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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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  #1  
Old 04-28-2010, 08:32 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Mein Auto: '02 540i sport
Need advice after trans drain & fill

Hello,

I have a 2002 540i sport with a ZF 5HP24 that I've performed a transmission service on. I used Valvoline Max Life. I drained (using the flush method of leaving the fill plug out and turning the car off) it several times, replaced the filter, and drained and topped off. So here's my question...

What *exactly* is a "small stream of fluid"? I mean, obviously, you can't give me an exact flow-rate. I know that. But in concept, should the stream be indicative that the fluid is basically at the bottom of the fill-hole, or should there be a notable stream exiting the fill-hole? The reason I ask is that after doing this service 3 times now (once to replace the bulk of the fluid, once for the filter change, and once to verify level), I have been freaked out about not leaving enough fluid in, and have closed the fill plug while there was a steady stream of fluid exiting (with the car running, and the trans to temp). I have been experiencing the following symptoms:

1. Sucking noise eminating from the transmission that gets louder as temps rise, and clearly louder in reverse.
2. I can smell the transmission after driving it for a while. It doesn't smell like burning ATF, but rather, what I would call a hot ATF smell.

The trans seems to shift really well, and I do not detect slippage, but the above symptoms indicate something is still not right. So, could I open the fill-plug with the engine running and the trans to temp, and basically let whatever fluid is going to come out, come out, without worrying that the level will become too low? My indy (who changed the filter for me) overfilled the trans really badly, and after I reset the level myself, the symptoms have improved some. BMW should think with their dipstick, cheese and rice!
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  #2  
Old 04-28-2010, 08:46 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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PM me and I'll email you a PDF of the level checking procedure. You are sure that you used the correct ATF?

The trans temperature is critical. I have no experience with BMW auto transmissions, but, the traditional approach when checking lube level is to allow just a slight dribble before capping the fill hole.
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  #3  
Old 04-28-2010, 08:53 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Hi Ed, thanks for the offer of the pdf. I have both the ZF documentation and the Bentley manual in pdf format. Both refer to a "small stream of fluid". Do you recall if your documentation says similar? I can't PM yet, apparantly, as I am too n00bish heh.

And yes, Valvoline Max Life is LT71141 compliant. Walmart has a sale right now, as a matter of fact. 5 quart jug for about $16. Just in case anyone was thinking of doing the service soon

:edit: Regarding trans temp, all of the DIYs I have read indicate that the pan should be warm to the touch, but not very hot. It's amazing how much ATF expands with only a change of a few degrees in temperature. Short of taking the temp of some sample fluid exiting the fill-hole, I really wouldn't know any other way to check the temp other than the "palm-the-pan" technique.

Last edited by TopazE39; 04-28-2010 at 08:56 AM.
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  #4  
Old 04-28-2010, 09:01 AM
edjack edjack is offline
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The text of the PDF. Note the required temp range for proper filling:

