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      02-08-2010, 10:05 PM   #1
bob.g
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50,000 miles, should i flush the transmission fluid?

hi all,

i bought an automatic 2006 325xi in august and just hit 81000 kms (bout 51000 miles). My mechanic (i dont go to the stealership since im out of warranty) was telling me he worked on an 03 x5 recently and had to change the "lifetime" fluid.

So it got me to thinking.. am i at an ok milage to start changing the fluid? it seems like if your gonna change it, its best to start at 30k..so since the car is already at 50k, im wondering if it could cause more harm then good?

and for those who have done it, whats the cost for the oe fluid?

Thanks
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      02-08-2010, 10:09 PM   #2
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Yes, especially if you plan on keeping the car a long time, definitely do it now. Mike Miller, the tech consultant at Roundel, recommends doing it no later than 60K. Every 30K is probably overkill.
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      02-09-2010, 07:15 AM   #3
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that pisses me off, why do they call it lifetime then?

I mean I have heard it is 8 years or 100,000 miles b4 any change or maint. should be needed under normal driving operations, in a steptronic auto.

Now I ask the mech at my stealership and HE said they WILL NOT change it out before that time and that is the time my CPO warranty will be out. WTF? BMW
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      02-09-2010, 08:04 AM   #4
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that pisses me off, why do they call it lifetime then?

I mean I have heard it is 8 years or 100,000 miles b4 any change or maint. should be needed under normal driving operations, in a steptronic auto.

Now I ask the mech at my stealership and HE said they WILL NOT change it out before that time and that is the time my CPO warranty will be out. WTF? BMW
The US Gov't considers the "life time" of a vehicle as 10yrs /120k miles. All car manufacturers build to this specification. So it makes sense for them to call it lifetime.

Toyota and I think Ford have moved to "lifetime" tranny fill.

The tranny fluid was designed to operate up to 100k miles. Most people unload their cars, BMW especially, well before 100k mles.

Now what I agree is frustrating is that the warranty period for the transmission is only 50k miles while the maintenance interval is 100k. I think there's a disconnect there, and I'm sure BMW isn't the only manufacturer to do this either.
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      02-09-2010, 10:09 AM   #5
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^^ well if I drive Normal AKA like an old lady, Will I be ok if I plan on dumping the car b4 the 100K miles OR the 8-10 year period?

Cause the SA told me if I was to MESS with it, AKA change fluid, pan, filter, than they would not warranty it. Since it was not factory recommended.

I have a CPO warranty with a little over 2 years left.
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      02-09-2010, 10:11 AM   #6
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i dont care what fluid is put into a auto trans, the clutches create dust in the fluid and causes friction in the fluid against all the other components in the trans
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      02-09-2010, 10:16 AM   #7
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The definition of lifetime is max lifetime that BMW is on the hook for paying for it if it breaks - CPO max is 100,000 miles, so as long as it will go 100k miles on the fluid, then BMW considers it lifetime.

If your lifetime will go more than 100k miles, then definitely flush and fill every 30-50k miles and it is likely to last much longer!
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      02-09-2010, 01:01 PM   #8
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So I will leave mine alone then, at least until my CPO warranty is DOA
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      02-09-2010, 01:05 PM   #9
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If you plan on keeping it, change it. I plan to do mine at 30k, which will take awhile. 2 yrs and only 13k. My last car i changed at 30k, although the fluid is still good, but it doesn't look bright red anymore. Dirt/metal will be present, especially i didn't do a break-in fluid change for the transmission, i would rather fork out the money to do it. I plan to own the e92 till it becomes a classic
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      02-09-2010, 01:36 PM   #10
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I'm going to change the fluid on my 335d's auto every 50K. The oil/filter/pan combo is quite expensive, but so is a $8K Tranny!! (yes, it does cost that much for the 335i/335d autotragics)
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      02-09-2010, 01:47 PM   #11
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My independent BMW mechanic recommended 80,000 miles. I might ask him to do it at 60k though.
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      02-09-2010, 02:16 PM   #12
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I wish I could but if it would void my warranty that seems like a chance not worth me to take, like I am damned if i do and damned if I dont kind of thing.

If I change it and then have some tranny issues they will know I changed it and could decline the cost of repairing said damage.

Some of you guys with warranties still should look into this B4 changing it, just to be on the safe side.

But it is a tricky proposition
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      02-09-2010, 02:19 PM   #13
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BMW states 100K mile fluid change. So an extended 6yr/100K extended maintenance plan isn't going to cover the cost.

