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Chriztofor's Avatar DIY: Auto Transmission Fluid Change
Chriztofor
03-28-2010
Disclaimer: Do this DIY at your own risk. Not responsible if your trans fails or you get injured.

Car: 2006 325i Step Auto 49,300 miles (I have a ZF trans., check posts 73 and 74 to see if you have a ZF or GM Trans.)

Materials:
6 Quarts Castrol Import...
  #110  
By shadowcoder on 07-12-2012, 10:11 PM
Perhaps a simple question for most. Given that the capacity is 9.5 lt, what is the
explanation that most in the thread do around 5-6lt for a drain and perhaps slightly
more with a pan/filter change too? Thanks.
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  #111  
By Chriztofor on 07-28-2012, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowcoder View Post
Perhaps a simple question for most. Given that the capacity is 9.5 lt, what is the
explanation that most in the thread do around 5-6lt for a drain and perhaps slightly
more with a pan/filter change too? Thanks.
There is oil in the torque converter that you will not be able to get out without a professional flush machine. I use the drain and fill method without any problems so far.
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  #112  
By Snyperx on 09-27-2012, 08:45 PM
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Great write up, but I can not find the Castrol Multi-Vehicle anywhere in my area. What other fluid can I use?
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  #113  
By Chriztofor on 09-27-2012, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snyperx View Post
Great write up, but I can not find the Castrol Multi-Vehicle anywhere in my area. What other fluid can I use?
Take a look at posts 58 and 59 for other fluid ideas.
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  #114  
By Snyperx on 09-28-2012, 08:59 AM
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I just talked with Jack at ECS Tuning and he also said that this kit will work for my transmission:

http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E90-325....0L/ES2523893/
Last edited by Snyperx; 09-28-2012 at 09:10 AM.
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  #115  
By maf330xi on 10-05-2012, 10:26 AM
When replacing the oil pan/filter + draining and filling new fluid + new sleeve...is there any need to reset any modules?

I've read that there is a way to reset the transmission adaptations using the 30 second throttle down method (but I've heard mixed reviews on whether its just a placebo effect)

Do I have to go to the dealership and ask them to reset it for me?
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  #116  
By Snyperx on 10-05-2012, 10:29 AM
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Well I have a laptop with INPA on it and can reset the adaptions via that.
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  #117  
By Chriztofor on 10-05-2012, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maf330xi
When replacing the oil pan/filter + draining and filling new fluid + new sleeve...is there any need to reset any modules?

I've read that there is a way to reset the transmission adaptations using the 30 second throttle down method (but I've heard mixed reviews on whether its just a placebo effect)

Do I have to go to the dealership and ask them to reset it for me?
There is a way to reset adaptations (do a search) but make sure you are not venting your water pump which one of the steps requires you to press on the gas pedal (while engine is off). If you find the guide/instructions post them here. Thx. Edit: Note: I never reset my adaptations.
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  #118  
By Snyperx on 10-08-2012, 09:54 AM
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I just wanted to add that in talking with the Dealer and some other folks mixing ATF fluid IS NOT recommended. If your transmission requires ZF transmission fluid use ZF transmission fluid. You can reference this doc as well:

http://www.thectsc.com/images/pdf/flier_lifeguard3.pdf
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  #119  
By Chriztofor on 10-09-2012, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snyperx View Post
I just wanted to add that in talking with the Dealer and some other folks mixing ATF fluid IS NOT recommended. If your transmission requires ZF transmission fluid use ZF transmission fluid. You can reference this doc as well:

http://www.thectsc.com/images/pdf/flier_lifeguard3.pdf
You can use any ATF fluid so long as it has the proper specifications. The Castrol oil I use has the proper specs for ZF transmissions. See the attached spec sheet in post 1. Also, don't put a lot of faith in what dealers state. They misinform customers and sometimes make shoddy repairs. I base my statement from personal experience and by reading horror stories on this forum.
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  #120  
By Snyperx on 10-16-2012, 02:40 PM
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Well I did the filter fluid this weekend using the kit from the website listed above. I put about 5 quarts back in.

