Difficulty Level: 3 Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten
This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
Replacing your oil is easy - BMW knows that this needs to be performed once about every 3000-5000 miles, and designed the car that way. On the other hand, the BMW transmissions used on the E36 were supposedly designed with a life-time fluid that did not need to be changed. Despite the dealer's recommendations not to change or even mess with the fluid, I prefer to change mine every 3 years or 30,000 miles. Changing the tranny fluid is not an easy task, and you can probably bet that the previous owner of your car did not perform this task when they owned it - especially if it wasn't on the list provided by the dealer.
Despite some cars having a life-time fluid in the transmission, BMW did indeed give easy access to the bottom of the automatic transmission. On my 1988 Nissan Pathfinder, I was shocked when I found that I couldn't easily change the fluid without dropping some structural, and exhaust components. Luckily the BMW transmissions are easy to reach and fairly easy to service.
This transmission fluid change was the very first project that I performed on this particular car (my wife's 1992 325is). I purchased the car with a known transmission problem. Basically, when the car was stopped suddenly via the the brakes, and then the accelerator was immediately pressed, the transmission would slip, and then slam into gear, lurching the car forward. Not really a good sign, but I had a strong suspicion that the transmission was low on fluid.
Why did I suspect this? A thorough inspection of the car had shown that the seller's wife had smacked the front of the car into a few parking blocks one too many times, and had damaged the underside of the car, right behind the radiator. One of the transmission lines had been damaged, and was leaking a slow, but steady drip of transmission oil. From the looks of the car underneath, I could tell that this had been occurring for quite some time.
What causes this symptom with the transmission? Well, when you slam on the brakes, all of the fluid in the transmission flows to the front of the car and away from the fluid pickup, which is located towards the rear of the transmission. With the fluid at the front of the car, the transmission loses fluid for a very short while. Automatic transmissions use the fluid both as a hydraulic fluid and a coolant - they won't work if there isn't any fluid running through them. After the car stopped, and the fluid moved back towards the pickup, the transmission began to work normally. If the transmission had the proper levels of fluid, then this condition would not occur. Needless to say, after I replaced the transmission fluid and checked the levels, the transmission no longer had this problem. The previous owner had let it run down about 2 quarts low (the whole transmission takes about 5 quarts). Driving for any more time with the transmission in this state would have led to substantial damage, and could have resulted in a wrecked tranny (replacement cost $2500 or so).
When I purchased the car, I bargained the fellow down based on the problem with the transmission. I did take it to a qualified shop, and had them run the codes for the transmission (OBD I) to see if there were any fault codes. None showed up, so I presumed that the problem was relatively recent, minor, and could be easily fixed by replacing the transmission fluid. Luckily - I guessed correctly.
Okay, enough background on the automatic transmission. The first step in replacing your fluid is to jack up your car so that you can reach the underside of the transmission. Use the Pelican Parts Technical Article on Jacking Up as a reference, and elevate the car enough so that you can work underneath it. It is very important that the car be level - don't jack up just the front or rear of the car, make sure that it is as level in the air as it is on the ground. The reason for this is that you will be checking the transmission fluid by removing a drain plug and looking at the fluid. If the car is not level, then you will not achieve an accurate reading.
With the car elevated in the air, you should be able to see the two lower sump chambers of the transmission that hold the transmission fluid. These are shown in Figure 1. The main chamber is about one foot square, and the chamber in front of it is about one foot by three inches. The first step is to remove all of the existing fluid from the main transmission sump. Wear safety glasses when you're under the car as you never know what small piece of dirt may fall into your eye.
There is a drain plug on the rear left corner of the sump that can be used to empty most of the fluid contained inside (Figure 2). I recommend that you start the draining process only when the car is cold. When the car is warm, a lot of the transmission fluid will be trapped within the transmission itself. When the car is cold, almost all of the transmission fluid has seeped out, and is trapped in the lower sumps. Note that this is opposite from the procedure for changing the oil - where you should empty it when the engine is hot. That is because the engine oil is thinnest and flows best when it's hot. The transmission fluid has a totally different viscosity. Working on the car when it's cold also assures that you will not be burned by hot exhaust, transmission or engine parts.
Remove the drain plug and let the fluid flow out into a container (Figure 3). Your container should be able to hold at least a gallon (about 4 liters) of fluid. Once the fluid is empty, replace the drain plug using a new sealing ring. This plug should be torqued to 25 Nm (18 ft-lb) for the A4S 270R and A4S 310R transmissions. The M10 plug should be torqued to 16 Nm (12 ft-lbs) for the A5S 310Z transmission.
Now you will proceed to remove the sump from the bottom of the transmission. We are going to remove the sump so that we can replace the transmission filter, clean the sump magnet, and also remove all of the extra fluid that may be trapped inside. You remove the sump by removing each of the small bolts that attach it to the bottom of the transmission. Once those are out, you should simply be able to pull on the sump cover and it should fall off. Be aware that there will still be some transmission fluid in the sump, that can spill out if you're not careful.
Now, turn your attention to the smaller sump in the front of the transmission (Figure 4). This sump doesn't have a drain plug, so you will have to be extra careful when emptying it. You empty this sump by removing all but one of the small bolts that attach it to the transmission. Leave one bolt on one of the short sides of the sump. With an adequately large and wide container positioned below the small sump, slowly loosen the last bolt. At this point, the small sump should be 'sticking' to the transmission because of the gasket that seals it. Pull down slightly on the small sump, and one end should drop down, emptying some of the fluid into your large and wide container located below. Plastic cat litter boxes make excellent containers for catching fluid in these types of situations. They are wide and large enough to prevent you from making quite a mess on your garage floor. With a large amount of fluid removed from the small sump, remove the remaining bolt completely, and carefully remove the sump from the car. Keep it level, or simply lower it into your cat litter-box catch pan.
I have always found automatic transmissions fascinating, as they are one part of the car that almost no one ever sees. Figure 5 shows the bottom of the transmission with both sumps removed. Automatic transmission have many tiny passages that supply fluid and cooling - you want to make sure that you keep this exposed area completely clean and free of dirt and debris.
Turn your attention now to the sumps. The large sump should resemble the one shown in Figure 6. Using a lint-free cloth, carefully wipe down the inside of the sump. You want to use a lint-free cloth, because tiny cloth fibers left in your transmission sump can clog the transmission and filter. Pay close attention to the magnet in the bottom of the sump (Figure 7). You should be able to simply pluck this magnet from the bottom of the sump and clean it. The sump needs to be clean, spotless, and look brand new, as shown in Figure 8. Make sure that you remove any left over gasket material from the edge of the sump cover. In a similar manner, take the small sump and clean the inside completely (Figure 9).
Now, turn your attention to the bottom of the transmission (Figure 5). There is a large black canister that is attached to the bottom of the transmission. This is the tranny fluid filter, and needs to be replaced. Remove the three bolts that attach it to the bottom of the transmission and carefully pull off the filter. Discard it in the trash. Check the mounting surfaces where the sumps attach to the transmission, and remove any excess gasket material that may have been left there. When you're finished, the bottom of your transmission should resemble Figure 10.
Figure 11 shows a complete filter and gasket kit for the automatic transmission. The kit contains a single transmission filter, and a gasket for each of the sumps. Install the new filter into the transmission, using the same bolts that you just removed. These bolts should be torqued to 20 Nm (15 ft-lb) for the A4S 270R and A4S 310R transmissions. The bolts should be torqued to 6 Nm (53 inch-lbs) for the A5S 310Z transmission.
What type of fluid do you use in your automatic transmission? Most of the BMW transmissions were filled with standard Dexron III fluid. Dexron is a registered trademark of General Motors Corporation and is a transmission fluid specification that is required for use in most 3-Series E36 BMW automatic transmissions. In fact, GM manufactured many transmissions for BMW (the 325is transmission featured in this article has a big 'GM' stamp on the side). There should be a side plate attached to the transmission that will indicate which type of fluid you should install. There also may be a sticker on the side of one of the bottom sumps. On my car I found neither, but since it was a GM transmission, I used the Dexron fluid which has worked quite well. Mixing and matching different types of transmission fluid can cause your transmission to fail.
With the new filter in place, you will now reinstall the lower sumps. The front, smaller sump is the trickiest, because it needs to be filled with fluid when you install it. Fill the sump with new, clean transmission fluid (Figure 12) - but not too full, as it will spill out when you put it in place if there are components hanging down from the transmission. Place the new transmission gasket on the top edge of the sump. No gasket sealant is necessary here - if any sealant gets into the sump, it can clog the passages of the transmission. I recommend using red Loctite 271 on the bolts that mount the sump to the transmission (Figure 13). This will assure that they will not come loose.
Now comes the tricky part. Keeping the sump perfectly level, carefully raise it up and install it onto the bottom of the car (Figure 14). Expect to spill at least a small bit of fluid, if you are not an expert juggler. Just make sure that you don't spill too much out - as you don't want to significantly lower the level in the lower sump. Reuse the old bolts and torque them to 12 Nm (9 ft-lb) for the A4S 270R and A4S 310R transmissions. The bolts should be torqued to 6 Nm (53 inch-lbs) for the A5S 310Z transmission.
With the small sump in place, you can install the larger one. No need to fill this one with fluid - simply bolt it up into place. Use red Loctite 271 again, and torque the bolts to the same specifications that you used with the smaller sump.
Now it's time to fill the larger sump with fluid. You will use a transmission fluid pump for this operation, which you can find at almost any local auto parts store (Figure 15). The pump works just like one of those pumps on your kitchen sink that pumps out soap. The transmission fluid should be pumped into the side of the main sump through the transmission fill hole (Figure 16). Remove the plug, place one end of the pump into a bottle of transmission fluid, and start pumping (Figure 17). Pump into the filler hole in the side of the larger sump until fluid begins to run out of the filler hole, as shown in Figure 18. Clean up the small spill, and replace the fill plug.
At this point, you are ready to start the car. Keep in mind that the transmission fluid can only be checked when the transmission temperature is within a semi-narrow range. This temperature range is 86º-131º F (30º-55º C). You will need to start the car and let it warm up before you can check the levels. For my 325is, it took approximately 45 minutes for it to reach this temperature. When the car is not driving, the transmission heats up very slowly.
You will be running the car while it is up and on jack stands. This can be dangerous if the car is not secure on the jack stands - check them again before you continue. You will also be running the car for an extended length of time while it warms up. You will need to make sure that you perform this outside (on level ground), or funnel the exhaust gases out of the tail pipe and out of your garage. I used a long, flexible aluminum tube that I purchased from Home Depot, that is used for venting gas dryers out to the atmosphere. If you clamp this tightly to the end of your tailpipe, and run the other end out of your garage, you should be able to safely have the car idle inside the garage. I use an electronic carbon monoxide monitor (also available from Home Depot) as an added measure for safety.
Climb into the car, place your foot on the brake and start it. If you hear anything amiss, or encounter any unusual problems, then shut off the car immediately. It should start and idle normally. You will need to let the transmission warm up until it is in the operating range indicated above. Note that this will make the bottom of the sump feel warm to the touch - not hot. I recommend that you use a standard body-temperature thermometer to check the temperature of the bottom sump - it should have enough range to be able to give you an accurate reading. Again, it should take about 45 minutes or so to heat the transmission to this level, if the car is simply idling.
With the car at the proper temperature, sit inside the car, apply the brake pedal, and slowly shift the transmission through all of its gears. Repeat this about 10 times. Then turn the engine off. Move underneath the car again, and remove the fill plug from the side of the transmission. Then restart the car with the transmission in neutral. With the engine running, refill the transmission until fluid comes out of the fill hole (Figure 18). When you remove the plug, the fluid will not be pressurized, and will not come flying out of the hole. Be careful though, as the fluid may be hot at this time (if you let it warm up considerably), and it could possibly burn you if you're not careful. Replace the fill plug, using a new sealing washer. This plug should be torqued to 33 Nm (24 ft-lb) for the A4S 270R and A4S 310R transmissions. The M30 plug should be torqued to 100 Nm (74 ft-lbs) for the A5S 310Z transmission.
That's about all there is to it. When you've topped off the fluid, lower the car down off of the jack stands and take it for a short drive. If all is well, you shouldn't notice any difference in performance or operation. If you were having problems with the transmission slamming into gear, then they should be gone by now.
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Toan Ho had the following advice to share about this article:
Instead of just filling up the front cover and try to lift it into place by hand, I used the floor jack. I filled the front cover up approx. 3/4 full, put it on the floor hydraulic jack. Then jack it almost all the way to the tranny. Then move the cover to line up w/ the bolt holes. Then you can install all of the bolts.
You can do the same thing w/ the rear cover. I prefilled mine & reinstalled it. It'll save a bit of time of pumping the fluids into the rear cover afterwards.
Since the car is up on jacks w/ the wheels of the ground, I started the car and put it in gear to let the fluids warm up quicker. After running for 15-20 mins, I felt the cover to make sure it's warm. I shut her down & filled the fluids up to the correct level. Then lower her down and take her for a quick drive. You should feel the tranny shifting a lot smoother than before.
Comments: Hi I've got a e36 compact and I've got a little problem when the car is flat cold overnight start motor select D and she holds the gear till 3000 rpm to 3500 rpm then selects 2nd very aggressively also E mode fault if you select sport or manual modes it will not go back to E unless you turn ignition off for couple of minutes the car has just had full service including trans filter and fluid dexton3 fluid any advice plz :- car only covered 42k
May 15, 2013
Comments: i did diagnostic on my BMW 525i 1999 model and got codes 100 and 101EPROM CHECKSUM. What does that mean?
