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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 3 Series Differential Oil Change
Jared Fenton
Wayne R. Dempsey

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     In this continuing series of maintenance article for the BMW E30 3 Series models, we will focus on changing the differential oil. This article is written with the 325is model in mind, however this article applies to all BMW’s in general.

     Why change the differential oil? The differential is just like any other mechanism with moving parts. It generates heat and friction while in operation. Just like an engine, regular oil changes help to keep parts such as gears well lubricated and clean. Over time, the differential wears just like any other component. The differences between the differential and an engine is that the differential has no internal filter to capture small particles of metal as the gears wear. Also, the differential uses oil that is much thicker than engine oil. Usually differential oil is good for up to 80,000 miles without changing. However it is commonly overlooked in the wide spectrum of vehicle maintenance. Failure to change the fluid at regular intervals can cause a variety of problems, eventually causing the bearings in the diff to fail. In this article I will go over the simple steps to changing the oil yourself and avoid a costly trip to your mechanic for something you can do in under an hour in your driveway.

First, drive the car around the block a few times to get the oil inside the differential warmed up,

     Now, let’s jack the car up. First, chock the front wheels to keep them from rolling while you have the rear wheels jacked up. Be sure to jack the car up on a re-inforced part of the body, such as a crossmember or chassis beam. Be sure not to jack the car up on any other part, as you could put a hole right through the bottom of the car. I have seen Porsches in the past where jacks have punctured the floorboards. A handy reference is Wayne’s article on jacking up your BMW.

Now jack up the front wheels of the car as well. We will want to get the car as level as possible in order to drain all the old fluid out of the differential.

     Now crawl under the car and look at the differential. On the very rear of the differential towards the bottom, you will see two 17mm internal Allen head plugs (NOTE: the size can vary with the year and model of your car). These are the drain and filler plugs for the oil. Put a suitable drain tray under the plugs and first open the top plug to relieve any possible vacuum inside the diff and help the oil drain out. Now loosen the lower plug and thread it out by hand. Keep in mind that the old oil will start to flow out as soon as you remove the plug, so make sure the drain pan is directly below. Also, gear oil is some of the worst smelling stuff on earth. If you get any on your clothes, you will never get the smell off again, so be sure to wear your worst work clothes or just work naked! Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

     Anyway, let the old fluid drain out of the car completely just watch it, it will go from a full stream to a small trickle then it will stop flowing. Once it has stopped, thread the drain plug back in and torque it to 41 ft./lbs. Now, get the new fluid and using a siphon, pump the new fluid into the filer hole at the top. When the fluid begins to flow out of the top hole, it is full. Now re-install the filler plug and torque it to 41 ft./lbs.

Be sure to check your owner’s manual as to what oil to run in the differential. I always use Swepco oil. This stuff is great, it keeps the diff cool, lubricated, and most of all, quiet!

Now lower the car off the jack stands and take your car for a spin to work the new oil into the gears.  

     Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all.  If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Comments and Suggestions:
TrueblueComments: Thanks for the how to for all the motorheads who want to get down and dirty. I had my BMW mechanic do a drain and refill with conventional hypoid gear oil for only $30, $50 if synthetic is desired. This messy job is not worth doing yourself with the cost of the gear oil and pump which must be cleaned with diesel fuel if you want to reuse it with other fluids.
February 13, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Ahmed AnasComments: on my e46 2001 , the gear box does not change smoothly , what can i do ,many told me to change oil and filter but i didnt khow if i changed them it will work normaly or messed up .thanks
January 25, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wouldn't know if the filter an fluid service will help. I would think if it is shifting poor, it might be too late for a service and require internal repairs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ahmed AnasComments: I have e46 2001 , i have a delay in the tran slipping and the check engine light is switched on when it switched off tras work normally , appreciate your help
January 25, 2014
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I answered your question above. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
CharlesComments: Excellent site. I have a 2003 M3 SMG. I notice a growl when slowly turning to the left at a sharp turn. Read that this could be rear diff, and possible remedy is new fluid. As I had just changed it a few months back with Royal Purple, I bought some OEM fluid from BMW, going to replace, will update findings. Any other ideas/suggestions?
December 3, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the noise from front or rear? If in rear it's possible that the diff is the problem. But it could also be the brake pads dragging on the rotors. Try modulating the brakes as you turn to see if the sound changes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jdgarretComments: Hi, the best place to buy parts for my 325i cabrio?
Online or Miami city