1. I drained it first.
2. Pulled the filter off.
3. Installed new filter.
4. Filled with new oil until it came out of the fill hole.
5. Started car.
6. Shifted gears.
7. Let run for about 8 minutes.
8. Turned off added about another 1/2 to 1 quart (about 4.5 to 5 total) until it came out of fill hole again.
9. Put plug back in.
10. Done.

I am just nervous that I didn't fill it enough, but couldn't really get more fluid in if its coming out the fill hole after running the engine and shifting through the gears. I do have one quart left over out of the 6.
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  #121  
By acthad on 10-16-2012, 07:33 PM
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Thanks for the DIY! Also just ordered from thectsc.com

I just spoke with the owner of thectsc.com, Klaus, and wanted to give him a customer service props. He made sure that my order was going to the right address.

Nice guy putting his kid through college, he's a former ZF Engineer and knows his stuff. He has been working with ZF for 32 years, now is distributing product as a small business.

He cautioned me on the mechatronic sleeve install, you have to love all the free install info he has posted.

Also he hand delivered my parts to FedEX after his last FedEX pickup out of his office. ~Nice.

So I got a transmission oil service kit with a new Mechatronic Sleeve, saved at least $200 over dealer prices! Thanks CTSC!

Will post how my install of the parts went later on.

Thanks again for posting this DIY!!!
Last edited by acthad; 10-16-2012 at 09:38 PM.
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  #122  
By Chriztofor on 10-18-2012, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acthad View Post
I just spoke with the owner of thectsc.com, Klaus, and wanted to give him a customer service props. He made sure that my order was going to the right address.

Nice guy putting his kid through college, he's a former ZF Engineer and knows his stuff. He has been working with ZF for 32 years, now is distributing product as a small business.

He cautioned me on the mechatronic sleeve install, you have to love all the free install info he has posted.

Also he hand delivered my parts to FedEX after his last FedEX pickup out of his office. ~Nice.

So I got a transmission oil service kit with a new Mechatronic Sleeve, saved at least $200 over dealer prices! Thanks CTSC!

Will post how my install of the parts went later on.

Thanks again for posting this DIY!!!
No problem, keep us posted! Good luck!
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  #123  
By acthad on 11-01-2012, 11:17 PM
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Did Pan/Filter Oil Change and unable to top off...

Hi,
So I ordered the trans oil change kit from thecstsc.com for my n52/ZF 6 Spd Auto

I am not sure how much fluid I had to begin with since I had a leaking trans pan.

So I drained about 3.5-5.5 quarts cold, changed the pan/filter. Then when cold I was only able to add 2.8 qts back in. But I realized later the car was not level.

I could not get the car perfectly level with mismatched jack stands, so I jacked up the rear an inch to compensate and level the car out during the fill process.

So I closed the drain plug, warmed up the car, shifted through the gears until I got a transmission malfunction warning light. I got the same metallic tapping sound that others had mentioned during this time from the trans. I warmed up the car about 10 mins, the pan was still cold, but it took me a few minutes to undo the fill plug with the allen wrench.

I was worried it would be too hot to work on, but it never got hot since it is cold in Chicago now ~45 degrees F ambient in my garage. I just kept pumping until all 6 bottles of my ZF Lifeguard6 were empty. So 6 Liters in all.

I shut the motor off to try to combine some of the leftover clean oil from the bottom of the bottles. When I started it back up to fill another .3 Liter, the trans malfunction indicator and metallic tapping sound went away, whew! Next I shifted through the gears again, then pumped the .3 liter I had left.

Put 6 Liters in and it still did not overflow out the fill hole. So I must have been pretty low with my leak. Per a previous post it can hold up to 9.5 Liters? So I cannot overfill it right? Should I buy 3-4 more liters? Since the torque converter can hold ~ 1 liter etc?

I was tempted to use the old oil to top it off, but it was pretty dark since the leak may have sucked in dirt when under vacuum. I had jerky performance on the 2-3 gear changed, and sport mode would give me whiplash sometimes. I wonder if those traits will go away after this service.

Or should I just see how it drives, then decide whether to buy more oil?

Thanks in Advance!
Last edited by acthad; 11-01-2012 at 11:26 PM.
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  #124  
By Chriztofor on 11-02-2012, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acthad View Post
Hi,
So I ordered the trans oil change kit from thecstsc.com for my n52/ZF 6 Spd Auto

I am not sure how much fluid I had to begin with since I had a leaking trans pan.