May 3, 2013
Comments: was travelling at 120km/hr then transafe fails appears on the dash of my bmw 525i what could be the problem
April 22, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: A fault in your transmission has set a fault code (the control module was unable to adapt), therefore trans safe is set. You will have to scan vehicle using a BMW scan tool. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1998 BMW 740il How do they figure out what type of Fluid Goes in it? is it True that There are Three Possible GradeS or Types that can Be Put in it? WHAT DO THE NUMBERS ON THE tRANSMISSION TELL tHEMbmwThat They NEED them to Figure it out?
March 29, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Giveo ur parts specialist a calls: 1-888-280-7799 They will halp you find the right fluid. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: my 2003 525i bmw transmission went out about two months ago I took it to a transmission place and they rebuilt my transmission. I got it back and after just a few days I had to take it back to the transmission place.They fixed the issue and gave me back the car, After about a week later the trans was acting up again so I took it back. They have had my car for about three weeks now. I called and ask what the problem was and they said that the seal keeps coming out after driving the car. They are saying that the trans is good but that they just cant seem to figure out why the seal will not stay in place. Have you ever come across this problem if so can you give me an answer that i can give to them to help them fix the problem.I NEED TRANSPORTATION
March 12, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a pressure problem. Have them check transmission pressure abd see if it si in spec. Also check that the transmission cooler is clear of obstruction. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello i have a 1995 bmw 318i automatic i dropped transmission and got a used one w/ torc converter my question is how do i refill torc converter and how may quorts does it take before reinstalling into transmission .. thanks
March 9, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can fill the torque converter through the torque converter opening. It will hold about a liter. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Just purchased an 98 E36 to use as a DD with about 140k and not having too many maintenance records going over all the fluid/filters and other miscellaneous. It does have the green tagged GM tranny and wondering about using Chevron's MD-3 ATF. Any thoughts on the reputation of this ATF?
Sincere thanks from the PNW!
February 14, 2013
Comments: Hey, i have a 1998 bmw 318is and its having some tranny problems, when i shift into drive it runs fine but shifts at odd times and makes a bump noise when coming to complete stop. Acceleration is also slowed. But when i put it in manual mode it shifts great on all gears except 3rd, it bumps from 2-3 and bumps from 3-2. Same bump feeling as when i come to a complete stop in auto mode. Any suggestions? Thanks
February 13, 2013
Comments: On that proper trans fluid comment you responded to today, I think people are putting Dextron III in everything. Your write-up leans heavily that way especially for GM trannys so it's understandable. For example a comment near the end of the stack asks what to do if my trans has only one pan. Your answer was to simply follow the instructions. This person's tranny now has the wrong fluid and is in trouble. That's probably a GM 5 speed, and will be damaged by Dextron III. It actually can ruin the trans to install the wrong fluid. You get to decide if you care enough to place a stronger instruction/warning in your write-up. At least I ask you to educate yourself enough to recognize the problem.
February 11, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thank you for your comments. The last paragraph of the article is quite clear in that one should check the plate on the side of their transmission to determine which type of fluid to use. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I think that the recommendation of Dextron III for all trannys may be incorrect. I see the chart at the following URL often on the net but I haven't confirmed it. It says Dextron III will cause failure in some trannys...
February 7, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's correct. If you live in the article I state that most transmissions use Dexron III transmission fluid but that you should check the side of your transmission to make sure that is the correct fluid for your unit. There should be a metal plate attached to the side of the transmission that states which fluid you should use inside. Before filling up your transmission that will check this plate to make sure you have the right fluid otherwise you indeed may have some issues. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Just bought a 2001 z3 coupe. 80k on the clock. I am going to change the fluid. everything works, but i want to start a maint program for this vehicle. looks easy enought. thanks for the demonstration.
December 9, 2012
Comments: Have a 330xi 2003 was thinking of flushing and changing the transmission fluid/filter,has 150000 miles and when it's cold it doesn't connect into drive from reverse right away,I read somewhere it could be a solenoid valve,is that true and could I do it myself?
November 30, 2012
Comments: If you have access to air tools or battery powered tools, I always use this cool tool: http://www.pbtusa.com/pdfs/70910.pdf
I either use my 3/8" cordless ratchet or my 1/2" cordless impact with a 1/2" to 3/8" adapter.
November 6, 2012
Comments: I just had run my BMW 95 320i, E36 engine...in a puddle of water. I noticed that my automatic trans still stays in the "N" position even when shifting to D...Can water seep into my transmission ? Or will changing its ATF help the situation ?
September 29, 2012
Comments: Guys , i have a BMW 318i 2003 , how do i check the level of my transmission fluid and how frequent should it be changed ?...
September 20, 2012
Comments: i have a2000 bmw 740il transafefail come on i never change fluid before you beleave dirty fluid can cause it it loose power in that mode
September 17, 2012
Comments: My 1992 BMW E34 525 is a Japanese version with a Jatco tranny. Since I cannot get the corresponding tranny fluid Apolloil ATF D-3 by Idemitsu can I use instead Dextron 111.How will it affect the oil change on my car?
September 4, 2012
Comments: I just bought a 2008 535i ,and when i start it up the seat belt light goes on so i connect the seat belt and then a red triangle with a question mark goes for a few minutes and then goes off. It's a auto -trans and it runs great. It has 54,000 miles on it so i was wondering if it's a service reminder for the cabin filters, or a number of things that need service at 50,000 miles.
August 18, 2012
Comments: Hi there my e36 auto transmission , recdently just gave me a transmission light warning and when car is park and cold the light is off but when i drive a bit like 5 to 10 min then then light turns on what can that be.., please i need an answer ASAP.
July 15, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: This indicates a trans program fault, in other words; a fault in the transmission. Might be time for a replacement transmission. I would seek the help of a local BMW work shop. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: What about replacing 3-Series E30 Automatic Transmission Fluid? The same procedure like e36?
June 10, 2012
Comments: Hi Wayne,
My BMW 320i 1996 drives fine, but when cold in the morning, when I turn right in the corner and the 1st gear remains till 4000 rpm then a clumsily shifts to 2nd gear. Sometimes when turn, seems to slipper a little bit. Has 120.000 km but I think that actually has at least 250000 Do you think a transmision fluid may sort it out? Cheers.
May 19, 2012
Comments: Hi, Just bought a 1999 328i convertible. There is a slight clunk between 1st and 2nd gear, although not all the time. Once after driving for about 40 min the revs went to 4000 in 3rd gear on its own and it was not advancing, seemed like slippage, I got of the gas and it went back to normal.
I took it to a tranny shop, the guy took it for a test drive and he could not duplicate the problem, he actually said the tranny was working fine. I have a lingering doubt.
Maybe a tranny fruid change is in order, car has 160,000 miles.
April 15, 2012
Comments: i have a 2004 530i the automatic trans it's showing codes P17EF manufacture controlled transmission and PO 700 trans control system malfuntion. When I drive the car a symbol of a red gear with a explantion point comes up on the dash and the car slows down. The car has about 180,000 miles on it. A guy I know who works on BMWs said it might be the control modular under the shifter stick in the console. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
March 30, 2012
Comments: P.S.S. One other thing... My reverse lights do not work at all. The day my problem began, I had swapped out my tail lights for some clear/red ones. After doing some search, it may seem my Reverse Light Switch located on trasmission might be out too. Could that cause something to bad?? PLEASE HELP!!!
P.S. None of my dash lights are on or anything has come on prior to my problem...
This is additional info regarding my post about my Automatic 92 E36 325i :
I have a 92 E36 325i Automatic. I purchased this car a little over a year ago. A few days ago, with out any warning, I noticed it wasn't shifting over to second gear. There is a loss in power and a delay in accelaration when I step on the gas Ex. From a complete stop or pulling out of my driveway At most, I can get it up to 50-55mph and the RPM guage is displaying 3,000. Will a transmission oil change help or am I looking into Transmission work???
March 8, 2012
Comments: P.S. None of my dash lights are on or anything has come on prior to my problem...
This is additional info regarding my post about my Automatic 92 E36 325i :
I have a 92 E36 325i Automatic. I purchased this car a little over a year ago. A few days ago, with out any warning, I noticed it wasn't shifting over to second gear. There is a loss in power and a delay in accelaration when I step on the gas Ex. From a complete stop or pulling out of my driveway At most, I can get it up to 50-55mph and the RPM guage is displaying 3,000. Will a transmission oil change help or am I looking into Transmission work???
March 5, 2012
Comments: I have a 92 E36 325i Automatic. I purchased this car a little over a year ago. A few days ago, with out any warning, I noticed it wasn't shifting over to second gear. There is a loss in power and a delay in accelaration when I step on the gas Ex. From a complete stop or pulling out of my driveway At most, I can get it up to 50-55mph and the RPM guage is displaying 3,000. Will a transmission oil change help or am I looking into Transmission work???
March 5, 2012
Comments: ****CHECK THIS OUT****okay going back to my earlier question about having transmission problems and the failsafe light on Upon Changing the throttle valve potentiometer the transmission light went out and all is good now so anyone who has the transmission light on and a severe loss of power as well as only having high gears check your throttle valve sensor or the wiring leading to it
February 18, 2012
Jane in Australia
Comments: Hi I have a 1995 BMW 320 i 6 cylinder and it is sometimes not going into 1st gear then it slowly will change after revving and nothing happening, it sometimes clunks into the other gears. It has just had a service however I don't think they would have done anything with the auto transmission fluids for the price of the service. After reading your article I am wondering if a complete change of auto transmission fluid and filters may fix the problem, what do you think?
many thanks Jane
February 18, 2012
Comments: hi i have BMW 525i same tims write gear monitoring
February 17, 2012
Comments: My Bmw 320I 1993 auto is not shifting gears properly, seems to be sluggish what could it be?
February 10, 2012
Comments: Instead of filling the small sump and then lifting it, try 1 Filling it, 2 pouring it into a clean container, 3 with the smump partially installed, us the transmission fluid pump to fill it, 4 tighten
February 7, 2012
Comments: hi guys help me pls my bmw 320i automatic is losing oil just above the sump what can it be theres a small transmision pipe running in to the gear box help please
February 1, 2012
Comments: Hi I have a 1993 318i m e36 series BMW. I have the check engine light on and the gear light with the exclamation light on fail safe. There is no slipping whatsoever on the transmission, basically a slow acceleration and it tops out at around 140km/h but the RPM do not go above 3000 when in gear in neutral they rev up like normal. I did do the transmission oil filter change and the fluid as well.. But forgot about the small sump in front of the large one, would that make a difference? I’m just looking for any insight on this because the tranny seems solid still.
January 27, 2012
Lost as bro ........
Comments: Hey, I have a 1992 320i bmw the body work is imaculate and has been well maintaned however when i start the car from warm the gear changes are quite sharp/cluncky for the the first five minites of driving and then it is smooth? so does the transmission fluid need changing? or does it all need to be replaced? any advice would be most appriciated : Thanks Connor
January 25, 2012
Comments: hi, i have a 1994 525i wagon with over 150k miles on it ,the auto transmission has recently been slipping when i reaches 3.5k rpm as it tries to down gear , the gear re- engages when the rpm are brought down . any idea's ,thanks
January 15, 2012
Comments: Is Autran DX11 ATF alright to use on my BMW 318i 2003 model ?.
January 14, 2012
Comments: Guys , i have a BMW 318i 2003 , how do i check the level of my transmission fluid and how frequent should it be changed ?....
January 13, 2012
Comments: I have a 1992 e36 325i 4dr auto.6 cylinders, schnitzer engine. when i start the car, engaged D but the car does not move. same thing for gears 4 to 2. reverse worked okay.I can only start driving on 2cn gear and then move it to D, as soon as i apply the brakes at the lights, i cant continue on D. i have to backshift it to 2nd gear then slowly go back to D. after car cooled down for an hour, car can be driven like normal. my mechanic changed the ATF, same bullshit, and a diff mechanic told me the clutch is damage,,,what can i do please. do i need to change the whole transmision? Help me out please coz i am in Austalia where everything that concerns a BMW is as expensive as gold.....
December 20, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It really sounds like your transmission is shot and you need a new unit. The bands inside can wear out and then the gears won't grab / engage anymore. Automatic transmissions are somewhat of a black art - I've unfortunately never had the opportunity to take one apart and try to rebuild it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1986 BMW, 325. Very,very good shape. only 149,000 miles. My son says probably needs gear oil. I see there's a MTL 70W80 GL-4 gear oil advertised. Or, do you think ATF even tho a manual transmission, not automatic? thanks for your help. PJ
December 3, 2011
Comments: Have 318i touring automatic bmw, at firts it did not want to change gears and would not move and had a warning light after few months it disappeared now there are oil leaks underneath what could be the problem?
November 17, 2011
Comments: Here is a better idea for the fwd sump. Loosly bolt it up and stick the discharge side of the pump hose between the pan and the housing pump until it is full. You can check to see if it is close using a new qtip by sticking in over the lip into the pan. Pull it out to check for tranny fluid. When its full run the bolts down and torque them.
November 7, 2011
Comments: At idle my 97 318i has a clunking sound from around the torque converter, but when you idle it above 1500 rpm the sound goes away?
