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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

 
 
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:54 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Location: Sudbury, MA
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Mein Auto: '02 530i Sport auto
Replacing ATF: Do you level the car or level the tranny pan?

This is a very good question someone raised to me in a PM. ECS Tuning has a You Tube video that specificaly says to level the tranny pan prior to an ATF replacement. I reviewed several ATF replacement DIY procedures prior to replacing my ATF and noone explicitly says whether to level the car (keeping the car at the same attitude as when it is sitting on all four tires) or to level the ATF pan. I assumed everyone did the former since most used either jack stands or a four point car lift.

When replacing my ATF, I leveled the car. I never even checked the pan level. I raised my car and placed each tire on 3 stacked (nailed together) 24" long 2" x 12" boards. I then set the parking brake. This gave me the clearance to work underneath. I initially overfilled my tranny by jamming the drain plug back in immediately after pulling the pump, while ATF was draining. This caused a slight change in shift points. After I did the drain and refill (this time I waited a bit before plugging the inlet), it ran just like before.

The only surefire way to replace the exact amount of ATF that is drained out is to save and measure the amount of ATF that drains out. You must then replicate the temperature (ATF expands and contracts with temp) in your fresh ATF and then promptly refill. That's a bit of work but you can't go wrong.

This question does not address the issues of ATF temperature or which gear (park or drive) to be in when replacing the ATF (mine was 95F and I was in Drive). It is strictly about what should be level when replacing the ATF. Any experiences, thoughts, opinions are welcome. Please provide a "why" to your response. Thanx.
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