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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > N54 Turbo Engine / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications - 335i > Transmission Oil Pan Being Replaced N54/AT



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      12-21-2009, 09:23 PM   #1
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Transmission Oil Pan Being Replaced N54/AT

I'll try to keep this to the short version .......


About a month ago I made my first trip to the local dealer for a 30K service. The "only problem" they could find was a broken brake pad sensor that they wanted to charge me to R&R. "The car looks to be perfect" says the SA echoing the tech.

The car went straight home & sat in the garage for a couple of days. I go to move it out, get out of the car to go inside the garage and notice a puddle of fluid about 4" in diameter about mid length of the car. Not oil, not brake fluid (as a brake fluid flush had been part of the dealer service 2 days previous) ........ transmission fluid?

Took a while for me to get the car on a lift. Thanks to DunkBMW (forum member & BMW independant tech) we were able to get the car lifted this past Saturday and sure enough (as Duncan had expected) the transmission pan is soaked in fluid. The cause of the car shifting hard while in gear & at a stop was becoming clearer now.

Since Saturday I have had enough time to try to be cool with the thought of bringing the car to the dealer & chewing on someone's ass over the seemingly incompetent tech who had serviced the car previously. I couldn't get anyone to return my calls this morning so I brought the car down & waited to speak to the SA. I'm usually pretty cool with my temper, but I had it out with the SA as well as the shop foreman.

The shop foreman actually tried to play it off as a "if you hadn't noticed the leak before & we hadn't noticed it either .......... then what's the problem?" OMG ....... really?

So, tranny pan is being replaced (plastic pans?) & an oil change performed (also missed from the last visit).

So much for the short version ..........
Anyone with the N54 or N52 engine & AT may want to take a look underneath the car as this is apparently becoming somewhat of a common issue.

On a side note, I'm arguing with the foreman while standing underneath a heavily modded car (mine). Irony.

The dealer did step up & do the right thing by me in that without any notice of my car coming in I was still outfitted with a new E90 335i while my ride is being repaired.

This happens to be the very first mechanical repair the car has ever needed in the 2 years & nearly 30K miles of ownership.
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      12-21-2009, 09:30 PM   #2
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Tony,
This is kevin from killeen we never met i left for korea when you and Quick and company started hanging out what color is the fluid. My E90 is leaking a clear grayish fluid and my brother says it's all over the transmission pan. I'm in Korea and the car is in Atlanta. Thanks
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      12-21-2009, 09:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kkajvr6 View Post
Tony,
This is kevin from killeen we never met i left for korea when you and Quick and company started hanging out what color is the fluid. My E90 is leaking a clear grayish fluid and my brother says it's all over the transmission pan. I'm in Korea and the car is in Atlanta. Thanks
Hey Kevin ....

Yeah, that would be the same problem I had/have. Same color fluid.
Since the pans are plastic the entire pan & gasket are replaced. Apparently they're designed with the notion the pans will eventually give way.
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      12-21-2009, 09:39 PM   #4
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Geez, I'd hate to see the long version...
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      12-21-2009, 11:41 PM   #5
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Great the nearest dealer is over 75 miles away from my parents house.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToadHollow View Post
Hey Kevin ....

Yeah, that would be the same problem I had/have. Same color fluid.
Since the pans are plastic the entire pan & gasket are replaced. Apparently they're designed with the notion the pans will eventually give way.
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      12-21-2009, 11:54 PM   #6
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Holly Macro! Never mind my anti-freeze reply. (Deleted)
All I want to know now is WTF happens if the pan gets dinged by road hazzard? You loose all tranny fluid before you can sneeze, continue driving for a while before you realize yyou are in trouble, then what? Tranny is SOL, its a freaking $8K tranny! Plastic? Oh man, I feel sick in my stomach now. I already hate the stupid fenders are Saturn (remember them with their shopping cart resistant POS?) level plastic, now the tranny pan?? What else are we about to discover is plastic now???
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      12-22-2009, 02:57 AM   #7
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Isnt the pan covered by another piece of thick plastic?
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      12-22-2009, 08:04 PM   #8
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Toad....any news of the car? I checked my underbelly of where i found the drip and its completely dry now...I am a bit confused....My incident only happened when I released the brace for the exhaust, but it wasn't completely off the nut, so basically it was just hanging...That is the location of the pan...I am thinking that the brace was causing stress on the pan because it seems as though its attached to it....I am really puzzled because since I reinstalled everything back onto the car, that area has been dry with no sign of leaks...you did say that the plastic pan is able to flex in someway, maybe the exhaust hanging on the bracket caused the pan to flex a little which released some fluid...I dunno....I will keep a vigil on that location to check for leaks..
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      12-22-2009, 08:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UberClean View Post
Isnt the pan covered by another piece of thick plastic?
No. The transmission oil pan is in plain view and has nothing covering it. There isn't any gasket between the pan & the tranny either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cn555ic View Post
Toad....any news of the car? I checked my underbelly of where i found the drip and its completely dry now...I am a bit confused....My incident only happened when I released the brace for the exhaust, but it wasn't completely off the nut, so basically it was just hanging...That is the location of the pan...I am thinking that the brace was causing stress on the pan because it seems as though its attached to it....I am really puzzled because since I reinstalled everything back onto the car, that area has been dry with no sign of leaks...you did say that the plastic pan is able to flex in someway, maybe the exhaust hanging on the bracket caused the pan to flex a little which released some fluid...I dunno....I will keep a vigil on that location to check for leaks..
No, nothing yet.