November 7, 2011
Comments: Thanks for the tutorial i have a 94 325i 4speed sedan one thing i need to know is what speeds is it suppose to shift at becuase i dont believe my car is going into forth also it takes maybe a sec or two longer of the start could be normal or not maybe i jus want it to be faster but sure that it should pull off a little better thanks
October 22, 2011
Comments: i,ve a 1992 BMW 318i automatic and it,s not changing gears propotionaly to engine revolutions.I,ve replaced the gearbox but the problem is not solved they is no problem for it to engage from 1st to 2nd gear but 3rd, 4thand 5th you need to hit 120KM/h to get the 4th gear,the engine sounds perfect.What can be the problem?
October 21, 2011
Comments: when in process of changing my auto trans. oil and filter in my 1992 BMW 5251,i found copper /brass looking strands in the pan and filter .can anyone tell me if this is part of the clutch pack material or where it came from and if i can resolve this without a complete rebuild?
October 17, 2011
Comments: i have a 1998 bmw 318ti with 109491km and about a week ago two orange lights one above the other came on. the transmission light and some traction the other. when this happens the engine races the rev count goes up momentarily and the engine struggles, but doesnt shut off. when i stop and move off it struggles even more. i read where it says turn off the engine for a few moment then start again and when i do that in most cases the light goes off. but it is happening more frequently now, can anyone suggest whats the cause or if they have had this problem and what was the solution please. thanks much.
October 14, 2011
Comments: I have a 1995 325i with an automatic trans that started slipping going between 3rd and 4th gears, I'll let off the gas and it goes into 4th and then doesn't slip, only slips making the transition going into 4th. In M mode, it shifts fine and doesn't slip. I've also replaced the fluid and filter, does this sound like it needs a rebuild?
October 12, 2011
Comments: I have a '93 325I automatic. Sometime the transmission will go into 'limp' mode happens randomly during hard acceleration from a stop and has done this for years. I pull over turn off car, wait a few seconds and and it clears. I'm curious as to what causes this, like I said it's random.
October 12, 2011
Comments: I need the info on 2004 z4 transmission with S.M.G.
October 7, 2011
Comments: i need the info on a z4 2004 3 .i
October 7, 2011
Comments: Update ZF 5HP 18 autoboxes should use Mobil LT71141 ATF fluid this supercedes the origonal Esso LT71141 origionally used which is no longer available
October 6, 2011
Comments: hi I have a 92 325ic e30 with an automatic transmission. I've changed the trans fluid about 8 months ago and I've driven it every day to school w/o any problem. When school vacation came I stopped my BMW for about two weeks then I've noticed a large trans fluid leak. It was about one and a half quart, so I checked for any loose bolts and kind of tight hem a little bit. Once I started to drive it again in a daily bases there were no leaks any more. on till after a week I stop it it leaked again. In other words if I drive it every day it'll leak, if I don't drive it for more than a week it'll leak. Any idea on how to fix this problem???? Thank you.
October 2, 2011
Comments: My bmw 316 isquite old. when driving, at a stop sign, whhen i applied on the brake,it stops and try to move forward and backward.it is like the gears are going from D to R and vice versa.what could be the problem?
September 30, 2011
Comments: HELLO,I HAVE 1993 BMW 740IL 5HP30ZF THE VEHICLE MAKES A WHINNING SOUND THAT CAN HEARD AT LOWER SPEEDS SINCE I BOUGHT THE VEHICLE 3 MONTHS AGO. AT THAT TIME I CHANGED THE FLUID AND FILTER BECAUSE SHIFTED SLOW WHILE IN PARK OR BEING DRIVEN AFTER THAT IT SEEMED FINE WHEN SHIFTING ALTHOUGH IT SEEMED A LITTLE SLOW TO SHIFT INTO REVERSE STILL AND THE WHINNING SOUND REMAINED. NOW LATELY IN A STOPPED POSITION IF YOU SHIFT INTO REVERSE OR DRIVE OR PARK IT MAKES A LOUD SCRAPPING SOUND COULD THIS BE THE TORQUE CONVERTER OR THE TORQUE CONVERTER PUMP OR THE VALVE BODY? THANK YOU.
September 27, 2011
Comments: Hi there, got a 2000 E39 540 steptronic with 100k on. Had tranny fluid done at 80k and all was well until it started gearing back intermitently as if you selected sport mode. Will do this for a couple of seconds and then gear forward again as if nothing hapened.hapens about once every 3rd day for about 5 seconds.
September 27, 2011
Comments: Hi, My son purchased a 1996 BMW E36 323i with 300k's on he clock two months ago. Just today while he was driving the car the revs would increase and i woul seem as if the transmission was changing down. The transmission fault light comes on and the car goes into limp home mode. While in this mode the shift action from neutral to drive and Neutral to reverse is quite sharp and it causes the car to move. If you stop the car and leave for a few minutes the light will go off. However it will come back on within a couple of hundred metres. There have been no problems prior to today. I'm hoping that this is being caused by a low atf fluid level? yes/no
September 22, 2011
Comments: THE research ive done for E39,s is 95-97 have ZF 5HP18 auto boxes and use Dexron 111. Later modelshave 5HP19 boxes and use Mobil LT71141. Great site by the way
September 21, 2011
Comments: BMW 528i 1996 model it have a delay on first gear sometimes its cut. please help
September 17, 2011
Comments: I need to find out how much torque to give to the bolts for the transmission pan for a BMW 740 IL 1994. I need to put the pan back on. Can you help, or tell me where to look for that information?
September 13, 2011
Comments: Hi guys,I have a bmw 540ia 1998 model tiptronic gearbox,but it does not want to change gears when I drive it,I took it to Gearbox specialist they said I must put in Hydraulic Oil there is nothing wrong with gearbox.Now how to install the Hydraulic in the Geabox.Please help me.Robert
September 13, 2011
Comments: Hey.. in have 330xi 2003.. automatic transmition, working well on automatic mode but whem switch to manual mode does shif.. any advise?
September 11, 2011
Comments: great forum and great help, my name is peter I need your help with the Following, I have a bmw e36 328i series, 1997 model, I need to change automatic gearbox oil, so I need to know what kind of oil I can apply it to this box? and brands you recommend? thank you very much
September 9, 2011
Comments: Good afternoon: I need your help with the following, I have a bmw e36 328i series, 1997 model, I need to change automatic gearbox oil, so I need to know what kind of oil I can apply it to this box? and brands you recommend? thank you very much
September 9, 2011
Comments: Reg. sunroof switch not working unless the switch is illuminated which may take a long time after starting car - there is a blue relay up under the dash below the steering column & behind the knee bolster panel my electrical prints call it a 'comfort relay' whatever that is which supplies power to the sunroof module after a delay. Open it up and go over the solder connections on the small printed circuit board using a solder iron and a small ammount of solder basically just re-melt the solder joints. This fixed the problem for me. If that doesn't work replace the relay.
September 6, 2011
Comments: hi Wayne, i have a 330 D Sport E36 2002 model. When i realyl put my foot flat down on the gas, even at low speed the speedo goes up, then suddenly shoots back down and the car jumps. only happens when i have my foot pressed aggressively down. any ideas? i do have a fault code of 83 EGS ECU Internal Fault" which im not sure is related?
September 6, 2011
Comments: I have a BMW 1994 318IS and i see the powertrian light on. I read somewhere on the net and means powertrain malfunction. whta does it mean?
August 27, 2011
Comments: Does anyone know why 2006 X3 transmission and transfer case must use only the factory oil. What is mechanically different to their design, so that they cannot use high grade aftermarket oils. Australia
August 26, 2011
Comments: Hi Wayne.I Have a bmw e30 320i auto..it is fitted with sport mode...standard mode & 1/2/3 manual...My problems is when the engine gets warm sometimes it will not auto change up unless i realy rev it up to very high revs. when this happens & its not all the time..I find that by putting it into manual mode it seems to settle it back down when i set it back to auto..I should mention that this high reving & not changing up seems to be when the car has been coasting with little load on the engine..Very difficult to explain exacty ....most of the time the car runs fine /fluid & filter changed & kept topped to recommended level.hope you can come up with a answer ...Many thanks Mike
August 4, 2011
Comments: hi i have 95 325is and the transmission is not working at all i would like to know if its time to change it or may be time to change the oil and filter.
my car has 170 000 miles thank you.
August 2, 2011
Comments: hi there, i have a '95 325i, it has 205k miles, the car feels really good, but a couple of days ago, while driving it went to the "protection mode" or something like that, that stays in 3rd gear, so i just parked until i decided what to do. after i discovered that is a "normal" reaction of the transmition when something's wrong, i went to drive it and the car is normal again! is it possible that can be the oil level? when it happened i was going down hill...
July 10, 2011
Comments: i have 2001 5 series automatic the warning light came on and trans is stuck in d5 Is there a dip stick so i can check the oil as i cant find it
July 3, 2011
June 29, 2011
Comments: Is it advisable to replace atf on my 1999 e36 320i? it works pretty fine,but is worried if i replace the fluid problems might occur.knows for sure the previous owner doesnt replace it since then. what do you suggest?
June 23, 2011
Comments: Hi. I have a 1992 325i automatic with 147k miles. Recently, after overheating and being fixed, it has developed this problem where it drives fine for a very long time, but tten it will stop upshifting properly. So you are become stuck in 3rd gear at highway speeds. Shifting it into neutral and back to D sometimes gets you to fourth. but then it seems to have problems getting back to 1st gear when you slow to a stop. And when you move it seems to not upshift properly once again. I tried to wiggle the gear lever to see if it was the gear selector but it doesn't seem to be helping. Any idea if changing the fluid would be a good idea or not or what might be causing this? It hasn't done this a single time when starting from cold.. and only seems to happen once the car has been running for a while.
Thanks for the great guides you provide for BMWs!
June 17, 2011
Comments: I'm about to purchase a '98 e36 with automatic transmission which has clocked 107k miles... I've read in some reviews that auto transmission packs up between 120-150k mile mark! The present owner has replaced the ATF & Filter recently though... Need your opinion on same and whether I should go for it?
June 17, 2011
Comments: Hi I have a1995 E328i just had the engine rebulit.I think that we lost some trans oil while doing that now at D some time it goes ina dn out of gear for a sec does it mean I need to top it off abit or it it some thing else?
June 1, 2011
Comments: I finally decided to tackle the problem with the knocking when taking off from a light. All signs were the guidbo..... upon closer inspection I found both Trans Mounts were torn! Easy fix!!! Still replaced the Guidbo and now I have an exhaust bolt to figure out. The one from the manifold connector to the cats. That one should be fun. broke off during removal. But what is life without a fun BMW to play with!
June 1, 2011
A big piece of advice transmission fluid change. Follow the above; try and change the filter and gasket, bolt if you can. I did not and it worked fine. However all the problems you mentioned I had. Did the change; warmed up, and topped up. However I noticed when cold the gears slipped, and so did slowing downback to D. So I warmed up and topped up again until the fluid started dripping out the fill whole. I repeated this over a coupld of days. Bare in mind that the small sump takes nearly a litre of fluid, so you will need between 3.5-4 litres just for the large sump + 1 litre for the small sump. Mine had done 112,000k and had never been changed. Used aussie Nulan transmission fluid.. Dextron II. If you BMW has done more then 160k and has never had a change do not change as you will lossen the gears up to much. PS: This was one of the hardest oil / fluid changes I have ever done. Dam BMW's. This also applies to most Automatics; if its an old Transmisison the liquid is solid black ask a garage if you should do it.
May 26, 2011
Comments: hi im in serios need of help i have a 1995 BMW 318 with a GM automatic transmission 4speed... i filled the oil now i dont have reverse you can feel it kicking in to reverse but when you acc it only reves up in economy mode sport and medium and if i put it into 2nd it goes forward the same in 3rd and 4th but nothing happens when in drive ore reveres you can feel it kicking into drive and reverse when i select it but it dosnt move...if i select medium and drive it moves forwards but only in medium...pls can someone help!!
May 19, 2011
Comments: hi! i have a 1992 e36 325i 4dr auto. recently experiencing drive issues. parked the car after a 20min drive. re-started the car, engaged D but the car does not move. same thing for gears 4 to 2. reverse worked okay. after car cooled down for an hour, car can be driven like normal. would an ATF change help. last ATF change was 1.5 years ago. thank you & hope to hear from you soon.
May 19, 2011
Comments: I have a 1999 540i automatic. Excellent condition 90,000 miles. Just recently I have noticed a hitching just prior to stopping when it goes into first gear. The thing is it doesn't do it all the time. I drive smoothly and slow down prior to stopping with easy pressure and it doesn't do it. If you apply a firmer pressure it happens. Rotors, brake pad and wheel bearings have been changed. Could it be transmission filter?
May 12, 2011
Comments: Hello Sirs, My car is BMW 735 IL, pls let me know quantity of ATF to put when I change ATF..could you tell me a brief how to change ATF.
May 9, 2011
Comments: I have a BMW E36 from Japan. It has a Jayco Transmission installed on it. Ive been searching the net to find fill spec, How much fluid is it supposed to have? It slips when cold from 1st to second and I believe the last person to work on it didn't fill it correctly.
May 8, 2011
Comments: Hi, I have a 1999 328i E46 with 180,000 on it, I bought it with 94K and have never changed the fluid and have no knowledge if it ever was. I went to the dealership and explained my problem. Basically at approx 70 miles an hour the car jerks once, the RPM's go up about 500 and the transmission light comes on. I pull over, cut the car off wait ten seconds and it resets. It shifts fine until the 70 mph mark. The dealership brought a sample of the fluid to me, it was a light brown with very fine powdery glitter to it. He stated that was metal shavings and I needed a rebuild costing about 3,400 and a new BMW transmission costing about 8,000. My question is, can a fluid and filter change fix the problem, or do I need a rebuild.
