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Old 01-16-2019, 08:15 AM
Jacobxryan Jacobxryan is offline
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DIY 2015 X3 Xdrive 28d Transmission/Diff Fluid Change

Hello All,

I’m writing this today in this hopes of (finally) ending some of the hysteria surrounding changing the fluids in your X3 WITHOUT using BMW Fluid, and instead using various fluids you can buy at your local auto parts store or Walmart...
If you’re anything like me, I like having the assurance that the maintenance on my vehicle has been done to my satisfaction and with the parts and fluids of my choosing. Unfortunately, the only way I’ve been able to really find that assurance is by doing the work myself.
BMW ownership, or rather, NEW BMW ownership, seems to make it rather difficult for do-it-yourselfers such as myself to find reliable and accurate information on how to do the regular maintenance on our vehicles and what parts and fluids to use unless you scour the internet for hours and hours...otherwise you will be directed to the BMW for all your service needs if you come up short on answers and search the owners manual instead...

Now, all that being said, I recently purchased a 2015 X3 diesel with Xdrive which was right around 90k miles at purchase which I felt was probably due for a transmission fluid service and for all the differential fluids to be changed out...as previously mentioned, the BMW manual did not contain the usual “fluid capacities” section I’m used to on other vehicles where I could find info on how much fluid to use on which particular part and what type...instead I had to refer to a link I was provided from another user to an open-source BMW service manual (https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/). It was still a hunt from there to decipher all the info in the manual regarding the required fluids/acceptable replacement fluids, however I can assure you I quadruple checked each and every one. Please be sure to fact check me if you still are skeptical, I fully expect you to...

For the transmission fluid, the service manual says that the “lifetime” transmission fluid must not be mixed with or replaced by other types of transmission fluid as this will cause transmission failure. But it goes on to say...EXCEPTION!! : Shell ATF oil L12108 (the factory transmission fluid that came with your transmission) may be mixed with ATF-3. Further, it goes on to say that the “lifetime” fluids ATF-3 and ATF-3+ can be mixed with each other. Thus, using simple logic, Shell ATF oil may also be mixed with ATF-3+. In case you didn’t know, ATF-3/ATF-3+ is one of the most common tranny fluids on the market and thus you can essentially use most any fluid of your choosing that indicates on the back that it “meets or exceeds” the specifications of ATF-3 or ATF-3+. I, personally, chose to use Castrol Transmaxx. I can’t remember if it was the European formula or not...regardess, it met the required specs.
I’m also happy to report that it’s been 3000 miles since the change (be sure to differentiate “change” from “flush”) and I haven’t experienced any ill effects thus far. That being said, the fluid that did come out didn’t really appear to be THAT dirty or smell burnt at all, so I probably could’ve left it alone. It was an odd light/medium brown color, but I’m assuming this was just the tint it was always. The fluid that was put in and what I’m used to seeing was red. It took in about 5 qts, but it would hold much more if I did a flush...but that’s a challenge for another day. Just an FYI, I used an electric fluid pump I purchased on amazon to pump the fluid into the fill hole until it dribbled out, as per the manual. I also opted not to change the filter because, as previously stated, the factory fluid wasn’t in that bad of shape. But mostly because changing the filter involved replacing the entire transmission fluid pan...which seemed sort of outrageous. So again, a challenge for another day.

On to the diff fluids...
The specs for these was a little harder to track down. The service manual says that the factory Diff Fluid used was provided by a manufacturer called “Fuchs” which, it just so happens, has a “fluid advisor” portal on their website which will save you a lot of future hassle. (http://fuchs-eu.lubricantadvisor.com...eng&country=ot). Just put in your vehicle info and it’ll tell you what to use.

The rear differential, per the manual, calls for Hypoid axle oil G3 (Fuchs Titan EG 4218). Using the aforementioned fluid advisor, I found that that the appropriate weight gear oil for the rear was 75w-90, as some of the other users has said in the forums, although without providing any proof...so I had the supposed weight but now I needed to know what spec the Fuchs oil was so I could find something comparable in 75w-90, so that I wouldn’t have to order from them or BMW and have to pay some outrageous price...
On Fuchs website, if you search for the Fuchs Sintipoid 75w-90 that you are recommended in the Fluid advisor, you will find under its specifications that it meets or exceeds API GL-5, which is a common industry standard and most gear oils you will find at Walmart or auto parts stores meet this standard. So I finally had my answer. I opted to use Lucas Full Synthetic Gear Oil 75w-90 in the rear, and I added a little bit (not sure on exact quantity) of Lucas heavy duty Oil Stabilizer, because I was aware the rear end is supposedly under more stress and use. However, the fluid that came out was very clean and clear, as some of the other users had said.