November 6, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
diva_3181377Comments: I asked a related question in another there. But how to find the correct fluid for the differential? Manual says life time. Some says 75W90, some says 75W140 and some says 80W-250. 2000 Z3 2.3 auto. Also how to find which differential it is?
October 31, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If it has a limited slip it takes bmw saf-xj, if not it takes bmw saf-xo. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
TedpreComments: I have a 2003 325i E46 with 147K miles when my transmission gave up. After rebuilding and installing the Transmission, I have noticed that the RPM fluctuates up and down by in any steady speed. i.e. 40 mph, 65 mph, 70 mph, etc...what did I forget to perform after installation? and why this rpm fluctuate?
May 29, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the RPM fluctuates at a steady speed the transmission is slipping. The rebuild may not have been performed correctly. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
OceansComments: Hi, my 525i e34 engine goes off after some heavy raves in neutral or pack gears. I don't usually travel long distance with this baby but a bit worried, any tips on this - Im a do it yourself guy.
April 11, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the engine stalling when it returns to idle or it is cutting off at a high RPM? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
G- WISSComments: went for inspection FAILED -service engine soon light on-trouble code too lean bank #1,secondary air injection sys insufficient flow bank 1&2 anyone have any ideas . If not too much trouble send me an E MAIL thanks bmwcca member
April 6, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Answered you in the other thread. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
c4lhoComments: hi there I have a bmw e46 330i how much diff oil do I need thanks
March 14, 2013
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Without knowing the specifics and assuming you are referring to the rear differential, it hold 1 liter, I would have an extra 1/2 liter on hand in case you spill any. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bmwgayguyandyouknowitComments: clicked on e39 repairs and got other crap - what is your problem v- jerks???????
August 24, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Now, now no need to call me names - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bryComments: hi ive got a problen with my 320ise wen i stop my car i get drips of water at the front of my radiator on the front grill and bonnet catch radiator and hoses are fine water tank is fine could it be the cap and how can i test it cheers
August 18, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The water could be trapped somewhere in the body. Are you dripping water or coolant? Are you using coolant or water in your cooling system? Water could be pushing past the cap since is boils at 212. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DavidComments: Hey Wayne,
I'm hearing a growling noise from the right rear of my 95 M3 when I'm backing up, mostly when turning the wheel to the right. Sound like a diff, or a wheel bearing?
I'll be changing the diff fluid this weekend, so if that doesn't fix the problem, I'll look at the wheel bearing.
Thanks for this forum, it's a life saver!
July 25, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Does your vehicle make the sound going straight ahead? Is it worse when you decel? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jimstewComments: Outstanding post great info definately one of best sights for BMW's. I have a 2002 525i I have a vibration between 20 - 40
mph thought it may be center support brg but there isn't any
play at all.Is it possible it may just be rear diff fluid low or needs to be changed. Thanks for your time.
February 4, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
jordonb1122Comments: Hey there. I have a automatic323I with 80xxx miles. Recently when I am accelerating from a complete stop, the car almost feels like its puttering and mpg gage stays at max50 until it gets thru its puttering or shifts into 2nd gear. If I play it right I can slowly accelerate and avoid it from puttering. Sound like diff? Or wut r some likely causes? Common problem? Thank u
January 23, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the trans slipping, is the engine running correctly, and check engine light on?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
garrisonrexComments: I think it might have to do with my diff?
Every time i'm starting off in first, under light acceleration at about 2200/rpm and then again at about 3800/rpm i get this medium vibration from the middle/right side rear of my car. After shifting into 2nd,3rd,4th, or 5th it goes away. Also if i start off in 2nd it does it again at about 2000/rpm, and then goes away any suggestions?
January 19, 2012
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the exhaust mounts and make sure the exhaust is not rubbing somewhere.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
blacklabComments: 1995 540i 6speed with sport seats
