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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
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  #1  
Old 10-29-2009, 11:09 AM
mouchacs mouchacs is offline
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Thumbs up Automatic Transmission Fluid - Lifelong or NOT?

So my bmw x5 has 87,000 miles on it. . running well. no problems. went it to get oil changed today and discussed with my nice german mechanic Hans topic of automatic transmission fluid.
He thinks better NOT to change it ever as it is "lifetime fluid" but then he said "nothing is a lifetime."
I called BMW and their service people said "you shouldn't change it until earliest 100,000 and even then there is the risk that you can have problems with transmission after your change it .."we warned you"
Looking online most blogs say you should change it every 30,000 and the whole "lifetime transmission fluid" is a conspiracy by BMW ("whose cars are high maintenance but they now don't want people to think their cars are such so they are using lifetime fluids") to sell more cars ...and also conspiracy not to change fluid so that mechanic ends up doing transmission work later on in life..

THings online talk about flushing the system which makes sense but even then you may move "sludge" around from a place that it was not causing problems to a place that now is causing problems ...

What do you think? Surprisingly Hans and BMW dealership said not to do it .....................

Your thoughts are always appreciated. The car is paid off so I'd like to keep it as long as possible...
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2009, 06:16 PM
dkl dkl is offline
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At the very least, I would change the filter. Doing so would require you to drop the pan and replace the fluid that was the pan, which is a safe way to change out 50% of the fluid rather than a flush. You have to remember that "lifetime" doesn't mean the life of the car. It's really the lifetime of the transmission. Will changing out the fluid help extend the transmission life, one would never know since there are so many variables that can cause a transmission to fail...one being clutch pack wear, which would happen whether you change fluid or not.

So, it's really up to you to determine whether it's worth the effort. According to my owner's manual, it states that the fluid should be changed at 100k miles. If BMW deems it "safe" to change it at 100k, I would assume that it is safe to do it earlier as well. Afterall, what's so magical about the 100k mark?
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2009, 09:42 PM
ard ard is offline
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Un-frigging-believable.

Regularly fluid changes, say 20-30-40k are essential. But once the damage is done and crud is present, your options become limited.

A passive drain and fill should be fine- just get new fluid in there. (Why do forums go nuts about "I change my oil every 5k" and "I change it every 2500", yet they all blithely leave the ATF sit for YEARS!)

People give BMW engineers' way too much credit... they (the bean counters) don't care at all about the tranny, they don't want to pay for a change under either the 50k maintenance or 100k extended maintenance....

It is laughable that people actually think they are getting technical advice from Consumer Relations....

A
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  #4  
Old 03-13-2010, 09:31 PM
Brooklynbeamer Brooklynbeamer is offline
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I got 109k on my 01 x5, how much does bmw charge to change the tran fluid? and I dont know if i should do it.
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  #5  
Old 03-14-2010, 06:09 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklynbeamer View Post
I got 109k on my 01 x5, how much does bmw charge to change the tran fluid? and I dont know if i should do it.
I just had mine changed in my 2001 X5 with 108K miles and it cost me ~$350 at my indy mechanic. $200 of that was the fluid itself. I feel much better with new fluid in there.
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  #6  
Old 03-14-2010, 10:15 AM
Brooklynbeamer Brooklynbeamer is offline
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I think it is better to do it at BMW service right? anyone know how much does bmw charge for this?
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  #7  
Old 03-14-2010, 10:35 AM
ard ard is offline
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There is no answer to that question: each dealership is independent of BMW. So "BMW" actually does not service any car. Figure an hour at your dealers rate, plus fluid.

There is ZERO need to go to a "BMW Dealer"
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  #8  
Old 03-14-2010, 11:10 AM
Brooklynbeamer Brooklynbeamer is offline
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I see, what fluid do I need for the 01 x5 4.4 with 109k mi?
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  #9  
Old 03-14-2010, 12:02 PM
ard ard is offline
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Same fluid for all 2001 X5 4.4s...mileage doesn't matter.

Here:

http://www.xoutpost.com/bmw-sav-foru...hange-diy.html

http://www.xoutpost.com/articles/x5/...nce-guide.html

Search is amazing...

I have a 2001 MDX that I use as the beater ski car... finally replaced the tranny at 208k miles. I did full "3x drain and fills" on that car every 40k miles: Drain out 4L, fill...drive to hot... repeat. in 3x cycles you get essentially 95% of the old fluid out. This retained my factory warranty/extended warranty since I did not do a 'flush'. I found it pretty easy to do, and just kept it up past 100k. Given the horrendous reputation those first year MDX trannies had, I think this was admirable longevity.
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  #10  
Old 03-14-2010, 10:02 PM
Brooklynbeamer Brooklynbeamer is offline
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does bmw offer warranty on the tranny after changing fluid?
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  #11  
Old 03-15-2010, 05:38 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklynbeamer View Post
does bmw offer warranty on the tranny after changing fluid?
I don't see why not. But if you're concerned I recommend you give them a call and ask.

