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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 03-30-2013, 12:08 PM
Tom1.9 Tom1.9 is offline
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Z3 Transmission Oil Confusion

Hello, so last year I bought my Z3 1.9l and did an Engine tune-up, and changed the transmission fluid. I've looked online and saw that Royal Purple Synchromax was the best. So I bought that. Now I'm getting a little confused because I looked in the Bentley manual and it says that the transmission is filled with ATF fluid. Do I have to use ATF fluid? Or can still use my Synchromax?
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  #2  
Old 03-30-2013, 02:00 PM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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RP Synchromax is a synthetic replacement for ATF in a manual transmission, and is superior. I put it in mine.
http://royalpurpleconsumer.com/produ...mission-fluid/
http://royalpurpleconsumer.com/wp-co...Synchromax.pdf
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2013, 02:23 PM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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Most people seem happier using aftermarket manual transmission oils rather than the BMW ATF. You'll be fine with the Royal Purple. AMSOil is a good choice as well.
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  #4  
Old 04-04-2013, 02:23 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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AFAIK BMW is not longer using ATF. I have BMW tranny fluid in all three cars. LTF2 IIRC
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  #5  
Old 04-04-2013, 03:23 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone View Post
AFAIK BMW is not longer using ATF. I have BMW tranny fluid in all three cars. LTF2 IIRC
Are not Dexron and LTF2 both ATFs that are used in manual transmissions? With LTF2 being a higher specification.

As opposed to the motor oil that AMSOIL makes for manual transmissions (though they don't recommended it for Z3), or the gear oil that is used in most other manual transmissions.
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  #6  
Old 04-04-2013, 12:15 PM
ALM168 ALM168 is offline
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There should be a sticker on the transmission indicating which type of fluid to use.

Yellow sticker: MT Fluid (90 wt)
Orange sticker: ATF Fluid

I have used Redline w/o any issues.
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  #7  
Old 04-04-2013, 08:06 PM
Tom1.9 Tom1.9 is offline
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If I have an orange sticker, do I have to change to ATF fluid?
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  #8  
Old 04-05-2013, 03:15 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALM168 View Post
There should be a sticker on the transmission indicating which type of fluid to use.
Yellow sticker: MT Fluid (90 wt)
Orange sticker: ATF Fluid
I have used Redline w/o any issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1.9 View Post
If I have an orange sticker, do I have to change to ATF fluid?
I was not aware that any Z3 transmission takes gear oil. I think they all take ATF or other similar thin fluids that are called MTFs.
You do not have to change your purchase to ATF, because you bought Royal Purple Synchromax, which is an ATF-based MTF.

Last edited by vintage42; 04-05-2013 at 03:18 AM.
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  #9  
Old 04-05-2013, 05:00 AM
ALM168 ALM168 is offline
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I double checked my Bently manual, and yes, my response vs. sticker color is correct. Now to answer your question, I would replace the ATF with MTF, but I am sure others will disagree.
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  #10  
Old 04-05-2013, 05:51 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALM168 View Post
There should be a sticker on the transmission indicating which type of fluid to use.
Yellow sticker: MT Fluid (90 wt)
Orange sticker: ATF Fluid
I have used Redline w/o any issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ALM168 View Post
I double checked my Bently manual, and yes, my response vs. sticker color is correct. Now to answer your question, I would replace the ATF with MTF, but I am sure others will disagree.
Where do you see the "MT Fluid (90 wt)". Is that the Red Line gear oil that you put in?

Page 200-3 says the yellow label reads MTF-LT1 (which is BMW's special ATF), and the orange label reads ATF-oil. But oil here does not mean oil, as the black label on an automatic transmission also reads ATF-oil which means Dexron-III ATF.

Page 230-4 says the transmissions all use ATF or alternative lubricants (which would be called MTFs).

Page 020-13 says "Caution - Do not use multi-viscosity engine oils in the manual transmission. Use of such an oil could shorten the service life of the transmission." So not even thin oil is allowed, which may be why AMSOIL does not list the Z3 as an application for their 5W-30 oil-based MTF.

