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2005 325i Auto
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

My car has done 240,000kms (150,000 miles) and I'd assume the auto trans has never been serviced.

I was going to take it to the auto trans service place I take my Kia to for a power flush, new filter etc, but I've read that can be a problem with older trans.

How true is this? Any tricks/tips/recommendations?

I've also watch 50skids video where he recommends draining/filling/running/draining several times, which will likely cost about the same just more labor and time intensive.
 

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'03 325iT Mystic Blau
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Hi All,

My car has done 240,000kms (150,000 miles) and I'd assume the auto trans has never been serviced.

I was going to take it to the auto trans service place I take my Kia to for a power flush, new filter etc, but I've read that can be a problem with older trans.

How true is this? Any tricks/tips/recommendations?

I've also watch 50skids video where he recommends draining/filling/running/draining several times, which will likely cost about the same just more labor and time intensive.
There's not a single other fluid that anybody will ever tell you that "if you haven't changed it yet then you'd better not!"
It's a myth propagated by shops who don't want to be the last one to touch the car when the customer has neglected trans maintenance until they started having symptoms and then went "oh man! I better get this thing in!"
Shop changes fluid, customer drives it 45 miles and the symptom that motivated them to finally bring it in turns into full blown failure, customer rages at shop because it "must be their fault!"
Easier just to come up with this wive's tale as an excuse to not do the work.
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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There's not a single other fluid that anybody will ever tell you that "if you haven't changed it yet then you'd better not!"
It's a myth propagated by shops who don't want to be the last one to touch the car when the customer has neglected trans maintenance until they started having symptoms and then went "oh man! I better get this thing in!"
Shop changes fluid, customer drives it 45 miles and the symptom that motivated them to finally bring it in turns into full blown failure, customer rages at shop because it "must be their fault!"
Easier just to come up with this wive's tale as an excuse to not do the work.
VV, well you're partially right.
I was at the dealer when the infamous BMW/ZF 4HP was all in vogue. They were horrible.
Some brand new cars needed pushing off of the delivery truck for blown A Clutches, wiped out seals on the F Clutch drums etc.
That's where BMW & automatic transmission servicing got a bad rap.

You're right, I don't want the liability for the "It never needs maintenance" guy.

OP: Go for it, you'll be happy.
 

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'03 325iT Mystic Blau
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VV, well you're partially right.
I was at the dealer when the infamous BMW/ZF 4HP was all in vogue. They were horrible.
Some brand new cars needed pushing off of the delivery truck for blown A Clutches, wiped out seals on the F Clutch drums etc.
That's where BMW & automatic transmission servicing got a bad rap.

You're right, I don't want the liability for the "It never needs maintenance" guy.

OP: Go for it, you'll be happy.
It's not just BMW transmissions that have picked up this story though, it's all high mileage automatics.

My coworker finally asked me if he should change the trans fluid in his Odyssey. I asked him how many miles he had on it - "about 200k" he said. Hell yes you should change it! you should have done it ages ago!

He decides he doesn't want to mess with it so takes it to an indy Honda shop where they tell him "oh, you don't need to change that ever, it's lifetime!" :LOL:

It made it to 286k before the trans crapped out and I really wonder if had he changed it at 200 like I told him to if it would still be on the road today, because it wasn't yet symptomatic when he'd asked me.
 

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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208 Posts
Does your car have the ZF or GM transmission? If it has the ZF unit, you might want to install the TransGo pressure regulator while you're in there.

Product link: TransGo | 5HP-19-PR | ZF5HP19 Pressure Regulator Repair

Edit to add: I don't have an opinion on power flushing. But I do think the transmission fluid should be changed regularly. There are parts in the transmission that wear down over time (clutches, bands, etc). The material that wears off those parts ends up in the trans fluid. Over time it can sludge up the transmission, just like an engine that doesn't get its oil changed enough.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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543 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
OP: Go for it, you'll be happy.
Thanks Mark,

So what are you recommending? Shop flush or DIY?

And to all above I agree... never seen anything blow up from clean oil, quite the opposite. I've just seen some very strong opinions on the matter and wanted to confirm.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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Discussion Starter #7

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2001 330i (pre-facelift)
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It's easy to tell. You can even tell by touch. ;)

The ZF unit has lines and dots stamped into the pan. The GM unit has a fairly smooth pan.
 

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//Binary is in my DNA
2002 BMW 325i
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4,013 Posts
My ZF gearbox in my 2002 325i was never serviced the entire 18 years I have owned it. At 208,000 miles I pulled the trigger and finally replaced the filter with a ZF filter and used ZF Lifeguard 5 as replacement. No issues at all now at 216,500 miles. I also has reservations from the horror stories I read since 180,000 miles but finally got to the point where I had done everything else so bit the bullet and went in.

Do it azadani. Just use the correct replacement parts and fluid.
 

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04 325XIT 05 325IT 03 325XI 05 X5 3.0
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It's not just BMW transmissions that have picked up this story though, it's all high mileage automatics.

