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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

So I thank you all for assistance, photos and postings. I ventured into my first transmission fluid change on my 1994 540i. Bought the car recently and just "felt" like it needed it. So I was correct as it turned out, as the fluid was really brown and ugly looking.

So, things to have handy.

1. Lift is GREAT! If you have a friend with a lift it makes the process so much easier, particularly trying to break the seal on the 6 star bolts holding the pan on. If not, make sure the car is level. Very important.
2. Make SURE the bmw dealer gives you the right pan gasket - yes! Snooty attitude and know it all, gave me the wrong one. Complete pain in the ass when the tranny was opened up and no way to get go and exchange it. In total fairness, another guy in the same dealership drove it me on his lunch break to make up for the mistake, so it balanced out.
3. Before you start, get replacement 6mm 1 inch long bolts to replace the ones you take off - you WILL muckup some of the star screws. You'll need 24 with lock washers.
4. Despite all the talk about filler holes on the side of the tranny, it is in the center on the bottom cover. There is an indented lip (inverted cone shape) that allows you to fill it until it overflows.
5. Drain plug on the side of the tranny.
6. Redline D4 is a good replacement for the shell LA - OEM. Same spec and better performance.
7. Invest in a cheap infrared thermometer. Critical piece of gear.
8. Fill calls for 5.8 Quarts - Get extra - you will spill some. You'll have to order the Redline D4 or Purple stuff - can't remember the name of the purple stuff as I used the Redline.
9. Place Pan/towels on the floor and be prepared to clean up. Step away from the really hot Tranny fluid - not fun.
10. Download the bentley guide - all specs and some photos in there.
11. Get yourself a little electric pump, or you can hand pump it. - hand pump is messy and slow. - that's how I did it.

So with all that in mind off we go.

1. Crack loose the drain and filler plugs. Drain plug on the side - filler in the middle on the bottom (see picts attached.)
2. Run the engine until hot 80-130 degress. Check it with the thermometer.
3. Turn off engine. Pan under drain plug. Remove the filler plug, and expect some fluid to come out. Pull drain plug - watch the nasty stuff come out. Check filler plug magnet for stuff.
4. Work those 6star screws out. Pain in the butt. some will break/ strip. Took me an hour to break some of those loose with decent tools.
5. Pull pan (after positioning oil catch pan appropriately. Get out of the way.
6. Remove the pan - remaining fluid will come out.
7. Pull the filter and holder. You'll see what needs to come off by looking at the replacement kit.
8. Throughly clean the exposed assembly, and cover. Clean the magnet filler plug Check in the tranny for bits or pieces...;-(
9. Note that the filler plug screws into a raised cone on the bottom cover. That cone will provide the dam and overflow that will eventually tell you the right level (at the right temp.)
10. Casually remember that TEMPERATURE IS EVERYTHING in getting the right level.
11. Put the thought aside for now.
Once everything is cleaned and you've removed any loose pieces... clean and sand the gasket surfaces, put on new gasket, replace cover and torque down the cover as stated in the bentley manual. Make sure to really clean the gasket surface or it will leak.
12. Replace the drain plug.
13. Using the filler cap on the bottom of the tranny, put in your 5.8 Quarts as recommended. You might get less in, but when it overflows, stop filling, then start the engine, and as the fluid warms, run through the gears (SLOWLY) so all the cavities fill) about 10 times.
14. Tricky part now. Engine on, check temp to be in range and with the filler cap off, continue to fill until you get to 5.8 quarts. Now, this may overflow or not. If it doesn't, open another quart and continue to fill - making sure the temp is in the right range. At some point, it WILL start to overflow. Let that run out until it stops overflowing and then replace the plug. Careful of moving parts, paranoia about being under a car that's running, and hot tranny fluid that WILL come out of the overflow by design.
15. Work the gears again slowly to get the fluids moving, and when ready - dare to test drive. If you like check the level one more time - making sure that the temp is in the right range! Torque down fill plug to specs.
16. Replace fluids regularly. This stuff is not "forever fluid"
17. Carefully put aside your pump and thermometer, you'll be needing it again sometime. 16. Note your mileage, and plan to replace it again at least once in the next 2500 miles - this will clear out the rest of the fluid in the torque converter. After that replace fluids regularly - opinions vary in the forums on periodicity. 25000- 30000 miles seems to be popular. This stuff is not "forever fluid"


I've included a few photos, taking advantage of the rack angle. Note the raised cone inside the tranny and how that will act as an overflow barrier for the right level.