is there a user friendly way to adjust the cables in the front seats, the seat backs in particular, are quite tilted. Saw something quickly on bimmerforum then couldn't locate the post again regarding an 'easy' way to fix - burn the excess length of the cables? no need to remove seats, just the back cover of the upper back rest. Is this possible, anyone??
September 21, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The cables are going to have to be replace, the shrink over time.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
rdmandelComments: In working on the rear brakes on a 1988 325i automatic with an S3.73 rear end, I find that it is really hard to turn the rear wheels with the car in neutral, both wheels in the air, new pads and rotors, and the drums backed off all the way. I haven't worked on an auto for many, many years. Is this normal?
September 20, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the vehicle is not in neutral, it will take some effort to rotate the wheels. However, they should bind and should rotate smoothly. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JGZComments: What about throwout bearing removal of an e30 325is RWD? got the cap off the bearing in the getrag transmission, but the throw for the puller is WAY to long for anything around here...any suggestions??! Drivin my dads 325iX but rather would be mobbing around in the IS stomping everybody
August 30, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you pop off the clutch fork, the throwout bearing will slide off the fork without using a puller. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BMW1999M3Comments: How can I find out exactly which fluid was in the original Differential. I have an e36 M3 1999 Manual S52 Convertible. One of the parts people at the dealer told it was just any 75W90! I think he may be right with non-M cars, but for mine, it seems to need 75W140 with LS +FM booster: not sure what that is!. Any thoughts on which fluid. I would not change it unless I was sure it was the same exact fluid. I have no symptoms at 140K!
July 27, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm pretty sure that BMW's original spec was 75W-90, but it was updated to 75w-140. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
MizzthangComments: WHERE CAN I FIND 525I CLUTCH FAN change???
July 7, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
wdeerfieldComments: The fill/drain plug on a 325xi for the front diff is 14mm.
June 16, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
CBSamson73Comments: Swepco 201 made my car impossible to shift at low temp. The stuff is way too viscous at room temp. I'd stay with redline MTF.
June 8, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
johnComments: I have a 1990 325is with a 3.73 lsd. What differential oil do you recommend? Im thinking redline but not quite sure which specific type.
June 4, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right oil. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
GatallicaComments: Wayne, I have a 2004 318 E46, but there is no drain plug. Several people have asked about this on your forum, but there has been no reply. Can you advise us how we change the oil on this type of diff please?
May 15, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: On models with only a fill plug, remove the fill plug, then using a suction pump, remove the fluid from the differential. Then fill as described in the tech article. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JonnyComments: Are the fill and drain plugs still a 17mm internal allen head plugs on my 2002 330xi?
If my rear differential turns out to be bad, where would you suggest to get it rebuilt or a new one ordered?
April 11, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure about the size - they have made so many changes over the years! :) Actually, just looked our photo on that plug, it does still look like a 17mm internal Allen head. Differentials typically don't wear out - I'm going to copy your question here to the forums so that we can get more information on what the problem is exactly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
JonnyComments: Hello,
I have been fighting a humming/small vibration for awhile now and would like to get your opinion. I own a 2002 BMW 330xi with 100k miles. The humming/vibration seems to be coming from somewhere in the rear of the car. I have replaced the tires, replaced rear driveshaft, rubber, flexdisk,hanger bearing, and brakes. I still have the issue. It only appears at speeds 65 and greater. Seems to get worse going up hills. Only thing I can think of is wheel bearing or rear diff. Any insight would be appreciated on how to diagnose the problem. I really like the car, but this costly issue is making me think otherwise.
April 8, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, you have already replaced a lot of stuff, the only thing I can thing of is maybe a wheel bearing, a differential carrier bearing, or perhaps the differential itself. The cheapest thing to try might be to replace the differential fluid with some Swepco 201 - that might actually work, and is the next cheapest thing I can think of. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
MDComments: I am looking for Diff fluid for E325ic 2001.