GROUP 24 24 01 98 Woodcliff Lake, N.J. January 1999
Automatic Transmission Product Engineering
This Service Information bulletin supersedes S.I. 24 01 98 dated October 1998 which should be removed and discarded
from your S.I. binder.
SUBJECT: Transmission Fluid Level Checking Procedure and Application Chart
MODEL: ZF Transmission: GM Transmission:
5HP18 (A5S 310Z) THM R1 (A4A 310R & A4S 270R)
5HP24 (A5S 440Z) 5L40-E (A5S 360R)
5HP30 (A5S 560Z)
Situation: Checking the fluid level may be necessary if there is evidence of a leak, a complaint related to
fluid level or in the event repairs are made to the transmission.
NOTE: USE ONLY THE TRANSMISSION FLUID THAT IS APPROVED FOR USE WITH THE
SPECIFIC TRANSMISSION AS INDICATED IN THE ATTACHED FLUIDS APPLICATION CHART.
ALL OTHER FLUIDS WILL CAUSE NON WARRANTABLE TRANSMISSION DAMAGE.
Procedure: A. Fluid level checking procedure for all Transmissions without a dipstick:
1. The transmission temperature must be between 30(C and 50(C before checking can
begin. Use the DIS or the MODIC to determine the transmission temperature.
2. The vehicle must be level and without load. With the engine running, switch on the air
conditioning. This will increase the idle speed and ensure that all oil passages in the
transmission are filled with oil.
3. Step on the brake firmly, apply parking brake fully and move the selector lever through
each gear position, pausing briefly in each gear.
4. With the engine running and the selector lever in Park position, remove the filler plug 1
located on the transmission (see picture for location). If a small stream of oil runs out,
the fluid level is correct.
5. If no oil runs out when the filler plug is removed, the fluid level is too low. Add oil until it
starts to overflow.
6. With the engine running, reinstall the oil filler plug and tighten to proper torque. (Refer
to section F below for proper tightening torque)
B. Transmission Filler & Drain Plug Locations:
ZF Transmissions
5 HP 30 (A5S 560Z)
SI Transmission Fluid Level Checking Precedure and Application BMW AG - TIS 28.04.2010 08:41
Issue status (02/2001) Valid only until next CD is issued Copyright Page - 1 -
5 HP 24 (A5S 440Z)
5 HP 18 (A5S 310Z)
(1) Drain plug
(2) Filler plug
GM Transmissions
THM R1 (A4A 310R & A4S 270R)
SI Transmission Fluid Level Checking Precedure and Application BMW AG - TIS 28.04.2010 08:41
Issue status (02/2001) Valid only until next CD is issued Copyright Page - 2 -
5L40-E (A5S 360R)
C. Fluid level checking procedure for all Transmissions with a dipstick (As of 02/91 the THM
R1 transmissions are not equipped with a dipstick):
1. The transmission temperature must be between 30(C and 50(C before checking can
begin. Use the DIS or the MODIC to determine the transmission temperature.
2. The vehicle must be level and without load. With the engine running, switch on the air
conditioning. This will increase the idle speed and ensure that all oil passages in the
transmission are filled with oil.
3. Step on the brake firmly, apply parking brake fully and move the selector lever through
each gear position, pausing briefly in each gear.
4. Pull out dipstick and wipe clean with a lint free cloth
5. Reinsert dipstick completely. Pull out dipstick and place bottom tip on a level surface,
measure level from bottom tip as shown.
Compare measurement and oil temperature reading from MoDiC or DIS with Table
below.
6. Add additional oil if needed.
SI Transmission Fluid Level Checking Precedure and Application BMW AG - TIS 28.04.2010 08:41
Issue status (02/2001) Valid only until next CD is issued Copyright Page - 3 -
Reinsert dipstick completely. Pull out dipstick and look at level. Level should be
between MAX and MIN marks as shown.
Amount of oil between MAX and MIN marks is 0.3 lit (0.6 pts)
On vehicles with a dipstick tube if transmission fluid is needed use only Dexron III.
D. Adding oil after transmission repairs:
1. With the engine stopped, add oil to the transmission until it overflows.
2. Insert the filler plug and tighten by hand. Place the selector lever in Park position and
start the engine.
3. Follow the fluid level checking procedure as described under step A or B.
E. Notes on fluid level checking and adding transmission oil:
-- Whenever all lifetime use oils (Shell LA 2634, Esso LT71141 or Texaco ETL 7045) are
to be collected in a clean container and reused.
-- It is preferred to check the transmission fluid level at 30(C, this way the transmission
will hold extra oil versus topping off at 50(C.
-- If the transmission temperature rises above 50 C during the fluid level checking
procedure, the resulting oil level will be too low.
-- Have necessary equipment, oil pump and transmission fluid available before starting
the fluid level checking procedure.
F. Tightening Torque
General Information: Attached to this bulletin is a Transmission Fluids Application Chart which identifies what type of
transmission fluid is to be used with each model based on production date. One copy of this
SI Transmission Fluid Level Checking Precedure and Application BMW AG - TIS 28.04.2010 08:41
Issue status (02/2001) Valid only until next CD is issued Copyright Page - 4 -
laminated chart plus a laminated card with filling and checking procedures will be sent to each
Service Manager at a cost of $ 3.00 per laminated chart. Additional copies can be ordered
from Product Engineering (a pre-printed order form is enclosed).
Item No. Description Qty. Price
SD 92-113 Transmission Fluid Application Chart 1 $ 1.50
SD 92-114 Transmission Fluid Check/Filling Card 1 $ 1.50
SD 92-115 Transmission Fluid Application and Filling 1 $ 6.00
Procedure Wall Chart
SI Transmission Fluid Level Checking Precedure and Application BMW AG - TIS 28.04.2010 08:41
Issue status (02/2001) Valid only until next CD is issued Copyright Page - 5 -
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  #5  
Old 04-28-2010, 09:05 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Thanks Ed. So this literature says "until overflow", which I guess is a little more precise of an instruction than "steady stream". I guess what I'm looking for, is someone who has succesfully done this service to say "yes, once the fluid reaches the bottom of the opening (after either draining while running, or pumping fluid in while running) you have reached the correct level". It's so difficult to measure a "steady stream", but I would have more confidence if the level should be to the bottom of the fill-hole opening. You know what I mean? Thanks again!
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  #6  
Old 04-28-2010, 09:16 AM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
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Should have used Shell LA 2634, Esso LT71141 or Texaco ETL 7045. Valvoline isn't on the list, don't play around with trying to save a few bucks on something as expensive as a Transmission. You have mixed 2 different brands of fluid, not sure how well that's going to work.

