BMW DIY Video – Automatic Transmission Fluid and Filter Change – How To Replace – Auto Trans
For some reason (actually, a lower Cost to Own index), BMW has been historically reluctant to prescribe what would be considered a standard fluid and filter change interval on their automatic transmissions. To make matters more extreme, fluid and filter changes aren’t even prescribed for many later BMW models (mid-90s to current). BMW even went so far as to label their fluids and filters “lifetime.” We have never agreed with this, believing it was simply another cost-of-ownership measure. The fluid in an automatic transmission is the life-blood of the transmission, functioning as a lubricant, a coolant, a detergent, a clutch and the functional controller of the transmission’s operation. Clean fluid is absolutely critical to the life of the transmission. Historically, the reliability of BMW automatic transmissions has been sketchy above 100,000 miles. When we come across non-functional automatic transmissions, we usually find that the fluid and filter were not changed at regular intervals.
Update info: BMW recently dropped the “lifetime” moniker from their fluids and filters and replaced it with “extended service.” Additionally, ZF, manufacturer of many of the BMW automatic transmissions, has officially updated their recommendations on automatic transmission servicing to reflect a minimum regular fluid change interval of 62,000 miles or more often if desired, using the approved ZF Lifeguard5, Lifeguard6 and Lifeguard8 fluids, as applicable. See the ZF Automatic Transmission oil Service Letter in the link below:
At a minimum, we recommend changing automatic transmission fluid and filters every other year or at 50,000 miles. (An annual fluid change would certainly do no harm.) This is the best and most cost-effective way to assure a long, trouble-free life for your BMW’s automatic transmission. Earlier BMWs with automatic transmissions use Dexron III fluid; later BMWs use one of the various “lifetime” fluids. You must use the proper fluid for your application. Bavarian Autosport carries all of the proper fluids and the filters.
In this two-part DIY video series we’ll change the fluid and filter on a 2000 BMW 528it (with 225,000 miles).
NOTES FOR THIS DIY:
* The vehicle must be basically level when filling and adjusting the fluid level. Therefore, we cannot just raise the front or the rear to do this job.
* Always loosen the fill plug before removing the drain plug. This can prevent a situation where the fluid has been drained and the fill plug may not be readily removed due to corrosion or seizing. We did do this, but did not show it on the video.
* When adjusting the final fluid level, the fluid must be at operating temperature (generally, about 140-F). This can be approximated touching the bottom of the fluid pan with your open hand. You should be able to touch the pan, but not hold your hand there. Of course, an infra-red temp gun can also be used (see below).
* The general procedures shown here apply to most BMW automatic transmissions. However, other models may have different shaped fluid pans and filters and different fill and drain plug locations.
* Other models may use different fluids … we have them all.
* The applicable Bentley repair manuals will detail the specific BMW or MINI model procedures as well as fill and drain plug locations.
* Ramps or floor jack & jack stands
* Metric Combination wrench set (one end box, one end open) 10mm through 18mm
- * Under Car Fluid Drain & Catch Pan (click image):
* 1 Liter Fluid Transfer Pump (click image):
* 1.5 Liter Fluid Transfer Pump (click image):
* Power-Fill Fluid Transfer Tool (click image):
* Oil absorbent pads (click image):
* Garage Guard oil absorbent floor mat (click image):