What do you have?

February 24, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I recommend the Swepco 201 fluid - it's what most people rave about for the Porsche 911s:§ion=BASflt&page=2&bookmark=7&part_number=SWE-201-80W90 - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
andyComments: Hi my car is getting a roar noise coming from the rear. It sound to me like a driver side rear wheel bearing ,but I am thinking it can be a carrier bearing for the drive shaft. I am getting a wobble at very low speed also . I also notice thumping noise coming from under the shifter in the morning when its cold ,and my car idling low . I check the guibo ,and it looks ok . I got so many problem on my 94 e36 conv 325 please help and reply to
February 4, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The thumping noise does sound like the guibo connector failing and hitting the shifter linkage. I would take a closer look at that. Wheel bearings can be detected by wiggling the wheel when the car is up in the air. Differential carrier bearings are more difficult to diagnose, you typically need to disconnect the diff and spin them by hand to see if they are free, or if they are wearing out. I've got a neat article on changing wheel bearings, it's written for the Porsches, but the principle is the same for BMWs: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
shikapusaComments: I have a 328i, 1998 automatic BMW, However, when driving I hear a disturbing sound emanating from the rear of vehicle, much higher than the sound of the engine... Could it be that the Differential needs replacing or just oil change, as it has now clocked 84000miles from first registration? Please advise. I don't really want to spend money on a new differential when all it could require is an oil change.
January 22, 2011
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Gosh, it could be one of many things. Wheel bearings, differential carrier bearings, brake discs or pads, differential components - it's impossible to know without hearing the noise. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
TheEdreardonComments: i cant find my fill plug on my 94 e36 Please Help! Pic help so much
December 4, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have some photos that might be useful to you here in this article: - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
vinceComments: i have an '86 325es, how would i know what kind of differential my car have?
November 24, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Lift up the rear of your car and spin one wheel with the car in gear, and the e-brake off. If the opposite wheel spins in the opposite direction, you have an open differential. If it spins in the same direction, you have a limited slip differential (LSD). - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
SmithComments: Thanks alot,
I've bought an 2004 e60 with a high milage on it 111,000 mile I haven't noticed any noise comin form the rear side, do you recommend dif oil change? is it the same procedure as mentioned here?
another question, how about the transmession oil and filter chagne.. Is it necessary? I've noticed some kind of ruogh shift from the 2 to 3, in some driving condition. would changin the filter and oil help?
thanks in advance :
November 18, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: With a 100K+ mileage car, I suggest going through all of the fluids and freshening them up. There's really no downside to doing that. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
jtComments: diff howling what do i need to do and will it get worse will lucas oil help thank you
November 6, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, changing the fluid might help. Also, you might want to check your differential driveshaft bearing. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
MannyComments: I have a 1994 BMW 318I with about 133,000 miles on it. I want to change my differential fluid, but I need to know if sinthetic gear oil is the way to go. If so, what would be the correct grade of oil if I use sinthetic, and what would be the correct grade if I just use conventional gear oil? I have not called the dealership on this, but a few people, to include a repair shop have susggested different grades. I'm not sure which way to go.
November 5, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: For differential gear oil, really anything will work fine in your car. You're probably overthinking it, as almost all off-the-shelf brands work pretty well. I don't have any specific recommendations, but I don't think you could go wrong with any of your choices. Unless, you have a limited slip differential (LSD). These typically require a certain type of oil that is matched to the LSD in order to obtain its proper performance. On a E30 318, it's unlikely that you have an LSD in there though. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
EddieHamComments: My Chilton's manual says that I should always replace the washer on the drain plug when I change the Differential fluid. I looked, and there doesn't seem to be any washer. Should I get a replacement one, because the service that did the fluid last time lost it, or, there just isn't one on a 1989 BMW 325i.
October 29, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think this is a blind plug hole on the 1989 cars, right? If so, there is no washer, it's just a plug. I wouldn't worry about it unless it starts to leak. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
youranComments: Have a 318 here.
Above 90 km/h a whining sound appears around 2000 rpm.
The sound comes from the back.
When i push the throttle it disappears.
At low speed no problems.
Rearwheel bearing or differential?
What do you guys think?
October 17, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: A noise on decel or when coasting could be the gears in your differential. Possibly a worn ring and pinion. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
BMW noviceComments: Your suggestion on changing the diff oil on the E90 3 models may work for older models, but possibly not for the new drain plug. Just purchased a 2011 and plan to have a 1200 mile break-in servicing done shortly on the car I am a fanatic about servicing. Any suggestions on the best way to do this so that most of the metal particles broken off during break-in will be eliminated.
October 10, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: E90 models only have a fill plug, as you noted. This tech article describes how to replace the fluid using a suction pump: Nick at Pelican Parts
paulyComments: always undo the fill plug BEFORE the drain plug, just in case you cant undo the fill plug
October 5, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tip. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
KDBowlerComments: Thanks for the articles. They're awesome. I have a question though. I have a 1997 328i with 187,000 mi. Just bought it w few months ago and thought I should probably replace all the fluids since I don't know the history of the car. Anyway... the hex nut is really, really stuck. Can't get a ratchet up to the top fill plug because there isn't enough room between it and the gas tank. Tried inserting the Hex socket and grabing it with a 9/16 wrench and hitting it with a hammer to no avail. Any suggestions. Thanks
September 29, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: These are really stuck sometimes. Heating them sometimes work, but I typically just use a 1/2" breaker bar and my foot, and that works almost every time. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
SkubadooComments: i have a e36 coupe and when ever the car is at operating temperature and when i am in first gear about to set off the car rattles but once i have momentum the rattling stops and the rest of the gears are smooth through not sure when the diff oil was last changed but could this be the problem?
September 28, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check all of the exhaust mounts to see if any are cracked.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
ThomasComments: Hi, ive got a problem that i hope you can help me with

