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Manual Trans Fluid Replacing

Pelican Technical Article:

Manual Trans Fluid Replacing

Nick Czerula


1 hour1 hr






Fluid pump, 17mm wrench, drain pan

Applicable Models:

BMW Z3 (1996-02)

Parts Required:

Manual transmission fluid, Fill and Drain plugs

Hot Tip:

Warm fluid before removing

Performance Gain:

Extend life of gear box

Complementary Modification:

Replace drain and fill plugs with new

The longitudinally installed BMW Z3 drivetrain came with a choice of transmissions:

  • Manual transmission with manual clutch.
  • Automatic 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.

There was also a choice of two different manual transmissions. You could have the Getrag S5D 250 G or a ZF S5D 320 Z. When servicing your fluid, check the label on the transmission that identifies the fluid your transmission requires. If you have any doubt, give our parts specialists a call. They can help you figure out which fluid is right for your transmission. Some models came filled at the factory with lifetime fluid. However, BMW does not define what the lifetime is. Therefore, it is a good idea to service your fluid every 60,000 miles. If you're unsure of the last service, replace the fluid as soon as possible. Doing so will extend the life of your transmission. There are many options for replacement fluid. Choose the best you can afford and be sure it meets BMW's current specifications for your vehicle. You will also want to replace your fluid if you have repaired a leak.

The manual transmissions require about one liter of fluid. I suggest having two liters on hand, in case you spill some.

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. Remove the splash shield under the drive-train. 

To avoid marring the paint and trim, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out body or interior items.

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.

Working at side of transmission, remove the 17mm fill plug (green arrow).
Figure 1

Working at side of transmission, remove the 17mm fill plug (green arrow). The fill plug can be tight, use a ratchet with a long handle or a breaker bar if you cannot get it loose with a wrench. Next you will remove the drain plug (yellow arrow).

Place drain pan under transmission and remove fluid drain plug (green arrow).
Figure 2

Place drain pan under transmission and remove fluid drain plug (green arrow). Be sure your drain pan (yellow arrow) has a capacity of at least four liters. Once fluid has drained, reinstall and tighten drain plug.

Using a fluid pump, fill transmission until fluid flows out of fill plug hole (green arrow).
Figure 3

Using a fluid pump, fill transmission until fluid flows out of fill plug hole (green arrow). Then allow fluid to run out until it flows out slowly from bottom of hole. Install fill plug and tighten. 50 Nm (37 ft-lb)

Comments and Suggestions:
martint4607 Comments: its actually 1.3 litres but also the article doesn't mention putting the splash shield back on !!!
February 28, 2018
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it is assumed, reverse steps to reassemble. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jon Comments: Might want to proof read this article. Prior to the pictured steps, the article says that the manual transmissions require about 1 liter of fluid. But in pictured steps, #2 says to have a drain pan with a capacity of 4 liters.
April 26, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, four liter drain pan to avoid spilling. With the higher capacity you have room the fluid to move when you move the pan around.

- Nick at Pelican Parts

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Page last updated: Tue 3/20/2018 02:08:53 AM