Changing Auto Transmission Fluid - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
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#1 (permalink) Old 10-07-2004, 10:14 PM
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There are so many disagreements over this topic that no one can come up with one satisfactory answer. More talk more confusion;Take a look at this:

Group A. Some would argue: don’t even think of touching it! It will cost you a whole new trans. Then they go on with how many BMW owners lost there trans. because they decided to change the fluid.

Group B. Others would simply say nothing lasts forever including BMW trans. Fluid synthetic or not. Fluids when subjected to heat/wear/tear/clutches even magnetic (to collect debris) tend to loose their original properties. Again they go on with how many BMW owners running happily after with “clean and fresh” fluids/filters. No delayed shifting when cold etc.

Now why this is becoming so important of a topic after owning the car for seven years? 2 answers:

A.The BMW transmissions used on the E39 (and others) are designed with a life-time fluid that did not need to be changed. Some dealers recommend NOT to change or even mess with the fluid; Changing the trans. fluid is not on the list of this type of a dealer.
B.Today I stopped to ask a local BMW dealer about this possibility: reply? Yes sir we have a 100,000 mile trans. Service for $450 and this will cover your “synthetic very expensive” fluid plus filters! Aha so much for life time then? At this junction I have dealers splitting on the issue. Great. It gets even better: Sir can I buy the fluid? NO it comes in drums for our service dep. only!!!! unless you want to buy a 50 Galon drum!!! No thanks

The Problem:

While BMWs have a life-time fluid in the transmission, they also have an easy access to the bottom of the automatic transmission. 2 plugs: a drainer on the pan, and filler at the top? Why? For emergency refill? Or is it for the life-time fluid change!? No dipstick of course.

Worse:
Assume this: somehow somewhat you hit the bottom and loose the trans. Fluid (punctured pan etc) does this mean a new transmission all together? Or can it be an easy fix: a new pan plus gasket and fresh trans. Fluid? If so doesn’t this fix means the same as changing the fluid? So much for life- time! What would be group A's (above) take on this? Granted extreme situation but it may happen.

What about my flooded car? Is it possible for life-time water to get into it and mix itself nicely with the life-time stuff? I did find water in my differential after the flood; now I am thinking of the possibility of water in the transmission. Think the breather on the top of the trans; nice access for water!

Talk to me before I change my fluid, it looks like I have to!!!
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#2 (permalink) Old 10-08-2004, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by billB@Oct 8 2004, 04:14 AM
There are so many disagreements over this topic that no one can come up with one satisfactory answer. More talk more confusion;Take a look at this:

Group A. Some would argue: don’t even think of touching it! It will cost you a whole new trans. Then they go on with how many BMW owners lost there trans. because they decided to change the fluid.

Group B. Others would simply say nothing lasts forever including BMW trans. Fluid synthetic or not. Fluids when subjected to heat/wear/tear/clutches even magnetic (to collect debris) tend to loose their original properties. Again they go on with how many BMW owners running happily after with “clean and fresh” fluids/filters. No delayed shifting when cold etc.

Now why this is becoming so important of a topic after owning the car for seven years? 2 answers:

A.The BMW transmissions used on the E39 (and others) are designed with a life-time fluid that did not need to be changed. Some dealers recommend NOT to change or even mess with the fluid; Changing the trans. fluid is not on the list of this type of a dealer.
B.Today I stopped to ask a local BMW dealer about this possibility: reply? Yes sir we have a 100,000 mile trans. Service for $450 and this will cover your “synthetic very expensive” fluid plus filters! Aha so much for life time then? At this junction I have dealers splitting on the issue. Great. It gets even better: Sir can I buy the fluid? NO it comes in drums for our service dep. only!!!! unless you want to buy a 50 Galon drum!!! No thanks

The Problem:

While BMWs have a life-time fluid in the transmission, they also have an easy access to the bottom of the automatic transmission. 2 plugs: a drainer on the pan, and filler at the top? Why? For emergency refill? Or is it for the life-time fluid change!? No dipstick of course.

Worse:
Assume this: somehow somewhat you hit the bottom and loose the trans. Fluid (punctured pan etc) does this mean a new transmission all together? Or can it be an easy fix: a new pan plus gasket and fresh trans. Fluid? If so doesn’t this fix means the same as changing the fluid? So much for life- time! What would be group A's (above) take on this? Granted extreme situation but it may happen.

What about my flooded car? Is it possible for life-time water to get into it and mix itself nicely with the life-time stuff? I did find water in my differential after the flood; now I am thinking of the possibility of water in the transmission. Think the breather on the top of the trans; nice access for water!

Talk to me before I change my fluid, it looks like I have to!!!
Regards
billb
[snapback]207310[/snapback]
Hi Bill

I am in the "if I have a leak in th tranny (dodgy seal etc.) I would have to fill up the fluid", ball park. Lets face it with so many BMW's out there there just simply has to be times when leaks occur on some of them - This would be a lucrative trade for BMW in replacement tranny's if every time a leak occured a new one was required. Also in your case I would rather risk the wrath of "new tranny fluid", over "water in my tranny fluid". Although, I have used in the past a "water disperser/remover to remove water from my petrol tank - I wonder if there is a tranny fluid variant???
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#3 (permalink) Old 10-08-2004, 01:56 PM
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Dear Beel z

I just talked to a local BMW mechanic; he confirmed the water in the tranny. and? well he can not get the dealer's fluid as (I said in the original post; fluid only for their own use) or $450.

The mechanic said he can get it for $18 a qrt. he wants $180 for the job....I hate to say it but I gave him the OK. He swears it has been done thousnads of times without a problem same type of fluid used by the dealer!!!!!!
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#4 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 11:03 AM
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To Beel Z
I wonder if there is a tranny fluid variant???