I own a BMW 325i E30 and when i stop or change to second, the car rattles but this all happens when the car is at around about 2000 rmp
September 26, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the motor mounts and the transmission mounts - this is a common symptom when they are getting worn out. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
ikaComments: great site. thanks a lot.

i would like to ask though, what does it mean to torque it?
September 20, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That simply means to tighten a bolt to a specific value. It's not really proper English - sorry. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
AlbplaceComments: On my 328i 98 The gearbox doesn't change smoothly from 2nd to 3rd gearautomatic transalso the trans light is on, I changed the oil and filter, trans mounts,u joint but still messd up
September 6, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: You'll have to find some shop who can read and pull the transmission fault codes from the car. Sounds like its an internal automatic transmission issue. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
UnderdogComments: How much oil excactly goes to e36 differential?
August 24, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not completely sure, but it should be probably 2-4 quarts off the top of my head. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
giboComments: "Begin pumping until new oil starts overflowing from the drain hole."

Are you sure you are referring to the drain hole or do you mean the filler hole?
July 30, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, yes. Fluid should be flowing out of the hole that you are using to fill it up with. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
DericoComments: i won a BMW 325i and recently when i drive on the free way it suddenly slows down and then jerks froward with full force . enough to get some one off the passenger site if not fitting on the sit belt . it goes with a sound like gufff and then it starts working again normally . what do you think is the problem with the car and what must i do ?
July 21, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Congrats on the win (I think). Unfortunately, it's impossible to diagnose something like that over the Internet - you'll have to take it in somewhere to have someone take a look at it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
TristanComments: Wayne, thanks for the response regarding my clutch problem on my 90 525i. Got me going inthe right direction. Turned out to be a leak form the clutch slave. Fixed.
Now I'm having a problem with over revving. It's a standard 5 speed and when the engine is warm the engine will over rev as I'm increasing the clutch is still partially engaged. If I don't accelerate to fast it's fine but if I give her too much gas the engine over revs and doesn't settle down until I get up to speed. Any thoughts on it??