May 7, 2011
Comments: I have a 1999 328i trans gear lite on also sluggish to start off but shifts all gears. Do you think changing filter & fluid will correct problem.
May 7, 2011
Comments: Hi Ive just purchased a 95 328 when its cold it holds in first then snaps into second gets better as it warms up its done 150k sound like low fluid? Cheers
April 30, 2011
Comments: I am looking at buying a 92 525it Touring Wagon. This wagon slips if you gas on it in first and second gear. It also slips if you gas on it in reverse... I have always wanted a E34 Wagon and this one is black/black with no rust... The current owner has owned it for 5 years and said he hasn't checked or change transmission fluid.... Thanks
April 12, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like it needs a new transmission. Make sure you factor that into the price! - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Pete Isle Of Man
Comments: Hi Guys, I'm having a problem with my 328i sport auto, firstly i noticed that my gears where going up and down at the wrong time or at least awkwardly for me to be aware of it, kick down doesn't appear to be working in Either D or with sports mode on either. sports mode doesn't even feel responsive. If i use the 2 3 4 manually she picks up quicker but not like before and seems to cluck back down through the gears very noticeably/jerky. Car had full service 9 months ago BMW Inspection II and had transmission fluid changed new radiator and all belts changed. No warning lights or messages. Thanks in advance
One more thing i have noticed that since this started, now occasionally when idling the car is loosing revs almost to a stall. thanks
April 4, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: While this may seem like a transmission problem, it may indeed be an engine problem instead. I just can't fathom a guess based upon your description here. The BMW transmission computer might be putting out some information, but it takes a complex scanner to read it. You might want to take it to a shop with the ability to read out the computer and give you some additional clues? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi does the e36 gear box auto have a oil seal inside the bell housing as i think my box my be losing oil from inside the bell housing
April 4, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's a driveshaft in there so there must be seals in there. If it's leaking from from there, then you would probably see puddles of fluid on the floor of your garage. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi there, i just purchased a 92 325is and found out after the sale that after the car warms up it looses reverse. It has 230,000 miles on it and im quite sure that the transmission fluid has not been changed. Do you think that will solve the problem if i change it and add some lucus transmission fix to it, or is my tranny shot?
March 30, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't heard of this specific problem before, but yes, I do not think that changing your fluid and adding some long-life additives will hurt. It's worth a try, it only takes a portion of an afternoon for the change. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello Wayne, without knowing it, you've been a great help in keeping my daughters '89 325is running smoothly. One issue though, its an automatic and at the last downshift before a stop there is a thunk coming from underneath. I have put in new motor and tranny mounts as well as changed the trans fluid. The Diff mount looks good as does the dshaft bearing. Any thoughts? It has been doing this for 2 years with no change in intensity. So common she doesnt even feel it any more. Thanks in advance.
March 28, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I had a rough shifting Nissan Pathfinder. When I bought it, it would shift a bit rough from 1st to 2nd, and have similar issues to what you describe. I think I put about 120,000 miles on it before the transmission finally went out at 185,000. My point is that this may be just a characteristic of the transmission and may not mean anything in the long run. It sounds like you have already done what I would have recommended already. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi, i have an E36 320IA 1995. the transmission doesn't reach the 5th gear at sport's mode even above 4500rpm while everything go normally at "economy" mode. any hint where could be the problem ?
March 24, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with what you're referring to here. It sounds like you're talking about the sport mode available with the automatic transmissions, but I don't think they had five speeds available here in the states. Either way, the behavior you're describing sounds about typically for the automatic transmission cars I've owned in the past. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have a 95 bmw 318is i bought the car about two years ago with no backround info on it and iv havnt changed the oil fluid on the car because i read it was life lasting fluid but just today i raced a camaro ss i got to 115 no problem....
the thing is on my way home my check engine light as well as a light with a small gear and an exclamation mark showed up on my cluster now the car makes a small but noticable whinning noise and when the car is in revers it doesnt move till i hit about 2500 rpm's it barely wants to move in drive and when i pop it in nuetral the car thinks in drive.... my question is what can b the problem maybe low fluid blow transmission..... please help thnk u
March 23, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That gear with the exclaimation point is typically bad news - it's the transmission fault lamp. If your transmission is on its way out, there's not much that you can do. But, I would still check the fluid anyway, just in case is low. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: 1997 540I will not go in any gear but reverse , tran failsafe light on .. Just drove 400 miles ,parked car and this , no warning ...Any advise would be helpfull
March 9, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry - automatic transmission trouble lights and codes are just bad news all the time. There's really not much that you can do at this point but take it to someone who services or rebuilds transmissions. It may be easier to install a good used one, as it's also difficult to get good quality rebuilds sometimes. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks Wayne, I am not sure if its the traction control because the trany gear indicator light with show s3 or s2 while the car is still in D. also the tires are not slipping or spinning when this happens. I read somewhere that the position switch does not like water and can act up if water gets inside, have you heard this before?
March 3, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tranny gear lamp doesn't have too much to do with the traction control system, as far as I know. I have heard that water can affect that switch, but it's more likely that your transmission is just beginning to wear out. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I think its also called the neutral safety switch on the side of the trany.
March 1, 2011
Comments: I have a 1997 528i and the trany randomly shift down and stays there, we can move the shifter around from drive to s3and so on but it seems to have a mind of its own. It seems to happen when its rainy out. I have changed the trany filter and fluid but it still does this on random occasions. I am thinking it could be the position switch on the side of the trany, does this sound like a good place to start?
March 1, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be the shifter mechanism, but it also could be related to the traction control system on your car. I have a 1998 E39, and it has built-in traction control when the wheels spin on wet surfaces. This doesn't happen a lot, so I don't really have very much experience with it, but one or more of your wheel sensors may be faulty, resulting in problems with the car deciphering the road conditions. This is just a best guess... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne,
Thanks for the detail information on Automatic Transmission Fluid Replacement. i have 1994 BMW 325IS and i am having similar issue with the transmission for past few days. Earlier i was suspecting it could be problem with the transmission, but after reading your article I am relieved that its not a major issue and only pan needs replacement.
I don't have the required parts and tools to do it on own, can you suggest any good mechanic or shop where I should get this done.
I tried Jiffy Lube, but they don't do transmission service for BMWother cars they do.. my zip code is 08820.
thanks in advance.
February 28, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hi there Sid. Sorry, I don't have any specific recommendations for shops in your area, but I will copy your question to the forums, and perhaps someone there will be able to assist you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a E36 318i 1998. Dealer told me that they won't change the fluid because it has over 185k, should I change it or not? should I use dexron III or Dexron VI, or ATF Syntectic mobil 1?
February 26, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, the dealers get scared when changing super-high mileage transmissions. I've heard of people occasionally having issues after they've changed the fluid, so the dealer's comments are not out of left field. As for the fluid type, it should say definitively which fluid to use on the plate that is attached to the side of your transmission. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 95 525i automatic transmission. how do you check for the transmission fluid level. It says on the owners's manual 3.2 quarts capacity.
February 16, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's detailed in the article - get the unit up to operating temperature, and then remove the fill plug and see how much fluid is in there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Thanks for your response. I tried to dig further. Apparently it was erratic going from 2-3 I confirmed this with the BMW dealership where the car was taken, probably prior to getting sold and fixed by the local dealer/shop
Here's what was there on the tranny rebuild sheet.
1. Rebuild Kit # 24004EF
2. Solenoid 34435
3. Drum with shaft -3rd 24555E
PN reference from www.wittrans.com
There were some miscellaneous seals too.
February 16, 2011
I am looking to get a 1998 328i Auto with 78K miles. The service records show a tranny issue shifting from 1-2. Then later it was fixed by a dealer through a local tranny shop. My friend test drove the car and found it to be running great.
The rebuilt tranny comes with a 1 yr warranty. Should I go for this car?
February 15, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: BMW transmissions can be a bit fickle. If the car drives fine, then it's probably okay. Still, I would have liked to know what the problem was so that I could figure out what the likelihood of it returning was. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a automatic 95 BMW 525i. Transmission goes from 1st to 2nd gear about up to 20 MPH then when I press more gas it just goes to neutral. Cannot goes any faster. It does show failed "Transmission module". What could be wrong?
February 14, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like something is internally broken in your transmission. I'm not sure what you can do except replace the transmission. It *may* be something to do with the transmission computer, but I think it's more likely to be a mechanical problem. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a unique situation. The vehicle is a 1996 328i with an auto trans. It's has an intermittent trans noise in the bell housing area that is quite loud and only heard below 20 MPH when downshifting to first, then heard when accelerating till second comes in. It sounds like scraping metal to metal as on a worn brake disk but it's not. The sound spins up on the downshift with the trans. Sometimes when this happens there is also a swishing liquid sound. Happens about once a month or when driving 3 straight hours then absolutely nothing. BMW could not duplicate. I changed fluid 140,000 miles and both pans were clean and fluid was still red with no smell. No help. Just a small amt on the magnet 1/8" high. How can something so noisy be so intermittent? I can't make it happen. BTW thanks for the write up here about changing the oil.
February 8, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That is an odd problem. My first thought was that your rubber guibo disc was failing, but I don't think that would vary with the shifting of the transmission. Maybe there's something failing the torque converter? I don't think you'll find out until you tear it apart. I would probably just leave it and ignore it until the transmission stops working. Not much else you can do. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: fyi- the automatic transmission used in the 1996 BMW 328i E36 sedan is a GM 4L30-E.
January 31, 2011
Comments: also, are the transmission codes read from a separate location than the obd port on the lower drivers side dash?
are all trans codes reported to the ecu as well? is there a seperate cel for transmission faults on the dash or do they post as 'check engine'? thanks in advance
ps- it seems a little disheartening that the auto trans section of the service manual only has checking fluid, changing fluid and filter, AND REPLACING TRANSMISSION : -
January 31, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, welcome to the complex world of automatic transmissions, where if you have a problem, you get a new transmission. There is a separate light for transmission faults. The code readers I've seen that could read the transmission faults did it through the big round connector. OBD-II code readers do not read transmission codes - those are proprietary to BMW (of course). The best recommendation is to take the car to someone who has the tools to be able to read the codes out of the car - simple off-the-shelf readers will not be able to accomplish this. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: 1996 BMW 328i e36 auto, 100k dealer serviced regularly. Trans pops in and out of gear at stop/starts as described in article. occurs in rev/fwd/all gear positions/both auto and man selections. checked and topped off fluid as per above, 1/2 quart low/no improvement. no cel however ecu has o2 sensor fail logged and drivers rear outer wheel bearing howling. can fluid level sensor be metered while jacking vehicle to determine functionality?
January 31, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "fluid level sensor", I don't think these units have a fluid level sensor. It does sound like you might need a new transmission. However, I would just try overfilling it by about a 1/2 or full quart, just to see if that makes a difference. What could be the harm, I suppose, it does sound like it might be on its last legs right now... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have 1993 325i bmw..
I change the transmission fliter and put new transmission fluid .... then put my foot on the gas when i hit 25 mph it start sliping my transmission light turn on... it never did that before!!!
they remove the big gasket pan and then clean it and then they put the new transmission fluid.. and the small one they never remove it... now when i give gas i up to 25 mph the light on the transmission goes on and start slipping ...why this never happen!!!
January 29, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like there is not enough fluid in there. I would double-check the level at temperature and add more if it's low. I think someone may have made a calculation error when refilling the transmission sump. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hei. I've written all of your comments and I don't think I've gotten an answer yet. My gearbox started reving at 2.400 rpm at cold engine. Now the ! for trans light up and the gearbox shifts like an dogbox. Very hard shifting as it didnt have clutch. Sometimes I've smelled burned oil.
January 26, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The gearbox alert lamp is like the kiss of death. Typically when that lamp lights up it means a new transmission is in the very near future. At the very least, check to make sure there is enough fluid in the transmission for it to operate. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: WHEN SHOULD THE TRAN OIL BE CHANGED IN A 2006 325I ? iS lUCAS SYN THE BEST?
January 25, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like to change fluid at about 60,000 miles on a relatively new car. I'm not sure about the Lucas brand - you must make sure that the fluid type is matched to the plate typically located on the side of the transmission. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi ,
how much trans oil does the E36 318i M43 transmission take?
January 21, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends upon whether you remove all of the fluid from the front cooler. I believe we used about 5-6 quarts on the transmission shown in this article, but that was without emptying the front mounted cooler. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne, its Rick with the 325 TDS.
Thanks for your response, it is greatly appreciated, unfortunately the cable has already been replaced, and the shifter moves freely without the cable attached, so it must be something internal to the transmission.
I think I am going to have to try the fluid change and see if it has any effect! Any more thoughts you have would be greatly received as well, I'm not mechanically minded, I'm a programmer but I love to dabble!
January 18, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Automatic transmissions are a bit like a black art, unfortunately. I don't have any additional suggestions, unfortunately... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, great article, I hope you can help me!
I have an E36 325 TDS SE Auto I realise you probably wont have the TDS diesel in the states!, the problem is the auto tranny will be fine when the car is cold, but when the car has been run and the engine is warm I cannot move the shifter....makes it really hard to park because the handbrake is crap!