Today was spent updating the car's software (15 hours worth). Tomorrow the flash gets reinstalled & then the trans. oil pan & oil change.

From what I was recently told this problem is more evident with the 5 & 7 series cars than the N54 equipped cars.

The oil pan is meant to either stay in place or give way with little to no warning. Once it begins to show signs of leakage any consistent heat build up will cause the pan to fail more quickly. The plastic pans are meant to "twist" rather than break or crack.

It makes no sense to me why BMW would risk a transmission replacement over engineering a part to have a stronger structural design. Guess that's why they use aluminum bolts too, huh?

I'll have the part numbers for you tomorrow man ......
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      12-22-2009, 09:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToadHollow View Post
No. The transmission oil pan is in plain view and has nothing covering it. There isn't any gasket between the pan & the tranny either.



No, nothing yet.

Today was spent updating the car's software (15 hours worth). Tomorrow the flash gets reinstalled & then the trans. oil pan & oil change.

From what I was recently told this problem is more evident with the 5 & 7 series cars than the N54 equipped cars.

The oil pan is meant to either stay in place or give way with little to no warning. Once it begins to show signs of leakage any consistent heat build up will cause the pan to fail more quickly. The plastic pans are meant to "twist" rather than break or crack.

It makes no sense to me why BMW would risk a transmission replacement over engineering a part to have a stronger structural design. Guess that's why they use aluminum bolts too, huh?

I'll have the part numbers for you tomorrow man ......
Cool...let me know the part numbers when you can....From you description of flex, I think thats exactly what happen when I installed the DPs, I kind of flex the exhaust pipes with the brace loosened but not totally off, which I kind of pryed the DPs off which put stress on that bracket...that bracket is located near that pan...This might not be the problem, but this fluid came out of no where about 3 quarter size spots...I had not one leak in the car since it was on the rhino ramps for over two weeks! Very strange indeed, and now its not leaking anymore and the location is completely dry...
I just cant understand why BMW would even engineer a plastic pan that "FLEXES"
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      12-22-2009, 11:29 PM   #11
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ToadHollow, I just found out that my car leaks AT fluid too. I never really noticed it until someone pointed it out to me because it was never dripping/leaking on my garage floor. Anyways, I scheduled a visit with the dealer and the women who does all the appointments ask me if I noticed it leaking after the car has been sitting for awhile. I told her "yes" and asked her if it was a common issue. She replied that it is a common issue for AT transmissions to leak after sitting for a couple days. I hardly drive me car so i never really noticed the leak. I'm really curious to see where this leak is coming from.
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      12-22-2009, 11:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer This View Post
ToadHollow, I just found out that my car leaks AT fluid too. I never really noticed it until someone pointed it out to me because it was never dripping/leaking on my garage floor. Anyways, I scheduled a visit with the dealer and the women who does all the appointments ask me if I noticed it leaking after the car has been sitting for awhile. I told her "yes" and asked her if it was a common issue. She replied that it is a common issue for AT transmissions to leak after sitting for a couple days. I hardly drive me car so i never really noticed the leak. I'm really curious to see where this leak is coming from.
That has to be one of the most retarded things I have heard if its true that these cars leak when the car is NOT DRIVEN...WTF is BMW thinking when they engineered these plastic pans....Dumb leading the Dumber??
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      12-23-2009, 12:49 AM   #13
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I guess they were trying to save weight? I don't know anymore. I could care less if the car weighed 10 more pounds as long as such a critical part is metal and not cheap retarded plastic. Thing that kills me, is if your fender cracks (well my front left has a crack starting at the bolt fastening it to the strut tower housing), if it cracks all the way that you have to replace it, will the paint ever match completely? Probably not.
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      12-23-2009, 09:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer This View Post
ToadHollow, I just found out that my car leaks AT fluid too. I never really noticed it until someone pointed it out to me because it was never dripping/leaking on my garage floor. Anyways, I scheduled a visit with the dealer and the women who does all the appointments ask me if I noticed it leaking after the car has been sitting for awhile. I told her "yes" and asked her if it was a common issue. She replied that it is a common issue for AT transmissions to leak after sitting for a couple days. I hardly drive me car so i never really noticed the leak. I'm really curious to see where this leak is coming from.
Another SA (or whomever) talking out of her ass. My car is driven 2-3 times per week. The day of my last service; it was driven maybe 30 miles & then parked .......... sat for 2 days & when moved there was the fluid on the floor. To look at the oil pan it is more than evident that with the amount of seepage allk around it there has been a leak for some time now.

