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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
Talk about the E83 BMW X3 in this forum!

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  #1  
Old 08-27-2010, 11:07 AM
ragamuffin ragamuffin is offline
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Transmission fluid and filter change

Hello all,
I am trying to find out if its time to do a automatic Tranny and filter change. I bought the X3 2005 at about 70,000 km pre owned. After a lot of highway travels I now have 140,000 km. Since buying the car I have not done any transmission fluid or filter changes. No real tranny problems other than the the fact that as with age most auto trannies get sluggish.. In any case, could ppl chime in here on their experience with changing the tranny fluid and filter and what I might expect in terms of performance improvements etc. Approximate costs would help as well. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2010, 01:45 PM
magrinne magrinne is offline
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I have an 2004 X3 and have similar concerns. I spoke to a BMW dealer and two independent BMW shops and all three mechanics said do not change the tranny oil or filter unless something is amiss (poor shifting or leaking fluid).
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  #3  
Old 08-27-2010, 03:49 PM
SWMc SWMc is offline
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I think that if changing fluid causes a worn tranny to stop working it was probably close anyway. If it were mine I would change it/have it changed. You're not getting all the old fluid out anyway unless you get it flushed through one of the cooler lines. The real benefit is getting the pan cleaned out, the ability to see whats on the magnets, and a new filter. My suggestion is to drain the fluid, drop and clean the pan, replace the filter, and top it off. I wouldn't bother flushing it. Any transmission shop can do this. If it were me, and I weren't having it done at a dealer, I would buy the filter from the dealer and take it with me.

As for the fluid... I like Redline and run their MTL in my 6 speed manual. If you have any questions you can contact them. They are usually pretty good about getting back with you.

http://www.redlineoil.com/news_article.aspx?id=13

Last edited by SWMc; 08-27-2010 at 03:50 PM.
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  #4  
Old 09-04-2010, 11:49 AM
ncord ncord is offline
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Re ATF .What about just changing fluid every 40-50,000km.It seems like changing the filter is a lot of work for a DIY ??? I think this would be better than nothing ,afterall they say it is "LIFETIME"
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  #5  
Old 09-05-2010, 10:26 PM
bimmernut1 bimmernut1 is online now
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It's been a source of discussion for years

First, I don't think you'll see any performance improvements from changing transmission fluid. It's common knowledge, BMW says their fluid is lifetime. Perhaps that's legitimate, perhaps is related to the fact that they have a maintenance free program for the first 50k miles and with fluid at $25 per liter, the cost would add up pretty fast.

I think the consensus is that you can't harm the car by changing the fluid. I would definitely change it at 75-100k miles but it's not something you have to do with the frequency of an oil change.

I just changed the fluid in my M5 this spring and will probably change the fluid in my X3 next year.

The next big discussion topic is always what to use for fluid. Many like Redline, Mobil1, and Royal Purple. Rather than losing any sleep over it, I chose to go back with the OEM fluid. I probably wouldn't go to the effort of trying to change the filter unless I were going into the tranny for maintenance reasons.

Last edited by bimmernut1; 09-05-2010 at 10:28 PM.
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  #6  
Old 09-06-2010, 09:57 AM
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madurodave madurodave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmernut1 View Post
First, I don't think you'll see any performance improvements from changing transmission fluid. It's common knowledge, BMW says their fluid is lifetime. Perhaps that's legitimate, perhaps is related to the fact that they have a maintenance free program for the first 50k miles and with fluid at $25 per liter, the cost would add up pretty fast.

I think the consensus is that you can't harm the car by changing the fluid. I would definitely change it at 75-100k miles but it's not something you have to do with the frequency of an oil change.

I just changed the fluid in my M5 this spring and will probably change the fluid in my X3 next year.

The next big discussion topic is always what to use for fluid. Many like Redline, Mobil1, and Royal Purple. Rather than losing any sleep over it, I chose to go back with the OEM fluid. I probably wouldn't go to the effort of trying to change the filter unless I were going into the tranny for maintenance reasons.
I think if you go to the effort of changing the fluid, you should also drop the pan and change the filter. If nothing else, you can clean the magnets in the pan, replace the filter and do a quick visual on the internals.