Tom's question is whether it would be OK to change the original ATF to the Synchromax MT that he bought, and I agree with you that he should.
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  #11  
Old 04-05-2013, 06:03 AM
ALM168 ALM168 is offline
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I could be wrong on the wt(?), but I used Red Line #50204 in both my Z3 and e46. It's a synthetic MTL.
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  #12  
Old 04-05-2013, 02:42 PM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALM168 View Post
I could be wrong on the wt(?), but I used Red Line #50204 in both my Z3 and e46. It's a synthetic MTL.
#50204 is Red Line's product number for one quart of this gear oil:
http://www.redlineoil.com/product.aspx?pid=45&pcid=7
It is not an automatic transmission fluid (ATF) or one of the alternative ATFs known as MTF. It is gear oil and is not recommended for Z3 transmissions.
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  #13  
Old 04-05-2013, 04:55 PM
marty505 marty505 is offline
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I use Pentosin MTF2 in the Coupe. It's recommended for all ZF or Getrag manual transmissions made from 97 on. Seems to work just fine.
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  #14  
Old 04-07-2013, 07:31 AM
Tom1.9 Tom1.9 is offline
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Ok thanks guys, I've read other posts and its seems like a lot of people like to use Sychromax or Red Line in their transmissions. I guess im safe!
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  #15  
Old 04-07-2013, 07:36 AM
Tom1.9 Tom1.9 is offline
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I just came off of Royal Purple website and the description for the Synchromax said for manual transmissions that specify automatic transmissions. Vintage is correct. Thanks!
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  #16  
Old 04-07-2013, 08:25 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1.9 View Post
Ok thanks guys, I've read other posts and its seems like a lot of people like to use Sychromax or Red Line in their transmissions. I guess im safe!
You might not be safe with Red Line. Red Line does make an ATF for manual transmissions:
Quote:
D4 ATF -- Automatic/Manual Transmission/Transaxle Fluid -- "Use where Dexron III fluids are recommended... also used with manual transmissions like... late-model BMW."
http://www.redlineoil.com/product.aspx?pid=51&pcid=9
But it is not clear that D4 ATF is OK for Z3s. It may be used in place of Dexron III, but Dexron III is not listed as meeting the specs for a Z3 manual transmission, and the Z3 is not "late-model".

Last edited by vintage42; 04-07-2013 at 08:29 AM.
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  #17  
Old 04-07-2013, 10:18 AM
GSXRYDER GSXRYDER is offline
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If it is wrong...

You will know within 2 minutes of driving for sure...
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  #18  
Old 04-07-2013, 04:29 PM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSXRYDER View Post
You will know within 2 minutes of driving for sure...
If it's the wrong manual transmission fluid, you may not know for a long time or never. People here have reported satisfaction with several manual transmission lubricants that are not specifically acknowledged by BMW, such as 75W-90 synthetic gear oil, 5W-30 synthetic motor oil called an MTF, Dexron III ATF, and Royal Purple Synchromax MTF. When deviating from what BMW recommends, one must be able to judge how close the alternative fluid is to what BMW intended.
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  #19  
Old 04-07-2013, 07:00 PM
GSXRYDER GSXRYDER is offline
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My experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
If it's the wrong manual transmission fluid, you may not know for a long time or never. People here have reported satisfaction with several manual transmission lubricants that are not specifically acknowledged by BMW, such as 75W-90 synthetic gear oil, 5W-30 synthetic motor oil called an MTF, Dexron III ATF, and Royal Purple Synchromax MTF. When deviating from what BMW recommends, one must be able to judge how close the alternative fluid is to what BMW intended.
Is quite different, one trip up my street and I knew for sure the lubricant was wrong. Shifting was much more difficult, the synchros just weren't acting right...and within 2 minutes of the proper lubricant in ...it was VERY obvious to me that was my issue...

Now is everyone the same NOPE, but that is MY experience...
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  #20  
Old 04-08-2013, 04:53 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSXRYDER View Post
Is quite different, one trip up my street and I knew for sure the lubricant was wrong. Shifting was much more difficult, the synchros just weren't acting right... and within 2 minutes of the proper lubricant in... it was VERY obvious to me that was my issue.
Which wrong lubricant did you use, and why did you chose it? And which proper lubricant did you change to? Your sig shows only a 1999 540i; are you referring to that car or do you also have a Z3?

Last edited by vintage42; 04-08-2013 at 05:58 AM.
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  #21  
Old 04-08-2013, 06:02 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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But as a general principle, vintage42 is right. If the wrong oil shortens the transmission life by 50%, going from +200k to +100k miles, most people will accuse BMW of making crappy transmissions. Not considering their poor choices were the source of the problem. As in this case, only if the new oil immediately causes problems do people realize their mistake.

Same goes for engine oil.
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  #22  
Old 04-08-2013, 07:40 AM
gmushial gmushial is offline
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In life there are many cases where the distinction btwn right and wrong are clear, and yes there are probably some very wrong choices w/re trans oil for the Z.. but I believe the consensus over on bf.com is, at least w/re AMSoil for the trans - it being 50% thicker than bimmer spec when cold, but right in range when warm - is that if one lives in a cold climate, that one probably shouldn't use it, but if one is in a warm climate, then it's probably ok. I've been using the AMSoil oil for the last almost 30k miles (this is on a 160k mile 2.5L '99) and even on cold mornings it shifts better than with the "life-time" oil whch looked like pine tar when I drained it out; and snick snick snick nice when warm or on warm days [we routinely get over 110F for 3 months a year]. Of note: when I change the trans oil next time, I'm going to try RP, just for the comparison... and may be going back to AMSoil quickly if the situation dictates. YMMV
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