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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-06-2009, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Auto gearbox oil

Im a proud owner of an E39 540i steptronic with sports mode etc and 150000 miles, and its without doubt the best car I have ever owned or driven! (and Ive had a few in my time).
Recently though it developed an oil leak, which I tracked down to a leaking automatic gearbox oil cooler infront of the radiator. Being a bit handy with a toolbox I managed to get the leak sorted! When I went to check the oil level I found it to be higher than the filler plug (this is assuming I have the right filler plug of course). So I decided to find out how much fluid it would hold, drain out the old stuff and renew it up to the correct amount. (even though the green label says "life-time do not replace"). I was told by a machanic friend that it would hold 1.7 litres! sounds a bit low I thought. I then drained out over 4 litres of fluid!!! God knows how much was in there before it developed the leak!
Anyway, my question is this...
Does anyone know how much oil my gearbox should hold, and of what type? Will ATF D3 be ok as was told to me by my parts supplier, or is this wrong too? Remember this is the auto with manual shifter and sports mode.

Last edited by Hereward; 06-06-2009 at 11:16 AM. Reason: spelling and lack of info
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 06:13 AM
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To change auto gearbox Fluid and filter on an E38/E39 you will need:

1) a torx T20 socket ( male ) for the pan screws and filter screws

2) a H8 Hex socket ( male ) for the drain and fill plug

3) a minimum 5ltrs Dex III

4) a new filter ( BMW )

5) new pan gasket ( BMW )

6) a garden sprayer ( to refill, works brill )

7) a suitable container for draining fluid and rags.

How to:

> car up minimum 400mm, the car MUST be dead level.

> Start up.. 10mins turn off

> remove bottom plug and drain fluid / BEWARE HOT FLUID BURNS !! / safety goggles required

> replace pan plug

> remove all pan screws / clips that hold wires to the pan/ be careful there will be fluid still in the pan!!

> remove the 2 filter screws / there will be fluid left in the filter !!

> clean out pan and the four magnets/ lint free cloth / degreaser or brake cleaner

> clean surfaces for gasket

> screw in new filter / make sure its in flat and take care to get the 'O' ring in correct

> replace the four magnets

> place gasket on pan with a little fluid / replace pan

> Undo fill plug , side of box at the rear

> start filling until fluid dribbles out / replace plug finger tight

> start car... go through all gear selections slowly 3 times keeping foot on brake / then in 'P' turn off after 10 mins

> undo filler plug fill some more until dribble comes out / plug back in finger tight

> Start car put in 'N' be careful not to burn yourself!! whilst car running undo filler plug put more fluid in until it dribbles out again, put filler plug in and tighten, the reason for having it running is the box pumps approx 2 - 3 ltrs of fluid in to the torque converter.

> All done car down, fluid to a designated place!!

> Time for a cup of tea / can of beer or a ciggy

Note: the entire box takes 10 ltrs, but you will not require this as the torque convertor will still be half full and also the valve control body also contains more, I would say that a 5 ltr can will be enough, but please dont quote me!!

The last time I gave mine a service it took 6.5ltrs.


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Last edited by marti5; 06-07-2009 at 06:20 AM.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-07-2009, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Thankyou

Hi Marti5,
Thankyou SO MUCH for your reply. It all makes sense, I fell stupid I hadnt thought of the torque converter needing fluid too.
If this works I'll be really plased. Cant thank you enough.
All the best, Hereward
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