I also read a lot about frequency. I almost have 71k on my X3 now. I will try and change it this fall but worse case in the spring. I just did a quick look-over on the X3 in preparation for the Inspection II and the entire vehicle looks very tight as far as leaks and all the rubber boots and the drive belt look in excellent shape. Rotated my tires also and checked the brakes. They will probably go to 100k miles (they were changed under warranty which helped a lot)!
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  #7  
Old 09-06-2010, 11:31 AM
bimmernut1 bimmernut1 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madurodave View Post
I think if you go to the effort of changing the fluid, you should also drop the pan and change the filter. If nothing else, you can clean the magnets in the pan, replace the filter and do a quick visual on the internals.

I also read a lot about frequency. I almost have 71k on my X3 now. I will try and change it this fall but worse case in the spring. I just did a quick look-over on the X3 in preparation for the Inspection II and the entire vehicle looks very tight as far as leaks and all the rubber boots and the drive belt look in excellent shape. Rotated my tires also and checked the brakes. They will probably go to 100k miles (they were changed under warranty which helped a lot)!
I won't disagree that this is the preferred method. It also gives you a good opportunity to check the magnet to see the level of metal shavings. I guess I'm taking a shortcut by just changing the fluid but it's a lot easier just to loosen two plugs than to remove all the pan bolts, buy a new gasket, and risk leakage when retorqueing bolts to the pan.

I'm not disagreeing with you; I'm just not sure the benefit outweighs the risk if the tranny fluid is changed on a regular basis.
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  #8  
Old 04-25-2011, 01:51 AM
camtscott camtscott is offline
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I've enjoyed reading this thread in regards to BMW's B***S**T theory on their "lifetime" Fluid. About 10K miles back, around 80K Miles the 2006 330ZHP started getting a little funky on the shifting and was also making a "Growling Noise". The better half dropped by the dealer (we have probably the WORST RIP OFF DEALER in the country, here in Bend, Oregon!) and they drove it around the lot and told her it was time for a $7,300.00 transmission! AND they told her it was going to be an additional $2,300.00 for a new rack an pinion steering gear!

She called me and I told her to take it home and "park it".

Couple days later, I'm back in town and decide to service the transmission myself. Not much to lose I figured.....A few hundred bucks and if it's still FUBAR - then it's transmission time.

Lucky for me, I was able to procure a T-Tech Trans Flush Machine (BTW - I'm a total gearhead on this end - have to have my toys in my home shop)

Dropped the pan, cleaned it out, installed new filter, buttoned it up and topped off the trans with Red Line D4. Next, I loaded up the T-Tech with the 18 quarts of D4 and hooked up. The trans cooler lines are a snap! Just push then on a little further, then reach up and gently push the plastic clips up into the hose to release and pull the line off. "Voila" - you are unhooked. Very similar in design to ford Fuel Injection lines. Did the flush of the trans.

Next, I unhooked the return line to the Power steering reservoir and did a 7 quart flush there. Fluid exchanges QUICKLY, so be johnny on the spot to crank the wheel from stop to stop a couple times to flush all the old out. Again, Used Red Line for this.

Ever since this was done, all transmission issues have vanished, steering is perfect and quiet.

All in All, I spent the following:

T-Tech Trans Machine from Craigslist: $500.00
3 Cases of Red Line D4 ATF @ $120.00/case: $360.00
Trans Filter Kit from ECS Tuning: $24.00
Total Expendature for this project: $884.00

THEN

RESOLD the T-Tech on Craigslist for: $1,000.00.

FOUND 2 More T-Tech on Craigslist for: $250.00 each for a total of $500.00. Sold One for $500.00 and am keeping the last one for my home shop!

So with a little patience, perseverance and wheeling and dealing, I was able to service the vehicle (as well as several of my other vehicles) with little to no cost out of pocket.

Had I listened to the service vultures here at Carerra Motors here in Bend, I would have shelled out $9,600.00

So my advice? If at all possible, if you can do this stuff yourself - DO IT!

For those of you who live up around my area, look me up. I'm the "Central Oregon Regional Events Coordinator" (Translation - "A Highly Paid Volunteer Position!) for the newly formed BMWCCA Oregon Chapter! .....
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  #9  
Old 09-19-2011, 04:04 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Just got a question about the 2004 X3 auto transmission on a 3.0i gasoline engine - does anyone know if it is a GM auto or ZF auto? Also, is the BMW OEM fluid the same for these two transmissions or are the fluids different?