For the front differential, the same that I mentioned above applies. However, as was also backed up by other users, the front fluid was strangely much more dirty and foul smelling. I used the exact same gear oil as the rear and added some oil Stabilizer as well in the hopes of alleviated some of the stress and wear.

And that’s all I’ve done for now, still no ill effects 3000 miles later. Haven’t noticed any improvement I must say...but then again there wasn’t anything wrong to begin with, I just feel it’s a necessary routine service that should be performed, regardess of whether or not BMW considers the fluids “lifetime” or not. The front Diff Fluid certainly needed changed, no doubts on that.

I’ve not yet taken on the task of changing the center Diff Fluid, even though I purchased a programmer (Foxwell NT510) to be able to have the car’s computer “relearn” the center Diff after fluid change. The programmer I bought, for some reason, isn’t recognizing some of the components on my car, most importantly the center Diff, so until I get that worked out I’m unable to do that...I’ll do a write up on that once that’s all taken care of.

Didn’t mean to write so much, but I wanted to be thorough so you could all feel assured you were being given accurate info. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with or more info I can provide and I’ll try!
Still trying to find so much more info on this car so I can do simple maintenance...
Hope this helps someone!
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  #2  
Old 01-16-2019, 10:38 AM
jetskifast jetskifast is offline
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Thanks for write up.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:20 AM
Jacobxryan Jacobxryan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetskifast View Post
Thanks for write up.


Just hope it helps someone find some info...I know how hard it is to find resources on these topics


Sent from my iPhone using Bimmerfest mobile app
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:20 AM
wxm wxm is offline
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Many thanks for the info and sorry for bringing back an old thread. I just got the new-to-me 2017 X3 with 43K on the clock. At some point, I might need to do the differential drain/refill. Since there isn't any follow-up of the thread, I assume the choice of the ATF and gear oil are still up to the task... If it is simple GL-5 75w90, I have been using the mobile synthetic for my other vehicles.
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Old 11-03-2019, 07:01 PM
TK-BMW TK-BMW is offline
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Great write-up!

Just as an additional FYI, I have used Pentosin CHF 11S power steering fluid on a 2014 X3 xDrive 28i with no problems whatsoever, and it's available from external sources.
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Current:
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Previous:
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Subaru Outback sport, Saab 99 and 99 Turbo, Volvo 264, Honda CRX, Jaguar E-Type drophead coupe and Mk II sedan
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Old 11-04-2019, 04:56 AM
TEF TEF is offline
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Out of curiosity, what would your BMW dealer have charged for the transmission oil changes described about (and not counting the center diff)? By contrast what was the total cost of the various fluids and tools that you had to purchase. BTW, it's not my intention to be critical of your DIY accomplishments, it would just be helpful to know the comparative costs. Like you, I try to do a lot of my own work (thus far not much on my BMW's as they are on warranty), but on my older Porsche Boxster S where factory parts and labor cost are even more ridiculous than those of BMW.

Nice write up.
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Old 11-04-2019, 07:01 AM
TK-BMW TK-BMW is offline
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@TEF: I never got a quote, just went ahead with it. And same here, almost everything so far was under warranty, but sometime you want to do some of the work ahead of time before the required maintenance schedule kicks in. I had an issue at the time and the dealership is something like 130 miles distance and I did not want to drive all the way there under the circumstances.

BTW, on my old Jag the differential fluid was also specced at 90W -- cannot recall if it spanned a range like 75-90W as it's been a long time ago.

The BMW dealership in Phoenix wanted $343 for a battery exchange and reset! Oil changes have run around $150 apiece. No other fluids changed so far. Am thinking of getting rid of the X3 and getting a Macan -- I honestly don't like the newer X3 models, which keep getting bigger and full of more and more plastic.
__________________
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Current:
2014 X3 and X1 xDrive 28i
Previous:
2013 X3 xDrive 28i
Subaru Outback sport, Saab 99 and 99 Turbo, Volvo 264, Honda CRX, Jaguar E-Type drophead coupe and Mk II sedan
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