I think you're putting too much thought into this. I've never heard of a situation where replacing the fluid would cause premature failure (assuming it was done properly).
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  #12  
Old 03-15-2010, 09:47 AM
ard ard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooklynbeamer View Post
does bmw offer warranty on the tranny after changing fluid?
Absolutely not!

Look, you will hear stories of "leave it alone, changing it can cause problems"...this is likely NOT true, but what IS true is that people generally ignore the tranny until issues come up- then they change the fluid... too late...then things get worse. The 'problem' is attributed to the recent fluid change.

Customers hold dealers responsible if something happens after the fluid change, hence many mechanics want no part of this.


At 100k, the problem really isn't change or no change...the problem is what damage has already been done by not changing at 30 and 60k.

A
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  #13  
Old 07-23-2011, 12:21 PM
BMW1999M3FL BMW1999M3FL is offline
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Transmission Fluid Change

Just as many of you are wondering about changing Transmission Fluid or to better leave it alone, I've been researching this issue for some time now.

I am pleased to read many of these threads as they are very informative. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to help out others. My e36 is a manual (140,000 miles), and I have heard that it is easier to do the flush (perhaps there is no filter in mine being a manual?)

I've asked/consulted with over a dozen people/tech, and I got nearly a 50:50 reply (changed it ASAP:at this stage don't touch it, just top it if needed)

Of course I don't buy into "lifetime" being lifetime of the vehicle. I agree with the people on here saying it is a marketing maneuver etc. I am a scientist (chemist), and I know about oil composition, metal particles, catalysis, heat effects, etc. Someone posted the ppm content of the metals and it is obvious that after 70K miles, the chemistry of the fluid is different. However, the difference is remarkably modest considering the length of time/mileage the fluid has been through. So the term "lifetime" certainly testify to the chemical resilience of the fluid, but not to its being consistently the same throughout the "lifetime" of the vehicle. I bet you that if someone tests the fluid after 12K they would find out that it has progressed toward deterioration already, and clearly a change may not be necessary at that stage.

So I am with all of you on the issue of it NOT being a lifetime (unless lifetime is set at 50K or even 100K miles; considering that most of us are not the type to own the vehicle for 36K miles and swab it with a newer one, otherwise we probably would not bother posting/reading on here!) However, I am a bit concerned that since mine was never done, it is quite possible that flushing it all out with brand new fluid may actually cause some additional issues, aside from progressive wear possibly caused by not having changed the fluid this far. I bought 2L of MTF-LT2 from the dealer, and I am considering "baby-ing" the change gradually. Perhaps a comical coincidence, but the 50:50 response I got is tempting me to do just that! Change 50% of the fluid. Any comments on this? Or perhaps in slower steps (much like one would change water in a fish tank!) You do not want to change 90% of the water or else you may shock the fish. I know the transmission does not have cells, however, it has been "used to" that oil which gradually deteriorated to its current state, and perhaps it behooves making a "gradual revert" to cleaner fresher oil, rather than a sudden change. If I had a brand new transmission, I would have changed the fluid at least every 30-40K miles.

Sorry for the long thread, but I appreciate if anyone has an opinion on 1. Manual vs. Automatic, 2. gradual change 3. or other comments!

P.S. I am not sure how to refer to a different thread on this forum other than copying the link in here, but I thought I should make a reference to where I saw the helpful chemical analysis kindly posted by @csmeance.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=509990

Last edited by BMW1999M3FL; 07-23-2011 at 12:28 PM. Reason: additions
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  #14  
Old 07-24-2011, 07:40 PM
bigwave bigwave is offline
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i dont think it is an issue with manual trans, in the 60,s and 70,s we never ever changed manual gearbox oil, and not a real lot has changed in there design in that time ( yes i know they are improved for a whole host of reasons but the statement stands) even an auto trans from the 70,s maybe got an oil change once in the cars life time

however with the hi tech nature of todays autos and all the electronics and electro magnet solenoids etc, im of the opinion that changing the oil at regular intervals is a smart move

my personal experience with my 05 3.0d is that the fluid change at about 70,000 km dramatically helped / cured the dreaded lurch, along with software up grade

i,m also of the opinion that in stating that the oil is designed for the life time of the vehicle is also true in the eyes of BMW as i dont believe they care a toss after the vehicle has done 100,000 km or once the wty has expired.

they want you to trade it in and buy a new one.

its just us who want better value for our dollar that insist in running them for years, and in my view changing all fluids regularly can't hurt
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  #15  
Old 07-25-2011, 07:49 AM
sunny5280 sunny5280 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW1999M3FL View Post
Of course I don't buy into "lifetime" being lifetime of the vehicle. I agree with the people on here saying it is a marketing maneuver etc. I am a scientist (chemist), and I know about oil composition, metal particles, catalysis, heat effects, etc. Someone posted the ppm content of the metals and it is obvious that after 70K miles, the chemistry of the fluid is different. However, the difference is remarkably modest considering the length of time/mileage the fluid has been through. So the term "lifetime" certainly testify to the chemical resilience of the fluid, but not to its being consistently the same throughout the "lifetime" of the vehicle. I bet you that if someone tests the fluid after 12K they would find out that it has progressed toward deterioration already, and clearly a change may not be necessary at that stage.
Wouldn't this support the argument there is little risk to changing the fluid?