Thanks in advance!
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2011, 07:10 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is online now
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It's a GM (France) transmission.

The required fluid is indicated on a colored decal/plate attached to the casing.
You can't make any assumptions - not necessarily the same fluid as in other BMW A/T's,
and might vary year to year, or even within a model year.
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  #11  
Old 09-19-2011, 07:59 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Thanks very much for the response.

I bought a 2004 BMW X3 without doing much research and had just assumed that it had the ZF 5 speed auto.

I will be getting the transmission fluid changed and filter replaced by a trusted auto trans specialist that I've used for all my vehicles. They have confirmed that they do work on GM gearboxes and have the appropriate fluid for the gearbox. Whilst it is shifting smoothly at 101,000 kms, I'd like to do some preventative maintenance so that it remains that way for a long long time!
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  #12  
Old 09-22-2011, 08:30 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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Changed my lady friends X3 transfer case which by the way is WAY more important to change periodically than the transmission and also the transmission fluid and filter.
Transfer case had 63K and I wish I had done it at 50K but oh well. It was very black and holds only 0.6L of BMW fluid. Easy to change. Drained and dropped the pan, cleaned the magnets and replaced the filter and reinstalled, pumped ESSO Lt 71411 which is the same thing as Lifeguard5 spec'ed for this transmission. I believe around 5L. Transmission warm to temp added another 3/4L. Job done.
Only issue is using a inch pound torque wrench since the values are so low. By the way the Lifeguard5 I drained out was Coke colored and smelled bad however Esso smells bad anyway so I didn't think it was actually shot. I will do this in another 30-40K miles and for sure 30K miles for the transfer case since it is where all the power is sent from the engine and just too important and contains such a small amount of fluid to not change it often.

I didn't have guts enough to stray away from the OEM like using Redline or other fluids...
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  #13  
Old 09-22-2011, 09:21 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2drive View Post
Transfer case had 63K and I wish I had done it at 50K but oh well. It was very black and holds only 0.6L of BMW fluid. Easy to change.

...... 30K miles for the transfer case since it is where all the power is sent from the engine and just too important and contains such a small amount of fluid to not change it often.
Very true. Don't care what BMW recommend.
For extended engine drain intervals, they have the large oil capacity on their side.
Not so with the transfer case, which as you say, conducts proceedings in the final drive.
Either differential has an easier life in comparison.

I did my TC around 30K miles (48K km) and the fluid was quite dark
(pictures in a post in the DIY sticky).

Might have been a bit early - agree that 63K miles is getting near the must do point.

Other members who have waited to around 80K miles have seen metal flakes in the drained fluid.

Some variability in the reported capacity (allowing for minor spillage) - some even close to the full 1L.
Mine was 0.6L too, so 2 bottles from the dealer of the expensive stuff might be good for 5 or 6 years assuming average annual miles.

The need for A/T fluid changes can be debated at length, but for the TC - just do it.
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  #14  
Old 10-01-2011, 02:40 AM
James Hamilton James Hamilton is offline
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I've had my 2005 X3 for three years and my extended warranty hs expired. I've serviced every car I've owned but this one is giving me a fit. I have a problem changing the tranny fluid. The check/add resevoir remains full after draining the fluid. How do I get it to empty allowing me to add the fluid? Sounds a little stupid, I know, but don't want to screw up.

Last edited by James Hamilton; 10-01-2011 at 10:12 AM.
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  #15  
Old 10-01-2011, 05:03 AM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Question

I did the auto trans fluid change and the old fluid was black like used engine oil. So it was definitely a worthwhile exercise to get the fluid replaced.

My next task is the x-drive transfer case fluid.

