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View Poll Results: What is your BMW auto transmission maintenance experience?

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  • Followed BMW Lifetime ATF recommendation, did zero maintenance and auto trans. is fine.

    631 46.88%
  • Followed BMW Lifetime ATF recommendation, did zero maintenance and auto trans. failed.

    159 11.81%
  • Did an ATF drain/refill w/ BMW specified ATF fluid and auto trans. is fine.

    229 17.01%
  • Did an ATF drain/refill w/ BMW specified ATF fluid and auto trans. failed.

    53 3.94%
  • Did an ATF drain/refill w/ non-BMW ATF and auto trans is fine.

    256 19.02%
  • Did an ATF drain/refill w/ non-BMW ATF and auto trans failed.

    18 1.34%
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Thread: Collecting Statistics on BMW auto transmission and Lifetime ATF

  1. #26
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowpuck
    1995 325is - car came to me at ~74k no evidence of fluid change prior to my ownership. changed fluid since at 30k mile intervals and have had absolutely no problems with the transmission. The changes have always been done with a non-BMW but acceptable fluid - I'd have to look it up....
    Please let us know what ATF you used... thx.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by kesslerbmw525
    wow, do you know what is ok to use in a 92 525? should be the same as the 325, but not sure. I would like to do a service very soon and would like to make the best choice on fluid, so what would you recomend for a tranny that has 190k miles?

    If you don't know off the top of your head etc don't worry about it, but I thought I'd ask.
    According to the table i'm looking at, your 1992 E34 525 had the A4S310R transmission, which is BMW's designation for GM's THM-R1 transmission, an electronically controlled 4 speed. It was factory filled at BMW with one of the following ATF:

    - Unical Dexron III -D - "multi-purpose ATF"
    - Castrol Dexron III - Mercon
    - Texaco ATF Mercon - Dexron III

    Although, in your year, I don't believe BMW specified that as a Lifetime fluid. In 9/1995, they started claiming that that fluid was a Lifetime ATF.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a transmission expert/specialist in anyway. I've been researching a lot of information, and I'm reading to you what I've found. Use this information at your own risk and anything that is just my 'opinion' is nothing but a non-expert's opinion.

    That said, being that it is a GM transmission, I think (my opinion) you can use a high quality Dexron III-H alternative, perhaps even a synthetic? By the way, the parts for that transmission such as filter/pan gasket, are going to be a lot cheaper if you hunt for parts for a THM-R1 GM transmission. The same stuff from BMW may be more expensive. GM's own transmission service interval recommendation seems to be 50,000 miles. They (GM) are possibly going to 100K, 150K, or Lifetime with Dexron-VI in the future, which is suppose to be used on transmissions that were using Dexron-III.

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    nocal
    Posts
    226
    My Cars
    325is
    1995 325is, 140,000 miles, had it checked when I had oil changed, "Mech" said it was 2 quarts low, cautioned against changing it,so he topped it off.
    At 144,000 tranny line broke off at cooler, lost a lot of fluid,
    tried to refill it but "mech" must have used an impact wrench to replace fill plug, rounded it completely off, had to drop pan, drill the plug out, replaced filter,new gasket of course, refilled with dextron III. Im at 153,000 & it shifts Great!, it was & still is a little slow going into reverse(+- 2 seconds), but other than that it seems fine, since then I have replaced waterpump, thermostat, fan, fan clutch, radiator, & other usual maint stuff, one thing I learned is that this car is almost as easy as working on our 65 mustang, Ill never let a "Mechanic" charge me $165.00 for a oil change again, I read the reciept & he used 10w40 pennsoil & did not change the filter, charged me $0.75 a quart for the oil The rest was in labor!, oh & 2 quarts of tranny fluid.
    Stay away from CENTRAL VALLEY AUTOHAUSE in Modesto Ca.

  4. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    4
    My Cars
    1999 540Ia, 2004 Pilot
    1999 540i 74K Miles

  5. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Stanley, NC
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    1,060
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    '06 Lexus IS350
    Quote Originally Posted by bimmerZ5
    Question for you: When you did the ATF change w/ Redline D4 ATF, did you have the torque converter flushed completely? Or, did you just drain, drop the pan, and refill with the D4 ATF? What I'm getting at is, did you end up mixing the Esso fluid that you had originally from factory with the Redline D4?

    There have been some concerns about mixing factory ATF with non-BMW specified ATF. Since, without a torque converter flush, there is old ATF that remains there and in the transmission cooler.
    In a manner of speaking, I flushed it - this will explain: http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=180663

    I think your research may get skewed quite a bit by the different transmission types that are installed in the various BMWs owned by the folks participating in this thread - what works fine in my transmission may not do so well in yours.

