The longitudinally installed BMW E60 drivetrain came with a choice of three styles of transmission:
- Manual 6-speed transmission with manual clutch.
- Sequential manual 6-speed gearbox (SMG) with automatic computer controlled hydraulically operated clutch. SMG models are equipped with paddle-shift levers on the steering wheel.
- Automatic 6-speed Steptronic transmission with choice of Normal, Sport or Manual mode. When Manual mode is engaged, the driver can upshift or downshift through gear ranges by flipping the shift lever forward or backward.
The manual and SMG transmissions are filled with manual transmission fluid, while the automatic is filled with ATF (automatic transmission fluid). BMW specifies "lifetime" fluid for all its transmissions and defines lifetime as 100,000 miles. Therefore, it is a good idea to service your fluid every 50,000 miles. If you're unsure of the last service, replace the fluid as soon as possible. Doing so will extend the life of your transmission. There are many options for replacement fluid. Choose the best you can afford and be sure it meets BMW's current specifications for your vehicle. To determine the fluid that belongs in your transmission, check your owner's manual, or give our parts specialists a call.
ATF is used to fill the automatic transmission but also fills the torque converter, an integral component for transferring engine power to the transmission. The torque converter is a compact turbine which is bolted to the end of the engine crankshaft. As it spins at engine speed, an internal set of rotors uses the ATF inside the torque converter to transfer the spin to the transmission input shaft. The transmission then transfers the torque to the driveshaft using clutches and planetary gears.
You have two main options when replacing ATF. You can drain and fill the fluid. Or you can drain the fluid and replace the fluid strainer by dropping the transmission fluid pan. In either case the old ATF inside the torque converter remains and mixes with the new fluid. Don't expect to get all the old fluid out, unless you have access to an ATF flushing machine.
For the first ATF service at 50,000 miles, I usually drain and fill only; on the next one at 100,000 miles I replace the strainer. Replacing the strainer allows you to clean the transmission fluid pan of dirt and debris. E60 models utilize a plastic oil pan with a built in strainer. To service the strainer, you will have to replace the oil pan. The transmission holds about 10 liters of fluid.
In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the strainer and drain and fill your transmission fluid. The vehicle shown in this photo is a 2005 E60 with a GA6HP19Z transmission. Other automatic transmissions used in E60 models are similar. This procedure should help you get the fluid replaced without a problem.
Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.
Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.
Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.
Drive the vehicle for about three miles to warm the transmission fluid.
Jack up all four corners of your vehicle. I suggest using four jack stands and slowly raising the vehicle to the required height. The vehicle needs to be level when checking and replacing fluid.
Place the drain pan under your transmission and remove the 6mm Allen fluid drain plug (yellow arrow). Allow the fluid to drain completely. Do not discard the fluid. You will have to measure the amount that came out of the transmission later. This will help with refilling the transmission with the correct amount of fluid. If you are only draining and filling the fluid, skip the steps involved with removing the transmission pan. You will not have to remove the transmission oil pan. Measure the amount of fluid drained that you previously drained from your transmission.
Once the fluid is completely drained, remove the transmission pan mounting fasteners. There are twenty-four T30 Torx fasteners. The yellow arrow points to the dotted area of fasteners. Before loosening these fasteners, clean all dirt and debris from around the transmission pan. Then remove the transmission pan from the transmission.
This diagram shows the components involved in a transmission fluid service on my subject vehicle. The O-ring (yellow arrow), filter / pan gasket (green arrow) and the pan with integrated filter (red arrow). Install the new pan / filter in the reverse order of removal. Then install the transmission fluid pan and tighten the fasteners.
Remove the 6mm Allen fill plug. The yellow arrow points to the fill plug location. Fill the transmission with the same amount of fluid that was drained from it. This photo shows the fill plug on a GA6HP19Z transmission on an all-wheel drive model. If you have a RWD model, simply remove the fill plug (yellow arrow). If you have an all-wheel drive model, you will have to remove the driveshaft or use a long ball end Allen bit to get the fill plug out. I find it easier to work with the driveshaft removed. Remove the four E10 driveshaft fasteners (red arrows). One fastener is out of sight. Start the engine and then apply the parking brake. Hold your foot on the brake pedal and shift the transmission through all the gears. This will circulate the transmission fluid. Place the transmission selector in Park. Then remove the fluid fill plug. Monitor the transmission as it reaches a temperature of 100° F. You can check this with an infrared temperature gauge. If a small stream of fluid runs out of the fill plug, the fluid level is correct. If no fluid runs out, add oil until it starts to run out. Reinstall the fill plug and tighten once complete. I suggest driving the car, then allowing it to cool and rechecking the fluid level. Now here's a tip: Once you have filled the transmission with the same amount of fluid drained, the level should be close to what it was. Start the engine, move the gear selector as noted above. With the transmission fluid still cold and the fluid fill plug removed, monitor the temperature and fluid flow at the fill plug. When the fluid warms up it will expand and should run out of the fill plug. If it does not, add fluid until it starts to run out. Install the fill plug and repeat once the vehicle is cool. Check the fluid temperature using a BMW scan tool (30: 50°C, which equals 86: 122°F). Place the transmission in Park. Remove the fill plug. A small amount of fluid should stream out of the fill hole. This indicates that the level is correct. If it doesn't stream out, fill the fluid until it does. Once you reach the desired capacity, drive the vehicle and repeat the level checking procedure.