new tranny fluid - good or bad idea? - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

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#1 (permalink) Old 09-10-2009, 04:34 PM
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new tranny fluid - good or bad idea?

So I planning on replacing the filter and fluid in the automatic tranny in my E34 (M30 engine).

But on another forum I saw a few messages that stated if you don't know the vehicles history (such as mine) it could be detrimental to replace the tranny fluid if it has not been replaced ever or for a very long period. The reason being that the little metalic flakes (from wear) actually improves friction and taking it out and putting new fluid in will cause more slippage in the tranny.

Anyone agree or disagree with this theory? I'm holding off on doing mine. I have I'm approaching 163K miles and I do not know the vehicles history.

Thanks!
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#2 (permalink) Old 09-10-2009, 04:39 PM
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The theory has been shown to have merit. I wouldn't go as far as to call it proven though. In the event that it's true, I would think new fluid would mean an overhaul; that would be close to a new transmission.

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#3 (permalink) Old 09-10-2009, 05:42 PM
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Thanks for the info Witeshark.

I was just in the process of doing a Google search and I found a thread from this forum that was started a year ago. It agrees with what you said and some of the things I read.

Funny - I did a search on transmission fluid on this forum before starting this thread and I didn't see this other one. But the results give you everything with fluid or transmission in it.

Here's the thread I found . . .
http://www.bimmerwerkz.com/forum/5-s...ice-56591.html

I think I have the owners manual at home, I can see if the previous two owners wrote anything down about tranny service but I think I just might leave mine alone.
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#4 (permalink) Old 09-10-2009, 09:21 PM
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There is also a good chance of old fluid gunking up & becoming tacky causing valves & checks to stick in the valve body, causing problems with shifting etc.........fresh fluid & new filter is the way to go!


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#5 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 08:03 PM
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If you are planning on changing your auto tranny's fluid and do or don't know the history then all you need to do is inspect the fluid and the pan. If they fluid is pink it's fine, light brown is normal wear, dark brown needs to be changed and if it is black or smells burnt then don't change it. If the color looks good and it doesn't smell burnt then drop the pan and look for metal shavings etc. some is normal and is ok but and excessive amount is definitely not good.
if you find that your tranny fluid is black, burnt or has excessive shavings then leave it alone and start saving up for a new tranny, new fluid will do more damage then help.
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#6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 09:10 PM
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Thanks for the tips Smoothm3.
Mine is more of a light brown - maybe next spring I'll drop the pan and take a look.
It seems to run fine - so I'm probably fine to leave it as it is.
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#7 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 10:05 PM
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Change it, but don't get it 'flushed out'. In other words, whatever comes out on it's own is it, then you put new fluid in.

Fresh fluid never hurt anything; flushes have -- as that gets all the stuff that might still be holding it together out.

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#8 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 11:38 PM
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I called a ZF service centre in Germany and they recommended that the trans oil should be changed every 60 - 80k km, and that BMW recommendation to leave the oil in for the life of the transmission, was good for them (BMW), because they (BMW) sold replacement gear boxes.
I don't know of the merits of leaving bad oil in, because logically it will only accelerate the wearing process, but mechanical stuff doesn't always behave in a simply logical manner because of the diverse range of variables.
I changed my oil at 136k km, and so far so good, i've only done about 3000km since then. Good luck with what ever you do.
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#9 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 01:01 AM
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tranny floid

I have a 95 540i with the 5hp30 trans and really only suspect it to be a little low on fluid.Whats sweating on the pan is a nice pink color.Is there any way to test the level?
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#10 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 10:29 AM
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You can test it by removing the filler plug, it should be level with the hole, not below and not pouring out- dripping is fine. But before you check it refer to the proper procedure I.e. Some want the fluid 30-50 degrees C (operating temp.) and for you to run the shifter through the gears before opening the filler plug. I believe that's what alldata says.
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#11 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torque View Post
Change it, but don't get it 'flushed out'. In other words, whatever comes out on it's own is it, then you put new fluid in.

Fresh fluid never hurt anything; flushes have -- as that gets all the stuff that might still be holding it together out.
Fresh fluid will hurt the tranny IF the fluid that comes out is black and/or burnt, ask any automatic transmission shop, when the oil is black and/or burnt start saving up for a new tranny and hope the old one will last or a while. It has to do with the particles and debris in the oil, the viscosity of the old oil, the trans seals and largely because auto trans fluid is super high with detergents and they work so well that they will end up hurting.
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#12 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 11:20 AM
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well i still dont know whats best,logic would dictate a change,as does the guys who know.mine was changed at 5o,000 miles.now 95,000 ang going well.
bretski seems to have heard it from the horses mouth,i would listen to zf.
remember the mileage on your speedos is not often correct after the car has had a few owners,ie you think your doing a swap at 70,000 but its really done 170,000.bmw lend themselfs to clocking.The owner does not always tell the truth when he sells you the car,he may be responsible for change,the difference in value of used cars with big mileages is so great many are tempted.
buyer beware.
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#13 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 09:50 PM
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I bought the car from a friend (I'm 3rd owner of car) and he wasn't sure if the fluid had ever been changed.
The car is a '91 and he bought it in 2001. He would take it to a shop, have them do work, pay for it and leave, he rarely kept the invoices. He gave me the few he did keep but they were for a new radiator, thermostat, but nothing that mentioned tranny service.

My car does have the dipstick on the tranny (I guess some don't) - and the fluid looks OK. Light brown but you can detect a little pink to it. So it is possible that when my friend took the car in for it's periodic maintanence - they performed the BMW recommended service items listed in the manual.

I talked to the shop that did a lot of the work on it and the mechanic just recently went to a computerized system, so he did not have any records prior to that. The mechanic did print out and mail me an invoice he had for my car but it was for hoses, intake manifold gasket and spark plugs.

Real nice guy (the mechanic) - owns the shop and he was very helpful over the phone.
He said he had once changed the fluid in a 740 with high miles and afterwards the car wouldn't drive out of the shop - but he didn't mention the condition of the fluid.

The car shifts fine right now and so I'm not too concerned. So I'll probably wait for next spring when the weather is better for working on the car to look in to changing the fluid - and I'll just to a drain - not a flush.
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#14 (permalink) Old 10-08-2010, 01:26 AM
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My car has the GM Strasburg 4 speed tranny. Unlike GM's typical recommendations, BMW recommends changing every 25K miles, which I have done.

Except, the last time I had the tranny serviced, the shop used Pentosin synthetic fluid instead of Dextron. It cost a lot more, but wow, the tranny shifts like a hot knife in butter! I have 46K on this fluid, figuring it would last longer than the non-synthetic fluid, and plan to change it at 50K.

The car has 146K miles on it now, just returned from a 10K mile cross country trip. In used 1/4 qt of Mobil 1 15-50 oil for the entire trip, even with consistent 105+ degree ambient temperatures on the southern route across the US.
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#15 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 10:27 AM
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I've had the car for a little over a year now and it has 166K on it. The previous owner isn't sure if he ever had the tranny serviced. He took it in for the scheduled checkups and he said they did whatever needed to be done. The owner prior to him (original owner) was a friend of his and he also did the scheduled service on it.

The tranny fluid looks pretty good but since I don't know the history on it, I'm a little concerned about having the fluid and filter replaced. I've heard horror stories about trannys that haven't been maintained going bad after a fluid change.
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