  6. #31
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Lenexa, Ks
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    19 Cooper S
    Quote Originally Posted by bimmerZ5
    I think that's a really good point. There seems to be this fear, that no one so far has been able to explain to me in a rational way. The fear is that, if you do an ATF flush, your transmission will die if it is high mileage. There are various "theoretical" reasons, but I've never heard of someone that took apart their transmission to find the exact cause of failure and be able to pin point it down to the ATF flush. Perhaps I haven't heard from the right folks... but the correlation between high mileage ATF flush and actual transmission failure almost seems like a myth. (time to call Myth Busters?)
    I am not of a fan of the tranny flush. I believe the only proper way to service a transimmsion is to drop the pan, drain the fluid and replace the filter. As an alternative for this would be to evacuate the fluid through the fill spout, if equipped, or just fluid drain and re-fill. I don't like the idea of flushing some solvent through the transmission and and then refilling. I have made a good living selling parts to people who say,"I just went to some lube place and had my tranny flushed and now it's now working right". There is nothing wrong with pulling the cooler lines and back flushing them of fluid.

  7. #32
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Ramsey
    Posts
    100
    My Cars
    01 330i, 99 Maxima SE
    I did the full tranny service on my 330i @ 110,000 miles dropping the pan as well.

    http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=489319

    The fluid cost me $140 bucks, gasket was $14, all from BMW.

    It's been just over a week so far and the tranny definately has improved shifts. The cold shift is much smoother, especially first thing in the morning. The shift from Reverse to Drive as I back out of my driveway was a bit harsh. (It engauged Drive hard) Since the fluid change it's like butter. It also seems that the engine sounds quieter on the highway, placebo effect maybe? I don't know.

    The fluid that came out was all grey and seemed pretty much broken down. It was very thin and didn't feel very slick. The new fluid, which is a mineral based hydraulic oil (looks like 10W-40) was pretty viscous and felt nice and slick.

    I know a guy that owns an Aamco shop, he basically said lifetime means ~100K miles given normal operation. The key to long life is maintenance, and properly maintained, the tranny should easily last 300K miles. The ZF tranny is very well built.
    Ain't nothing like polished Silver

  8. #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    LA, Calif
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    E46

    Did an ATF drain/refill w/ non-BMW ATF and auto trans is fine.

    2001 E46 325 with Step. Did Redline Redline D4 ATF twice. No problems. It's a track car btw.

    [SIZE="3"][SIZE=1][b] Technik Engineering ASA Stage 1.
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  9. #34
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Chula Vista, CA
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    Z3 3.0i Roadster, E39 530i, Toyota Previa S/C
    Quote Originally Posted by Trnsprtr
    I think your research may get skewed quite a bit by the different transmission types that are installed in the various BMWs owned by the folks participating in this thread - what works fine in my transmission may not do so well in yours.
    Thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about the various types of transmissions and ATF fluids BMW has specified. I'm hoping to take that into consideration. That's why i'm asking that people also state their year/model and what non-BMW fluid they've used. My plan is to correlate information that relates to the same BMW specified ATF. And I have a chart that shows me which transmission and ATF was used by BMW for the various years/models.

    Your point is in fact, I think, one of the reasons why there is sooo much misinformation out there. Any statement about BMW's auto transmission and its ATF cannot be generalized to another BMW auto transmission unless you know the model/year and figure out which transmission it was, and what ATF was used for the factory fill.

    Your information is particularly interesting since Redline doesn't specify on their website that D4 ATF is a replacement for ESSO. Apparently, if you've found information that it can be used as an alternative and your experience so far has been good. This is good news...

  10. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Franklin, TN
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    1,536
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    FJ,Tahoe, F800GS,Piaggio
    109K, no change, works great...
    shopping... F30, Sportline, Silver, Red...

  11. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by dport135
    I am not of a fan of the tranny flush. I believe the only proper way to service a transimmsion is to drop the pan, drain the fluid and replace the filter. As an alternative for this would be to evacuate the fluid through the fill spout, if equipped, or just fluid drain and re-fill. I don't like the idea of flushing some solvent through the transmission and and then refilling. I have made a good living selling parts to people who say,"I just went to some lube place and had my tranny flushed and now it's now working right". There is nothing wrong with pulling the cooler lines and back flushing them of fluid.
    I'm not sure if this is a common misconception, or if there are actually two very different 'types' of transmission "flushing" so to speak. The "flushing" methods that I've found, both manual and machine operated, do not use any pressure nor any solvent. in fact, the so-called "flushing" is only done by the transmission's own pump. the machines that perform this, receive used ATF from the transmission cooler return line. As it receives used ATF, it displaces the same volume of new ATF into the transmission. The engine is left idling in order to operate the transmission pump which is what is actually moving the fluid. The manual method is to drain used ATF while the engine is idling by disconnecting the same trans. cooler return line. However, while you're draining old fluid, you either have to pump new fluid in through the fill hole, or you have to stop the engine after about 2 qts, and fill 2 qts of new fluid and then repeat.

    i have not actually seen or heard of the details of a "flushing" method that uses pressure and solvents?

