc. All fluids like vehicles have a service life. So, if you have a car with mileage over 165k, the trans may work fine, but varnish, gum, builds up and may create a seal/barrier etc between parts that helps keep pressure inside. Flushing a trans with new fluids may desolve/disloge bad things in the trans that may make the trans operate different.

Moral of all of this, it's a crap shoot when you change fluid after a certain time/mileage if the trans will continue to operate correctly. If it makes you feel better changing the fluid, do it. Just realize after a certain point all the miles without expense are "bonus" and sooner or later your vehicle will reach the end of it's service life.
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#11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2009, 10:56 PM
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I would probably change the fluid assuming you are currently having no transmission problems. Get the car scanned with BMW specific software to look for fault codes in the transmission. Peake research tool wont cut it on this job. I know someone out there probably does not think its necessary but I would go to a shop that has a scanner for measuring transmission temperature when doing the fluid change. Its the most accurate way to achieving precise level of fluid. I Would use Redline D4 fluid and a dealer only transmission filter kit.
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#12 (permalink) Old 06-11-2009, 08:05 PM
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