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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 01-03-2013, 09:23 PM
awdrev awdrev is offline
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Many say "don't change tranny oil" but then what?

So my X3 just hit 100k and I know that BMW originally said "lifetime" fluid which we all know is a bunch of malarkey.... Now that they backtracked and say "change tranny oil after 100k" I have thought about doing that but I am worried about the risks.

As a preliminary matter, let me say that I think and I feel the tranny works just fine. When it's cold it has a little delay on switching to 4th gear but when it's warm, I have no issues with it. I actually think that's more of a computer issue.

Anyways, so the dealer wants to charge me $500+ to change it since they want to remove the pan, change the filter, etc. Now, I think that's the reasonable thing to do.... Having said that, many many many people including BMW technicians have told me to avoid changing the tranny fluid UNLESS (a) it has been giving me issues or (b) the transmission fluid has gotten changed before... I do not think the previous owner has done so.

This leaves me with a classic "catch 22" scenario: I don't want to change it because it's working fine but I am concerned about what happens if I don't change it.

I'd like this car to last me a while but I cannot afford a new tranny if the fluid change damages it which I have read about occurring to some people... I suppose it's one of those "don't fix it unless it's broke" but not changing the fluid and expecting it to last 100k+ miles just doesn't sound right.

Any thoughts? I know this has been discussed and exploited tremendously in the past so I am just looking for "recent" input as we continue to put miles in our cars...
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2013, 09:31 PM
x3brian x3brian is offline
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Change the fluid. New recommendation is 100k miles.

My 09 is at 107k and I have changed it 3 times now (at 50k, 75k and 100k). I personally change mine every 25k at the same time I do differential and transfer case.

It's your call, but I don't subscribe to the notion your are past the point of no return.

Here is an excellent thread on the e46 forum that lists tranny reliability and changes...

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=287616

Last edited by x3brian; 01-03-2013 at 09:35 PM.
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2013, 09:35 PM
awdrev awdrev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x3brian View Post
Change the fluid. New recommendation is 100k miles.

My 09 is at 107k and I have changed it 3 times now (at 50k, 75k and 100k). I personally change mine every 25k at the same time I do differential and transfer case.

It's your call, but I don't subscribe to the notion your are past the point of no return.

Here is an excellent thread on the e46 forum that lists tranny reliability and changes...

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=287616
I suppose it's time to start saving up for it then. I usually do my own work but it sounds like this will be a dealership job.. or time to talk to a local Indy and make sure they can drop the pan, change the filter, etc.
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2013, 09:41 PM
x3brian x3brian is offline
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It's no different than any other transmission except it doesn't have a dipstick. Really not hard. With that said though, all three of mine were done at dealer because I had the 100k mile maintenance plan and I didn't want an argument for my one free one.

Dealer cost vary. My dealer was closer to $300.

Here is a video to walk you through it:

http://blog.bavauto.com/11194/bmw-di...ce-auto-trans/

Here's a DIY write up (should be sane tranny you have:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=443800

Last edited by x3brian; 01-04-2013 at 04:51 AM.
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2013, 09:52 PM
awdrev awdrev is offline
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Thanks I appreciate that. I have a better idea on what to do now... I'll have it changed hopefully within the next 5k miles...
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2013, 04:52 AM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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I would definitely change the transmission fluid at 100k. It should be fairly straight forward, I recommend undoing the FILL plug first, not the DRAIN plug. It's very, very, very rare but you don't wanna undo the DRAIN plug and let out all the fluid in case your FILL plug is seized on and won't come out. At least this way you can avoid being stuck. Undo the FILL plug first so that you know you'll be able to refill and close it up. There's no dipstick or anything, after you empty the fluid, torque the DRAIN plug back in and start pumping in fluid. When fluid pours out of the FILL plug that means you're full.
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2013, 09:24 AM
SonicBoom SonicBoom is offline
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Agreed to all above. Change it. change it. change it.

Hell, I'd do it for you if you weren't so far away.

The thing is, once a transmission starts slipping, it's done. Finished. KAPUT.

BTW, I just had mine changed at 98k. It was covered under the service contract. As is spark plugs. Do you have the service contract?

In any case, get it changed (I would use an Indy BMW shop). Then change it again every 30k.

