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E36 /7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 roadster and coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 04-01-2014, 05:16 PM
cabbit56 cabbit56 is offline
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Adding ATF fluid

Hi, I just found out the that whine-y noise I've been hearing for a while is probably because my ATF fluid is low. My car is a 2000 Z3 3.0 with 67000 miles. I can't find any information regarding this on the owner's manual. I'm glad that the reservoir is just right in front of me after I popped open the hood (no need to get under the car). The fluid level is barely touching the end of the dipstick (the fluid is a clean golden yellow color).

I haven't been paying attention to the ground so I'm not sure if it's leaking, but I read somewhere that I can add fluids in and drive a week to see if the level got lower? And is it ok to just add more in? I don't know what brand/type is inside my car now, but it's probably never been changed (I bought the car when it's 15000 miles).

Are these what I should be getting for my car? Is there any major difference between brands?
Red Line D4 Synthetic Power Steering Fluid - 1 Quart
Mobil 1 synthetic ATF
Valvoline

Thanks!

ps - sorry it's probably a dumb question, but my car is a manual transmission, so do I get manual transmission fluid instead? But the reservoir cap says ATF.

Last edited by cabbit56; 04-01-2014 at 05:29 PM.
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  #2  
Old 04-01-2014, 06:05 PM
Dale K Dale K is offline
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You have a transmission dipstick, but it's a manual transmission Z3? Something is not right here, unless there's something I'm not aware of on your model. (I have an M Coupe. Filling the manual trans is through a plug on the side of the transmission ONLY). Z3 manual transmissions do specify an ATF-graded fluid. But don't expect great results if you just put in a random one. Others will speak up, I'm sure. (Or use Search).
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  #3  
Old 04-01-2014, 06:22 PM
Wertles Wertles is offline
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The manual transmission does not have a dip stick. I could be mistaken,but I believe you are looking at the power steering reservoir. That system uses automatic transmission fluid. Your manual transmission uses a "lifetime" fluid that is not a lifetime fluid. It does need to be changed. Personally, I like Amsoil MTF 5W-30 but there are plenty of choices out there. Our transmissions have 2 plugs, a drain at the bottom and a fill plug on the side. With a lifted and level car (ie, 4 jack stands, an oil change pit or car lift) loosen the fill plug first, then the drain plug. Grab a beer. Finish it. Tighten drain plug, fill just under two quarts of oil of your choice, replace fill plug. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THEM!!! You can crack the transmission. The exact torque value escapes me right now but a quick search will yield it. Put the car on the ground and experience a whole new shifting experience, once you've sobered up of course. I in no way condone or support driving after drinking.
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  #4  
Old 04-01-2014, 06:52 PM
Dale K Dale K is offline
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In this case, I'd recommend having a mechanic do the work, not DIY. No disrespect intended, but mistaking a PS reservoir for a MT fill port tells me that there will be issues with the DIY approach.

Because you don't know what's already in the transmission (likely original fluid?), and you really shouldn't mixing fluids together, a complete drain and fill is what should happen (if anything at all).
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  #5  
Old 04-01-2014, 07:39 PM
cabbit56 cabbit56 is offline
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Thank you for your replies.

This is what I'm looking at. I was actually looking for the power steering reservoir and located this. The "ATF oil only" on the cap confused me. I googled a lot of pages about the ATF on a Z3 and people keep saying jack up the whole car, let it drain, etc. I realized that I might not be looking at the same thing. So I guess the power steering on the Z3 just happens to use ATF oil and not a power steering oil?

Yeah I know I'm pretty limited in my car knowledge so that's why I try to figure out what I'm getting into first before I do anything. But for this, do I just refill it with more ATF oil? No need to drain the old ones out first? I'll just do it myself if that's the case.

Thanks so much for your replies!

Last edited by cabbit56; 04-01-2014 at 09:15 PM. Reason: fix picture link
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  #6  
Old 04-02-2014, 03:05 AM
Monolith Monolith is offline
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That's the power steering reservoir. It uses ATF.
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  #7  
Old 04-02-2014, 05:39 AM
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vintage42 vintage42 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wertles View Post
... fill just under two quarts of oil of your choice...
My 1997 Owners Manual does not give the transmission's capacity, only saying that it has a lifetime fill. The Bentley Manual p.230-5 says my S5D250G transmission has a capacity of 1.1 quart.

