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BMW E39 Automatic Trans Fluid Replacing
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E39 Automatic Trans Fluid Replacing

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$50 to $100

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Fluid pump, Torx and Allen socket for drain and fill plugs

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i Sedan/Wagon (2001-03)
BMW 528i Sedan/Wagon (1997-00)
BMW 530i Sedan (2001-03)
BMW 540i Sedan/Wagon (1997-03)

Parts Required:

Automatic transmission fluid. Strainer/filter and gasket kit. Transmission pan bolts

Hot Tip:

Work on hard level surface.

Performance Gain:

Extend lifetime of your transmission

Complementary Modification:

Replace transmission drain and fill plugs

The automatic transmission fluid is normally filled with lifetime fluid. However, BMW does not define what the lifetime is. Therefore, it is a good idea to service you fluid every 60,000 miles. If you're unsure of the last service, replace the fluid as soon as possible. Doing so will extend the life of your transmission. There are many options for replacement fluid. Choose the best you can afford and be sure it meets BMW's current specifications for your vehicle. To determine the fluid that belongs in your transmission, check your owner's manual, or give our parts specialists a call. You have two options when replacing, you can drain and fill the fluid, or you can drain the fluid and replace the fluid strainer by dropping the transmission fluid pan. For the first service, I usually drain and fill only, then the next one I would replace strainer. Replacing the strainer allows you to clean transmission fluid pan of dirt and debris.

In this tech article I will go over how to replace the strainer and drain and fill your transmission fluid. The vehicle shown here has an A5S 360R transmission. The procedures for other models are similar. The transmission pan and filter varies, but this info should get help you service your transmission fluid. I will try to note differences there may be in the procedure.

Drive vehicle for about 3 miles to warm transmission fluid.

Jack up all four corners of your vehicle. I suggest using four jack stands and slowly raising vehicle to required height. Vehicle needs to be level when checking and replacing fluid.

Place drain pan under transmission and remove T40 or T45 Torx fluid drain plug.
Figure 1

Place drain pan under transmission and remove T40 or T45 Torx fluid drain plug. (green arrow) All other transmission types on E39 models also have a drain plug located at the bottom of the fluid pan. If you are only draining and filling the fluid, skip the next step. You will not have to remove the transmission oil pan.

Once fluid is completely drained.
Figure 2

Once fluid is completely drained. Remove transmission pan mounting fasteners, there are 20 transmission pan fasteners on the A5S 360R. Before loosening these fasteners, clean all dirt and debris from bolt head. They strip out easily and are tough to get out once damaged. Then remove transmission pan from transmission. Pull old gasket off transmission and discard. Other transmission models may have more or less fasteners, some may be a T27 Torx bolt. Depending on the model of your transmission, you could have two strainer styles. One that has a bolt holding it in and one that pushes into the transmission. To remove bolted in strainer/filter, remove bolt, then pull strainer down, be sure strainer O-ring comes out with strainer. If not, remove O-ring from transmission.

To remove pushed in strainer, pull strainer (green arrow) down, be sure strainer O-ring comes out with strainer.
Figure 3

To remove pushed in strainer, pull strainer (green arrow) down, be sure strainer O-ring comes out with strainer. If not, remove O-ring from transmission.

This photo shows the O-rings you have to remove from the transmission (green arrow).
Figure 4

This photo shows the O-rings you have to remove from the transmission (green arrow). You can see one is damaged, never leave them in, always replace them.

The tricky part can be getting the O-rings out.
Figure 5

The tricky part can be getting the O-rings out. Be very careful, if you scratch the bore surface, you can have a fluid suction issue due to poor sealing. I like to use a pick and slowly drag the O-rings out of the bore one at a time.

Install both O-rings onto the new filter and lubricate them with clean transmission fluid.
Figure 6

Install both O-rings onto the new filter and lubricate them with clean transmission fluid. Install new strainer in reverse order of removal. Then install transmission fluid pan and tighten fasteners.