I sure hope you don't have to pay 500 bucks to get it changed. That's pretty steep.
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2013, 09:25 AM
SonicBoom SonicBoom is offline
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BTW, is there even a pan on these things?
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2013, 09:31 AM
x3brian x3brian is offline
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Yes indeed there is

It has a drain plug in it, but just a standard transmission pan with a magnet at the bottom to collect metal savings.

Take a look at the links I posted above. Good pictures are included.
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  #10  
Old 01-04-2013, 09:35 AM
sjladopoulos sjladopoulos is offline
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The service manual CLEARLY indicates that the tranny oil change should happen every 100K miles (160k KM).

What people say is ****. The manual has spoken.
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  #11  
Old 01-04-2013, 12:29 PM
jdauria jdauria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjladopoulos View Post
The service manual CLEARLY indicates that the tranny oil change should happen every 100K miles (160k KM).

What people say is ****. The manual has spoken.
manual probably says oil change every 15,000 too
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  #12  
Old 01-04-2013, 10:29 PM
bluskye bluskye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
manual probably says oil change every 15,000 too
Shockingly, BMWs starting with the M54 engine have been rock solid with that "15k oil recommendation". BMW really has little value to gain lying to its customers and alot to lose if engines start failing (repeat customers) post warranty. These engines are solid and so are the recommendations. Hell, its saving you money.

As far as the transmission juice is concerned, follow the manual. Its pricey as hell to do if you use the proper BMW fluid. This is the one job where the part cost is more expensive then the labor cost.

If you have a manual transmission, you can do it as often as you want since it only requires 1.5qts of BMW or aftermarket fluid and its easy peasy.
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  #13  
Old 01-05-2013, 07:26 AM
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Europeans have moved towards longer service intervals partly because advances in lubricants and technology allow them, and partly because of environmental concerns as to how much waste oil we're putting out when its not really necessary. It's tempting to say "its cuz of free maintenance" but most other countries do not have such a programme, and like mentioned, we haven't heard horror stories. Perhaps if you drive the vehicle for only short distances where sludge and condensation can build up, then yes, more frequent changes are prudent. But others who do frequent highway driving and use the vehicles as intended, I don't see any problem.

I used to do halfway oil changes (7,5 to 8k mls or 13k km) but when I opened up the engine to do the valve cover gaskets, I saw the engine was clean as a whistle. I made the decision to move to the service intervals as indicated on the computer based on that, and my driving environment.

Oddly enough, my indy here in Greenville refuses to change the ATF on my X3 even though I told him I had it done back at 66k mls.
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  #14  
Old 01-07-2013, 07:20 AM
sjladopoulos sjladopoulos is offline
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Originally Posted by jdauria View Post
manual probably says oil change every 15,000 too
My BMW 318i in Greece (where I used to live till 2011) would EASILY do 15k mile intervals for oil changes... (~1 lt used)

There are 2 major things about the EU and NA that are very different when it comes to oil changes:

1) in EU, the worse (cheapest) gas is RON 95 Octane, and the best is 100+, where as here you get premium at 91! (Less octanes means gas is more flamable, thus less efficient as it burns fast and cant push the piston down a long way)
2) in NA I buy Mobil 1 Full synthetic oil for ~ $11/lt. in EU, that same bottle is $25.. So I am ABSOLUTELY SURE that the oil is NOT the same (and it can last longer).

Now, back to the AFT subject, my point is that the manual says "DO CHANGE IT", so the "when" you dont need to believe but the DO, yes.
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  #15  
Old 01-07-2013, 07:52 AM
smaglik smaglik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjladopoulos View Post
1) in EU, the worse (cheapest) gas is RON 95 Octane, and the best is 100+, where as here you get premium at 91! (Less octanes means gas is more flamable, thus less efficient as it burns fast and cant push the piston down a long way)

Octane in Europe is measure on the RON system. In the US, the reported number is the average of that same RON system, and the MON system, where the same gasoline typically reports 8-10 points lower octane...hence, the difference.

Last edited by smaglik; 01-07-2013 at 07:55 AM.
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  #16  
Old 01-07-2013, 10:25 AM
Supercourse Supercourse is online now
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Re: Fuel

On the RON vs. AKI difference, the most useful conversion chart I have seen is: http://www.pencilgeek.org/2009/05/oc...nversions.html

RON 93 (equivalent to our mid-grade 89) used to be the lowest octane available in Europe, but 95 was the choice of the masses with their hot hatches, so the oil companies phased out the RON 93.

