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Jim330ci

Another annoying Automatic Transmission post...

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Hi everyone,

 

First post on here, I'm seeking multiple opinions.. I have a 2003 BMW 330ci Auto with 185k on the clock, I have a full service history and tons of invoices, none of which specify a transmission fluid change though!

I have been reading loads and loads of posts regarding this but I'm still not sure whether I should change the fluid or not, I've spoken to 3 different "BMW Specialists" who all tell me not to change the fluid and to leave it because its lifetime, however reading peoples comments and posts they seem to disregard what mechanics say, I was also under the impression that inspection II changed the transmission fluid and the last inspection II on mine was 60,000 miles ago, but again because there is no proof in the paperwork I'm non the wiser!

So I'm not sure if mine has actually had a fluid or filter change, I'm not sure if I should because of the so called problems it could cause, there's no little cog, the car drives smoothly but I intend to keep it for some time and I'm not a mechanic but I'm more than happy to delve into the car and do some work on it after studying.

Apologies in advance if this is the 1000th time this has been posted, and thanks in advance for any comments :) 

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6 minutes ago, Jim330ci said:

Hi everyone,

 

First post on here, I'm seeking multiple opinions.. I have a 2003 BMW 330ci Auto with 185k on the clock, I have a full service history and tons of invoices, none of which specify a transmission fluid change though!

I have been reading loads and loads of posts regarding this but I'm still not sure whether I should change the fluid or not, I've spoken to 3 different "BMW Specialists" who all tell me not to change the fluid and to leave it because its lifetime, however reading peoples comments and posts they seem to disregard what mechanics say, I was also under the impression that inspection II changed the transmission fluid and the last inspection II on mine was 60,000 miles ago, but again because there is no proof in the paperwork I'm non the wiser!

So I'm not sure if mine has actually had a fluid or filter change, I'm not sure if I should because of the so called problems it could cause, there's no little cog, the car drives smoothly but I intend to keep it for some time and I'm not a mechanic but I'm more than happy to delve into the car and do some work on it after studying.

Apologies in advance if this is the 1000th time this has been posted, and thanks in advance for any comments :) 

Hi mate, welcome! I have the same engined car but a lot fewer miles than yours and this was something i was interested to hear when I bought mine as there are differing opinions. BMW class the gearbox as sealed for life which should mean you never need to touch it... but the lifetime they talk about is 100k miles so if yours has no receipts to prove it has been done then i would do it as preventative medicine. Mine was coming up to 60k and i had mine serviced as these cars are all over 10 years old now and it really can't hurt... can it?

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Thanks for the reply :)

 

I have read on multiple threads that if you do a flush and its the first time its been done at high mileage you might as well write off the transmission as it stirs up all the gunk and stuff that is holding the parts into place, however I have also read that doing just the oil and filter change can cause harm because it makes everything move more free (which should be a good thing). 

It seems to be a grey area, and that's the reason why I sought out advice from the specialists, so whats the greater opinion... 3 specialists or loads of people on the forums? 

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I'm interested in the same. Mine is on 100k and some say change and other say leave it. Very confusing

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I don't think there is a definitive answer. I haven't changed mine yet (96k miles). I've spoken to an auto transmission specialist who says every 40k, I've spoken to BMW who give you a blank look, I've seen posts on forums to say it made a world of difference, and I've seen posts on forums to say that the gearbox gave up shortly afterwards.

 

The gearboxes which gave up, was this due to the fluid change? Or was the fluid changed because of a niggly problem and it was that problem that killed the box, not the fluid change? Was the gearbox failure due to the fluid not being changed? How many gearboxes have had the fluids changed and continued to run for another 100k miles +? How many gearboxes are on 200k miles + without a gearbox oil change and still running fine?

If anyone can answer any of those questions I think we might be closer to a definitive answer, but right now it's your own call i think!

