BMW E39 auto gearbox - Cheeky
Hi Folks,

Would anyone have any experience or views in changing the automatic gearbox oil/filter on units that are so called 'sealed for life'?

I have a 2001 2.2litre 520i with the steptronic box and 72k on the clock. BMW will not even look at the box for servicing or an oil change. Other people I have opinions from say it is a must to do this an not too difficult if you can find a garage willing to do the honours.

Any opinions here? THanks
BMW E39 auto gearbox - Collos25
I think you fill find the only way to drain them properly is to remove the box and dismantle it.
BMW E39 auto gearbox - big x
Because there is no drain plug on the torque converter (dealers pump oil into and out of the oil cooler lines)most DIY types drain the box from the boxes drain plug.Only about 40% of the total oil comes out so you have to use the dilution principle....change it on a regular basis.To set the level you pump oil in until it overflows from the fill plug.Simple but messy.
It's covered in the Bently manual.

BMW E39 auto gearbox - MW
In my view 'sealed for life' is a ridiculous judgement. Only if BMW guarentee it to 150k miles would such a statement hold. Clean oil is the life blood of auto gearboxes. Go to a good auto gearbox specialist and ask if they can power flush it. This will not only replace the oil, but also get it out of the torque convertor where maybe 30% could still hide. If they can replace the filter, so much the better. Ask if you can watch while they do it, because you can't leave the car, and find out from BMW HQ what the correct oil is. I bet lots of brown (not nice clean red) oil comes out.
BMW E39 auto gearbox - Hamsafar
Dealers are often idiots. It tells them in the data that it should be replaced every 100,000Km in severe duty service such as Police cars. You could get the BMW TIS CD ROMSs off ebay and read up on what the dealers can never be bothered to. Same goes for any make.
BMW E39 auto gearbox - Chuckie888
Can you not flush/change the ATF from the cooler lines? This will remove all the old oil, even from the torque convertor. Yes, clean ATF is the lifeblood of autoboxes.
BMW E39 auto gearbox - catcher
How do you flush /change it through the cooler lines? Does the engine have to be running to pump it out? (If so the box will be running without oil for a while won't it?)
(I'm not questionning whether you are correct - just want to know as it sounds a good idea)

BMW E39 auto gearbox - Chuckie888

1. Make sure the fluid is warm. Warm up the car so the transmission is at normal operating temperature. Pull the transmission dipstick (located near the firewall in most cars). Fresh fluid is translucent and cherry red. Some darkening is normal, but if it is reddish brown or mustard color and smells like burnt varnish, it is worn out.
2. Drain the fluid by loosening the pan. Select the correct Hastings filter replacement based on pan shape and prepare a large pan to catch the fluid. Then loosen each pan bolt a turn or two and loosen one corner more than rest. Drain mostly from this corner.
3. Finish removing the pan and any gasket material from the pan or case. Avoid scratching the metal and make sure the pan?s gasket surface isn?t bent or distorted.
4. Remove the old filter. Most transmission filters are held in place with a bolt or two, but some are held by a clip. Be careful to include O-Rings or other seals.
5. Install a new filter. Use the clips or bolts from the old filter. Be sure O-Rings, etc. are in place. If the filter has a long intake neck, gently push the neck into place without unseating the O-Ring.
6. Clean the pan thoroughly. Inspect the pan before cleaning. A small amount of fine grey clutch dust is normal. However, if you find metal shavings, there has been transmission damage. Clean the pan with solvent and wipe dry so there is no harmful residue.
7. Position gasket on pan. Some gaskets have four holes slightly smaller than the rest to allow four bolts through the pan and through these smaller holes to hold the gasket in place.
8. Hand tighten pan bolts in a criss-cross pattern. After that, use a torque wrench to tighten bolts to proper ft-lbs. as per manufacturer.
9. Refill the transmission using only the amount shown as ?refill capacity? in the owners manual or AMSOIL Product Selection Guide?, using the type of fluid specified for the vehicle.
10. If doing only a partial fluid replacement, skip to instruction 12 below. If doing a complete fluid replacement, follow the steps in instruction 11.
11. You now have replaced the fluid in the pan. To replace the fluid in the torque converter and oil cooler also, follow these steps.
Step 1. Obtain the total system capacity of the vehicle manufacturer or AMSOIL. Have this amount readily available.
Step 2. Disconnect the oil cooler line from the oil cooler. As you may not know which is the pressure side and which is the return side, have both directed so the stream of fluid will be directed toward a receptacle.
Step 3. With another person, be prepared to add ATF to the fill area as it is being pumped out of the oil cooler line.
Step 4. Start the engine, and as the old fluid is pumped out, add fresh fluid to the pan.
Step 5. When either the fluid color brightens or the total capacity has been replaced, shut the engine off and re-attach the oil cooler line. All fluids have now been changed.
12. Recheck the fluid level. With the car on level ground, set the parking brake and the transmission in ?Park? or ?Neutral.? Let the engine idle for a few minutes. Shift the transmission into different positions before returning the lever to ?Park? or ?Neutral.? Check the fluid level again and check for leaks.
BMW E39 auto gearbox - catcher
Many thanks Chuckie888 for this really useful information - it's good of you to include so much detail. I'll certainly use it to change mine. Much appreciated!

BMW E39 auto gearbox - Carrow
You must be crazy to attempt this yourself. Reading through the steps there is much to go wrong if you are not 100% confident. If all is not well afterwards you will have nobody to fall back on plus you will have to get information from the dealer regarding torque settings, correct grades of oil etc. If you must have it done then you are far better off getting someone like Chuckie888 to do it.

Sorry to sound negative & if you have your own workshop, etc then I apologise.
BMW E39 auto gearbox - Chuckie888
You can simplify the process if all you want to do is change the ATF :

Find out which oil cooler pipe is the output.

Disconnect it.

Connect a length of tubing(clear is best - B&Q) to the cooler end of the pipe and place it in a large bucket (10 litres). This is your waste/old ATF.

Connect a length of tubing to the gearbox end and place it into your new ATF source.

Switch on the engine and the pump will force the ATF to 'circulate' so you will draw new ATF into the box and the old ATF will dispense into your recepticle.

When the ATF changes colour to bright red then you have effectively changed all the ATF in the box, assuming you didn't run out at your source end (say from a 5 litre can), and can switch off the engine and check levels.


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