Thanks - Tristan
July 8, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, any time there is a disconnect between rpm and the speed that the car is traveling, then you are having some type of clutch slippage. Either your clutch is going out, or you might have some oil in there - something is causing the clutch to slip under load. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
faisComments: hi i have a 323i built in 97 can u tell me if the engine is run by a cam belt or timing chain??
July 2, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Should be a timing chain. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
WadeComments: How do you know if there is something wrong with the diff. I thought something was wrong with my, because I hear this loud humming sound inside the cabin that seem to be coming from the rear of the car. It sounds a lot like the sound from ties used in big lifted truck with big bogger tires on while driving down the highway. Can someone honed in on the problem? Is my rear diff shot or is it my wheel bearings or what? I just got done replacing the rear diff oil and it still humms like a lifted truck.
June 29, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be either wheel bearings or the differential carrier bearings. You can lift up the car and wiggle the wheel back and forth to see if it's the wheel bearings. I think the wheel bearings are easiest to replace, I would probably start there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
design2docComments: I have a 94 525i, and its running hot. we have had the thermostat replaced as well as the radiator flushed. This appeared to have helped until the test drive, it ran hot again in the red and the heater doesnt blow out hot air suddenly now i noticed its cool air, any suggestions?
June 17, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: This is a sure-fire sign that the system is not properly bled of all of the air. When the heater doesn't blow hot, it often means that there are air bubbles trapped in there. Or, there's a problem with the heater valve. But more likely, there is air trapped in the heater system that is making it's way into the main cooling system. You need to make sure that you bleed the system with the heater turned on at full blast. See my complete instructions here: - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
TristanComments: I bought a '90 525i and the clutch just stopped working this morning. Yesterday, no problem, now it just goes straight to the floor and and doesn't engage at all. Any ideas on where I should start to troubleshoot?
May 23, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's most likely a problem with your clutch hydraulics, and possibly with your brake / clutch fluid. The brake system and clutch system share the same fluid, and the clutch pulls it from a higher spot than the brakes do, so your clutch will go out first if you have an issue. Check the reservoir - I'll bet it's low or empty due to a leak somewhere. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 

DIY E90 Rear Differential Oil Change
Tools needed:

14mm Hex - 1/2" drive
1/2" drive Ratchet
Transfer Pump
Jack Stands/Ramps
Low profile floor jack

Drive the car around for a while to warm up the rear diff oil.

Then lift the car and make it level.

Remove the drain bolt and insert the transfer pump into the differential and remove the old oil - real nasty, dirty smelling stuff into the drain pan. Try to hold the hose into a downward position of the inside of the differential to get ride of the bottom sludge. Beware of splashing into the pan. When I removed the drain plug, hardly a drop of old oil came out, but just in case, have the pan and a rag ready.

When done removing most of the old stuff, Wipe everything down and insert the intake side of the pump into the new bottles of oil and the release portion into the differential. Begin pumping until new oil starts overflowing from the drain hole. I went through about 1 and a half quarts of royal purple. That is why the car needs to be level.

Wipe everything down again and screw the drain plug back on. I hava a torque wrench, but not knowing the specs, I guessed based off how much force it took to remove it.


May 16, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
RetrobeemerComments: Once the oil stops draining should I turn the wheels to check it's all out? What is best oil for an LSD?
April 27, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's not really necessary, it should completely flow out. Each LSD manufacturer has different specifications for their units - you should find out what type of LSD is in the car, and then use the fluid that is appropriate for it. It may not be standard open diff fluid. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
WillComments: Can't seem to find what type of oil to use in my 1989 325iC rear differential. Anybody know?
April 21, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
mikeComments: hi i just bought an 89 325i conv, for 1,500 i am hearing a shearing noise that starts when i pass 40 mph and when i press the brake it becomes more evident and louder, any suggestions?
April 10, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Where is the noise coming from?
- Nick at Pelican Parts
framerComments: Matt,
I'm 99.9% I'm not an expert so I can't say 100% sure that the power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid are the same. I have a 2000 323i. Based on what you're saying, I would venture to guess the same is true in your car.
March 22, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: They are not going to be teh same, check your owners manual for teh correct fluid.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
MattComments: I don't know much about cars... but I feel that there is something wrong with my transmission. I have 1998 528i automatic transmission. It revs very high 4500rpm at 60-70Km/h ~40miles/h. This is unusual and new for the car. It is as if it won't shift into higher gears when needed. It was suggested I check my transmission fluid. My owners manual does not tell me where this is or how to check. It is also confusing that it tells me the power steering runs on "ATF" which other sites tell me is automatic transmission fluid. Any help? Thanks.
March 21, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: ATF and automatic transmission fluid are one in the same, your power steering does use this as the required fluid.