Good luck. This should take a couple of hours, took me way longer with the gasket fiasco, and trouble getting the 6 star screws out.
 

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Outstanding writeup ! However, I can assure you that tranny fluid does not just last 5k miles. We're looking at something like 30k minimum.
 

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Humble E34 lover
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Nice write up Nxenos. I agree totally with Roberto that transmission fluid change interval is 30K miles, not 2500 - 5000 miles. Perhaps you had a typo on your post.

However, I am confused about something. You say that the refill hole is on the bottom of the pain and the drain hole is on the side of the pan. I have never heard of this on BMW transmissions. I'm not sure that I agree with this. I realize I am not seeing your pan, and I have never done the service on the 540 transmission, but I fear that the height of the hole in the center of the pan, including the cone is still lower than the height of the plug on the side of the pan. Thus, I would think that the hole in the center of the pain would be the drain hole and the plug on the side of the pan would be the fill hole (as Bentley states). If you do indeed have these reversed, then you are running your transmission way too low on fluid. If not, then you are good to go of course :thumbup:

Just an observation and something to think about. Also, I have been known to be wrong on many occasions, so please don't take this question personally. If I am wrong, then this is definately a learning point for me.

Steve
 

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Having done this one myself, your write up is spot on.

The reason why they say you need to change the oil again fairly soon is that when you do the oil change, you do not get all of the oil out.

Ok my exact stats may be off here, so correct me if I am out, but I believe the 5HP30 takes like 17 litres of oil, out of which 8 litres is stuck in the bottom of the torque converter.

As such, when you flush the fluid, you are not getting all of the oil out, and you are essentially mixing oil and new oil. This is why you need to flush again soon after replacement.

The alternative there is to strip out the gearbox, and empty the torque converter fully, which is a hell of a lot more work..

And yep, nxenos is perfectly correct, you fill from the bottom, and drain from the side...

The oil input is kinda beveled a little with a rim around it, you stick the pipe quite deep into the box.

Luckily, my 540 auto tranny is long gone in somebody else's car :0
 

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Humble E34 lover
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Thanks Zale. I stand corrected. I learn something new every day.

Steve
 

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Steve,

Yea man, you know how many times I myself has been totally wrong about something, quite a bit on this forum as well.......

Guess thats why we are here

Learning is awesome :p
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Zale.. Changing the oil again for exactly that reason - wasn't about to take the torque converter apart... reflush @ 2-3K then once again a little later should purge most of the old oil out. BTW, running better and better now things down under are getting that deep lube again. Love that purrr.

Steve, have a look at the 4th photo and it becomes clear regarding the fill plug. In the middle (next to the black housing) and raised. Pretty ingenious actually - Not quite sure why it was necessary, but clever none-the-less - BMW style... :)
Hope this helps someone someday - It took me forever "not" to find the filler on the side and a real leap of faith to drop the tranny cover, without a clue how to refill it!

1996 328i Silver
1994 540i Green
Conversion van (my teenage daughter hates me for this... )

Past rides
2001 Z3
1990 750il
etc etc
 

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Humble E34 lover
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I see the raised center section, but can't see it in relationship to the side drain plug, due to the angle of the picture?

I reviewed Bentley. Shame on him for not showing the drain and fill plugs on the A5S 560Z transmission of the 540! It shows for the A5S 310Z of the 530. Is the 540 the same as in the drawing for the 530? Based on that drawing, coupled with your detailed description of the cone device, I can now definitely see how it works.

Anyway, I indeed accept that you are correct. I do wish that you had an angle whereby I could see the height of the two plugs in relationship to each other.

