Automatic Transmission Fluid [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: Automatic Transmission Fluid

01-05-2009, 01:29 PM
I was doing some maintenance work, and I realized my atf was a muddled color, and with the transmission acting abnormally I thought I might want to change the atf and see how that affects the tranny. So I was wondering the type of atf needed for a 1995 530i. And any quick tips on changing the fluid. Thanks.

01-06-2009, 09:36 AM
I was going to post on tranny fluid, mind if I jump in. One thing I know is if you have high mileage it can cause havoc to flush out the system with new fluid.

My related question is on a 525it w/ 112k miles if you tranny is acting fine does it make sense to start breaking into the system to clean out gunk or the filter. I can be absent minded.

To top off the fluid couldn't you just drive it along way so you knew it was hot then jack it up and check it running, level I suppose and as long as fluid was not coming out you could add more and be sure it was not getting overfilled.

Hope you don't mind my riding on your post, I used to hitchhike alot and this is similar.

01-07-2009, 03:17 PM a good thing. Just ask Martha Stewart:)

Seriously though, I'm not sure where these urban myths get started, but an automatic transmission is one place where cleanliness is next to godliness. If your ATF is a muddy brown color, then it is definitely time to change both it and the filter. Nothing wears an auto tranny like tiny dirt and dust particles and if your filter hasn't been changed and the fluid is old the best thing you can do is change them both. As ATF ages it loses its lubrication qualities causing the tranny to run hotter and that leads to burnt fluid - you can usually smell fluid that has overheated, it has a burnt odour and has a brown color.

This won't fix a worn out tranny, but it might fix hesitation on gear changes or minor flaring (slipping) during upshifts. I did this on my 325ix with 180k+ miles on the tranny and it improved the gear changes significantly and 25k later there have been no problems or leaks. I also used Mobil-1 Synthetic ATF although this certainly isn't necessary.

01-07-2009, 04:20 PM
I thought the ATF on these cars was good for the life of the car but I heard somewhere else 100k miles was considered the life. I will look around on the net for a how to do it on the ATF. Sounds like I need to pull a pan and get some gaskets.

Wouldn't a progressive change be safer though. I have heard from several sources that a total change can cause havoc to the system.

01-07-2009, 09:29 PM
There is no logic why a full fluid change would cause any harm. You sometimes read about people who claim to have never changed their engine oil, only topping it up as required and changing the filter once in a while. They claim their car has never missed a beat in a gazillion miles, but I just don't buy it.

If the only thing keeping your transmission together is the gunk around seals and valves from burnt ATF deposits, then yes maybe a fluid change will release this garbage and cause problems. On the other hand if mild build-up is causing sticking valves and old fluid is causing the tranny to run hot you just might extend its life indefinitely by changing fluid & filter. As with the engine an oil change it is the cheapest maintenence you can perform.

You will need a new A/T Filter with O-ring seal, a new Tranny Pan gasket & new seal rings for the drain and fill plugs. You will need good quality ATF (3.2qt Dexron II) and a pump to get it into the transmission. I used a new cheap aftermarket windshield washer pump and some suitable rubber tubing. Fit a switch between the pump and a 12vdc supply to operate the pump. You will also need some CLEAN (new) LINT-FREE cloths and an oil drain pan.

Run the car until the temperature is normal and the tranny fluid hot - put it under load up some hills in 3rd gear for a while. Raise the car on 4 jackstands (or a hoist) on a flat surface so the car remains level and you have room to work underneath. DO NOT try to do this just with a floor jack. Loosen the Fill plug first. If for some reason it won't undo, now is the time to find out before you drain the fluid out !:D Then locate the transmission drain plug and loosen. Drain all the fluid for as long as you can - remember it will be very hot. Loosen the oil pan and clean off the old gasket being careful not to damage the sealing surfaces. Remove the Filter and the O-ring seal. Clean the oil pan with the lint-free cloths. There is a magnet in the bottom to collect metal debris. The amount will give you some idea how worn the tranny is:eeps: Be very careful to clean the pan thoroughly and not to leave any lint or dirt that might get into the new fluid. Clean the drain and fill holes and plugs and fit new seal rings. Clean all the bolts you have removed. Fit the new Filter with its O-ring (44 in-lb). Bolt the oil pan back on with its new gasket (4 ft-lb). Fit the drain plug (12 ft-lb) and fill with fluid through the fill hole until it just dribbles out. Fit the Fill plug (12 ft-lb).

You then need to run the car until the fluid is warm and then re-check the level and top-up if necessary. You can also check for any leaks at this time.
Good Luck :)

01-07-2009, 10:16 PM
Thanks for all time you took for the great instructions. I just got done replacing control arms on my 318ti and am really getting into the wrenching but I will have to evaluate the situation.

I will have to get organized with my vehicles and make some priorities. I overlooked the pressure on her new Michellin tires for 4 months and they had dropped to 30 all around from the normal 36-44, now that is just plain dumb.

