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Katharotiya 11-18-2008 12:54 PM

E38 Transmission Fluid Change.
Hi All,

I am a proud owner of E38 1998 750iL. I have 101500 Miles on it. I have heard lots of things about changing transmission fluid on E38, where BMW says it is for life time. I have seen many E38 owners confused like me. My transmission shifts really smooth. PLEASE ALL E38 OWNERS, ANSWER THE POLL - HAVE YOU CHANGED THE FULID ON YOURS?

Please reply to this thread as well:
  • If yes, at how many miles did you change it, and how many miles have you driven since?
  • Any problems since the change? (Yes/no, description of the problems if so?)
Thank you

jaugustavo 11-18-2008 01:42 PM

No I have not changed my tranny fluid. Yes I mos def want to. But I am skeptical about doing it because I do not want to F something up. Seems like a pretty involved process. Mileage 91000 on a 2000 740iL. Tranny shifts smooth but I do not trust this lifetime guarantee crap, nothing is lasts forever. IF anyone has found a good way to do this, let me know, thanks.

M.Wong 11-18-2008 03:15 PM

Paid my indie at 75K miles (7 liters of Esso plus labor) and up to 116K miles now. No problems before or since.

Will have it done again at 150K.

Beemaboy 11-19-2008 01:26 AM

Not done car is a 98 740I with 101500 on it. Gearbox is already going south and is making a really loud whining also slams itself into reverse when that gear is selected...

Atomic Dog 11-19-2008 01:31 PM

95 E38 w/ 135,000 miles. Fluid has not been changed yet. Shifts smooth and haven't had any troubles. I too am interested in changing the fluid, recently I have noticed a slight whirring for about the first quarter mile when the car is first run for the day. I have read on the forum that this could possibly be a filter problem. M. Wong, I also live in Seattle (Kirkland actually) and I have only owned my BMW for about 7 months - who's your Indie? I had Woodenville Sports Cars do the valley pan and was quite pleased with the work and the price - but I'm always curious.

M.Wong 11-19-2008 04:47 PM

I use BMW Seattle and Car Tender.

4liter 01-27-2009 09:22 PM

Not replacing fluid. I have 119k so far and I don't see any evidence in the records that the fluid has been changed. At this point it will need the particles in the fluid for added friction. If the old slush box gives way, I'll bring it to the dealer and have them throw in rebuilt unit. I picked up an aftermarket warranty for such emergencies.

burn740i 02-10-2009 10:34 PM

127k, shifts smooth 99% of the time. At this point I don't think I'll be changing the fluid, since I'm sure it's got tons of clutch particles in it that are actually helping it work.

xxbimmerboyxx 02-14-2009 01:39 PM

valvoline max life tranny fluid will work in a 7serious tranny insted of going to the dealer where its gonna cost $700 you can just pay $150 thats all i did and it works alot better on my e38

balance 02-14-2009 03:23 PM

I changed mine out with MaxLife at 140,000

tberardi 03-01-2009 08:06 PM

My 95 740i has 273,000 km (170,00 miles) without ever a transmission oil change and the manual does say its lifetime.
It still works perfect most of the time and I do not plan to change it.
Every mechanic I talk too whether local garage or dealer always tell me not to touch it.
Go figure.

crewdog843 03-02-2009 06:39 AM

My '01 has right around 85K on the tranny, has never been abused, shifts problems, ever.

I asked my indy (factory trained) about the advisability of changing fluid and he recommends against it. I think I will revisit this in about 15K miles, but this could be a long time, as my primary mode of transportation has become a motorcycle, with gas prices heading north again.

He mentioned particulate matter in the current fluid as helping the transmission work as one of the arguments against changing the fluid.


h711k 03-02-2009 11:57 AM

Could someone explain why the particles in the fluid would help the transmmision work? It seems to me that friction should always be bad in a mechanism like that.
I have a 98 740iL with 128k miles on it, and I am planning to change the fluid soon.

jk2000bmw740iL 06-16-2009 12:22 AM

I've got a 2000 740iL with 60k miles. I get noticeable (loud) whirring noise when I shift into R or D after an hour of driving. is it the gearbox needing service or the trans. filter/fluid need changing? Any idea would be appreciated.