So I drained about 3.5-5.5 quarts cold, changed the pan/filter. Then when cold I was only able to add 2.8 qts back in. But I realized later the car was not level.

I could not get the car perfectly level with mismatched jack stands, so I jacked up the rear an inch to compensate and level the car out during the fill process.

So I closed the drain plug, warmed up the car, shifted through the gears until I got a transmission malfunction warning light. I got the same metallic tapping sound that others had mentioned during this time from the trans. I warmed up the car about 10 mins, the pan was still cold, but it took me a few minutes to undo the fill plug with the allen wrench.

I was worried it would be too hot to work on, but it never got hot since it is cold in Chicago now ~45 degrees F ambient in my garage. I just kept pumping until all 6 bottles of my ZF Lifeguard6 were empty. So 6 Liters in all.

I shut the motor off to try to combine some of the leftover clean oil from the bottom of the bottles. When I started it back up to fill another .3 Liter, the trans malfunction indicator and metallic tapping sound went away, whew! Next I shifted through the gears again, then pumped the .3 liter I had left.

Put 6 Liters in and it still did not overflow out the fill hole. So I must have been pretty low with my leak. Per a previous post it can hold up to 9.5 Liters? So I cannot overfill it right? Should I buy 3-4 more liters? Since the torque converter can hold ~ 1 liter etc?

I was tempted to use the old oil to top it off, but it was pretty dark since the leak may have sucked in dirt when under vacuum. I had jerky performance on the 2-3 gear changed, and sport mode would give me whiplash sometimes. I wonder if those traits will go away after this service.

Or should I just see how it drives, then decide whether to buy more oil?

Thanks in Advance!
When your trans is warm I would open the fill plug and top off. Keep in mind, you are at the correct fluid level when oil comes out the fill plug, so technically if oil doesn't come out, it was low and you are not really topping off. NOTE: Don't open the fill plug when the trans is cold; it will gush out.
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  #125  
By acthad on 11-02-2012, 08:49 AM
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I just realized I had the car tilted front down and rear up...

I forgot I raised the rear jack stands that were too low, during this process I forgot to lower the rear back down on the jacks, and so I think all the oil was forward in the transmission case.

I feel if I level it and check it warm it will/may leak out, so I am tempted to drive it first and see how it shifts.

The fun of working overtired on your car late at night... We do it for the love of the BMW/Car Hobby!
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  #126  
By Chriztofor on 11-03-2012, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acthad View Post
I forgot I raised the rear jack stands that were too low, during this process I forgot to lower the rear back down on the jacks, and so I think all the oil was forward in the transmission case.

I feel if I level it and check it warm it will/may leak out, so I am tempted to drive it first and see how it shifts.

The fun of working overtired on your car late at night... We do it for the love of the BMW/Car Hobby!
The only thing is that you don't want it overfilled either. Too bad BMW didn't just add a dipstick, I would pay $200 for that option. Ugh.

By the way, it is ok if it leaks out, that is how you know it has the proper level.
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  #127  
By acthad on 11-03-2012, 02:13 PM
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Well finished the job finally

Bought 3 more quarts from the dealer @$30/qt OUCH. Did not want to mail order then have to pay return shipping, so it is about the same in my case.

Anyways, I was still low, the car was not tilted up in the rear but down compared with the front. So I warmed up the trans again, then I re-leveled the car perfectly with a jack and checked with a good level.

I got in another 1.3 qts, so in all after the drain and flush, it took me ~7.3 qts to do the job. So now I am paranoid I was driving it around too long ~1.3 qts low.

But like others quoting exmaxima1 in this thread

1. The 2-3 shift in Normal mode is MUCH smoother
2. The 1-2 shift in Sport mode is firm but "civilized"
3. The higher gear lockups seems firmer and better connected---less slipping.
4. The Sport mode downshifts are much better as well. It doesn't feel like it's trying to throw me thru the windshield when coming to a stop.
5. Full throttle gear changes in both modes seem solid and tight.

Thanks guys for your help!

Now to return as much stuff I bought for this service that I did not use back to the dealer/stores!
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  #128  
By Chriztofor on 11-03-2012, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acthad View Post
Bought 3 more quarts from the dealer @$30/qt OUCH. Did not want to mail order then have to pay return shipping, so it is about the same in my case.

