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3-Series (E46, E90) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1999 to Current. Models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318Ci, BMW 320i, BMW 323i, BMW 325i, BMW 330i, BMW 328 Ci, BMW 328i, BMW 325i/xi, BMW 330Ci, BMW 320d, BMW 330d, BMW 335d.

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Old 05-10-2012, 09:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Automatic Transmission Maintenance

I own a 2011 328i with the steptronic automatic transmission. I'm wondering what a reasonable maintenance schedule is for this car. I'm not buying the 'lifetime" auto trans fluid line - it is coming from the same people who are in the business of selling new BMWs.

What is a reasonable service interval for changing the fluid? Can the fluid be flushed at shorter intervals without also changing the filter?? I'm not a mechanic - I'm actually dangerous with tools!!! But I am a firm believer in preventive maintenance and am willing to pay along the way (I'll find an independent BMW mechanic) in order to keep the car running a lot longer.
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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most transmissions do not have a drain plug. You have to take dowm the pan and change the gasket. There is also a filter that can be cleaned or changed. It's not like an oil change.

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Old 05-11-2012, 02:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The "lifetime fluid" claim was originated in the early 90's. BMW made more money off replacing your transmission or torque converter then replacing the fluid and filter. Even considering the cost of the BMW fluid, its astronomical.

The average recommened change is 50,000-80,000 miles depending on who you talk too. I prefer the 50,000 interval. Easier to keep track of. Im not familair with the transmission used in the 2011, but for older models i heard strong advice to stay with the OEM filters. Apperantly the aftermarket ones were collapsing on themselves and blocking the fluid flow, and thus wrecking the transmission.

Check this out. Its Bav Auto's Maintenance Schedules. You can print them off to help you keep track of when your scheduled maintenance is do, and what you have done.

Bavarian Otto’s Ultimate Maintenance Schedules | Bavarian Autosport Blog
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Old 05-12-2012, 05:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I am not sure that I agree

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Originally Posted by obby View Post
most transmissions do not have a drain plug. You have to take dowm the pan and change the gasket. There is also a filter that can be cleaned or changed. It's not like an oil change.

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I am not sure that I totally agree with this comment. Most tansmissions do have a drain plug, but it may not be in the most obvious position. Sometimes the fill plug is in the middle of the base of the pan, but the plug has a short section of tube above it which acts as a self limiting full level indicator, i.e. you fill the transmission until oil overflows back out the plug hole that you are using to pump oil in through. The drain plug can sometimes be positioned at one end of the pan rather than the bottom, its low enough to allow you to drain the majority of the fluid, and then drop the pan without showering hot transmission fluid over yourself. Change the filter each time and stay with the OEM filter products. Make sure you source the correct oil, or a proper equivalent.

As LV said, the service cycle of trans fluid changes should take into account your driving style & conditions, as well as the age and mileage of the car, I aim for a 40,000 - 60,000 km cycle.
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