Checking the fluid is done via a plug on the transmission, when the vehicle is running. If you have never done this before and suspect a problem with the transmission, you may want to have a professional check. If the level is low or the slip is caused by something else, it is best to locate the issue asap. - Nick at Pelican Parts
MarkComments: Are there any details regarding 2006 E90 325i N52 diffs?
February 20, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a tech article here for that vehicle: Nick at Pelican Parts  
HRCComments: Does this apply for the 2006 E90 330? I have heard that this model does not have separate drain and filler holes?
February 18, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this tech article for your vehicle:

- Nick at Pelican Parts
Andy92Comments: I am having trouble putting my 01 E46 3161 in first gear sometimes, and other times its easily goes into gear. Putting it into 5th first and then it easily goes into first. Appreciate any thoughts on the above. Thanks

January 17, 2010
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends, if it happens when cold, this could be a fluid issue. If it happens all the time and gives you trouble from a second to first shift, the first gear synchro could be worn. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
E36 OhioComments: I am having trouble putting my 97 M3 in first gear sometimes, and other times its easily goes into gear. Is this the diff fluid, tranny fluid, clutch, gearbox? I know that's not much to go on, but would appreciate any thoughts.

December 21, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends, if it happens when cold, this could be a fluid issue. If it happens all the time and gives you trouble from a second to first shift, the first gear synchro could be worn. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DANComments: I have a 325i coupe and need to change the diff oil.could any body please tell me sort of oil i need to put in to it??
October 16, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I really like the Swepco 201 gear lube oil. Everyone seems to swear by it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
timflowersComments: I have a 1989 325i and a 17mm was far too large for either of the plugs. I had to use what I had, which was a 3/8 inch hex key. It was slightly loose but it worked. I don't know what that would be in metric but I think it's close to 9 mm. Now I have to see if NAPA will give me a refund for that 17mm wrench I bought at the advice of this article!
October 11, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I've heard from various people that it varied on their car - I would indeed measure before purchasing the tool. On our E30 project car, it was definitely the same 17mm tool that we used on the Porsche 911s. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
no1championComments: M3 E36 95.So would you recommend if I replace my slave cylinder on the clutch and bleed it? Or should I rather just replace the clutch?
September 30, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would start with the easy stuff - the slave cylinder. If the clutch is not slipping, then it's probably okay. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
no1championComments: I have a E36 95 M3. My problem is that the clutch is low meaning the release of the clutch is short and this causes my gears to struggle in a bit. What I want to know is, is it the clutch itself that needs to be replaced or what can it be? I also noticed that it often happens when the gearbox or diff oil is warm, could this have something to do with the diff?
September 28, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not likely. I would check the clutch condition, and/or the slave cylinder. The pedal should be in the normal position, even if the clutch is going out. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
SixracerComments: Should the drain plugswith their rubber O-rings and Al seals be replaced when the fluid is replaced? BMW E46 3525Xi
September 23, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like to replace the aluminum washers as they are cheap and easy to find. As for the plug with the integrated o-ring, I see no need to replace it unless it's leaking. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
RaulComments: On my 93 740i E32 BMW a “Trans Program Check Owner’s Manual” message appears intermittent, when it does, the transmition goes to a “Neutral” mode, if I turn off the car, wait a few seconds, turn the car back on, is like nothing happened message is gone and transmition/car is working fine.
After using a Fault Code Reader, I had two codes: Oxy sensor, #2 & Oxy sensor, #1
Are these codes related to the Trans Program message or I have 2 different situations??
How can I fix the Trans Program problem??