After I did mine I did have that sucking sound until I added more fluid, 5 liters is what mine ended up holding. I was able to put 4 in it while it was on the lift, then I lowered it and jacked up the right side with a floor jack and added the last liter.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:33 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCo540i View Post
Should have used Shell LA 2634, Esso LT71141 or Texaco ETL 7045. Valvoline isn't on the list...
Valvoline Max life is, indeed, Esso LT71141 compliant - according to Valvoline's packaging on the product. Picture of said claim by Valvoline is attached.





Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCo540i View Post
After I did mine I did have that sucking sound until I added more fluid, 5 liters is what mine ended up holding. I was able to put 4 in it while it was on the lift, then I lowered it and jacked up the right side with a floor jack and added the last liter.
So all the warnings about the car being level mean nothing? This is important info!
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2010, 09:54 AM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
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Yeah level works if you do it exactly as they say, I didn't have any help so I couldn't be under the car filling it and shifting it through the gears at the same time. So I did it my way. The most important thing it that you fill it with the correct amount fluid and not so much how you fill it.

It held 4 (can't remember the exact #) liters while sitting on the lift with the engine off and in park. I drove it home (slowly) 15 miles and then jacked up the right side and added the last liter. After doing it this way I checked it according to the procedure and had a slight drizzle of fluid running out of the fill hole.

This was 30k miles ago.
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:08 AM
scott0357 scott0357 is offline
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There's absolutely no way you can overfill the tranny. The fluid can never pass the fill plug level. A little dripping from the fill hole is perfectly fine.
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:08 AM
BadBrad BadBrad is offline
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The sucking noise you're referring to should only happen if you did not fill it correctly (under fill). Typically this happens when the transmission is cold and the ATF is at it's most contracted point. The noise is indicative of the filter inlet opening not being below the level of ATF and is sucking a little air also. As the ATF heats up, it expands and fills a greater volume within the pan and will then cover the inlet opening to the filter. This is what happened to me. Once I got the level right the noise went away. It is customary for most auto transmissions to check the fluid at normal operating temps. So that is critical. Also, since you did not use the ESSO fluid, the rate of expansion due to temperature of the Valvoline Max Life may not be the same as the ESSO which may make it very difficult to determine the correct level. Another thought is did you use the recommended Filtran filter? If not, then the filter flow rate may be too restrictive causing the noise....just a guess. Also, it's been reported in these forums that some of the other filter types will collapse when used in these transmissions and cause the sucking noise. Hope this helps....
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:01 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Thanks guys.

You could overfill the trans if it wasn't up to operating temp, the fluid going in isn't at that same temp, or you just get freaked out at the draining fluid and cap it off in a rush, wearing ATF as a hat

Seems as though it is underfilled, based on the sucking noise, and I guess that might also make the fluid exceed it's normal operating temp threshold, causing the smell? Yet, I closed the fill plug while a steady stream (filling at least half the opening as it streamed out) was exiting. Must have been too hot, for it to be overfilled. This is not an easy transmission to fill correctly, I must say.