Thanks for the learning moment :thumbup:. Who knows, I may come across some 540 non-Bimmer Fest owner locally who needs the info.

Thanks again,
Steve (duly schooled ;))
 

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Humble E34 lover
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I looked at pic #4 zoomed up. I think I spotted the drain plug. Is it in the part of the pan that is farthest most to the right in the picture? (looking almost flush with the side of the pan?)

Steve

PS: If you could have an arrow pointing at it or circle it or something that would help. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yup, same photo #4 between the first and second bolt hole on the right side - see how there is kind of a drain "duct" leading from about 2inches in to the side of the pan. That where the drain plug hole is.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Good point on the arrow - not sure how to edit a photo once it's up. - let me know and I'll fix it.
 

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Got it. Thanks. :thumbup:
 

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545i pilot
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The drain plug is in the very front of the transmission pan, passenger side, on the siude of the pan. youll probably need to cut your hex socket in half, and use an end wrench to break it open. The fill plug is the raised indentation right smack dab in the middle of the pan.
 

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545i pilot
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I see the raised center section, but can't see it in relationship to the side drain plug, due to the angle of the picture?

I reviewed Bentley. Shame on him for not showing the drain and fill plugs on the A5S 560Z transmission of the 540! It shows for the A5S 310Z of the 530. Is the 540 the same as in the drawing for the 530? Based on that drawing, coupled with your detailed description of the cone device, I can now definitely see how it works.

Anyway, I indeed accept that you are correct. I do wish that you had an angle whereby I could see the height of the two plugs in relationship to each other.

Thanks for the learning moment :thumbup:. Who knows, I may come across some 540 non-Bimmer Fest owner locally who needs the info.

Thanks again,
Steve (duly schooled ;))
My 540, & evidently the op's transmission is the Zf 5 Hp30, not shown in the bentley. This tranny also came on the e38 750. Looking at the pictures in my bentley & the tranny under my car sure had me scratching my head. I did a search & found this link
http://www.e38.org/zf-5hp30-service.html
It was a real pita.
 

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ATF question

Ok, so I just got thru replacing the fluid and ATF in my 94, 540i. Same drain plug on front passenger side, and same fill hole on bottom center. The transmission number is A5S 560z. In my Bentley manual, however, it calls for semi-synthetic, non-dexxon ATF. I received my manual after I'd done the work and put in full synthetic dexxon. I called a BMW tech and he said he would replace the oil with the official BMW semisynthetic oil made specifically for that tranny. Do I need to drain and put the BMW oil in?
 

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Ok, so I just got thru replacing the fluid and ATF in my 94, 540i. Same drain plug on front passenger side, and same fill hole on bottom center. The transmission number is A5S 560z. In my Bentley manual, however, it calls for semi-synthetic, non-dexxon ATF. I received my manual after I'd done the work and put in full synthetic dexxon. I called a BMW tech and he said he would replace the oil with the official BMW semisynthetic oil made specifically for that tranny. Do I need to drain and put the BMW oil in?
No.

Did he give you a price quote on the BMW fluid?
 

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No.

Did he give you a price quote on the BMW fluid?
I didn't ask for just the atf price, but he said for them to do the change would be at minimum $260 due to how expensive the oil is. I will call back again tomorrow to get a price on just the oil. You are certain I don't need to change fluid? I don't want to do the change again, trust me haha, but i also dont want to damage the tranny. I just can't find a reason for why they call for such a specific, rare type of oil. Besides wanting more money, of course.

Thanks for the quick response
 

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If the label on the fluid bottle says it's a suitable replacement for Shell LA2634 and Esso LT71141 you should be good to go. If you have a "black label" transmission that requires LA2634, you might want to boost the friction modifiers in the fluid with a bottle of Lubegard, but it's not critical. What ATF did you use?
 

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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41so7hk6nqL.jpg

This is what I used based on what the last owner told me. He didn't have a Bentley manual tho, and I'm not sure why he chose this. And like I said, I didn't get my Bentley manual until I did the work. The trans needed it and I was eager to get it done. Will definitely look into that additive. I didn't think about that.
 
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