BMW ATF Lifetime

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Why does BMW claim their ATF is life time; means no need to change? Anyone knows if BMW and Audi are doing something similar? Thanks. Happy friday
 
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Most manufacturers claim "lifetime" ATF. I think that's just the lifetime of the warranty. They're after decreased maintenance costs, and whatever happens after the warranty is up isn't their concern. I like transmission and differential fluid changes every 30k-60k miles depending on the severity of driving conditions.
 
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Lifetime means "warranty + 1 day". BMW does the same thing for many of its fluids. They call them "lifetime" or say that it's a "sealed unit". This is to avoid paying for fluid changes under the no-cost maintenance offering. My advice is to change it every few years, depending on your driving style.
 
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Originally Posted By: 2008wrx
Most BMW owners see ATF change is not a huge cost.. IMO
Depends on who's doing it. If you ask a BMW dealer to do it, it'll be $300-$400. You could certainly DIY for less, although some of these newer cars require being hooked up to a computer to ensure the trans is at a certain temperature and in certain mode to get it filled to correct level since there is no trans fluid dipstick to go by. Not sure if current crop of BMWs is like that. It's certainly the case for my wife's MB. And MB is happy to take your money every 40K miles to do it since they don't offer "free" maintenance on their cars.
 
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Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Originally Posted By: 2008wrx
Most BMW owners see ATF change is not a huge cost.. IMO
Depends on who's doing it. If you ask a BMW dealer to do it, it'll be $300-$400. You could certainly DIY for less, although some of these newer cars require being hooked up to a computer to ensure the trans is at a certain temperature and in certain mode to get it filled to correct level since there is no trans fluid dipstick to go by. Not sure if current crop of BMWs is like that. It's certainly the case for my wife's MB. And MB is happy to take your money every 40K miles to do it since they don't offer "free" maintenance on their cars.
Yes, current BMWs have a special procedure and mode to change the fluid. It involves the fluid being at a certain temperature, running at 2000rpm for a set period of time, etc. Dealer diagnostic tools can do it, and some aftermarket ones can too. A competent BMW shop can handle it.
 
Hello Folks: I am a very competent DIYer. I'm one of the old guys and have been turning wrenches for over 50 years. Of course, one must realize their own limits and not accidentally do something that will do harm. That said, changing the fluid on an automatic transmission is not very difficult. I say this not as some kind of weird joke or play on words, but all you need to possess is that "you know what you're doing". It is my belief that anyone with a better than average understanding of mechanical things can change the fluid in a modern German car. I did it multiple times in my wife's 2006 C230 and never found it difficult (and I even used to drain the torque converter). That MB transmission required a special adapter that fed oil into the bottom of the pan. Fluid level is determined by a "stand pipe" inside the transmission pan. Once the fluid level rises above the stand pipe it overflows out of the adapter that you have inserted. Just yesterday I changed the fluid on my wife's 2011 BMW 328i (my reason for replying to this thread). After just 22,600 miles the fluid was DARK BROWN! Here I thought I was being my typical OCD self and was wasting my time and money. But, based on color at least, the fluid absolutely needed to be changed. I not only drained the fluid, I also pulled the pan so I could replace the filter. The BMW was easier to refill than the MB because it's filled via a plug on the rear of the transmission. It doesn't require a special adapter like the MB did. There are some issues/procedures you must follow (on both the BMW and MB). 1) The transmission must be at the proper operational temperature. Refer to the Bentley manual for your model and transmission type. My wife's car has the GM 6L45R transmission. Depending on the model some may have a ZF transmission. One of those handheld trigger pull infrared sensors is ideal. No need to hook up to the OBD port. 2) Before starting the engine, refill the transmission until fluid overflows out of the fill hole. At this point, start the engine and shift the car in and out of reverse and drive several times, then put it back in park. Leave the engine running and refill until fluid overflows out of the fill hole. With engine still running, re-insert the fill plug and tighten. 3) The car must be "level". Here's where it becomes a bit ambiguous. What is "level"? The car itself, or the transmission? As you know, many engine/transmission assemblies are not level (length-wise); the plane through the center of the engine/transmission is higher at the front than it is at the back. Based on measurements using a small level on the base of the transmission case where the pan bolts up to, I estimate the transmissions canted upwards in the front by about 10 degrees. I raised the rear of the car in an attempt to get the transmission case level but it required me to raise the rear of the car much higher than the front. Much higher. I pondered this for awhile and came to the conclusion that NO ONE, not a BMW service center or the best Indy mechanic is going to raise the rear of the vehicle such that the transmission case is level. This service will be done with the car up on a drive on lift, or a side access body lift. Both will result in the car (not the transmission) being the thing that's level. It is my belief that this is what determines "level"; the car, not the transmission. In summary, my wife's 23K mile old factory fill ATF was in surprisingly bad shape given its color. I'm really, really glad I changed it. Also, if you enjoy working on cars and have a deserved reputation that you "know how things work and you know what you're doing", changing the ATF on a BMW or Mercedes is not that difficult. Refer to a manual for specifics, don't rush, and think about what you're doing (e.g. what determines "level"). Unless you are one of the fortunate ones with a lift, the worst thing about changing the ATF is that the job is always messier than you think it will be. You're going to end up spilling a 1/4 quart of oil on the garage floor no matter how careful you are. Just 8 ounces of oil makes a surprisingly big mess.....and you always seem to end up laying in it! For the MB you'll need this. For the BMW or any other car not requiring a special adapter this makes the job much easier. Assenmacher Specialty Tools ATF1100-5 Drive Line Filler Set - 9 Piece Best, Scott
 