You CANNOT despers/remove fluid/oil from water or vise versa in the same manner you described (like Gasoline floats over water) unfortunately oil mixes VERY NICE with water producing a different creature. When I changed the rear axle fluid (mixed perfectly with water) the oil looked like TAHINI if you don't know how tahini looks like "grey sludgish ugly look/tahini taste bad also"; yesterday the tranny fluid was a bit nicer looking in fact the red color (while traditionally stands out) did turn into whitish pincish color.

It was a good experience though in learning art and mixing odd colors!

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#5 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 12:14 PM
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This would be a lucrative trade for BMW in replacement tranny's if every time a leak occured a new one was required.When I posted I was refering to near empty extreme situations if you wish; I did say puntured oil pan meaning large quantities of missing oil....not simple seal leak.

Beel Z: What was interesting though when I changed the flooded engine I had to check/deal with the converter. This life-time stuff was missing a bit shy of 1 qrt. As you know the dealer refused to sell it so I used different brand to refill. Some loud thinking:

1. The color was not the same red like the new fresh stuff; this leads me to think while life-time, this fluid looses much of its CHEMICAL PROPERTIES after all these miles.
2. Life-time is life-time isn't it? why the tranny was low if life time? Heat? may be; Leaks? NO LEAKS WHATSOEVER. prior to the flood I had this delay in shifting when cold. So I used to start/warm up/engage the tranny in "D" while idling (to get near complete circulation of fluid) then drive..as such no delayed shifting.

3. After I refilled the converter the above problem disappeared; no need to warm up and no delayed shifting when cold. Is it an isolated incident? Does this mean BMWs with high mileage loose some of this life-time stuff (in my case at least) and thus delayed shifting? or is it a must to engage a tranny in "D" prior to rolling? While I agree it is a good practice to circulate the entire fluid/warm up; Certainly this is not an issue in the Jeep: that is: start; D; and go; no delays!!!

4. Does this answer my original questions in the post?

Can I say the the following safely?

A. BMW tranny while life-time do loose some of their fluid (due to heat, use,breathers etc etc) and thus contributing to this delayed/rough/jumpy shifting
when cold.

B. When some try to change the fluid (by themselves/independent mechanic) they don't use the dealer's fluid; their tranny tends to fail. This may reinforce the belief "can not/do not change the life time stuff (See group A in the first post above)

C. For those who decide to pay the $450 by the dealer and get the right stuff there is no such a problem and hence the believe and convection "no such thing as life-time fluid; change it you will be fine (see group B above)

Let me know what you think

regards
billb
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#6 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by billB@Oct 9 2004, 06:14 PM
This would be a lucrative trade for BMW in replacement tranny's if every time a leak occured a new one was required.When I posted I was refering to near empty extreme situations if you wish; I did say puntured oil pan meaning large quantities of missing oil....not simple seal leak
[snapback]208269[/snapback]
You seem to be getting me all wrong Bill, I wasn't quoting you at all in what I said - just generalising.

The point I was making is people say (not yourself) that you should "NEVER" touch, top up, replace etc. the tranny oil - All I was saying people must HAVE TO for what ever reason not every gearbox on every bmw ever made will see the car through to the end of it's life with out some requirement for a top up/replacement of fluid. I was trying to set your mind at ease on your choice to go ahead - this is something that thosands of people must have had done over the years without problem (why should there be?).
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#7 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by billB@Oct 9 2004, 05:03 PM
To Beel Z
I wonder if there is a tranny fluid variant???

You CANNOT despers/remove fluid/oil from water or vise versa in the same manner you described (like Gasoline floats over water) unfortunately oil mixes VERY NICE with water producing a different creature. When I changed the rear axle fluid (mixed perfectly with water) the oil looked like TAHINI if you don't know how tahini looks like "grey sludgish ugly look/tahini taste bad also"; yesterday the tranny fluid was a bit nicer looking in fact the red color (while traditionally stands out) did turn into whitish pincish color.

It was a good experience though in learning art and mixing odd colors!

regards
billb
[snapback]208232[/snapback]
Yeah I guess so but I hadn't got a clue what type of fluid was used - I've never had to know.

PSCheck out some pics of my pride and joy in the post " post pics of your e36 5 series" or whatever
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#8 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BeelZibub+Oct 9 2004, 06:26 PM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(BeelZibub @ Oct 9 2004, 06:26 PM)</div><div class='quotemain'><!--QuoteBegin-billB@Oct 9 2004, 06:14 PM
This would be a lucrative trade for BMW in replacement tranny's if every time a leak occured a new one was required.When I posted I was refering to near empty extreme situations if you wish; I did say puntured oil pan meaning large quantities of missing oil....not simple seal leak
[snapback]208269[/snapback]
You seem to be getting me all wrong Bill, I wasn't quoting you at all in what I said - just generalising.

The point I was making is people say (not yourself) that you should "NEVER" touch, top up, replace etc. the tranny oil - All I was saying people must HAVE TO for what ever reason not every gearbox on every bmw ever made will see the car through to the end of it's life with out some requirement for a top up/replacement of fluid. I was trying to set your mind at ease on your choice to go ahead - this is something that thosands of people must have had done over the years without problem (why should there be?).
[snapback]208277[/snapback]
[/b][/quote]
My fault BEEL Z. Sorry MATE
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#9 (permalink) Old 10-11-2004, 09:12 PM
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Thats very interesting to me. Today I began having a slight slip/jump from my tranny in shifting. It was very cold today. I'm wondering now If i should suspect fluids.

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