Last edited by tempestv8; 10-05-2011 at 04:59 AM. Reason: Correction of facts
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  #16  
Old 10-02-2011, 05:04 AM
ncord ncord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Hamilton View Post
I've had my 2005 X3 for three years and my extended warranty hs expired. I've serviced every car I've owned but this one is giving me a fit. I have a problem changing the tranny fluid. The check/add resevoir remains full after draining the fluid. How do I get it to empty allowing me to add the fluid? Sounds a little stupid, I know, but don't want to screw up.
There is no reservoir for the tranny.You are checking the power steering fluid.
It also uses ATF.
You have to refill the tranny from underneath the car.There is a refill plug as well as the drain plugI think approx.6 qts.but check for sure.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:24 PM
James Hamilton James Hamilton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncord View Post
There is no reservoir for the tranny.You are checking the power steering fluid.
It also uses ATF.
You have to refill the tranny from underneath the car.There is a refill plug as well as the drain plugI think approx.6 qts.but check for sure.
Thanks for that bit of information. I was confused by the fact ATF is stamped on the top of the reservoir. I really appreciate the fact I had the extended warranty on the car. I didn't have to worry about this but I can't see dropping the kind of money they want for changing the fluids since the warranty has expired. This is the first BMW I've had any dealings with and it had me puzzled for sure. You would think the owner's manual would at least tell you where to check and fill the transmission. I think I will invest in a service manual. Thanks again.
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:33 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Hi James,

Just out of curiosity, what was the condition/colour of the old trans fluid when you drained it? For me, the old fluid looked really bad - it was black like used engine oil.

I found the fill point very troublesome because the twin exhaust pipes ran past that general area. When I was doing up the fill plug, I managed to accidentally brush my hand against the hot exhaust pipe a few times. Ouch!! I'd be interested to know if you had the same challenges.

What fluid did you end up putting into your auto trans? My 2004 is the GM 5 speed auto, so I put in Dexron VI.
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  #19  
Old 10-03-2011, 04:32 AM
James Hamilton James Hamilton is offline
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transmission fluid and filter

Actually I haven't replaced the fluid yet, the car is still in my garage. I didn't want to do the wrong thing so waited for advise from a couple of forums and a friend. The fluid is pretty clear, not dirty at all. Since it has the lifetime fluid I think I will put the same fluid back in and count all this as education. The car has just over 70K miles. From here to fore any transmission service will go the the dealer. Too little savings and too much work.

Many thanks for the feed back.
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  #20  
Old 10-06-2011, 09:45 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madurodave View Post
Was the AT fluid a big job? I believe you have to loosen the pan, let the fluid come out, remove pan, clean any gasket material off and wipe down, replace filter, reattach pan (what torque value?), then fill?

Hopefully not too bad.

Dave,

I've responded to your query from the transfer case fluid thread using this pre existing automatic transmission fluid change thread, so as not to dilute (no pun intended) the content of the two separate subject threads.

I didn't bother to undo the pan or replace the original filter. In my past experience with auto gearboxes where I did undo pans, replace pan gasket and fluid filter, wipe down any swarf that may have settled on the bottom of the pan or collected around the magnet, etc, is that it's mostly unnecessary.

I've never found any big chunks of friction pad material in the filters, and if there were, the transmission is beyond just a fluid change anyway, as the friction material only breaks away when severely overheated.

My personal opinion is that a simple fluid drain and refill with fresh fluid of the correct specification is sufficient to extend the longevity of the automatic transmission. Removing the pan/filter only increases the risk of introducing foreign materials into the gearbox, especially if the immediate area surrounding the gearbox is dirty (but who takes an X3 offroad anyway? ) Or possibly risk damaging the threads on the sump pan bolts by over torquing.

So I've simply renewed the fluid. Easy and cheap job and most importantly, significantly lower risk of damaging the gearbox.

My biggest challenge was to top up the fluid using my home mechanic style oil syringe, because the twin exhaust pipes run alongside the transmission, very near the fill plug location. With the engine running to warm up the fluid in the gearbox to achieve proper fill level, the exhaust pipes get quite hot.... Since I don't have asbestos hands, I had to endure some pain as I hand threaded the fill plug back on. Ouch!

I checked the amount of old fluid that I got out and it was around 5.5 litres, according to my oil catch pan. This is roughly the same amount of fresh new fluid that I was able to put back into the gearbox, so I think the fluid level inside the gearbox is about right.

I've driven the car around now for a week, and seems like the fluid change has had no adverse effects to the shift quality of the gearbox, which was very good to begin with.

I would highly recommend changing the auto trans fluid, especially after I saw just how black the old fluid was. It was truly in a disgraceful state - black like engine oil, but being auto trans fluid, it doesn't stain. The new Dexron VI fluid was a dark red colour.