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That's a great post Scott! I did an ATF swap on my 2008 Tacoma that required it to be at the proper temperature before topping it off and letting it overflow from the upper drain plug. A dipstick sure would have been useful. My automotive knowledge is just barely above average and I didn't have a problem. My Subaru had a manual transmission with a drain plug that's easy to access and a real dipstick. Hallelujah. Now, if only BMW would let me order a 328d Sports Wagon with a manual transmission...
 
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Originally Posted By: SLO_Town
But, based on color at least, the fluid absolutely needed to be changed.
You know what they say about changing fluids based on color... smile
 
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40,710
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Originally Posted By: Bandito440
Now, if only BMW would let be order a 328d Sports Wagon with a manual transmission...
I know. Or a 335i wagon with manual...
 
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3,870
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Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Originally Posted By: Bandito440
Now, if only BMW would let me order a 328d Sports Wagon with a manual transmission...
I know. Or a 335i wagon with manual...
Or an Audi Allroad, A3 Quattro Sportback, Forester XT,...
 
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Originally Posted By: SLO_Town
But, based on color at least, the fluid absolutely needed to be changed.
You know what they say about changing fluids based on color... smile
My failing memory tells me that's more of an engine oil topic (color not mattering). With the transmission not having combustion byproducts a color change in ATF suggests that some of the oil properties have changed. As I said, I'm one of the old guys on this forum. Had I thought in advance I would have captured some for Blackstone. I have a half dozen sample kits sitting on my workbench. Duh! It would have been interesting. I will say this, oil color aside. I strongly urge everyone to change their MANUAL transmission fluid within 1,000 miles (new car). Manual transmissions do not have oil filters because the oil is not circulated by an oil pump. As a consequence, all metal particles will splash around inside the gearbox until it's changed. When I changed the 5-speed manual transmission on my 2003 BMW 330Ci I was MORTIFIED with how much metal drained out with the factory fill. So much metal came out I actually saved the oil in case I had a defective gearbox. But everything was okay, apparently, because the gearbox shifts like new at 80K miles (and many oil changes later using either Redline MT or MT-85). Anyway....oil color....not looking for trouble. Just chatting with you guys. Scott
 
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Originally Posted By: SLO_Town
But everything was okay, apparently, because the gearbox shifts like new at 80K miles (and many oil changes later using either Redline MT or MT-85).
How often do you change the manual trans fluid on this car? Last time I replaced mine was about 18K miles and 4 years ago, using the factory Pentosin MTF-1 fluid.
Quote:
Anyway....oil color....not looking for trouble. Just chatting with you guys.
Understood. Just busting your chops a little, although in all honestly, I'd trust a UOA more than the color.
 