Continue here if only performing a drain and fill - Measure amount of fluid drained from transmission.
Figure 7

Continue here if only performing a drain and fill - Measure amount of fluid drained from transmission. Remove the T40 or T45 Torx fill plug, green arrows point to fill plug location. On other transmission models, it could be a 6mm Allen. This photo shows the fill plug of the A5S 360R transmission. Other transmission models, the fill plug could be located at the right rear or the right front.

Fill transmission with same amount of fluid that was drained.
Figure 8

Fill transmission with same amount of fluid that was drained. Install the drain plug. Start engine, then apply parking brake, hold your foot on brake pedal and shift transmission through all gears. This will circulate the transmission fluid. Place the transmission selector in Park, then remove fluid fill plug. Monitor transmission as it reaches a temperature of 100° f. You can check this with an infrared temperature gauge. If a small stream of fluid runs out of fill plug, fluid level is correct. If no fluid runs out, add oil until it starts to run out. Reinstall fill plug and tighten. Once complete. I suggest driving car, then allowing to cool and rechecking fluid level. Now hereÂ's the tip, once you have filled the transmission with the same amount of fluid drained the level should be close to what it was. Start engine, move gear selector as noted above. With the transmission fluid still cold and fluid fill plug removed, monitor the temperature and fluid flow at fill plug. When the fluid warms up it will expand and should run out of fill plug, if it does not, add fluid until it starts to run out. Install fill plug and repeat once vehicle is cool.

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Comments and Suggestions:
JAL Comments: Hi, I have 2003 540I with a 5Hp-24 auto tranny. Does the car or transmission need to be level when topping off and checking fluid level? BMW TIS and Bentley manual state that the vehicle needs to be level, however when I level the car on jackstones the transmission isn't level when measured at the transmission oil pan lip. Thanks in adabce for your response.
November 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, it should be level.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Cheese Comments: I have a 1999 E39 528iT automatic with 173,000 miles. It is nearly perfect in every way. It gets combined 24mpg. It is driven daily. No leaks, cold a/c, etc. It won 2nd in a national show in 2012. The transmission fluid has been inspected but not changed. Do I need to change it?
November 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: At that mileage it may best left alone. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
James Comments: The fill plug gets very tight. Recommend using an Allen driver and ratchet and make sure it's well seated before giving it some welly!
October 18, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Onthemove Comments: I have a 2000 528i bmw never change the tranny. Fluids before is it recommended to Change it now ,it have 275000 miles
September 11, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would advise against changing it. Just top it up if needed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jinx Comments: I have 2003 540i sedan and i recently experienced the same SAFE LIGHT OR ENGINE FAIL SAFE or TRANSMISSION FAIL SAFE. so what i did to resolved the issue was a lot and was not sure which repair fixed the problem. I did a tune up, spark plugs $80, two coils $120 on the spark plugs that were burnt, Mass air flow$40-60, and final change back tires$100. I notice the spin side was more worn that the other side so i assuming when i lose traction the SAFE LIGHT WOULD COME ON AND BOG THE CAR DOWN TO LIKE 5 GEAR.
August 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Kingfish Comments: I have a 2001 525i E39 with 170,000 miles. It's never had tranny work or fluid or filter change since new. I just got a fail safe light, the car runs in 5th gear only. I don't trust the stealer, I don't know an Indy in Palm Beach Gardens, what would you recommend? I'm new to the area?
June 11, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: First check the transmission fluid level to be sure it is correct. Then check the transmission ECM for fault codes. If the system is not working properly, a fault code will be set. This will be your best bet when diagnosing.

To find a shop, go to bimrs.org. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
JaimeZX Comments: @PP - recommend adding "remove fill plug" to step 1. Nothing like draining all fluid from a tranny only to find the fill plug is frozen and can't be removed. Additionally, removing the fill plug will enable the fluid to drain a bit faster since it won't be pulling against a vacuum.
February 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
greenhills Comments: Hi I have a bmw 520i e39 the empty and fill ports are both in the drain pan. The fill port has a recessed allen key would you know the size of same. car 1997 150bhp. Thank you.
February 12, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have that info.
I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:06:13 AM