It still upsets me that the tech foreman tried to dis-spell any harm that might have been done with the idea of "if you don't know it or see it, what's the harm?".
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      12-23-2009, 09:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToadHollow View Post
Another SA (or whomever) talking out of her ass. My car is driven 2-3 times per week. The day of my last service; it was driven maybe 30 miles & then parked .......... sat for 2 days & when moved there was the fluid on the floor. To look at the oil pan it is more than evident that with the amount of seepage allk around it there has been a leak for some time now.

It still upsets me that the tech foreman tried to dis-spell any harm that might have been done with the idea of "if you don't know it or see it, what's the harm?".
The funny thing is I check my car on a regular basis for leaks and stuff, if mine was leaking for a while, I should have seen spots here and there, but I never encountered this...If it is leaking where is all the residue of the oil going to.....maybe exhaust burning it up
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      12-23-2009, 09:50 AM   #16
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A customer of ours left his car here, thing left a nice big puddle of ATF on our shop floor. Going in for repair tomorrow.
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      12-23-2009, 09:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn555ic View Post
The funny thing is I check my car on a regular basis for leaks and stuff, if mine was leaking for a while, I should have seen spots here and there, but I never encountered this...If it is leaking where is all the residue of the oil going to.....maybe exhaust burning it up
Trans fluid is dense enough that once it begins to leak and shows signs of seepage there is no way you aren't going to notice unless the oil is wiped clean. Too heavy to blow off and not close enough to the heat to dissipate that way.

I'm surprised there haven't been more (or any?) threads /posts about the AT & leaking issues such as this one.

Andrew,
Is the car a N54 or N52 equipped? Seems to be more common on the N52/AT cars.
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      12-23-2009, 09:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToadHollow View Post
Trans fluid is dense enough that once it begins to leak and shows signs of seepage there is no way you aren't going to notice unless the oil is wiped clean. Too heavy to blow off and not close enough to the heat to dissipate that way.

I'm surprised there haven't been more (or any?) threads /posts about the AT & leaking issues such as this one.

Andrew,
Is the car a N54 or N52 equipped? Seems to be more common on the N52/AT cars.
x2 on it not burning off. N54
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      12-23-2009, 10:50 AM   #19
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are 6MT cars seeing the same issue?
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      12-23-2009, 10:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
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are 6MT cars seeing the same issue?
Not AFAIK. Havent seen a drop out of mine.
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      12-23-2009, 12:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
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are 6MT cars seeing the same issue?
No, this problem is linked to the AT only.
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      12-23-2009, 12:08 PM   #22
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I think in the past there was a thread or two on this. I had a good sized puddle of grayish oily fluid on the garage floor once a week or so ago but nothing since then. I've checked with a flashlight underneath and no obviously visible signs and no more fluid lying around. I have a 220 mile round trip drive on Thursday so we will see otherwise I'll put it up on ramps this weekend and look around. I'm very puzzled as to why one time only and no visible signs since then, also had a low coolant light that same day. Does anyone know if the trans is cooled via radiator ducting in these cars? Some of the MB V8's had issues where the trans was cooled via the radiator and hoses failed corrupting the trans fluis with coolant and you can guess what happend next. BTW when I got the coolant light it took about 400 ML of distilled water only to top off so it wasn't much to reset the light but I'm due for service in 3 weeks or so and will have them top off with coolant then.
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