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Here's my take, BMWs "lifetime" is a phrase they use to say that during the cars "expected" lifetime they see no reason to change the oil. What is the "expected" lifetime you ask? They wont admit to this in public but its said to be the 100k mark, vitually all their cars would be out of warranty at that mileage, and then they don't care and see us a money spinners for replacement parts! I would certainly recommend changing gearbox oil (and filter if it has one) no later than that (100k) be it manual or automatic. If done "correctly" there is no way it can introduce a fault into a good box. When ever I have changed oil/filter in an auto box I have noticed an improvement in most cases and never a worsening. Not so obvious in the manual boxes I have done, I must admit, except my E36 where it was much quieter afterwards and that was changed at 106k miles and what came out was like water! Beemer auto boxes of recent years do seem reliable and I've seen some reach stellar mileages with no oil change but I'd bet they would benefit from one. I think any"failure" due to an oil change is purely coincidental or symptomatic of an already faulty box.

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Dig out the manufacturer's service manual for the gearbox.  The ZF box in my E90 needs fresh oil every 50-70k miles, depending on driving style.

BMW still say "lifetime oil"

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Christ knows what gearbox I have lol.

 

E46 2004 330d Sport Touring...

Wikipedia reckons I should have the GM 5L40-E (A5S360R).

RealOEM reckons I should have the GM-5L50 (A5S390R) with BMW part number 24007530441

 

What the hell do I actually have? lol

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Just dig out the service manual for both.

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Thanks everyone for the replies!!

With regards to the service manual, how do you know if its been done? If they recommend x&y miles per change, that conflicts with the lifetime warranty or fluid which I've also heard is 100,000 miles, so I highly doubt many people would have had theirs changed as a lot of people wouldn't know about this, like me I guess :).

 

I think my gut instinct is saying do an oil & filter change because, on paper, there really is no harm that can be done providing the flush is not done, for all I know the previous buyer could have done an oil & filter change 80,000 miles ago or so on... This leads me to my next questions, obviously everything is underneath the car, so everything would be very dirty, but seeing as BMW called it their lifetime fluid, if it has or hasn't been changed would there be any obvious signs, I imagine if it has been changed I would notice the drain plug to be somewhat worn, but if it was done by a careful mechanic(s) then there may not be a sign of a change, or if it definitely hasn't been changed it would still be, and feel "sealed for life".

 

Thanks

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I like many others read as much as I could on all the forums about the auto gearbox oil change on sealed for life units. I have an E46 330i M sport 2002 which has the ZF 5HP19 5 speed box. I have today had the oil, filter, magnets, bolts, plugs replaced. Car has done 118500 miles. I got the full kit including Meyle oil from ebay. After all the reading I decided to use the recommended Esso/ Mobil LT ATF oil. I will sell the other oil. It took just over 4 litres of oil without the torque converter. Drove the car around straight after change and it does feel slightly crisper with the changes. I had it done at my local garage, who charged me £88 for labour. Kit cost me £119.00 with oil. The Esso/Mobil oil cost me about £10.50 a litre, a very good price again off ebay. Should get back at least £75 for unused oil. BMW wanted £345 to change oil, or £240 just for the oil. They did ask why you want to change it? Sealed for life but were very helpful. One thing to note is that garage did find some small metal filings on magnets but nothing serious. I would recommend changing the oil, I intend to keep the car for a few years yet and it's given me a little peace of mind. Any future issues with box and I will give an update immediately. Make your own minds up but do your research with the latest feed back possible.

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In the UK it's not part of the service schedule to change auto transmission oil but in the US it is. Over there they change the oil at 60k miles and the oil and filter at 120k miles. 

My 320i had a vibration about 1500 rpm when sat at a set speed of 30, 40 & 50 mph. It seemed like the torque converter was struggling to lock up. I changed the oil and straight away it was lovely. 

I could only change 3L as that's all I could get out and put new in but I've enough to do it again. I know you can get it all flushed through and changed but I fear dislodging some crap so will stick to changing as much oil as I can periodically. 

Mine has not quite done 80k so I've not done the filter.

I've done quite a lot of miles since changing the oil too, with no issues.

Kirkynut 

 

Edited by kirkynut

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