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by vpwseah
    2001 E46 325 with Step. Did Redline Redline D4 ATF twice. No problems. It's a track car btw.
    What's your current mileage? At what mileage did you do the ATF change? You are another case of Redline D4 ATF that replaced factory Esso LT71141. This is good to know...

  13. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    El Cerrito CA
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    1,383
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    1995 318ti Clubsport
    97 M3, with 103k, change the fluid, it looks like tar! and remember it comes from the factory with a slightly yellow, however still CLEAR concistancy.
    It was changed out with red-line fuilds.

  14. #39
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    1995 318ti Clubsport
    Quote Originally Posted by bimmerZ5

    i have not actually seen or heard of the details of a "flushing" method that uses pressure and solvents?
    Pressure wouldnt really get the old gunk out any way. far to many nooks and crannies.
    and I DARE you to use a solvent.

  15. #40
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    Lenexa, Ks
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    19 Cooper S
    Call a jiffy lube kind of place and ask about a tranny service and how they perform it.

  16. #41
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    E39 525i manual sport
    Have a 95 325i. Guy before replaced the whole transmission for 3000 in 2001. What is interesting that the ATF was replace a few thousand miles before the replacement of the transmission by a Global shop, not a huge authorized like United/Nalley. Had the car for a several months. I think it shifts fine when I drive conservatively. I might say from 1-2 it migh be a little hard, but I don't want to jump the gun since I have experience this in alot of other cars.
    Last edited by qidm67; 02-13-2007 at 02:30 AM.

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  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by erikerikerik
    Pressure wouldnt really get the old gunk out any way. far to many nooks and crannies.
    and I DARE you to use a solvent.
    I'd take on your dare if it's your car...

  18. #43
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    LA, Calif
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    E46
    Quote Originally Posted by bimmerZ5
    What's your current mileage? At what mileage did you do the ATF change? You are another case of Redline D4 ATF that replaced factory Esso LT71141. This is good to know...
    Make it two other cases. I know another E46 330i Step running D4ATF.

    My current is about 58k miles. First change at 28k miles and the second change at 53k miles. I track my car often so I need to freshen up the lubricants.

    [SIZE="3"][SIZE=1][b] Technik Engineering ASA Stage 1.
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  19. #44
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    Sep 2005
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    E39 525i manual sport
    Oh yea had trans replaced at 53, current mileage at 77

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  20. #45
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Gainesville, Fl
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    198
    My Cars
    97 528i

    97 528i

    my e39 (assembly date 7/97) has 131k miles w/no service of any kind to the GM tranny and add-on o/d.

    however, it does have morning sickness. i have chosen to run it as is until failure, then invest in the rebuild.

    i look forward to your fact finding results.

  21. #46
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Washington State, USA
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    '80 (euro) 635csi
    I have a '91 525i. Bought it with 80,000 on it. Original owner had dealer service it regularly. It now has 185,000 on it. I have changed fluid and filter twice. Other than a leak that would cost more to fix than the trans is worth, it runs fine.
    No special fluid, they are not worth it to me. Atf is atf as long as it meets spec..
    "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most"
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  22. #47
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    SAN DIEGO
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    14
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    97 328IS

    Lubro Molly ATF

    My car is 97 328is. I drained and refilled w/ Lubro Molly ATF every 60,000 mile. The car is 149000 mile. There's never a problem.

  23. #48
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    415
    My Cars
    E-many
    I have changed several over the past few years
    88 535I 165000 then again at 225000 current 265000 all OK
    92 525I 110000 sold at 140000 all OK
    95 530I 78000 sold at 126000 all OK
    2000 540I steptronic changed 70000 approx 79000 all ok
    All of these were Auto's and I used Redline D4 atf in all of them
    Also works great in 6 sp manuals

  24. #49
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    oregon usa
    Posts
    71
    My Cars
    2002 525i
    '02 525 Step, 43,xxx miles, never changed ATF. Works fine after AT software was updated to cure a hard 3-2 downshift.

  25. #50
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    1,614
    My Cars
    Focus 1.0 liter & 318ti
    Never changed, operates perfectly.

    1996 318tiA 134,000 miles. Hoping it dies so I can do a swap

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