If I did mess up this tranny it would put us in a bit of a spot. I have 3 bimmers to service and an E-150 but most get very few miles driven.

Thanks again and I may undertake it or I may not.

Could you not siphon the fluid in instead of buying a pump?

bimmer dot info
01-08-2009, 06:56 AM
Tourburgring -
The process you described is a partial change. You can not get the fluid in the converter out without flushing the trans.

I've heard enough stories from people who did flushes to never do one on my car. I'm happy doing a partial flush every 10k or so.

Kevin - You can siphon the fluid in. You will probably need someone to help you.

01-08-2009, 09:20 PM
Bimmer dot info is correct, this will not remove the fluid in the torque converter, but that is a fairly small volume relative to the rest of the transmission, so is not so critical. What is important is that there is a majority of fresh ATF and a new filter. 10k seems like a very short service interval for an ATF fluid and filter change. BMW include this in their Inspection II service at about every 40k miles.

I agree that transmission flushes are not recommended as there are a number of issues with the methods used.

Siphon works fine, just don't 'inhale' :p

Your tire pressures of 36-44 seem high. These are for a fully loaded car. Normal pressures are 29 front 35 rear for a 525i and I imagine the 530i should be similar.

01-08-2009, 09:29 PM
Thanks for the pressure heads up. I will recheck the car manual or look at the Bentley.

I will keep the trans job in mind, I priced the filter gasket set and it was about $75 on one of the parts sites.


01-09-2009, 05:51 AM
I have found that Bavarian Autosport, has a complete kit for this job that made it fairly easy to do.
One thing though, I noticed that the above directions called for cleaning the pan bolts. I read that these were essentially throw away bolts, to soft to be used repeatedly. (I cleaned mine, checked each one carefully and reused them with no problems).

01-09-2009, 06:21 AM
Given the guts to dig into a working tranny I now have to do a cost analysis. With 3 bimmers aged 92k, 112k, and 160k; is this the most advantageous move to make for the fleet in general.

Its a tough call. Thanks for the info.

I would almost like to do a fluid only change and save the $75. Its better than nothing.

It is easy to start going overboard and car repairs and while I respect the vehicles and like to do things right, everything is disposable to some degree.

bimmer dot info
01-09-2009, 08:14 AM
The partial flush is just replacing the contents of the pan. No filter or any of that. It is a bit short but it is cheap insurance.

01-09-2009, 09:08 AM
I am now lost. Turburgring say you put in filter and Dot say not.

Would it not be easy and advantageous to just warm up, pull drain and refill. No gasket or anything else sweet and simple.

01-09-2009, 10:09 PM
Like you said, just changing the fluid is better than nothing, but would you change your engine oil without replacing the filter? I know it costs more than an engine oil change, but it is only done every 40k-50k miles and compared to a new/rebuilt transmission it is a bargin. Check around for prices on the gasket & filter etc. As Mike said, lists the kit for $35. Just my $0.02

Pan bolts are definitely reuseable. They are only torqued to 4 ft-lbs so I can't imagine why they wouldn't take multiple uses. Bentley makes no mention of using new bolts.

01-10-2009, 08:07 PM
You guys have me excited about this job. I just looked at the Bentley and it is not that bad at all. I just love getting old garbage fluids out of my beloved Bimmers. The temp ranges do not sound too tricky either. I thought you had to be within a 5 degree range or something. I can even get a temp of the fluid with a simple kitchen thermometer if I want to, it has to be 86-134 about, I do not have the book in front of me.

Would you use a gasket seal of some type on the gaskets. Maybe a blue permatex. I know you would not inside.

I am going to buy the parts now.

I thought there was just one pan to replace, why two pan gaskets? The price I see is $75 and not $35 but that is not your fault. Are we on the same page?

I see them at Pelican and Autohaus Arizona for about $25 but Arizona does not have the seals for the fill/drain plugs so I will check with dealer to see if he has them; with AA I have free shipping for orders over $50.

01-10-2009, 10:13 PM shows the kit as follows: "24 34 1 513 KIT Automatic Transmission Filter Kit
$34.95" The kit has the filter and O-Ring, Pan gasket & drain/filler plug sealing rings.

I'm pretty sure the pan Gasket is a neoprene material so you shouldn't need any gasket sealer.

You only need to remove the large main tranny oil pan. The smaller one does not need to be removed to access the filter.

01-12-2009, 09:03 AM
I just got off the phone, that kit is for a 530 V8. I will at Auto Ariz or Pelican for less.

Thanks though.

01-14-2009, 07:35 AM
Sorry, I got mixed up with the original thread post by BXS1118 who has a 530i.

01-14-2009, 08:00 AM
No problem, I got the kit from Pelican with drain/fill seal and will use Valvoline Synthetic Dex-3 and a fluid pump from Bavauto for $20.

I learned on BMWCCA you need to run it through the gears with brake on while topping a few times and the rear end droop is not good for the U joint but is a necessary evil.