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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I will not rehash the process, as there are countless threads and videos on how to do it:

https://blog.bavauto.com/11194/bmw-...-and-filter-change-how-to-replace-auto-trans/

But what I will offer is a solution to someone who will probably encounter the same issue I did.
Two weeks ago, I had some free time and decided to drain and fill the transmission fluid, as I'm taking the vehicle on a 3500 mile round trip over Christmas and New Years. The X3 has 145k miles, I'd last dropped the pan and changed the filter at 119k. Well, a couple of NY winters did not treat the drain plug well, and it was corroded solid. With a breaker bar on the allen socket, the pan started to flex, and then the socket spun inside the plug. With needing to get the cams and all timing components back in my F150, this project took a back seat until today.

I drove the X3 up on 4 ramps, and dragged out the little 110A MIG to tack on an 11/16" nut to the drain bolt (after cleaning with a wire brush and sandpaper). The welder did 2 things: 1) glue the nut to the drain plug so that I could get an wrench on it and 2) burn out any corrosion. I then used a pneumatic impact gun to shock the plug free, and it came out without a fight. Oh, and of course disconnected the battery before welding!

I've never liked the drain bolts on these, so I figured that HAS to be a better way! There is: since the 6-speed auto transmission is also used in the 2015+ Chevy Colorado, I bought a drain bolt for that vehicle off RockAuto, AC Delco #24234212, as it has an honest to goodness 14mm hex head on it, and a larger gasket as well. It is slightly longer, but won't hit anything inside the transmission. When I drop the fluid again next week, I'll probably cut the new bolt a little shorter, *just in case* it somehow affects fluid flow from any slight internal differences between a 6L45 and 6L50 transmission (extremely doubtful, but stranger things have happened). I highly recommend the Chevy's drain bolt, as it'll make future removals much easier.

I realized that not everyone has a welder, but for less than $350, there's little reason not to, as it'll save you countless "Help Me!" dollars.
 

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I need to do this as well as soon as I get my current mess settled. Nice find on the better quality plug. It wouldnt be hard to dremmel that end right off just to be safe. It definitely looks like a much heartier plug.
I wonder why BMW would go with what looks like in appearances anyway a less beefy plug. Kills me because it probably saved them 16 cents per vehicle. Oh , ya, its justified though because that fluid is lifetime right lol. Why have a plug at all? Just weld the hole shut haha! The worst part about looking forward to mine is I have this thing about the smell of the fluid....nasty. There is some chemical in it that reminds me of the smell the phosphate mines pump out when they are blasting. Lord knows what they use but it cannot be good. Thanks for writing this up though with pics because its going to help me out big.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I need to do this as well as soon as I get my current mess settled. Nice find on the better quality plug. It wouldnt be hard to dremmel that end right off just to be safe. It definitely looks like a much heartier plug.
I wonder why BMW would go with what looks like in appearances anyway a less beefy plug. Kills me because it probably saved them 16 cents per vehicle. Oh , ya, its justified though because that fluid is lifetime right lol. Why have a plug at all? Just weld the hole shut haha! The worst part about looking forward to mine is I have this thing about the smell of the fluid....nasty. There is some chemical in it that reminds me of the smell the phosphate mines pump out when they are blasting. Lord knows what they use but it cannot be good. Thanks for writing this up though with pics because its going to help me out big.
More likely to dissuade people from doing their own maintenance.

But you're welcome. The bolt is $3.13.

Crack open the fill plug first, but don't remove it, or you'll be bathing in ATF. If dropping the pan, still drain it first. You won't have much of a mess.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the tip. I was planning on doing a fluid change this weekend.


Last week before taking it NY-FL, did the second trans fluid exchange after a couple hundred miles. Chopped down the nub on the new Colorado drain plug with my cut off wheel, then rounded it on the bench grinder. Probably completely unnecessary, but I always feel better after modifying everything.

I will also note: for the first time, I did the fluid exchange with the Creator 110 hooked up and hanging out the door so I could monitor fluid temp. Unlike most transmissions that have you check level when hot, the bmw sticker on the 6L45 has you do it, when Luke warm, so traditional rules of road testing and checking levels will have you underfilling the transmission. Operating temp is significantly hotter (80+*C) than level checking temp (30-50*C), so a temp reading is worthwhile. Doubtful problems will result, as my last fluid change was based on standard operating temp levels, but figured I’d throw it out there for those as anal as me. Raising the fill plug by the engineers would have created less guess work, and more reliability, but que sera sera. IMG_4920.jpg


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I've changed my E83 six times just warming it up with a 10 minute city drive, then filling to the drip point. I confess I haven't monitored temperature. No problems. I did have trouble with the fill bolt last time, which is a hex bolt, will order a new one as it was starting to round off. Needed a good quality six point socket to get it off last time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I use a 6 point box end wrench for the fill plug, and clearance is tight for a socket.

I didn’t notice any driveabilty problems either, but after pumping in at 50* and checking at 75*, fluid definitely came gushing out. Enough to make a long term difference? I changed at a 25k mile OCI so too soon to tell.


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Very nice write up and your original transmission pan is pretty much the same as mine.
But you did it very well, especially using the new CHEVY drain plug, that's really cool.


BUT, normally we don't have a $350 welder or we don't know how to use the welder neither.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There’s an easy solution: learn the skills and acquire the tools. It’s cheaper than buying new parts needlessly. I don’t believe in paying someone else to screw up a job, because they invariably will. I made a thread on the subject, but the welder I used is perhaps the best bang for the buck buzz box welders I’ve come across, and is pretty cheap as units go. We have $10k units at work that will blow this one away, but it does the job for most people. There are other options for removing the stuck drain plug with the pan on the bench or vehicle, such as chisel and dead-blow, but what I did was the cheapest, quickest and easiest option for me. The Chevy drain plug is not dependent on having a welder or cut off wheel. YMMV.


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Yes you were right.

All right, I will buy a CHEVY drain plug first, see if I am able to do the similar things like you.

By the way, based on the year of X3 you posted, our tranny are the same, right? 2008 and 2010.
 

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purchased the plug for $6 @ amazon. will post feedback once project is complete thanks
Update: So since my drain bolt was rusted and stripped, I had to drill (revered drill so nothing gets inside the pan) the oem screw and drained the oil . Than drop the pan all together and let it soak in Evapo-Rust overnight. Used a harbor freight bolt extractor and a big adjustable wrench and finally it spun free and came out with ease.

I trimmed down the Chevy bolt and it sits perfect and it has a better gasket too. Will see if I get leaks and will post update again.

But , man this is a monumental task for a first timer newbe.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
You could have dropped the pan without draining the fluid so as not to worry about debris in the trans (always a major concern), and then dealt with the drain bolt on the bench. Not saying what you did was wrong, just offering a tip for the next person.

Glad you like the GM bolt!

I’m assuming you only went 7-8 ft-lbs on the pan bolts right? Overtorquing these is a sure way to get a leak, same with rocker covers.

Did you change filter and the annoying filter seal while the pan was off?

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