Could this be because the tranny fluid is low? It has been to a garage but they couldn't work out what was wrong...but I don't have a lot of faith in them!
Because of this problem my car has been in storage for over a year while I try and find a way to get it fixed, I really want my car back on the road!!
January 16, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, the only thing I can think of is that the linkage is somewhat misaligned, and when the transmission / car gets hot, it becomes a more noticeable problem. I would take apart the shifter and see if you can just put the handle there directly into the transmission - eliminate the linkage / handle as a potential part of the problem. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello, i have a 1995 bmw 325i automatic and lately the indicator light for transmission control module has been on constantly, and lately my car in drive wont pull..matter of fact wont be like it should in any gear..i can have it down to the floor and it barely goes, therefore i been puting it into a lower gear to even get up moving because its so slow to even pull out onto the street, then i switch it back into 3rd or drive when im up to speed say like 40-45. Can anyone help to what maybe the problem? low fluid or does my transmission have a problem?
January 15, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It sounds like the internal components of the transmission may just be wearing out. You can try changing the fluid and that might help, but it's probably a long shot. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have a old 1994 with 120,000 miles on it. i don't drive it much. lately the auto transmission has started humming like a airplane. its goes away after it warms up. what should i do?
January 10, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be transmission mounts, it could be fluid, or it could just be getting old and worn out. If it's really bothering you, then I would probably change the fluid first, and while you're in there, take a look at the driveshaft bearing and the transmission mounts. But, it's probably not either one of those, since it does go away when the car warms up. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have a 96 318i, and in the last few days it wont go into 3rd gear at all. 1 and 2 are fine, but as soon as it gets to 3rd its like its in neutral, and just revs endlessly. if i want to stop it going neutral i have to put it in 2nd rather than drive. any ideas why it would be doing this, and how serious it is?
January 4, 2011
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Unfortunately, this is what happens when automatic transmissions start to wear out. It sounds like it needs to be rebuilt, or replaced with a good used one. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: im looking for bmw air flow sensor right part number 3series e36 316 1992 model right hand drive please is some one knows where and how i can get it or if some one know any one in pakistan who have it i want to buy it.
December 28, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: This car was never sold here in the states, but I think perhaps we may be able to special order it. Feel free to contact our sales department at the "Contact Us" link under the "Help" link in the blue bar at the top of the page. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Black 92 325i
Comments: Hello! I have a 92 325i! I have experienced all of the same symptoms as everyone else! Is there any way possible to check the trans codes without a bmw coder reader? I have only drained and refilled the pan and i only put in about 4 qts and I didn't check it while it was running or operating temp! The fluid looks dark with metal shavings in it and of course goes into limp mode in sport or hard acceleration. The first time I did this it ran fine for about two weeks! My tailshaft seal is leaking onto the exhaust and smokes of course after hard driving! What do you think?
December 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Well, if you didn't follow the proper procedure for checking the level of the fluid, then it's very likely that you either have too much fluid or not enough in there. I would check the fluid level right away using the procedure outlined in the article. As for checking codes, no unfortunately, it's not possible to grab them without the specialized BMW factory tool (or expensive aftermarket tools). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 96' 328i with 182,000 the other day I hit a pot hole and the car started shifting funny. Now it will stay in one gear the transmission picks which one until I come to a stop then I have nothing. I shut the car off and let it sit for about a minute or two start back up and go. Any idea what that could be.
December 20, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I've never heard of anyone with this problem. Unfortunately, it sounds like the pothole damaged some type of sensor in the transmission. I'd say you're stuck taking it to a BMW mechanic for evaluation. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: It seems every other person I talk to from BMW about life-time transmission either say change or don't change fluid. A friend and transmission mechanic I trust says leave it alone. It just goes against what I've always believed be told. I know some of the 5L60E or 5L40E GM/BMW transmission w/overdrive were week especially those early ones in E36, E49 were not good. My 99 E49 Wagon has got the A4S-310R and E52tu motor.
Do I change fluid or don't I? If I refill do I use factory fluid not knowing if it's ever been changed? It's seems to be running fine and I hate to screw it up. It just rolled over to 140K miles. I use Lubrimoly or Royal Purple for oil changes.I use a wheelchair and need reliability. THANK YOU, PEACE, Layne
December 14, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yup, there are two schools of thought on this issue. With 140,000 miles on the fluid, I like to change it. I don't know what BMW thinks of "lifetime" fluid, but how can "lifetime" fluid be good at 100K, 200K, 300K? Eventually, the fluid will become dirty or have little flakes in it, etc. Worse yet, if the lines leak, the fluid will become depleted. Maybe checking and topping off the fluid (if any is missing) would be the safest approach? I'd say at 140K though, it's time for a change. BMW probably didn't really give much thought to what happens to the cars when they reach this high mileage. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: My transmission shifts late when it isn't warmed up, always above 3 rpms. When it warms up it switches around 2 and everything is fine, any idea why this could be? Also how long are the automatic transmission codes stored inside the computer? -Thanks!!
December 12, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, my 5-Series with about 130,000 miles on it has started doing the same thing for about the last 5,000 miles or so. It usually does it only when it's stone cold, and then shifts normally after about two minutes of driving. If it's not affecting your driving, then I wouldn't really mess with it. The transmission codes are stored until they are deleted, I believe. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: My 94 e36 only has one pan it looks like .. and i cant find the fill plug...
do i drop the single pan anyways and is the filer there?
December 5, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I've heard of transmissions with no fill plug, but I haven't seen any personally. In this case, remove the pan, and then refill with the same exact amount of fluid. That would be my suggestion. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: my 2000 323i just stopped going in reverse. it will go forward and drive . what could be the problem
December 4, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure, it could be a simple adjustment of the lever that is needed, or it may be something internal to the transmission. If you want to try investigating, I would look first at the transmission linkage to make sure nothing is broken or worn. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: h i have a 1995 325 tds when i put it into drive or reverse it sometimes stalls plus it seems very sluggish when accelerating.when stopped at lights in drive it stalls or its trying to jump forwards no lights are light on the dash
November 27, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check to see if the main computer is outputting any trouble codes - it may not be the transmission after all. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: ok i have a e36 328i with a A5s310z oil pan it has a drain on the bottom but i can figure where to fill it please help shes bumping bad
November 25, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the photos in the article, there should be a check / fill hole and no drain hole. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: weres the dip stick to check the transmission oil on a 1997 bmw 316??? my car loses power up hills revs go up and down could this be the corse??
November 24, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: We don't have the 316 here in the states, but there is no dipstick to check ATF on the E36 cars over here. You need to check it using the instructions detailed in this article here. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I called the dealer and they told me that i have to plug the car in to there million $$$ scanner to get the tranny to the right temp. befor changing the fluid ? is that true?
November 23, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's one way of doing it, or you can just use the infrared thermometer as shown in the article. Either way works fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Sounds like Confused is looking at the power steering fluid cap. His 92 shouldn't have a ATF cap. Just thought I'd through that in there. I did check my fluid Wayne, and had the filter replaced. thanks!
November 23, 2010
Comments: thanks for the advise, yeah it makes sense if it doesnt specify that is compatible is shouldnt be used. well it says that shouldnt be used in "wet clutch" motorcicles, that's all. and by the way, advise for CONFUSED, you are probably referring to two diferent things, in a 1992 325i the tranny might use aft fluid,u gotta check the book for accuracy even if it is a manual, the aft cap u opened was probably by the alternator underneat the intake manifold, thats for the powersteering, they are not connected in any way, to drain the powersteering u have to disconect the hose that comes from the reservoir to the steering actuator, but thats only for the power steering, for the tranny you have to remove a drain plug then you will see aft fluid pouring out, the fill plug is up ahead but easy to access, it depends on the model tho, I know a german spec 1992 325i uses aft, my friend have one, mine is a 320i and is the same. advise, go online and try to find the ebook for that car, it helps alot I have it and it covers pretty much everything about all bmw 3 series from 198x to 1995-96 also m3's. hope this help u.
November 23, 2010
Comments: Hi, I have a 1992 325i. It was making the burnt ATF smell out of nowhere so I stopped the car and towed it to my garage. Then I ordered a filter gasket kit and did what this article said. But when I open up the sumps and empty them, the fluid in the ATF reservoir doesn't empty. I have double checked that this is the correct reservoir because it says ATF only on the cap, and the sumps at the bottom that I opened is the transmission. Why isnt the fluid feeding through into the transmission and emptying.
November 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, I'm not 100% sure what you're describing here, but it would seem to me that you took the sumps off and there was no fluid in them. That's a bad sign - I've never seen that before. Either the fluid leaked out one of the coolant hoses in the front (check them - see our tech article on replacing them), or there's something seriously wrong with the transmission. I would bet that one of the coolant lines got severed accidentally. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: that ceratec bottle was given to me as a gift actually got two and I want to know if they are safe to use on my bmw. thanks in advance!.
November 20, 2010
Comments: my 1992 320i germa spec bmw is manual but the tranny says "atf only" so they recommend liqui molly 1100 aft, and I got a bottle of liqui molly ceratec additive that it says in the bottle "safe to use in manual transmission and gasoline engine" I want to know if that also apply to my case that my car uses automatic transmission fluid but is a manual tranny, any ideas?
that ceratec bottle was given to me as a gift actually got two and I want to know if they are safe to use on my bmw. thanks in advance!.
November 20, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not familiar with that product, but if it doesn't say it's compatible with ATF fluid, then I wouldn't use it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, I have a 1996 316 E36, I started the car as usual, I put my foot down on the accellerator gas pedal the car went about 100 yards down the road and starting losing power then stopped. I tried to start the car a few times, it stayed on until I put it into drive then it lost power again, I was able to put it into reverse and backed it down the road to my house. I tried to start the engine the same day and the engine will turn over but wont start.
Comments: I have a '93 325I automatic. Sometime the transmission will go into 'limp' mode happens randomly during hard acceleration from a stop and has done this for years. I pull over turn off car, wait a few seconds and and it clears. I'm curious as to what causes this, like I said it's random. On a side note, if I leave the car parked for a couple of weeks, and then try to back out of the garage, it's real slow in reverse, otherwise if I drive it everyday it backs in reverse just fine. Thanks! Oh and thanks for the candy in last parts order.
November 4, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, my 5-Series does the same thing when I park it for a long time. The fluid is draining out of the transmission and needs time to get back into the unit. Put it in reverse when starting to back up and then just leave it there for about 5 seconds, when you haven't run the car for a long time.
The hard acceleration problem may be caused by low fluid - I would check it immediately. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Do you have a article on changing a front window regulator
Comments: how many quarts of oil do you need when you change the oil on the automatic transmission on a 1996 328i bmw
October 30, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It depends - they used a few different units. Just fill up the small sump, and then fill the larger sump until it runs out of the hole (at temperature), as detailed in the article. The amount of fluid you take out should be equal to about what you put back in. 4-6 quarts if I recall correctly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1997 E39 528i automatic transmission, I want to change the ATF, but some people say its life time, it has 150,000KM and a bit sluggish on shifting. What kind of ATF and Where is the fill hole. I found the drain hole. thanks
October 25, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your 5-Series should be very similar in nature to the 3-Series detailed in this article. The procedure is almost the same, and I definitely recommend changing the fluid at 150,000 km if it hasn't been done before. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: You really know your Bimmers.
Very reliable and trustworthy site.
October 20, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the kudos! - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Always very spot-on and time saving.
October 20, 2010
Comments: Can anyone tell me the correct Transmission Fluid to use in my 1998 316i e36 bmw. And do you reccomend flushing of tranmission.
October 19, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It should say on the side of the transmission. See the notes in the article above. As for flushing, I don't really recommend that service that shops perform, as I think there's too much that can go wrong. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
T Spot Window Tint
Comments: Hi, I have a strange problem going on with my 94 530i...When accelerating in normal "Auto" mode the vehicle will stay only in first gear and will hold there until high RPM and then seems to go into 4th or 5th gear.
Here is what is really strange... If I put the car in "M" mode and manually shift starting from 2nd gear it will shift perfectly fine.
Sometimes if I hit the gas hard the check engine light will flash and go immediately off or the ASC/T light will come on and cannot be turned off until resetting the car by turning it off.
October 19, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The car uses sensors to figure out how much torque it needs to provide to the rear wheels. When these sensors start to fail, then it gets confused, as you have seen here. You can manually shift, because you're deciding how much torque to apply at that point. The bad news is that I believe this is controlled by bands in the transmission which are a wear part, and tend to wear out with age. Your transmission may require rebuilding. Of course, you can just continue to shift in manual mode if you don't want to pony up for a transmission rebuild. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hey wayne i have a bmw e36 328i 1996 and i was changing mi oil and filter and i acedantaly drained the transmission fluid thinking it was the oil drain. so i finished up and started the car and when i run it it like stops wgen im reving up. what should i do?? fill the transmission fluid and drain the engine oil out or what??? ps this happened today
October 11, 2010
Comments: I just bought an 87 BMW 325ic which has the transmission cooler lines disconnected and hanging loose in the engine compartment. The car seems to work fine and it looks like these lines were disconnected quite a while ago. Doesn't this hurt the transmission?
