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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys I'm in Bellevue WA about 3k miles from my e36 but while I was here I wanted to see if anyone could bounce ideas off of me for a hard shifting issue I have with my automatic transmission. It only really occurs at higher rpms meaning over 2.5-3k in the lower gears. Is this normal? It's done this ever since I bought it 13k miles ago in January 2016. If not, what could be the possible causes? I know I need to check the fluid level and color. How do I do this on the 96 model? Is it a plug on the side of the transmission, or do I need to drop the pan and change it anyways. I believe it is the lifetime fluid. Thank you!
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
1984 633CSi, 1985 635CSi, 1985 325e, 1987 325is, 1993 325is, 1995 318is, 1995 M3, 2003 F150
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I'm sure you know by now that "lifetime fluid" was a marketing ploy.

Checking the level is same as all E36 automatics: get it up on four jack stands so it's high enough to crawl under. Start it, put it in gear and let it run long enough so the transmission oil pans are quite warm to the touch, but not so hot you can't comfortably keep your hand on it/them. Shut the engine off and pull the FILL plug on the side. ATF should dribble out. If not, you could top it off. However, why have you put 13k miles on it with it slam shifting??? You should have at least checked the fluid level LONG ago. Do a fluid and filter change, then see how it shifts.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It doesn't slam, I have experienced auto trans that slam when they shift but this is just a bit of a hard shift. I'll definitely check the fluid. How flat of a surface do I need to get it on? I don't have a perfectly even surface to place the vehicle. Also do you know the average cost of the diy filter and fluid change as well as what type of fluid to use? I have seen people vouch for several different brands.
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
1984 633CSi, 1985 635CSi, 1985 325e, 1987 325is, 1993 325is, 1995 318is, 1995 M3, 2003 F150
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It has to be pretty darn level to check the fluid. Compensate with the settings on the jack stands.

Filter kit from Pelican Parts is ~$50 with shipping. Scroll down on this page:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/SuperCat/0136/BMW_0136_TRAUTO_pg1.htm#item3

Make sure which fluid your transmission requires. There should be a sticker on the side of the transmission housing telling which type fluid. It is probably Dexron III or higher, but make SURE by looking. Don't take my word for it. Any name brand fluid of Dexron type 3 or higher will work IF YOUR TRANSMISSION takes Dex3. I wouldn't advise using synthetic. These are old school transmissions and the friction material may not be compatible with synthetic fluid.

Pelican has a good DIY on the process:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/E36-Tranny_Fluid_Auto/E36-Tranny_Fluid_Auto.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for the links and advice on fluid. On pelican parts why do some filters come with gaskets and call them kits? Should I get the full kit or just the filter?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ah never mind, I see in the diy that he has the gasket set as well. I will do the change in the next few weeks when I return and update if it worked.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Is there a need to flush the transmission. I watched several videos on YouTube and some people are saying if you don't flush the transmission with new fluid at least 2 times then you will run into problems due to remaining fluid within the transmission. Is this true or is it just a waste of fluid
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
1984 633CSi, 1985 635CSi, 1985 325e, 1987 325is, 1993 325is, 1995 318is, 1995 M3, 2003 F150
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If your old fluid wasn't visibly burnt, and the filter wasnt loaded with worn friction material, no, you don't need to flush it.

If it IS like that, it's still a waste of fluid, because you'll be hunting a new transmission very shortly.
 

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Well transmission fluids break down over time just like oil. And about half of the total fluid will still be in the transmission assembly so drain what you can top it off and drain it again after running the car 10-15 min to circulate the fluids together. Doing this a few times will bring most of the old fluid down and out. You will notice each time you drain it the fluid will look brighter and fresher. Keeping the old in it will reduce the protection it supplies the parts for the transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So either way is a waste of fluid....well this will be fun. Do the bolts for the pan need to be torqued to spec? I don't have a torque wrench handy and I would like to avoid unnecessary purchases although I understand a torque wrench is absolutely needed for many jobs.
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
1984 633CSi, 1985 635CSi, 1985 325e, 1987 325is, 1993 325is, 1995 318is, 1995 M3, 2003 F150
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Yes, they need to be torqued to spec (7ft/lb or 84 inch pounds if I recall correctly). Too little and the gasket won't seal. Too much and you'll either snap a bolt or distort the pan lip and it'll leak from that, too.
Harbor Freight has their inch pound torque wrench for less than $20 most of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Awesome I'll pick one up as soon as possible, they backed up my paycheck so I'm cycling to work until then so I don't damage my transmission if I haven't done so already.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Alright I have the money and time to do all the little projects on the car, do I need to wait to get a transmission filter from pelican parts or can I pick one up at autozone or Napa. Along with that are there any filters that I should stay away from?
 

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D'oh, You Kids!
1984 633CSi, 1985 635CSi, 1985 325e, 1987 325is, 1993 325is, 1995 318is, 1995 M3, 2003 F150
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The auto parts store filters should be fine. Any of the name brands are ok. Autolite, Purolator, Fram, etc.
 
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