Last edited by tempestv8; 10-07-2011 at 12:39 AM. Reason: Adding more details.
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  #21  
Old 10-07-2011, 09:25 AM
James Hamilton James Hamilton is offline
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Automatic Transmission fluid change

My only real problem was getting the car up and level which is required to make sure the fluid is at the proper level. That is the only way to know you have the right amount of fluid in the transmission. For that reason alone I will never take on the job of changing the transmission fluid again. The exhaust pipes were a problem for me too. Again, in order to know the transmission takes the right amount of fluid is for the motor to be running while you are filling the transmission. If you have to change it again, I would suggest you buying a manual pump instead of using a syringe. I purchased one at Harbor Freight Tools for 7.95 that did the job perfectly. I did not remove the pan as advised by most people I talked to but I doubt if that will be a problem because of the magnets.
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  #22  
Old 10-08-2011, 02:26 PM
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madurodave madurodave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Hamilton View Post
My only real problem was getting the car up and level which is required to make sure the fluid is at the proper level. That is the only way to know you have the right amount of fluid in the transmission. For that reason alone I will never take on the job of changing the transmission fluid again. The exhaust pipes were a problem for me too. Again, in order to know the transmission takes the right amount of fluid is for the motor to be running while you are filling the transmission. If you have to change it again, I would suggest you buying a manual pump instead of using a syringe. I purchased one at Harbor Freight Tools for 7.95 that did the job perfectly. I did not remove the pan as advised by most people I talked to but I doubt if that will be a problem because of the magnets.
Well, dealer quoted $525 for filter change and fluid change (includes parts). Too much money for me.

Ordered gasket, filter, pan bolts and drain plug. $102 total at dealer. Trans supposedly takes 8 quarts of Dexron VI, so about $40 but I doubt I will get 8 out. May just get fluid from BAVAUTO which is more money, about $100 for 10 quarts. Have to buy 1 more pair of jack stands, so whole job should be around $200 to $250 which is worth me doing it.

I really think pan should be removed. That way you can replace filter, clean magnets and assess condition.

Anyone know torque values for GM6 bolts and drain plug? I saw some numbers for the ZF trans which were about 53 inch pounds, so I need a smaller torque wrench too which I can use. Looks like a trip to Sears tomorrow! I will ask service for the values if needed.

Need pump too, which I will get this week.

Job looks messy but not too bad.
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Last edited by madurodave; 10-08-2011 at 02:44 PM.
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  #23  
Old 10-08-2011, 04:54 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Question

That price for the Dexron VI doesn't sound right - it sounds too cheap. Are you sure you didn't get the roman numerals switched around? VI = 6, and IV = 4.

In Australia, the BMW dealer sells 4 litres of BMW part number 83220397114 for around $70, so it's quite expensive, and the bottle supplied isn't even labelled as BMW fluid. I did a quick check and 1 US quart is nearly the same as 1 metric litre. (1 qt(US Liq) = 0.946352 L)

I managed to drain out nearly 6 litres of fluid when I drained the pan using the drain plug.

The quote that you got from your dealer actually sounds about right, if they do drop the pan and replace the filter inside.

Last edited by tempestv8; 10-08-2011 at 05:03 PM. Reason: Added more information
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  #24  
Old 10-08-2011, 05:07 PM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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I have read the same comments on my E39. I purchased the kit and sat on it somewhat fearful that if it is working, why mess it up.
Last year, I drained and filled the fluid. Last week I dropped the pan and finished the job. So far all is well. My 530i has 130,000 miles on a steptronic tranny.
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  #25  
Old 10-08-2011, 05:14 PM
tempestv8 tempestv8 is offline
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Hi Dale,

I did do the full pan removal on my e39 a couple of years ago. It had the expected amount of metallic reside at the bottom of the pan, and cut up the filter to have a look inside but it did not have anything in it. What was the condition of your transmission when you had the pan out?

I used the same Esso LT fluid as what BMW specifies for the ZF gearbox. Gearbox still feels very strong today and the car has 240,000 kms on the odometer which is roughly 150,000 miles. If I were to do another service to the gearbox again, I will just change the fluid and wouldn't bother with opening up the pan.
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