When I first bought the car, I had a shop change the fluid and gave them 2 quarts. They did not open the second quart. That winter when the car was on jack stands, I removed the fill plug to check the level. With my little finger, I touched the fluid right below the hole.
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  #8  
Old 04-02-2014, 10:39 AM
Wertles Wertles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
My 1997 Owners Manual does not give the transmission's capacity, only saying that it has a lifetime fill. The Bentley Manual p.230-5 says my S5D250G transmission has a capacity of 1.1 quart.

When I first bought the car, I had a shop change the fluid and gave them 2 quarts. They did not open the second quart. That winter when the car was on jack stands, I removed the fill plug to check the level. With my little finger, I touched the fluid right below the hole.
You sir have a different transmission than the OP.
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  #9  
Old 04-02-2014, 11:44 AM
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Randy Forbes Randy Forbes is offline
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You can use any Dexron/Mercon ATF fluid__I'm partial to Castrol brand__in the Power Steering Reservoir.

I'm afraid you threw everybody off when you were calling it the transmission fluid

Edit: top it up__yourself__for now, and check in another week/month. IF the level is LOW again, and there are no puddles on the floor, then the steering rack seals are bad (and the fluid is hiding in the bellows/boots on either side of the rack) and the steering rack should be replaced with a remanufactured unit. I'd recommend that the tie-rod ends be replaced at the same time. It's not a particularly daunting task, but some prior mechanical skills are beneficial...
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Last edited by Randy Forbes; 04-02-2014 at 11:49 AM.
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  #10  
Old 04-02-2014, 12:46 PM
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vintage42 vintage42 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
... The Bentley Manual p.230-5 says my S5D250G transmission has a capacity of 1.1 quart..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wertles View Post
You sir have a different transmission than the OP.
The OP said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabbit56 View Post
... my car is a manual transmission...
We both have manuals. Are you saying that his 2000 Z3 has a S5D320Z transmission instead of my 1997 S5D320Z transmission? If so, it's capacity is still only 1.3 quarts.
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  #11  
Old 04-02-2014, 01:35 PM
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Randy Forbes Randy Forbes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintage42 View Post
The OP said:We both have manuals. Are you saying that his 2000 Z3 has a S5D320Z transmission instead of my 1997 S5D320Z transmission? If so, it's capacity is still only 1.3 quarts.
Without going into too much detail, the 1.9 & 2.3/2.5 Z3s DO use a different XMSN than the 2.8/3.0 & 3.2 litre models. The smaller (physical size & torque capacity) Getrag and the larger (ditto) ZF are completely different gearboxes.

The original poster has a 3.0 Z3, so the same gearbox as all '98 - '02 ///M models.
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  #12  
Old 04-02-2014, 02:04 PM
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vintage42 vintage42 is online now
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So the OP uses 1.3 quarts instead of 1.1 quarts. So, he does need 2 quarts, but does not use 3/4 of the second quart.

Last edited by vintage42; 04-02-2014 at 02:07 PM.
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  #13  
Old 04-02-2014, 03:48 PM
cabbit56 cabbit56 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Forbes View Post
You can use any Dexron/Mercon ATF fluid__I'm partial to Castrol brand__in the Power Steering Reservoir.

I'm afraid you threw everybody off when you were calling it the transmission fluid

Edit: top it up__yourself__for now, and check in another week/month. IF the level is LOW again, and there are no puddles on the floor, then the steering rack seals are bad (and the fluid is hiding in the bellows/boots on either side of the rack) and the steering rack should be replaced with a remanufactured unit. I'd recommend that the tie-rod ends be replaced at the same time. It's not a particularly daunting task, but some prior mechanical skills are beneficial...
Yes I think I threw people off because I just said ATF in the title. I was confused when I made the post.

Thank you. This forum has been very helpful!

I really like how easy it is to reach different parts in my car. Both the oil filter and power steering reservoir are right at the front, no need to squeeze into tight places. To change the oil just jack up the car and stick a pan in near the front. A year ago I needed to change the camshaft position sensor, which was also easily reachable (there're two of these sensors, the one I had to change was the easier one fortunately).
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  #14  
Old 05-29-2014, 09:50 AM
blueshwk blueshwk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabbit56 View Post
Hi, I just found out the that whine-y noise I've been hearing for a while is probably because my ATF fluid is low.
Not meaning to be a buzz-kill but after buying our 98 model Z3 the tranny started whinning. We did not waste time getting it in the shop but upon doing so found the whine was due to worn gears. We had to replace the 5 speed manual transmission.We were lucky to find a warranteed low milage replacement for a fair price and it has been working flawlessly ever since.
I hope this is not the case with yours but do mentally prepare yourself just in case!

Last edited by blueshwk; 05-29-2014 at 09:52 AM.
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