September 27, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's very odd - I can't say I've heard of that before. They must have been disconnected because they were leaking and the previous owner or mechanic was too cheap to replace them. The cooler is there for a reason - to keep the transmission cool and prolong the life of the transmission. Without them, I'm sure you're probably shortening the life of the transmission. The flip side is that it may be cheaper to replace the whole transmission (if it fails down the road) at this point, than get the cooler and lines working properly. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks for the info. Very informative. We have to remember though, that we're changing fluid in a mechanical thing, it's not a blood transfusion. Perfection is inattainable; however, just drain and fill your trans. at the very least. This will take 5 minutes plus a warm up tops. No gaskets, filters, sumps, pumps, leaks, torque specs, or voodoo. I just bought an E36 with 200K one owner miles on it. Fluid was never checked, replaced, or even thought about. Transmission works perfectly. Keep it simple. Sure it's better to do an A+ complete job but at 200K a fluid drain and fill will be leaps and bounds better than where I found it. If I was really that concerned, I'd take advantage of the BMW financing I see advertised and I'd march down and buy a brand new one with all brand new fluids. They're only 34 grand! I'm about 36K short! Cost per mile is cheaper in 3 series than any other car on the planet. I put on 60K miles a year and I've owned 18 of them so far. Don't neglect your other fluids either, brake, power steer, coolant, etc. Just drain and fill Bill! Repeat.
September 23, 2010
Comments: MIne is a 1996 323i with a ZF AS5310Z. I have changed the filters and oil Esso LT71141 at the Main dealer TWICE now and it still keeps slipping while changing from 2-3. No issues when accelerating. Only when slowing down. Tired of taking it to them , so this weekend me and my mate will drop the Valve body and give it a through cleaning and see if that works. Any advise before I embark on this risky path?
September 23, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The only advice I have is to take lots of pictures and use some lint-free cloths like Kimwipes (we sell them for engine rebuilding). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have a 92 325is an the gaer light for the auto tranny came one an it has no first gear what so ever an also the a/m switch also only stays in a would this just be low fluid or something more serious??? thank you
September 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be low fluid, or it could be a busted transmission. I would start with the cheap and easy stuff first - check the fluid level and see what it looks like. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi i recently purchased a 1997 318ti was running fine until today. When i stopped at a traffic light and the car was leaning forward the orange light with a gear came on and i felt a slight bump which came from the tranny. From this point i have trouble with low gear automatic first mainly. But as soon as i switch the car off and switch it on again the light goes off and the transmission is fine smooth on all gears. It only happened twice today. I also noticed a slight leak possibly one drop a day sorta leak which i think is the converter seal? Have you come across anything like this? Could it be that myfluid is low and it only happens when the car is leaning forward could simulate slamming the brakes all fluid going forward?? Your advice is highly appreciated.
September 19, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Absolutely. Leak + bump = low fluid. Follow the instructions in the article, at least to check the fluid level before you do any more driving. It sounds like it's low... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello fellow bmw lovers! I own a 1988 735il that needs a transmission. Can someone tell me the correct way to remove the transexhaust first then ?im doing it myself and dont have a issue w that i just want to do it correctly! The trans im putting her is one from my 1988 535i thanks!
September 16, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Automatic transmissions can be difficult to remove and sometimes require special tools to do so. I've never pulled one from an early model 7-Series, so I'm not sure what's involved. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: 1998 528i automatic rpms goes way up mpg gose to 0 and i downshift and it shifts into gear softly what is my problem the bottle is half full no leaks and the abs light is on but lets go with the transmission first
September 13, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "bottle" with respect to the transmission? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Have a 93 525i with a 5-speed auto that is slipping in first mostly. Have had tranny filter and oil replaced but to no avail - any ideas? Car has only done 136K. Thanks
September 12, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: These transmissions don't typically last too long after 125K miles. Sounds like it's time for a rebuild or a replacement. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thank you for the great how-to which got me thinking abount my own transmission. I have a 2007 650i that I plan on keeping for a long time. I am a firm beleiver in changing fluids as this is the life line of the drive train. Do the instructions above apply to my model also? Are there any differences that I should be aware of. Thanks in advance for your help!
September 11, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure, that car is very new with some very advanced electronics. I would probably wait at least five years prior to changing the fluid. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have a 2001 bmw 525i and the transmission will not go into gear,i just changed the gasket on the trans oil pan and the car will not go into gear,and their is no oil in the pan do i need to put oil into the pan by punping the oil with a pump and could that fix the problem
September 10, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. Please follow the instructions carefully - it says to fill the transmission with fluid prior to starting up the car. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: after driving a while the shifter on automatic transmission of 92 325I, gets very hard to move in either direction. Sometimes, I shut off in D position until it cools off
September 4, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't heard that one before. I would make sure that the transmission cooler at the front of the car is working properly and emitting heat. Perhaps the unit is getting too hot? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 318ci. 03 with 70k miles. when i accelerate the revs go up to 6000 rpm before it changes gear. even then there is quite a delay and i can hear the engine reving.
can you give me some advice please
August 24, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That doesn't sound typical, although on some cars, you could have put in a transmission "sport" chip to change the gear change levels. I would still take it to a BMW shop where they can check the system for transmission trouble codes. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1994 325i auto transmission and I got it with 150k miles and it runs fine but take a bit to get speed and when stop in drive it shakes a like a hot ride no in neutral you think it may need fluid replacement and filter .
August 18, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure, but changing / checking the fluid probably can't hurt in this case. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I hope you can help me out. I have a 97 328i, and i drove the car last night after putting a new engine in it. and other than still running rough from bad gas, it drove fine. But then this morning i go to start it up and it won't move. Will not move in any gear, but it will roll if pulled, but if in park it will not move at all. I'll have to jack it up this weekend and try to fill it w/ fluid to see how much was lost, but are there any more suggestions that could be wrong w/ my tranny? Thanks!
August 12, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Rough from bad gas may be hiding another symptom. Check the fluid level in the transmission - the tranny has lines that go to the front cooler, if you didn't refill the unit after removing the lines (to get the engine in and out), then it may be seriously low on fluid. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: August 2010
Hello My 325i e36 y. 1994 this morning 9/Aug/2010 driving on the road car can not make acceleration I feel so much surprise and awe full the accident will be come up In this case.What is the problem
August 8, 2010
Comments: Hi wayne, i got 130k on my bmw318is auto, and sometimes especially in sports mode it holds the gears, now i took it to a mechanic, and he said not to change the transmission fluid and i should leave it, i also get a judder when reversing and it takes 2 secs to engage into reverse, i also idle at 1500rpm, do you think all this is related to the gear box?
August 5, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure, but it should not take 2 seconds to engage reverse. First thing I would do is actually check the fluid level in the transmission to make sure it's at the proper level. As for the idle problem, I don't think it would be related to any transmission issues. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I'm about to replace my radiator and thermostat new housing and gaskets on my 1999 e36 323ic auto. I'm doing this as cheaply as I can. I know I need to remove the automatic transmission lines from the radiator, how much fluid will I loose? I replaced the fluid about 15000 miles ago and I don't really want to spend the money to replace it again if I don't have to.
August 4, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You won't lose too much, maybe a gallon or so. It's like $10 for a gallon of the stuff that's then dilluted 2:1. Just grab a gallon at the store, and top off when you're done, and you should be fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi ive got a bmw e38 728i auto,it started off with a strange rattling wobbling gear stick in the car when driving at 60mph but as soon as you accelerate the noise was gone as you decelarate it used to come back and then go again.this went from 60 to 30mph now i was driving heard a big cluck and could use any off the controls on the gear stick now its stuck in 2nd and wont change gear when driving with very loose movement on selector,could this possibly be the gearbox help needed please.
Comments: need to change trans fluid on my 94 318i how many qts do i need ?
July 25, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Should be the same capacities that are mentioned in the article (about five quarts or so). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi there, after I change the ATF on my transmission, will the Telltale light go off? or do I need to bring this to the dealership for them to turn it off? Thank you!
July 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the light is on, then changing the fluid will most likely not make it go out, unless the fluid was really, really low. The light usually means that there is another problem with the transmission - simply changing the fluid will probably not fix whatever problem that is (it might, but probably not). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, I've read through your article and it has great detail. I'm not sure if my 1995 540 is low on fluid or what. It shifts through the gears very quickly and is in high gear by the time you're at 40 MPH. If I'm driving around 55 it constantly shifts back and forth between gears. Also, sometimes when I come to a stop it doesn't seem to shift down to the lowest gear. If I give it quite a bit of gas pedal on take off it'll then feel like it downshifts and takes off great. Shifts aren't sluggish either. Any ideas?
July 21, 2010
Comments: hi there iv read your artical on trnsmision fluid change but when iv tried to change my fluid on my 93 325i convertable with a zf gearbox its different to the gearbox you have illistrated my top up bolt is at the bottom of gearbox resesed up in to the gearbox can you advise me on the topping up of fluid many thanks kingy
July 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: This article is for changing the fluid in an automatic - I don't think that ZF made automatic transmissions for BMW - only manual transmissions. To change the fluid in the manual transmission, see the other article in this section - it's there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi There, So i have a 1998 328i automatic and when i put the car in reverse it only revs and doesn't move. I've been told its either low on fluid and also heard it could be a ruined transmission. Is it as simple as changing the fluid or do i have a bigger problem in my hands. Thank you for your thought or experiences.
July 20, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The best advice I can give is to start cheap and then go from there. Change / fill the fluid and see if that fixes the problem. If not, then it's probably time for a new transmission. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi i have a 1997 320i convertable and need to find the breather pipe for auto gear box cos i been told that it is blocked HELP
July 17, 2010
Comments: HI BY MISTAKE I PUT ABOUT 50 ML OF ENGINE OIL IN TO TRANSMISSION AND I REMOVED QUICKLY WITH CLOTH DO IHAVE
TO FLUSH OUT TRANSMISSION FLUID, IS IT OK IF I DRIVE FOR 1 OR 2 DAYS
July 17, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you removed it completely, then it should be okay. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I recently replaced my transmission in a 1992 BMW 735il, with a used transmission. It the gears shifted fine for about ten miles then suddenly it stop pulling in any forward gears. the reverse gear is still working, just no forward gears. I don,t hear any noise or anything its just does not move forward. The fuild,filter and seals were changed, any idea of other things that I should check.
July 15, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think that car there gives out trouble codes for the transmission - you might want to try to find someone with one of the specialized readers who can help you decipher what the car is trying to tell you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi there
i have a 1996 bmw z3 1.9 automatic. i would like to perform a tranny flush, would this be the same process as written above and if there is any difference, what would they be?
thanks in advance and more power
July 4, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, the procedure would be almost identical to the 3-Series article here. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi wayne. I have a 98 528i automatic and when my abs sensor goes bad my car doesnt shift gears except from 1st to 2nd and then i have to end up shifting the rest myself. Do you have any idea what could be wrong with it? When i replace the sensor it goes back to normal but i was told it shouldnt be doing that. Please help. Thanks in advance.
June 23, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I there. I have the same car! I haven't heard about this problem, I suspect that the sensor failing may be making another failure show up as well. The only thing I can think of is that the signal from the ABS system is causing a failure of the traction control system (which uses those sensors), and that is causing the transmission to go into some type of limp mode. But I'm not sure. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hello Wayne!
My son's 1996 BMW 328i seems to have what I would think low transmission fluid. Sometimes it revs before moving forward. Mechanics have told me the transmission is sealed and nothing can be done except replacing the transmission. Another mechanic says he has heard you can add fluid, but isn't sure. We are confused! Do we need a different mechanic? Can this trans be serviced?
June 21, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, you need a new mechanic. As you can tell by reading the tech article I wrote here, you can, and should replace the fluid. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, i was doing the tutorial, but then i found a lose wire
its a white, blue and a brownnegative cable
can you please tell me where it goes?
this is screwing my transmission by not shifting and going to limp mode 3rd gear
thank you so much!
June 20, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure what that connects to, but usually wires like that are encased in a plastic covering so that they won't get hit by debris. It's very odd to see that - I'm not sure what that goes to. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: What Trans fluid do you recommend for a 2002 E46 325i Sedan Automatic?? Thanks!
June 14, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Different units used different fluids and BMW sometimes changed mid-model over the years. So, for these later-model BMWs, I typically use the BMW factory fluid that is specified for the car. Typically too, there is a metal tag on the side of the transmission that tells you which fluid specification to use. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hello there guys i have a problem with my auto box in a 318is e36 same as the one in the guide above i have changed the fluid and filter but problem is still there seems to rev upto 2500 rpm before the cars starts to move and is very sluggish from standstill if i put the box in sport mode and go over 70mph the box will not shift down it make a clunk sound and goes into limp mode put a code reader on the car and got a code from the EGS unit "100 gear monitoring" speed sensor or slippage to high some thing like that, do you think it is worth trying the outputshaft speed sensor on the bell housing of the gearbox and the one in the rear diff as i have read that this may cure the problem box will not go into limp mode when just in D only in sport mode any help will be much appreciated thanks
June 8, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, the repair of this is probably best left to a transmission specialist. I have no idea where to start. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi, nice tutorial, i did pretty much everything, except im not sure i put the solenoid in the correct position.
anyway when i turned on the car and start changing years, it changes but it doesn't moves until high rpm. Also the movement is very little and quite weak. is this related with the solenoid? or what can be the problem?
May 30, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure what you mean by solenoid, the article doesn't mention anything about changing out or altering a solenoid? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: What is the automatic gearbox oil for the e39, BMW 528i 1996? Where would one get it and how much is required and what costs can I expect?