Essentially the reverse happened in N. America with the lowest grade available, maybe as a consequence of the oil crisis and/or the conversion from leaded to unleaded.

I'm fairly sure if the oil companies introduced an AKI 85 choice here lots of people would buy it to save a few cents without even thinking if it was suitable for their cars.

I see owners of European cars that spec. min. 91 filling up with 87 all the time. (Most gas pumps show the last customer's selected grade and I don't like getting a hose full of Reg. when I'm paying for Prem.)

In Europe, if you have a performance car, you choose RON 98 (AKI 93 or 94) without fretting over the cost - it's costing you a bundle anyways.


Re. Synthetic Oil

No confusion in Europe as to what a "Full" Synthetic or "100%" Synthetic is. If it is not truly synthetic from start to finish in the manufacturing process, it isn't synthetic.

Our Mobil 1 5W30 could not be labelled as synthetic in Europe. (But our Mobil 1 0W40 could.)


Re. Strasbourg GM A/T fluid

With the 2007+ 6-speed A/T, no question - Dexron 6 was factory fill, and is readily available at a reasonable cost.

For the earlier 5-speed, things may not be too clear.

Factory fill for the 5-speed was not Dexron 3 (which the lighter viscosity Dexron 6 replaced in about 2005 and is backwards compatible to Dexron 3).

So what was different about the 5-speed factory fill of Texaco ETL-xxxx (or an Esso or Shell equivalent) and why wasn't Dexron 3 the choice as in other GM A/T's?

If it was just that those fluids are a bit lighter than Dexron 3, does that really mean that Dexron 6 is now an ideal replacement?

Those original fluids are still available, at a price, as are other brands that claim to be compatible with the special Texaco, Shell or Esso fluids

Did BMW's lifetime-fill recommendation change because of the properties of Dexron 6, or a recognition that it was unrealistic in the first place?

Thoughts?

Is it because the The Texaco ETL fluid was fully synthetic and Dexron 3 was not? And is Dexron 6 fully synthetic?

Last edited by Supercourse; 01-07-2013 at 11:30 AM.
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  #17  
Old 01-07-2013, 12:30 PM
bluskye bluskye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supercourse View Post
Re: Fuel

On the RON vs. AKI difference, the most useful conversion chart I have seen is: http://www.pencilgeek.org/2009/05/oc...nversions.html

RON 93 (equivalent to our mid-grade 89) used to be the lowest octane available in Europe, but 95 was the choice of the masses with their hot hatches, so the oil companies phased out the RON 93.

Essentially the reverse happened in N. America with the lowest grade available, maybe as a consequence of the oil crisis and/or the conversion from leaded to unleaded.

I'm fairly sure if the oil companies introduced an AKI 85 choice here lots of people would buy it to save a few cents without even thinking if it was suitable for their cars.

I see owners of European cars that spec. min. 91 filling up with 87 all the time. (Most gas pumps show the last customer's selected grade and I don't like getting a hose full of Reg. when I'm paying for Prem.)

In Europe, if you have a performance car, you choose RON 98 (AKI 93 or 94) without fretting over the cost - it's costing you a bundle anyways.


Re. Synthetic Oil

No confusion in Europe as to what a "Full" Synthetic or "100%" Synthetic is. If it is not truly synthetic from start to finish in the manufacturing process, it isn't synthetic.

Our Mobil 1 5W30 could not be labelled as synthetic in Europe. (But our Mobil 1 0W40 could.)


Re. Strasbourg GM A/T fluid

With the 2007+ 6-speed A/T, no question - Dexron 6 was factory fill, and is readily available at a reasonable cost.

For the earlier 5-speed, things may not be too clear.

Factory fill for the 5-speed was not Dexron 3 (which the lighter viscosity Dexron 6 replaced in about 2005 and is backwards compatible to Dexron 3).

So what was different about the 5-speed factory fill of Texaco ETL-xxxx (or an Esso or Shell equivalent) and why wasn't Dexron 3 the choice as in other GM A/T's?

If it was just that those fluids are a bit lighter than Dexron 3, does that really mean that Dexron 6 is now an ideal replacement?

Those original fluids are still available, at a price, as are other brands that claim to be compatible with the special Texaco, Shell or Esso fluids

Did BMW's lifetime-fill recommendation change because of the properties of Dexron 6, or a recognition that it was unrealistic in the first place?

Thoughts?