Thanks again, folks!
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:58 PM
scott0357 scott0357 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopazE39 View Post

You could overfill the trans if it wasn't up to operating temp, the fluid going in isn't at that same temp, or you just get freaked out at the draining fluid and cap it off in a rush, wearing ATF as a hat

I disagree. I donít remember the size of the fill plug. Letís say itís 22mm. Letís say the bottom of the fill plug is the minimum fill level and the top of the fill plug is the absolute max level at high operating temperature. The tranny holds about 8 qtrs (including 2 qts in the converter). I donít know the thermal expansion coefficient of the tranny fluid. Letís assume itís the same as the typical motor oil, which has thermal expansion rate of 0.0007/C. The tranny holds 8 qtrs and assume the temperature rises by 100C, then the volume will be increased to 8.56 qtrs (8qtrsx0.0007x100C). Assume that the tranny bottom pan size is 12Ēx10Ē and the fill hole size is 22mm, then the volume of oil needed to pass the top of the fill hole is about 1.9 liters. However, the expansion from the 8 qtrs is only about 0.5 liter, itís no where near the 1.9 liters. The only way you can overfill the tranny is pumping in 10 liters (or ~10 qtrs) plus the 2 liters that are already in the converter. I donít see how you can overfill the tranny Ė itís impossible. Maybe thatís one of the reasons BMW (and other car makers) has removed the dipstick to avoid people from over filling the tranny.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:54 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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It is VERY possible to overfill the trans. I don't mean to sound argumentative, but any decent hand-pump will out-flow the rate of spill from the fill-hole, so pumping in fluid, and then capping the plug before all of the excess drains is very easy to do. Overfilled trans. Also, ATF, from what I've read, has a high rate of thermal expansion (the reason why trans temp is so important when filling), so cold ATF topped off to the correct level, will become VERY overfilled once the trans is up to temp. You're even supposed to warm the new ATF before pumping it in for the same reason. These are all reasons why I created this thread.

BUT, from what I'm gathering, I can let the ATF drain from the fill-hole, while the motor is running and the trans is in park, until the stream stops, then cap it, and if all the temps are correct-ish, this will result in the proper fill-level. Does this sound correct to the board?

Thanks again!

Joe
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:20 AM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
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[QUOTE=
BUT, from what I'm gathering, I can let the ATF drain from the fill-hole, while the motor is running and the trans is in park, until the stream stops, then cap it, and if all the temps are correct-ish, this will result in the proper fill-level. Does this sound correct to the board?

Thanks again!

Joe[/QUOTE]

Don't wait until the stream stops, plug it up while there is still a small stream running. But everything else is correct.
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:50 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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So, I guess I'm back to "what is a small stream?" LOL. I know this sounds like useless nuance, but so far I think I've gotten the fill-level correct, and incorrect, in different top-ups.
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Old 04-29-2010, 10:31 AM
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BigCo540i BigCo540i is offline
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IMO a small stream would be like 1/16" - 1/8" steady flow. Sounds like you are good to go.
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Old 04-29-2010, 10:33 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Thanks! I'm going to have to open her up again.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:04 AM
carjoe carjoe is offline
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Damn. Now you guys have me panicked. I'm bringing the car in for an ATF change...
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:15 AM
TopazE39 TopazE39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carjoe View Post
Damn. Now you guys have me panicked. I'm bringing the car in for an ATF change...
Take it to a good place. My indy is supposed to be one of the best, but they got the fluid level all wrong. If when you drive it away from the shop, you hear anything that sounds like power-steering groan, that's an incorrectly filled trans, so turn around, and take it back and talk to them. Otherwise, don't sweat it. Good luck!
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Old 04-30-2010, 04:02 PM
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gtxragtop gtxragtop is offline
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You may have not properly replaced the filter and the seal that seals the filter pipe to the transmission valve body.
Also make 100% sure the filter you used is for your transmission. Check realoem.com
Stupid question but you are checking the transmission fluid level with the car level, the fluid warm and the engine running
with the AC on right. Especially the engine running part. See http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ighlight=5hp19 same fill procedure.
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  #21  
Old 02-02-2013, 01:58 PM
wspider666 wspider666 is offline
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so i dont have a lift, my driveway is far from level, what part of the car do i put the level on while it on jack stands? frame? rocker? door molding?

Last edited by wspider666; 02-02-2013 at 02:01 PM.
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  #22  
Old 02-02-2013, 02:03 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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Put it on the lower driver door rocker panel.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:11 PM
wspider666 wspider666 is offline
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how bout side to side?
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