September 21, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: The O2 sensor problems are related to the engine, and have nothing to due with the transmission. You probably just need to replace your sensors, and the codes will go away. As for the transmission problem, I would have a good trans tech take a look at it, as this is a somewhat common problem with automatic BMWs, and it usually means a new or rebuilt transmission is needed (unfortunately). - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
lokko09Comments: this site is perfect for bmw's of any type or engine... I have saved so much money reading the information on this site and doing the jobs myself. Everything is made so easy the way it is explained. Thank you to the whole pelican parts team.
August 18, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
janfbmwoComments: Hello, my 1996 E36 328IC and 2002 325ixT both use a 14mm hex allen wrench. I got a 14mm allen at NAPA for $8USD.
I had to cut 1" 27mm off of the end of the 'short' end of the wrench with a hack saw that took a few minutes. So the wrench ended up at 1.6" 40mm on the short end and the standard 6" 150mm on the long end. This was a good length to work on the plugs. I kept the 1" 27mm piece and put it in a deep well 14mm socket with a 1.4" 36mm plug otherwise it will sink into the socketmade out of 0.38" 9.5mm bar stock, to access the fill plug on the front diff on the all-wheel drive on the IX.
July 12, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
pdx650Comments: I will be purchasing a '92 E36 318i 5-speed in a couple of days for $1,500. Is this a bargain? I am a U.S. soldier stationed in Germany.
I test drove this car today for about 20 kilometers up to 120 km/h and was impressed with all it had to offer even at the age of the car with 226,547 km equal to 140,459 miles U.S.on the odometer. It felt very solid.
There is no cruise control. decent stereo, but I am more concerned with mechanical issues. It has power mirrors, power front windows crank-style rear windows, weird mix Power sunroof. The front headlight as seated in the drivers' seat, the far right headlight of the four... is inoperative. Hopefully it just needs to be replaced
It is, obviously, European spec. Now with a car this old, I am, too, guessing that the rear diff oil replacement is done the same way. I did make sure to look under the car to see how things were going and I do already know about the drain and fill plug on the rear diff. I worked at Jiffy lube for a couple of years before the Army. Are there any other items I should be concerned about aside from the miles and age?

thanks for your reply. jim
June 29, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: 318s are basically bulletproof. I had one I tore apart for this book. 150k+ is no problem for the four cylinder engines. I bought mine for about $3K about 8 years ago. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
AndyComments: Can this procedure be applied to a 1997 740i series?
June 27, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, the procedure should be very similar to the E36 cars. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
LeeComments: It would be nice if you can add some photos too
June 3, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check back in our tech section for updates.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Phil.Comments: APOLOGIES for the typos in my previous first comment.

I meant to say, I did this over the weekend. and it was exactly as explaned here. thank you very much! however, i have a question. everytime i drive my car E30, the gears are smooth until i shift into 5th. then there are vibrations! and the car doesnt have any more power. what could be the cause of this?

please accept My sincere apologies once again.

June 1, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would take a closer look at the rubber coupling and/or the center bearing for the driveshaft. These can cause those types of vibration problems. There are two articles on the replacement of these in our tech sections. - Wayne at Pelican Parts 
marsgorskiComments: I needed a 10mm allen key on my 1987 325E
May 30, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
The BMW GeekComments: Great article thanks!

I think I once read one with some pictures on it again for changing Dif oil but nevermind - this one is good as well!

The BMW Geek
May 13, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
MikeComments: HA! I tried to work naked but the neighbors called the cops. Spot on with the smell though; foul foul stuff! As always PP puts together some of the best DIY's on the net. Thank you for such a wonderful source of clear, concise, and well illustrated info.
May 8, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
kemosavyComments: What clear precise instructions. The correct information with safety in mind delivered in a... no nonsense manner. You get 10 out of 10 in my book
April 18, 2009
 Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the kind words! - Wayne at Pelican Parts 

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