Is it because the The Texaco ETL fluid was fully synthetic and Dexron 3 was not? And is Dexron 6 fully synthetic?
Supercourse,
Thanks for the great info. I have one question: How would one confirm on a 2007 X3 6AT that its a GM transmission in order to use off the shelf Dexron 6 fluid?

Other tidbit of interesting info - some E46 GM AT owners reporting they have updated part numbers to use BMW Dexron 6 fluid so its good news for those folks. Its a matter of looking at the fluid part number stamped onto the transmission and cross referencing the new part number if one exists. Many are finding great savings finally using off the shelf fluids. Its also a bit frustrating that they've been sold magic juice all these years.

Last edited by bluskye; 01-07-2013 at 12:37 PM.
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  #18  
Old 01-07-2013, 01:20 PM
sjladopoulos sjladopoulos is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smaglik View Post
Octane in Europe is measure on the RON system. In the US, the reported number is the average of that same RON system, and the MON system, where the same gasoline typically reports 8-10 points lower octane...hence, the difference.
It is not that simple. And its not only that.

In NA, The X3 3.0si I have requires min 91 (~95EU) and max output is 260BHP.
In EU, the same car is 272BHP and requires min 98RON (US94).

The fuel is different, the ECU mapping is different, the oils are inferior here, hence the difference in oil life.
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  #19  
Old 01-07-2013, 01:48 PM
sjladopoulos sjladopoulos is offline
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Originally Posted by bluskye View Post
Supercourse,
Thanks for the great info. I have one question: How would one confirm on a 2007 X3 6AT that its a GM transmission in order to use off the shelf Dexron 6 fluid?
If you remove the pan from the tranny, you will see the GM plate on it
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  #20  
Old 01-07-2013, 01:50 PM
bluskye bluskye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjladopoulos View Post
If you remove the pan from the tranny, you will see the GM plate on it
Maybe I can just give the VIN to the parts desk and ask them what tranny juice applies to the car?
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  #21  
Old 01-07-2013, 02:34 PM
Supercourse Supercourse is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluskye View Post
How would one confirm on a 2007 X3 6AT that its a GM transmission in order to use off the shelf Dexron 6 fluid?
It is a GM transmission for sure. There will likely be a GM sticker easily visible from the driver side.


There may also be a BMW decal on the underside of the pan, harder to see, which specifies the fluid part no.
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  #22  
Old 01-07-2013, 04:51 PM
smaglik smaglik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjladopoulos View Post
It is not that simple. And its not only that.

In NA, The X3 3.0si I have requires min 91 (~95EU) and max output is 260BHP.
In EU, the same car is 272BHP and requires min 98RON (US94).

The fuel is different, the ECU mapping is different, the oils are inferior here, hence the difference in oil life.
I was referring to measuring the octane on the same gasoline, not what a specific engine might be designed for, nor anything else. I should have clarified.

Great discussion.
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  #23  
Old 01-08-2013, 08:31 AM
awdrev awdrev is offline
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So it's the best way to find out WHAT Tranny oil to buy to look at the sticker? I'm getting rdy to buy all the pieces to do the change....
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  #24  
Old 01-08-2013, 08:45 AM
x3brian x3brian is offline
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You should see a green sticker saying use texaco. The closest available for a reasonable price is halvoline multi vehicle that is labeled to meet the texaco spec

Here is the notes for the 5l40e from the e46 wiki:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index...c_Transmission

Also I posted a link earlier about tranny fluid DIY and durability of the 5l40e from the e46 side of the house. A lot of reports of success using both halvoline and dex 6 (BMW part number for the texaco stuff was superseded by the dex 6).

I tend to think BMW just didn't use dex 3 because it wasn't fully synthetic and when dex 6 was they switched....
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  #25  
Old 01-08-2013, 08:53 AM
awdrev awdrev is offline
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Thanks Brian.

I saw a sticker when they were doing the inspection so I'll try to take a picture of it and report... so what you are saying is that I can get the fluid at a store other than the dealer? So far I've changed the transfer case with the OEM liquid, and I also got 3 quarts to do the front and rear diffs soon.

I plan to do the diffs and ATF fluid change at a bud's shop since he has nice lifts, etc.

I checked the thread and the one you posted before too. It seems these trannys are not that fragile after all but proper maintenance would be wise... how many liters does it usually take to fill an 5-speed auto in a 2004 x3? I'm 99.9% sure it's a GM tranny from what I can remember...
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