May 28, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is usually a tag on the side of the transmission that says what type of fluid it needs. Standard Dexron is what the 3-Series cars use, I believe the 5-Series cars are similar... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have an H reg bmw 325i. Whilst sitting in a stationery position with foot on brake and car in D heard a clunk from the automatic gear box. Reversed the car and drove home. Seemed to be no pulling power could this be a transmission fluid problem.
May 23, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Maybe - it doesn't hurt to check the level. A lot of transmission problems are caused by low level problems, but an equal number are not. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: It's been almost 2 weeks since I changed the ATF in my e36 92 325i automatic. I got the kit right here from Pelican Parts. Anyway I just changed the large sump and left the small sump on and of course changed the filter. I have noticed smoother shifts and increased gas mileage as a result. That morning sickness that many ppl have including myself is now gone. I ended up using Valvoline Dex/Merc high mileage ATF because it was the only one sold in a 4 qt bottle. My plan is to drain the large sump in about 3k miles and put additional new fluid in. Wayne do you think that is a good idea? or should I leave the good results I have alone?
May 17, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Draining the sump will flush 99% of the old fluid out. But, since you have good results, I would probably not mess with it and maybe change it again in a year or two. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi Wayne I am about to take on this project on my 92 BMW 325i automatic e36. It has 197565 miles on it now, I bought it Dec. Not sure if maintainance has been performed before. AAMCO says they probably wouldn't flush it since it's got that many miles on it and service history is unknown.
My question since this was wrote some time ago and in my research have found that a new alternative to DEXRON III is Mobil 1 sytnthetic. I know you said in an oil change that you should stay away from synthetics on high mileage vehicel dut concerns of leaks. Does that apply to ATF too?
May 6, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nope, that doesn't really apply to transmissions, as far as I know. If the Mobil 1 Synthetic is DEXRON III compatible, then you should have no issues. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: This guide to replacing the transmission fluid is great and the step by step photos are excellent. HOWEVER - I have just carried out the task on my 318ti compact with the GM unit and all your instructions are spot on except for "figure 12" and the text that goes with it. I filled my small sump as instructed and carefully lifted it into place. Despite holding it horizontal, as I got within about 1" of locating it loads of fluid spilled out of the sump all around the edges. When I realised why, I couldnt believe your instructions were so obviously wrong and I couldn't believe that I had been so stupid! From the bottom of the transmission unit there hangs down, below the sump flange, lots of bits of the castings and mechanisms for the transmission as beautifully shown in figure 10. Obviously these objects displace the fuild as it is lifted into place with the result that filling up as indicated in fig 12 is absolutely impossible. I reckon the maximum that you can fill the small sump is about half way up. This does rather raise the question - how did you take fig 12 as part of a reconstruction project when it simply wont work?
May 2, 2010
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't remember having the problem you describe here, but I also wrote this about six years ago. I probably just dipped some of the fluid out of the container prior to installing it - the transmissions are all slightly different across the years and have slightly different configurations. Thanks for the comment, that's what this section is for - should help other people in the future! - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 99 323i with a little over 97,000 mi on it. Recently when ever you move from a complete stop it feels as if it slips slightly for a moment before finally kicking in. It generally only does it when the car is warm or in warmer weather. To be honest it almost feels like the traction control is kicking in even though the light doesnt show that it is. The tranny light has never come on that I have seen. This problem only happens in 1st and in Reverse. Does this sound like a tranny issue or more like low fluid? Thank you in advance for your time.
March 5, 2010
Comments: How much does a transmission replacment cost on 2000 528i Automatic?
March 3, 2010
Comments: Guys, can any one tell me how much transmission fluid to replace once emptied?
March 3, 2010
Comments: It should be emphasized that, after the final fill, the fill plug needs to be returned to the transmission before shutting off the engine or the tranny will puke out several quarts of new fluid.
February 27, 2010
Comments: 1994 bmw320i trans very sluggish when cold but works well at temp. any ideas?
February 19, 2010
Comments: Hi, My 1997 328IS, is taking a few seconds to go into reverse from P position, and I also noticed a slight hesitation when shifting from second to third gear accompanied by a muffled whining noise. Would checking and/or changing the transmission fluid and filter be a possible fix? What do you recommend?
February 17, 2010
Comments: My 91 e36 318i has a transmission fluid leak that is not coming from the sumps. A mechanic told me it was coming from the shifter housing. Is this a diy job or should it go to a specialist?
February 13, 2010
Comments: hi this is awesome place....
my problem with e36 92 automatic gearbox... every single time i can feel a hitch when is tranfering from 2 nd to the 3rd speed.... what do u think....
February 13, 2010
Comments: what type of engine oil do you suggest for 1995 e36 325is
February 2, 2010
Comments: I drive a '96 328i, which is great. Recently, I changed the gear oil and now whilst driving in traffic and should I brake, the gear box seems to disengage from the engine. It takes a couple of seconds to engage. Also when I engage D, the second gear seems to be very jerky there is no smooth seamless change. Would appreciate if you could shed some light on the two points please.
February 2, 2010
Comments: I have a 99 328is automatic w/ all the M Techs, 168k miles. I've read the article on dino vs synth oils very helpful-thanx regards to that can i run a higher rating like Dex-5, Dex-3 synthetic or "highmilage" Dex-3 U didnt cover the high milage oils in the article or am I asking for problems and just stick w/ Dex-3 dino???
January 29, 2010
Comments: Hey Wayne,
Great write up, and thank you very much for the info. I have a question for you though, after I did a AFT exchage on my girlfriends 1992 325I it is now shifting harder than it was before! Moreover, when I shift the transmission into park, I hear the slightest "pfff". It sounds like pressurized air is escaping for only about a second and then it goes away. Just wondering if you had any knowledge of similar problems. Thanks a bunch!
January 28, 2010
Comments: Sorry just to clarify my post, when the light ISN'T on, the car drives absolutely beautifully, with silky smooth changes and great power response in both economy and sports mode. Exactly like it was intended.
When light comes on at random usually on my 2nd or 3rd trip in a day, gear changes are drawn out, loss of power and can't enter 5th gear, resulting in horrid economy on highways. Changes are still smooth though
January 18, 2010
Thanks for the great guide. I recently purchased a 96 328i Coupe with the ZF 5 speed gearbox. I knowlingly purchased it with the gearbox warning light on which puts into a 'safe' mode, preventing usage of 5th gear and reducing power and was able to talk down the price based on this. Whilst the light does come on at random, no noise or hard shifting was present.
After taking it to the mechanic, the only two fault codes that recorded using GT-1 were:
#65 Camshaft Sensor
#152 CAN Engine Intervention
The mechanic recommended I get the transmission fluid and filters replaced. After doing so at a trans specialist who replaced with the correct Esso LT71141 fluid and found no damage/leaks underneath, I noticed the changes were slightly smoother BUT the next day the light came back on.
My question is, besides getting the trans specialist to look inside, can something else BESIDES the gearbox directly trigger this warning? Since a fault has been recorded on the camshaft sensor, is it possible for an engine fault to tell the computer to enter 'safe' mode, hence the light appearing?
If not, what else can I do to find the cause of this 'Gearbox Warning' ?
January 18, 2010
Comments: hi in my e36 1994 316 automatic. when im driving and sometimes change the gear on my dashboard will appear a warning symbol which mean that is something wrong with gear box in the garage said that its somethink wrong with 2nd gear but its still ok to use or i might change whole gear box. can it be because of the fluid level or its really 2nd gear ... thanks .
January 14, 2010
Comments: Toan Ho's suggestion to use a floor jack to raise the smaller sump after filling it with ATF was a good one. Worried that my floor jack had too small a platform for my clumsy handling I came up with an even neater way. Install the EMPTY small sump with several bolts turned only once or a bit more. Test the attachment by pulling downward. Then insert your pump or funnel-fed tubing in the gap between the gasket and the transmission by pinching it flat during insertion. Place your catch basin underneath; set a small mirror at a 45 deg. angle; stand up and pump or pour in the fluid until it begins to trickle from the gap. Remove the tubing then tighten and torque the bolts. This way allows even more ATF to be added to the small sump.
January 7, 2010
Comments: my 1995 325IS transmission is slipping i am thinking the transmission is low in fluid how do u add transmission fluid ...
December 14, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Follow the instructions in the article for adding fluid - it's pretty clear. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 1982 733i. The transmission shifts great. It has 151,000 miles. As I speed up and sloww down I hear a whinning noise that speeds up and slows down accordingly. If I speed up and then let my foot off of the gas I hear a little knock or bang if you will. The car does shimmy a bit. I do believe I need a new drive shaft. But what would the whinning sound be? Could it be the tires?. It is pretty loud. And doI follow these same steps to change my fluid?
November 25, 2009
Comments: Hi Wayne, This is really a great website. Your step by step procedure and photo's for changing the transmission fluid on a 3-series BMW is fantastic. It also saved me from making a huge and costly mistake. I just drained the transmission fluid, cleaned the pan and all the hardware, and replaced the filter on my 95 325i BMW. I did it in my driveway and it got dark so I did not have time to refill the fluid tonight. A big break for me that I didn't. After reading your article a short time later, I found out that you also have to drain the smaller pan and replace it with new fluid. The transmission kit that I bought did not have the other gasket, so I didn't realize it needed to be changed. I will pick one up tomorrow and finish the job. My original problem was some slipping in high gear around 45 mph and higher when it get warmed up. It works great when cold. Hope this helps the problem. The car has 135k but in good shape. The gasket and filter appeared to be original. I still do not know how I can pump the new fluid in from under the car. It looks very difficult. I used floor jacks and jackstands in the rear and ramps in the front and I could hardly move under the car. Being over 60 doesn't help either but I will prevail. Thanks a lot for all this great information.
November 24, 2009
Comments: Hello Wayne, I writing you from Hungary, maybe you can help me from the US.
I have an e38 730i from 1995, equipped with a 5HP18 transmission which casusing me some headache since Aug.
Until this summer I have no problem, but it made once a strong "hitch" and the car showed a failure message "Getriebenotprogram". It means transmission safe mode which became a daily message since then...
The symptoms are: slipping between 2nd and 3rd shifts and no 5th gear. There is a strange thing, in "cold" status everything is OK. The problem available in 5-10 min after starting.
Do you have any idea about this?
November 21, 2009
BMW 3-series driver
Comments: Hi, well I have a 2000 328i bmw with about 102,xxx miles. I bought it with 88k miles and haven't had any problems with it until now. The transmission is in some kind of emergency shift mode the light only comes on half the time, but if I let it sit for about 2 hours or longer, it shifts just fine with no light or no problems. Its never had the transmission fluid changed, so is that worth a shot at fixing it? And what kind of fluid should I use. It's the 5-speed automatic. Would that Swepco 201 fluid work??
November 15, 2009
Comments: Hi Wayne, I have a E36 1996 model with a blown engine. i pulled the engine / gearbox out to replace the engine with a used one in good cond. While pulling out the gearbox the torque converter came out and the colour of the oil was more like grey rather than the expected red. No dramas with the gerarbox in the past and everything has been great. should i simply drain the torque convertor and refill with new oil and then drain the gearbox and refill both sumps and change filters , gaskets at th same time. for removal i can simply turn the gearbox around as its split from the engine and easy to manouevre. tks. what bits do i need.
November 11, 2009
Comments: When I back out in the morning and I put the car in drive it acts as if it is in "N"...I just checked the transmission fluid it's black but appears to be full...any suggestions?
November 10, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Black is not terribly good, and may be a sign of some other problem. I would change the fluid as described here in the article, and then see if that makes a difference, or if the fluid changes color back to black after a short while. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi, any idea whats is the problem if transmission sleep on first gear and run on neutral and make small noise inside some time ? thanks 95 e36 automatic
November 6, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's difficult to diagnose this type of problem over the Internet - you need to take the car to a qualified transmission guy who can plug it into his BMW-specific computer and see if the transmission is outputting any trouble codes. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Any tips for doing this on an E46 2002 325ci? Tranny warning light just went on after battery went dead and now car seems to be in "limp" mode though no problems shifting or going into reverse it's an automatic transmission. Thanks for any help.
November 5, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe that the procedure on the E46 cars is identical, although I have not done one personally myself. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I found red plastic pieces in my lower sump. some of the larger pieces look round. Any idea?
October 25, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Nope, never heard of that before, that sounds bad. Plus, I can't think of how they would get there. Maybe the filter is breaking apart. Can you post a picture here? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Hi, the transmission light in my 1994 325is has been coming on, and the car becomes stuck in 3rd or 4th gear. Turning the car off and waiting sometimes fixes it, depending on how long the car sits. Do you know what usually causes this problem?
October 18, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You're going to probably have to take the car to a BMW transmission expert and have them read the codes out for you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Slippery When Wet
Comments: Just a caution about which ATF fluid to use....
....for example 1995 BMW 540 auto transmission is made by ZF.
Fluid recommended by BMW is their own of course which was made for them by Exxon in Europe - Esso LT71141. But this fluid is not really available in North America, but ZF Lifeguard Fluid 5 is available same stuff. Some people reportedly use Mobil Super Multivehicle ATF in their BMW 540 instead of the Esso/ZF fluid, but after speaking with a ZF engineer, I would recommend using only what BMW/ZF suggests.
So choose your fluid with care and spend the extra few bucks to get the recommended right stuff for your transmission. Better than spending $5k for a new 540 transmission.