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
How often do you change the manual trans fluid on this car?
Well, understand, my 330Ci is my garage queen. It's never been driven in the rain or on wet roads, nor has it ever spent a entire day or night parked outside. Not one. I cover it when it's in the garage. The only time it's outside is when it's actually being driven. Often times I drive it just to keep it "wet". So, to answer your question, I change the gearbox oil once a year when I bleed the brakes and change the rear diff oil. That can be as few at 2K miles if I'm not driving the car much. I've used the Pentosin "MTF2". It works well and is what BMW recommends. However, IMO Redline MT-85 works even better. The differences are subtle but I do honestly believe MT-85 makes the gearbox smoother shifting and a bit quieter. I hear no gear noise at all with MT-85. While Pentosin MTF2 I sometimes notice a slight gear whine in first gear. Garage queen and (too) frequent oil changes aside, the car is "driven". I'll just leave it at that. Though a bit off topic this is the list of mods I've done to the car, every single one of them researched, specifically chosen, installed, and fine tuned by me. No one else but me has ever touched the car mechanically. Since taking new car possession my wife is the only person other than me who has driven it, and that was once for about 5 miles. Scott BBS CH Wheels 19x8.5 35mm offset front, 19x9.5 40mm offset rear Continental SportContact 3 Y-rated 235/45-19 front, 245/35-19 rear Eibach Pro-Kit Springs Bilstein Sport Struts/Shocks, E36 M3 Versions On Rear BMW Motorsport Front Strut Tower Reinforcement Plates Rogue Engineering Rear Shock Mounts H&R Sport Adjustable Anti-Roll Bars, 27mm front, 21mm Rear Turner Motorsports Adjustable, Ball Jointed Front Anti-Roll Bar Endlinks Mason Engineering Adjustable, Spherical Bearing Rear Anti-Roll Bar Endlinks Mason Engineering Front Strut Brace BMW Motorsport ZHP Front Control Arms BMW M3 Engine Mounts BMW M3 Transmission Mounts Lemforder 66mm Front Control Arm Bushings BMW M3 Rear Control Arm Bushings Turner Motorsports Aluminum Rear Control Arm Bushing Limiters BMW M3 Spherical Bearing Rear Lower/Outer Control Arm Bushings BMW Group N Spherical Bearing Rear/Upper Control Arm Bushings Stoptech Stainless Steel Brake Lines F/R BMW Motorsport Cross-drilled, Fully Floating Front Brake Rotors Jurid Sport Front Brake Pads BMW M3 Rear Brake Pads (Textar) Turner Motorsports Brass Brake Caliper Bushings Borla Catback Stainless Steel Exhaust Meyle Heavy Duty Rear Differential Mounts BMW ZHP Finned Rear Differential Cover/Cooler BMW ZHP Shift Knob B&M Short Shift Kit UUC Stainless Steel, Weighted Shift Rod Mason Engineering Quick Shift Geometry Clutch Pedal Arm Stewart Engineering Water Pump Rogue Engineering Underdrive Pulley Set BMW M3 Trunk Lid Spoiler Lip BMW Motorsport Alcantara Steering Wheel
 
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Whoa! That's quite a list of mods! Nice. BTW, yes, it was Pentosin MTF-2 that I used, not MTF-1. I also used RP Synchromax in the past - didn't really notice much difference between the two.
 
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Whoa! That's quite a list of mods! Nice. BTW, yes, it was Pentosin MTF-2 that I used, not MTF-1. I also used RP Synchromax in the past - didn't really notice much difference between the two.
Quattro Pete: Just to clarify your post for others, I'm assuming the Lubro Moly in your picture is used in your rear diff. Seeing that it's a GL5 lubricant, it's not what you'd want to use in your transmission. In my rear diff I use Fuchs Titan Syntopoid. The Fuchs stuff is clear as water; strange looking stuff for a GL5 gear oil. Yes, my BMW is seriously "tricked out", to use an old guy gear head term. Notice all the mods are chassis related - my specialty. My 330Ci is amazingly "quick". The transient response is absolutely incredible. It has incredibly high limits but is still predictable. Alignment specs are close to factory recommendations, but tweaked to my handling preferences. For example, I run slightly more toe out, both front and rear, so that transient response is optimized. I like it when I can "flick" a car when I want to quickly change direction. When I want a car to change direction, I want it to do so instantly. Scott
 
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Auburn, GA
Originally Posted By: SLO_Town
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Whoa! That's quite a list of mods! Nice. BTW, yes, it was Pentosin MTF-2 that I used, not MTF-1. I also used RP Synchromax in the past - didn't really notice much difference between the two.
Quattro Pete: Just to clarify your post for others, I'm assuming the Lubro Moly in your picture is used in your rear diff. Seeing that it's a GL5 lubricant, it's not what you'd want to use in your transmission. In my rear diff I use Fuchs Titan Syntopoid. The Fuchs stuff is clear as water; strange looking stuff for a GL5 gear oil. Yes, my BMW is seriously "tricked out", to use an old guy gear head term. Notice all the mods are chassis related - my specialty. My 330Ci is amazingly "quick". The transient response is absolutely incredible. It has incredibly high limits but is still predictable. Alignment specs are close to factory recommendations, but tweaked to my handling preferences. For example, I run slightly more toe out, both front and rear, so that transient response is optimized. I like it when I can "flick" a car when I want to quickly change direction. When I want a car to change direction, I want it to do so instantly. Scott
Just need a TRM tune now :P
 
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6,327
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KY
Originally Posted By: SLO_Town
Yes, my BMW is seriously "tricked out", to use an old guy gear head term. Notice all the mods are chassis related - my specialty. My 330Ci is amazingly "quick". The transient response is absolutely incredible. It has incredibly high limits but is still predictable. Alignment specs are close to factory recommendations, but tweaked to my handling preferences. For example, I run slightly more toe out, both front and rear, so that transient response is optimized. I like it when I can "flick" a car when I want to quickly change direction. When I want a car to change direction, I want it to do so instantly. Scott
That car must be a blast at HPDEs!
 
Originally Posted By: MCompact
That car must be a blast at HPDEs!
It is. Also, it weighs just 3145 pounds; minus spare tire, empty fuel tank, no driver. Not stripped, just very carefully optioned plus lightweight exhaust, wheels, and tires. Scott
 
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