With that said I'm now just over 122K miles on my X5 and not a single problem with the transmission since changing the fluid 15 months and 14K miles ago.
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  #16  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:50 PM
TylerH860 TylerH860 is offline
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Sometimes changing the fluid and filter brings about transmission problems that previously didn't exist. The new fluid is thinner than the old sludgy fluid, and with the less pressure running through things start flaring up. Most likely the problems would have been an issue in the near future anyway.

This has been 2 out of 50 or so cars that have had transmission services dealership over the past few years that drove fine before, but not after the fluid change. Both were imports (Jag XJ8 and Mercedes E320), both "sealed for life" and we used the OEM filter and fluid.

Overall, I'd take a 4% chance versus what would most certainly happen eventually if you do nothing.
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  #17  
Old 07-26-2011, 06:16 PM
ard ard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylerH860 View Post
Sometimes changing the fluid and filter brings about transmission problems that previously didn't exist. The new fluid is thinner than the old sludgy fluid, and with the less pressure running through things start flaring up. Most likely the problems would have been an issue in the near future anyway.

.
THIS IS PRECISELY WHY REGULAR, EARLY MAINETANACE IS NECESSARY!

So you never GET 'old sludgy fluid'!

Do it at 20, 25, even 40k intervals and you'll be humming along at 120k with a smile....and not thinking 'crap, that tranny sure feels sloppy'....
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  #18  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:15 PM
bigwave bigwave is offline
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isn't that the truth in all of it, gotta do the service. pay a little now or a lot later, you choose.

thats why i struggle to understand the logic in the service interval indicators that can let a car go
for 15 / 20,000 kilometers between oil changes.

i have the 3.0d and was told that diesels motors in general will go for ever, just one thing change the oil and filters regularly
and 10,000 km to me seems like long enough

same with diff and transfer case oils, mine will be done at the next service at 110,000 km (about 66,000 miles) low cost today
but if it saves the components down the line i,ll be laughing
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  #19  
Old 01-20-2012, 02:49 PM
tk123 tk123 is offline
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I have owned multiple BMW's. My oldest is a 1996 328i. I have never changed the transmission fluids. I presently have 250k miles and counting. I hope this helps. I just changed my transmission fluids,pan,gasket seal from independent mechanic at the cost of 760.00. I had no choice because it was leaking(650i).
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  #20  
Old 01-20-2012, 03:19 PM
bobc2001 bobc2001 is offline
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Even transmission shops don't recommend changing oil at high millage if you never did maintenance before. after 100k mile your better of leaving it alone. Since there is no way to check it you cannot tell if it's burnt. Which is breaking down.

bobc
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  #21  
Old 01-21-2012, 12:14 PM
chasz17 chasz17 is offline
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ZF, the manufacturer, of the transmission calls for a fluid drain and fill at 100 kilometers (about 62k miles). My indy has the printed recommendation from them.
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  #22  
Old 01-21-2012, 01:54 PM
R8754 R8754 is offline
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I have researched this issue a lot on various forums. My conclusion is to change the auto trans fluid every 50,000 miles including filter. If one is already way over that, the post above suggesting to just change just the filter and trans oil in the pan makes sense to me.

My 05 3.0L auto calls for a change at 100,000. I did it at 58,000 for about $350 at an indy. It currently has 70,000 miles. Given the potential for catastrophic repair issues on the X5, I am hesitant to keep one beyond about 120,000 miles or less. I would never buy a high mileage X5 unless I knew that it had been very well maintained. Mine was a CPO purchased at 44,000 miles. My 3rd BMW, all purchased used. So far, because of circumstances, I haven't kept one beyond 100,000. I am "on the fence" about every owning another one because of reliability and maintenance costs. There are a lot of great cars out there. But, none drive like the BMW.
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  #23  
Old 01-21-2012, 02:16 PM
kmorgan_260 kmorgan_260 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mouchacs View Post
What do you think? Surprisingly Hans and BMW dealership said not to do it .....................

Your thoughts are always appreciated. The car is paid off so I'd like to keep it as long as possible...
I think Hans and BMW dealership make a living fixing broken transmissions. They might not be the best source for advice on this subject.

I have heard the BS about how changing the fluid can cause problems but I don't believe it. I have owned over a dozen cars and the ones that I neglected to change the ATF in caused me problems. The ones that I changed the fluid/filter every 40K miles went for years without a problem. It just makes sense. Of course you have to use the correct type and amount of fluid or you can cause problems.

Good luck.
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  #24  
Old 01-21-2012, 02:17 PM
tk123 tk123 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasz17 View Post
ZF, the manufacturer, of the transmission calls for a fluid drain and fill at 100 kilometers (about 62k miles). My indy has the printed recommendation from them.
100 kilometers? Are you sure.
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  #25  
Old 01-22-2012, 12:56 PM
chasz17 chasz17 is offline
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tk123.
I'm 100% sure on the change interval recommendation. While the work was being done, I read the entire white paper. There is no such thing as lifetime fluid.
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