Anyways, I was still low, the car was not tilted up in the rear but down compared with the front. So I warmed up the trans again, then I re-leveled the car perfectly with a jack and checked with a good level.

I got in another 1.3 qts, so in all after the drain and flush, it took me ~7.3 qts to do the job. So now I am paranoid I was driving it around too long ~1.3 qts low.

But like others quoting exmaxima1 in this thread

1. The 2-3 shift in Normal mode is MUCH smoother
2. The 1-2 shift in Sport mode is firm but "civilized"
3. The higher gear lockups seems firmer and better connected---less slipping.
4. The Sport mode downshifts are much better as well. It doesn't feel like it's trying to throw me thru the windshield when coming to a stop.
5. Full throttle gear changes in both modes seem solid and tight.

Thanks guys for your help!

Now to return as much stuff I bought for this service that I did not use back to the dealer/stores!
Glad it worked out! Keep us posted!
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  #129  
By acthad on 11-03-2012, 09:02 PM
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e90 Trans Flush Service DIY Tips

Hi,
So I just test drove my car after the job earlier, and got back to my house and put it back up on jack stands to check for leaks. AND there were leaks! !@#@#$!!!

So things to watch out for, use a high quality lightweight torque wrench so it is easier to handle for smaller guys like myself. I checked the pan's torx bolts 2X before, but after a heat cycle in the oil pan, 3-4 bolts were loose! So I torqued the torx bolt via the tightening 'star' procedure per ZF's instructions for a 3rd time with my heavy Harbor Freight 3/8" drive torque wrench and 6in extension and the T40 Torx socket. It is PITA trying to brace the torque wrench upside down on the garage floor! But after a 3rd time, it no longer had leaks.

My fill plug was also leaking, I could not tighten further before my test drive, even with the open ended wrench on it for leverage. But after the trans was hot from the test drive, I was able to tighten the fill plug (without leverage) until it made a creaking sound of being tightened. (I had the same sound when breaking the bolt loose in the beginning of the diy. I noticed my fill/drain plugs on my e36 manual trans work this way too.)

Also don't use ramps to elevate front of the car and jack stands in the rear. For some reason my front wheels had enough slack in them, even while in Park, or I did not realize even an xi in park is the same as a rwd e90. I jacked the rear up, the car gets pulled back so it could roll off the ramps! So 4 jack stands only for this job.

The exhaust trans bracket where it braces the 2 exhaust pipes with a double tube clamp gave me trouble. I removed this to get better clearance to the fill plug on top of the trans. It had a one time use bolt that snapped when removing the bolt that holds the bracket for the exhaust pipes. It had loctite from the factory, and the bolt is designed to snap off for removal. I ended up chiseling the broken bolt out from the threaded hole, then had to retap it for 8mm 1.25 pich thread bolt. Found another M8X50 bolt at my local hardware store, with a 13mm bolt head, and used this with loctite on the head vs the threads so I could get a chance to undo this bolt again if necessary.

Buy extra trans fluid if you had a known leak.

Be careful with the lifetime trans fluid, it has a strong odor, and will not come off your clothes.

The trans does not have to be scalding hot like it is during the summer in order to open the fill plug and to fill the trans. The trans never got hot for me and was cool to the touch vs warm/hot, the exhaust was way hotter. 10-15 minutes during the fall is sufficient.

It is a messy job, so it is not a bad idea to buy a Pig Mat for under the car to protect your garage floor. A pack them are $3 from Advance Auto.

If you need tools, check out harborfreight.com for the 8mm Allen Wrench and 10mm Socket if you do not have tools, they have everything you need for less.

Hope this helps another novice weekend transmission mechanic out.
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  #130  
By acthad on 11-05-2012, 04:57 PM
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No leaks and did a Throttle Body Adaption Reset too

Only drove it ~20 miles so far, but no leaks and did the throttle body adpation reset. So far happy with my work, smoother shifts, and higher mpg's, picked up 1-2 mpg's in city/hwy combined driving.
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  #131  
By raven169 on 11-30-2012, 04:10 AM
Thanks for the write up and pics. Going to do this DIY fluid change on my car very soon!
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