CodyItaliano 06-16-2009 02:33 AM

i'm surprised that more people havent replied to this thread.

my '01 740i has about 108000 miles on it now. i got it with about 103000 miles. it does make a whirring noise when i start it after its sat. but only for a few seconds. shifts smooth for the most part depending on how i'm driving it. its not jerky and is smoother than some of the other BMWs i've driven.

anyways i havent changed the fluid yet. personally i think it would be a good idea, but then again i'm worried about what could happen. it hasnt yet given me problems and i dont try and drive it very hard like my previous cars. its large and drinks fuel so i try and take it somewhat easy. though i dont always drive it particularly slow.

jamestc2 06-30-2009 01:28 PM

I've got a 2000 BMW 740i Sport that's got 173000 miles on it. Haven't had the transmission fluid changed yet but want to because I've noticed in the last 6ths months that shifts are not always as smooth as they used to be on on rare occasion in the heat, it will shift really hard from 2nd to 3rd or 3rd to 4th when accelerating hard. I've driven the car pretty hard over the last two years of ownership. I want to get the fluid changed but like alot of others, am very scared of the aftermath...

CodyItaliano 07-01-2009 02:44 PM

yeah, its just a really hard call wheather to or not to. i'm still stumped, but do understand the reasoning behind not changing it. those metallic clutch particals do make the difference in the viscosity properties in the tranny fluid. the lack of them after a change could cause the clutchs to slip. this is why they say dont change the fluid. i dunno. if the fluid is turning brown or burning up, then its worth the risk to change the fluid out. mine's still nice and red! so i'm just going to leave it.

balance 07-02-2009 09:35 AM

If your fluid is red then someone already changed it. ESSO fluid is gold when new

highline740il 07-04-2009 07:53 PM

2001 740il changed fluid and filter 5 times since new, car now has 200,000 miles
I had to remove the transmission to replace the rear main engine seal and the front pump shaft seal in the transmission.

The second major service I had was to have the transmission valve body rebuilt to correct a slight gear change/hard upshift

I have had very good luck with using original BMW fluid & filters. I would not put anything else in my own car, however some owners have used another brand and have had good luck.


CodyItaliano 07-14-2009 04:15 PM

well if red fluid is an idication of a change, then maybe i should change it out along with the filter? so there must be fluids with similar viscosities. this deserves more research. i'm going to see what a few shops say around town and what they have encountered.

crewdog843 07-15-2009 05:55 AM

Cody: I would be interested in what you find out. I've only had one car in my entire life which gave me transmission problems (85 Oldsmobile) as the antifreeze got into the transmission and the tranny fluid got into the coolant system. I've been driving for 51 years. If a car has not been abused, there really, in my opinion, should be no need to change fluid.....however, most of us don't know the car's history. I am a second owner, the first was an older female over in Southern Cali.


h711k 07-16-2009 02:52 PM

i changed mine at 128K and had driven about 5k since. i used the oem esso fluid and replaced only 5 liters out of the total capacity of 9. the tranny worked better. before, i had occasional jerks from tranny at low speed (like 15 to 20 mph). that has never happened again since the change.

Malibu Bimmer 11-30-2009 08:50 AM

I'm at 170k and my transmission is quiet and shifts smoothly. I would really feel better having 'new' fluid and a clean filter in it, but hearing 'lifetime' makes me want to not touch it.
Okay, someone give me the scoop on this, please. Preventive maintenance, or death by fluid change?


valleyvwman 12-03-2009 06:16 PM

my 98 model with ~125K got a fluid change under my carport with Havoline fluid. Tranny (5HP24) performs better afterward.

With drain plug out I started engine and let it idle for a moment or two for the tranny pump to push all fluid out of converter (as much as possible). Refill and then started engine...while idling I continued to add fluid til it overflowed fill port on side of tranny. has good good writeup about a flush/fill using a fluid transfer machine at a ford dealer.

CodyItaliano 12-04-2009 04:07 PM

i've noticed since its cold outside, my tranny is shifting not as smooth. i'm now thinking its time for a fluid change

found this on youtube, this guy shows before and after changing fluid. you can hear the difference in the shift quality. makes me want to do the same thing.

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