October 3, 2009
Comments: Just checked the atf fluid under the bonnet it lookin a bit low and the fluid leakin under the car is lookin like its the same fluid iv posted a foto to show you where the leak is wonderin if you could tell me what part is leakin. its on the left hand side under the passenger seat
October 3, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That looks like my eyeball after an evening of heavy drinking! Seriously, I cannot see anything in this photo. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: just had a look under the car and there is something leaking it is the same as 1731jeff posted on 26th august could this b the tranmission fluid leaking? i also had parked the car on uneven ground yestaday and the underside scraped the floor cud tht av caused it
October 3, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the fluid level... - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: in addition the gears seem to shift fine it jus doesnt seem to want to accelerate i can put my foot to the floor and it won't accelerate any faster.
October 3, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a number of things, none of them terribly good. I would take it to a BMW transmission expert who will be able to hook it up to their code scanner and read any fault codes coming out of the transmission. I would also check the fluid - it may be low. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi just got a 92 318i auto its been on the road a couple ov days and this morning the transmission light has stayed on on the dash and ive noticed that the car is very sluggish what could be the problem and how can i sort it
October 3, 2009
Comments: Just changed the trans filter/fluid per the instructions on a 92 325i sedan. Prior to the change, the only issue with the trans was sluggish shifts when cold. Now, when I come to a stop, then step on the gas, the car revs to about 2K RPM then 'drops' into gear. If I leave the selector in 1st gear, this doesn't happen. If I come to a more gradual stop, the problem doesn't exist or isn't as pronounced. Reverse seems to be working fine. Low fluid? Too much fluid? Something else?
September 18, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: That's a classic low fluid behavior. I would go through the procedure again and check the fluid level. Make sure the car is in the proper operating temperature range, and also make sure it is sitting on flat, level ground. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: When my mechanic replenished the fluid in my 318IS GM transmission the engine/transmission were at full hot operating temperature. Afterwards when the engine was cold the transmission would shift hard at high rpms. So I checked it again at the correct lower temperature. It was about a quart short with no leak. Shifts smooth and at a lower rpm now. Could the fluid be expanding that much with temperature?
September 17, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can't have the transmission too hot - you have to measure it in the proper operating range. If it's not, then you will definitely overfill / underfill it. Sounds like your mechanic needs to read the manuals prior to doing this service! - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: One more comment: for a 318IS GM transmission the engine will tend to rev high in first gear when started in the morning because the fluid has drained from the torque converter. This is a design flaw and the converter will be find once the fluid has built up again in the converter. This is not a transmission slip problem.
September 17, 2009
Comments: Correct, as the clutch surfaces are now partially worn, the new fluid turns out to be too slipperly. There are some transmission oils which don't contain friction agents, but Dextron III and Mercon do.
September 17, 2009
Comments: Note that some transmission fluids ex. Dextron III contain a specific amount of friction material designed for a particular type of automatic clutch design. If a transmission starts slipping after a new oil change, it could be that the clutchs are worn and were still working due to the metal shavings in the old oil providing additional friction.
September 16, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I indeed have heard of that happening before, but no one I've talked with really knows the reason. The new fluid is too slippery? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I know its off from E36, But i just gonna try asking. Mine is a E46, changing AT Fluid does it specifically needs the original BMW ATF? I found that pelican selling brands from Febi and Petosin.. Is it recommended to use the original BMW ATF? Or alternativley i can use either ATF from Pentosin or Febi
September 15, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Original BMW fluid is great, but you can usually use what it specifies on the side of the transmission. The one in this article was made by GM and uses the GM DEXRON fluid. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I send my 97 328i to workshop to have the A/T transmission fluid replaced for second time. meter reading is 100K miles. The repair guy did not put any fluid in the small sump when skrewing it back after cleaning and just pump the fluid in the bigger sump. would that damage the transmission? Thanks.
September 14, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure. He needs to at least then check the level and fill it up to the proper level after running the car for a while. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Heey Wayne, how would i know about my tranny number? AS4-270R or AS4-310R? I got a 1993 325i 4 door sedan. If im not wrong I got the E36 M50 engine right? Just wanna verify it before I proceed in changing my tranny fluid...Thanks in advance.
September 12, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: There should be a metal tag on the side (right side?) of the transmission that has this information. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: i have a 735il and cant find where to add the tranmission fluid. where is it?
September 9, 2009
Comments: wayne I don't have a picture but it is right above the pan on the passenger side it is about one inch round and it fits in with a washer that locks in a grove
August 26, 2009
Comments: I have a 94 318is there is a round seal on the passenger side of my transmission that is leaking only while driving do you know what is called and how to replace it
August 25, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you post a picture of it? - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: My 1999 BMW 323i sometimes the reverse work and sometime it doesn't. Could it be low on the transimission fluid? And if it is, can I go buy transmission fluid at a autopart store instead of the dealer? Please advise.
August 12, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: As I mentioned in the article, the type of fluid used in the transmission is usually located on a stamped plate on the side of the transmission. Most use Dexron-3 which indeed is a standard fluid available at any auto parts store, and should work fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have the same problem as Peig from the post above. My transmission only has the one large sump and no smaller one. I have a 1998 320i RHD, with an M52 engine. I ordered the transmission fluid kit and am wondering if the filter and seal will fit on this transmission.
August 10, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think the one larger sump and filter should work if it's the same transmission manufacturer as used in the states. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: This is great. How do you refill and check also the transmission level of a 2000 323ci BMW?
August 9, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe that the procedure is just about the same. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Your advise, I have a 1995 BMW 325is. My car has 172,000 miles. The Indicator light for transmission control module turns on. Since I never replaced the transmission fluid, I thinks this is what I need to do. The light does go out when you let it seat for a few hours. The transmission shifts nice with no problems so it runs well. The light is my concern. Many people say I should not open the transmission. What do you thinks should I do the service or just top up the fluid? Thanks
August 7, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would take it to a shop that can plug it into their computer and read the fault codes coming from the transmission, before I open it up. I would a a minimum check the fluid level inside too though. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
95 e36 about 150k on car. Transmission working fine until I completed the transmission service. Now it slips in reverse especially when cold.
I have had it up on the lift a few times to check the level at temperature and it looks OK. Any Idea's????
August 3, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmm, this is a tough one. I hate when things like this happen. It's bad to not change the fluid, but then changing it may also *rarely* expose problems that were lurking beneath the surface. If it were my car, I would try a different brand of fluid and change the filter one more time. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi... my 1992 bmw 325i has problem in shifting gears when parked overnight. if it is run for few kms, then put it off and then again start to move, it works fine. i find this problem mostly in the morning if it is parked the earlier evening.
July 26, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: My 5-Series has a similar problem when parked for many days. Indeed, I would check the fluid first to make sure it has enough. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 2001 BMW Z3 2.5 with an auto transmission. IT slips only going into second. The rest of the time, everything works fine. The fluid may be low, but would changing the fluid fix my problem?
July 25, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't think it could hurt. Sounds like your transmission might be wearing out though. These transmissions are not well known for their longevity, unfortunately. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: I have a 94 BMW 530i and a couple of weeks ago I ran into a problem with the transmission not wanting to go into gear. The second part is that when I push on the gas pedal the RPM's go up but the car dose nothing and will not accelerate. I had a friend look at it and he noticed that my traction control light was on and that may be the reason behind this failure. Does this sound like the transmission is out or could it be a smaller problem?
July 23, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, unfortunately BMW transmissions are somewhat weak in nature. What you're describing is a transmission failure. I would take it to the experts with the code readers and see if they can get any error codes out of the transmission. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: 30k intervals is if you have prior knowledge and maintenance history of the transmission, and if the vehicle is fairly new, but after about 130k or even less, the transmission wears down, and in the process releases metal shavings into the fluid, these shavings may sound like they are detrimental but if the fluid is original and has not been serviced, if you remove the fluid with the shavings then some of the clutches wont engage due to the missing frictional material which was there before, I have spoken to 5 transmission shops and they all told me the same thing. It is imperative that you know the history of your vehicle, or you may damage your transmission. If its shifting fine don't mess with it..like my bmw specialist said sometimes that mud is whats keeping it running if you remove it then its kaput. Again this is to help my fellow bmw owners, i dont want u guys to experience what i went thru..cheers.
July 22, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not sure that I agree, that doesn't really coincide with what I've heard. There is something to be said for "if it ain't broke don't fix it", but that generally doesn't apply to routine maintenance. Even if you decide *not* to change the fluid, I would at least change the filter. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: If you have a car that is high mileage such as 130k or more, and you do not have prior knowledge of the transmission maintenance do not change your fluid, it will ruin your transmission i had an e34 525i, i flushed the fluid and i had to replace the transmission, i got it from bmr for 900 bucks and did it myself, if you want to avoid that don't change it. Im not trying to scare anyone but im speaking from my experience I currently drive a e36 with 150k on the clock and im not gonna make the same mistake twice.
July 22, 2009
Comments: Great "how to"! My 1988 325i has a tranny problem; when cold it doesn't shift out of 1st gear unless you wind out the engine. During the initial 5-10 minutes of driving the car will shift out of 1st but only after eaching a high rpm 5000ish. This holds true even if I back of the accelerator before reaching 5K; it will simply stay in 1st and decelerate the vehicle. After warming up, the car will shift to 2nd when the accelerator is backed off, but when it hits second, it is rather harsh. Second to third seems ok. If I accelerate at granny speed very little accelerator compression, after a warm-up period, it shifts rather nicely, but that kind of driving is going to get me run of the road by the soccer mom in the van behind me!
July 19, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The transmissions on these cars are a weak point. You may just have one that is beginning to go out. I would open it up and check / replace the fluid / filter and see if that makes a difference. Other than that, there's not much the average guy can do. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: My 2005 BMW 318 A/T GM box, 2liter motor refers.
The a/t fluid is apparently cooled in the water radiator and mine has sprung a fluid leak into the engine coolant. When running, the water is pressured out of the rad by the a/t fluid. There is evidence of a/t fluid and water mixing in the rad water. Help!!
Comments: to Pieg: my e36 325i only has the large sump for the auto box just as you mentioned. so how did u top up your gearbox oil? thanx in advance
July 9, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe it's the same as with the dual sump. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: A very well written 'how to', my thanks to all involved.
July 8, 2009
Comments: Just purchased your book. Excellent investment in preventative maintenance. I have read the following article on Pros and cons of changing ATF: http://free-auto-repair-advice.blogspot.com/2007/05/transmission-fluid-exchangeflushis-it.html
My 1994 E36 coupe has 130K miles and the tranny seems to be ok for now. Ideally I would like to change the ATF, filter etc. Having second thoughts after reading the free auto repair blog thing.
Thank you for the excellent bonus photos that accompany the technical articles
July 7, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Be careful what you read on the Internet! That article was written by the filter manufacturer's association, which of course, wants you to change the filter and not do the flush. The procedure I've outlined here is the BMW factory procedure and should be good for your car.
There are some nuggets of truth to that article. Yes, you cannot get 100% of the old transmission fluid out of your car. If you want to do a complete flush, then yes, I recommend changing the fluid, and then changing it again 100-300 miles later. But that is overkill. I recommend that for your engine when you have a coolant-oil mix (actually several oil changes in the first 500 miles). But this is different, there has been no catastrophic damage to your transmission.
Bottomline, just change the fluid and don't worry about it! :) - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: hi gota 94 320coupe with gm box with one sump fliud was tottaly empty after neding newradiatoroil cooler iv pu 5 litre
dexron 3 in still got no drive from car light isstil on dash sayingfluid not fill but handbook says its only 3 litreits supposed to take any help would be apppriciated darren6493hotmal.com by th way brillent site between oembmw and yourselfs anythng is possible
July 2, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: The transmission lamp on the dash is a general error lamp for the automatic transmission - it doesn't mean the unit is full or empty. It may be that the transmission ran completely out of fluid and became damaged? There's not much that can be diagnosed over the Internet, I would indeed suggest having a BMW expert take a look at it at this point. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thank you sir.
July 1, 2009
Comments: Thanks for the response on the procedure for the 7 series. One last stupid question. Dextron III would apply to this trans as well?
June 30, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I believe so - the fluid required is typically stamped on the side of the transmission on a small aluminum plate. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks for your help, perfect!!!
June 27, 2009
Comments: I plan to purchase all of the items necessary to service my auto trans. I do have one question can this pocedure be applied to my 1994 7 series?
June 27, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, the procedure should be very similar to the E36 cars. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Just purchased your book - it's an excellent investment. My question is this -- where in the world can I find the fluid pump you have pictured? None of my local auto parts places have it and I cannot find it on the web. Appreciate the help.
Comments: So i crawled under my 98 e36 only to find what i believe is the transmission sump but only the large one there is no smaller one that i can see. I guess i just do the same thing but ignore the fact there is no smaller one? it might be because mine is a jatco one not GM as mentioned in the article
May 31, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Right - just empty out the large one as per the instructions in the article. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Do you have a recommendation for type of trans fluid for a 540i manual trans ,1999?
May 15, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I personally like the Swepco 201 gear lube - the Porsche guys rave about it. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: this is an awesome how-to! Thanks a bunch!
May 11, 2009
Comments: This is a good christian guide.
April 27, 2009
Comments: My old 92 e36 sunroof switch works sometimes, any sugestions
how to make it all the time . it only works when the light is on in the switch.
April 16, 2009
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like it's more of a problem with power only getting to the sunroof when the lights are on. Curious, I haven't heard this one before. - Wayne at Pelican Parts