ZF says maintenance free fills under normal operation but under heavier use conditions then 60K to 75K miles. (80K to 120K kilometers.) Also stated is that driving at very high operating temperatures accelerates the degradation of the oil.
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      02-09-2010, 02:33 PM   #14
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No you don't need to

OK everyone listen this is the REAL version to the story:

i was worried about the same exact thing because i hit 50,000 this week.

so i called a shop in socal that specializes in the rebuilding BMWs transmissions and found they are literally the only one that does it and even for some dealers. the head tech told me that the fluid will last to around 90,000 - 100,000 miles

hes said that the discoloration is normal, he said the darker it is has no effect on the performance. he said the reason why its called life time is because it DOES NOT loose it viscosity. he said viscosity is the biggest part of tranny fluid. once it looses it then you need to get it flushed and get a new filter. but since this BMW fluid holds it viscosity longer than conventional fluids you dont have to get it flushed like everyone else things because they havnt had cars with this new fluid in it.

its about $600-700 for automatic transmitisons and not sure about manuals.

i know already people are going to say im wrong and i dont really care because id rather trust a mechanic ived know since 1992 than anyone else. but he also said redline fluid, is not what it said to be.

also some might wonder, well when is it time to flush it. he said either when the mileage hits or when your tranny starts acting funny, ex: you can hear it, changes/ misses gears or feels sluggish.
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      02-09-2010, 03:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyK View Post
No you don't need to

OK everyone listen this is the REAL version to the story:

i was worried about the same exact thing because i hit 50,000 this week.

so i called a shop in socal that specializes in the rebuilding BMWs transmissions and found they are literally the only one that does it and even for some dealers. the head tech told me that the fluid will last to around 90,000 - 100,000 miles

hes said that the discoloration is normal, he said the darker it is has no effect on the performance. he said the reason why its called life time is because it DOES NOT loose it viscosity. he said viscosity is the biggest part of tranny fluid. once it looses it then you need to get it flushed and get a new filter. but since this BMW fluid holds it viscosity longer than conventional fluids you dont have to get it flushed like everyone else things because they havnt had cars with this new fluid in it.

its about $600-700 for automatic transmitisons and not sure about manuals.

i know already people are going to say im wrong and i dont really care because id rather trust a mechanic ived know since 1992 than anyone else. but he also said redline fluid, is not what it said to be.

also some might wonder, well when is it time to flush it. he said either when the mileage hits or when your tranny starts acting funny, ex: you can hear it, changes/ misses gears or feels sluggish.
My fear is sludge. Typically once you go that distance on an A/T and add new fluid, the virgin detergent package dislodges crud which then moves onto some part of the transmission where it causes failure.

Mike Miller, who also has extensive history with BMW transmissions, has said (paraphrasing here) that he's seen both maintained and unmaintained A/T's go 100-150k miles, but generally only the maintained go over that amount, and not usually for much more (200k miles).

Mike also hates them in general because he believes that the sycnro's wear out prematurely for emissions reasons (winter startups, the A/T programmed to remain in 2nd gear longer than normal so as to speed up engine warming).

I'd be curious to hear his opinion on these two items.

My personal opinion is: BMW, and other manufacturers, build cars to last 10yrs/120k miles. The new synthetic ATF allows them to go this distance w/out maintenance which #1 is costly for them, #2 changing can cause damage itself.
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      02-09-2010, 05:22 PM   #16
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I would have to second tommyK post. Look at many other car company recomendations like Porsche. They dont advocate changing the trans fluid until 120,000. Even though advances are made in synthetic fluid in its viscosity and lubricating properties people still quote old maintainence intervals. People always claim that BMW is just quoting long intervals to save money and make their cars seem less maintainence intensive . Do you think someone who can drop 80-100 grand on a 7 series cares about a 500 ATF service or a 200 oil change. BMW would not risk the reliability of their cars just to make it seem cheaper to own. Mike Miller may be knowledgable but I am sure the people at Porchse, BMW Ford and other companies know better than he does.
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      02-09-2010, 05:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyK View Post
No you don't need to

OK everyone listen this is the REAL version to the story:

i was worried about the same exact thing because i hit 50,000 this week.

so i called a shop in socal that specializes in the rebuilding BMWs transmissions and found they are literally the only one that does it and even for some dealers. the head tech told me that the fluid will last to around 90,000 - 100,000 miles

hes said that the discoloration is normal, he said the darker it is has no effect on the performance. he said the reason why its called life time is because it DOES NOT loose it viscosity. he said viscosity is the biggest part of tranny fluid. once it looses it then you need to get it flushed and get a new filter. but since this BMW fluid holds it viscosity longer than conventional fluids you dont have to get it flushed like everyone else things because they havnt had cars with this new fluid in it.

its about $600-700 for automatic transmitisons and not sure about manuals.

i know already people are going to say im wrong and i dont really care because id rather trust a mechanic ived know since 1992 than anyone else. but he also said redline fluid, is not what it said to be.

also some might wonder, well when is it time to flush it. he said either when the mileage hits or when your tranny starts acting funny, ex: you can hear it, changes/ misses gears or feels sluggish.
Thanks for checking that out. I was on the same page. I figure around 80-90K and change fluids. I at 88K. I plan to keep the car and it has been great with no problems.
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      02-09-2010, 06:11 PM   #18
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I don't think it makes sense to wait until it starts "acting funny". I think a pro-active approach is better.
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      02-09-2010, 06:16 PM   #19
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I remember having this issue with my e39, apparently, flushing it could kill the tranny, or not flushing it could kill the tranny, I was at about 100K, I ended up flushing it and it survived, but then around 120K the tranny died, so that was like 4K right there to get it fixed.
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      02-09-2010, 06:39 PM   #20
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I remember having this issue with my e39, apparently, flushing it could kill the tranny, or not flushing it could kill the tranny, I was at about 100K, I ended up flushing it and it survived, but then around 120K the tranny died, so that was like 4K right there to get it fixed.
And this my friends is what commonly happens!
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      02-09-2010, 06:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyK View Post
No you don't need to

OK everyone listen this is the REAL version to the story:

i was worried about the same exact thing because i hit 50,000 this week.

so i called a shop in socal that specializes in the rebuilding BMWs transmissions and found they are literally the only one that does it and even for some dealers. the head tech told me that the fluid will last to around 90,000 - 100,000 miles

hes said that the discoloration is normal, he said the darker it is has no effect on the performance. he said the reason why its called life time is because it DOES NOT loose it viscosity. he said viscosity is the biggest part of tranny fluid. once it looses it then you need to get it flushed and get a new filter. but since this BMW fluid holds it viscosity longer than conventional fluids you dont have to get it flushed like everyone else things because they havnt had cars with this new fluid in it.

its about $600-700 for automatic transmitisons and not sure about manuals.

i know already people are going to say im wrong and i dont really care because id rather trust a mechanic ived know since 1992 than anyone else. but he also said redline fluid, is not what it said to be.

also some might wonder, well when is it time to flush it. he said either when the mileage hits or when your tranny starts acting funny, ex: you can hear it, changes/ misses gears or feels sluggish.
Hmmmm, interesting. I'd be curious to know what your mechanic thinks about power steering and differential fluids, which are also considered lifetime by BMW. Or even coolant flushes?
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      02-09-2010, 06:57 PM   #22
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I am on an X5 forum that also has many transmission fluid change discussions (almost as many as 'which oil should I use' in any regular automotive forum. mostly due to the number of transmission issues that show up in the high mileage X5 SAVs.

From what I have read/understood from various sources who seem to know what they are talking about, the risks of causing a problem by changing the fluid outweigh the risks of dirty fluid causing transmission problems in the long run.

The act of changing the fluid can cause problems for the transmission. A sediment that was sitting somewhere not harming anything is now given a chance to dislodge and move around into parts of the transmission where it can cause a problem.

At the end of the day, everyone will end up doing what they want to do, whether it is to change or not change the transmission fluid. But I don't think BMW or other manufacturers will recommend against changing a fluid when the advantage of changing it outweighs the risks involved.

Also, another thing to remember is that one's local mechanic is not necessarily familiar with the latest and greatest technological advancements in fluid design and transmission design and such... they mostly talk from their experience with older designs, and what they have *seen*. Seeing a discolored dirty looking fluid has no bearing on the performance of that fluid and whether that transmission would fail in future mainly due to that old fluid vs. other factors (valve bodies, actuators, wear out, etc.).

I replaced the transmission fluid in my 2002 C240 at about 70k miles, and for the rest of the 20k+ miles that I owned it, the transmission never acted as smoothly as it did before the fluid change. (MB specific fluid change, done by dealership mechanic.) I personally would not change the fluid in my X5 or the 328i if BMW is not recommending it.
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