My coworker finally asked me if he should change the trans fluid in his Odyssey. I asked him how many miles he had on it - "about 200k" he said. Hell yes you should change it! you should have done it ages ago!

He decides he doesn't want to mess with it so takes it to an indy Honda shop where they tell him "oh, you don't need to change that ever, it's lifetime!" :LOL:

It made it to 286k before the trans crapped out and I really wonder if had he changed it at 200 like I told him to if it would still be on the road today, because it wasn't yet symptomatic when he'd asked me.
depends on which model HONDA /Acura Vick, the pre 2004 ones had the Tranny problems....
OP CHECK OUT BALIDAWG list of ATF that you can use .
I agree with above here, you should change it- no such thing as lifetime fluid, just doesnt exist....
 

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//Binary is in my DNA
2002 BMW 325i
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4,013 Posts
Definitely ZF trans.

So is a power flush recommended?
Powerflush tends to send any and all debris lodged in any and all crevasses throughout the system. I would simply drain and fill with filter. If you have to chase the complete fluid replacement do the drain and fill 3 times but with the cost of ZF Lifeguard 5 fluid, it is over US$100 for 6 liters each time so it will get expensive.
 

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04 325XIT 05 325IT 03 325XI 05 X5 3.0
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Definitely ZF trans.

So is a power flush recommended?
if your comfortable going under the vehicle I would DIY.Replace Filter at first drain and fill then one more Drain and fill (or 3x total if you want )with fluid choice.
i use Valvoline Maxlife ATF on Balidawgs list.So it is inexpensive for me.
 

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2003 325xi 5spd Manual
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I dont believe in a full flush where they hook it up to a machine and blast new fluid in and get rid of all the old fluid, via the trans cooler lines. In my opinion on cars that have high miles and never had the fluid changed, this can cause shavings and other crap to get into places where they shouldnt be. A pan drop, magnet cleaning and new trans filter is good enough IMO.
 

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2002 BMW 325i
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My car has 114 000kms (72 000 miles) on it and I will be taking it in for a drain and fill + filter change in the next couple weeks (no flush). No detectable issues with auto transmission (GM), but I still feel nervous about getting this done.
 

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//Binary is in my DNA
2002 BMW 325i
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4,013 Posts
My car has 114 000kms (72 000 miles) on it and I will be taking it in for a drain and fill + filter change in the next couple weeks (no flush). No detectable issues with auto transmission (GM), but I still feel nervous about getting this done.
At 72K miles, you will be fine. Roll in like a BOSS!
 

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E46 '04 330Ci convertible 765 K km
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Transmission failed soon after ATF change isn't myth, unfortunately; however it can happen either when procedure performed incorrect way (underfuilling) or if car is driven aggressively right after oil change, so fresh ATF moves some sludge (if there was any) and it sticks in passways/sloenoids.
Safer way for transmissions with higher mileage would be ATF/filter change, rather than full flush, and such procedure repeated in a few hundred km, and maybe third time if you really want gearbox to get really fresh ATF. In this case sludge, if any, will we washed off/ dissolved gradually and it minimizes risk of solenoids/passways clogged. Higher mileage unserviced transmission has, higher the possibility of some trouble; yet, for instance, mine was opened first at 470 K km, for torque converter repair, and after that -oil partically changed (and, as I realized much later, underfilled) reached mileage of 618 k Km, at which it suddenly died - so your also probably gonna be fine.
Another thing is to strictly follow fill in procedure (temperature while filling) otherwise you get your transmission underfilled -guaranteed.
DIY is simple and gives you peace of mind as you know that everything is done correct way; you need to have a lift though, and car has to be horizontally leveled. Someone from this forum performed such procedure on jack stands though.
For procedure cost - there is long list of compatible ATF, with a price 5-10 USD per liter, so you do not have to use ZF lifeguard 5. Filter/ gasket replacement is mandatoty though.
 

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2005 325i Auto
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Discussion Starter #18
OK, so I've just came back from getting my wife's KIA's transmission flushed, which we do every 50,000kms.

I asked him about my E46, and he said he knew them very well but they don't see as many these days. He said all the "power flush buggering the gearbox" is bullshit, but not for the reason everyone thinks. He said they don't "power flush" them at high pressure at all, it's just a transfer pump that hooks up to the return line from the heat exchanger. He said that it puts hardly any pressure at all into the line, it just delivers it back to the box and the internal pump pressurizes it there at the same pressure it always runs. He said he hears that story all the time, and it's more likely they came down for a flush because they suspected their box was buggered already.

He did say that if there was massive buildup on the magnets there's no point, as it's already on it's way to failing. He also said the BMW pump flows pretty quick, so you need a pump that will keep up with it, or be ready to shut it down if the open hose you're running to the waste oil bucket starts bubbling. He said if that happens, shut the car down and wait for oil to come out of the fill plug (that you've left open) then start the car again.

He did mention "for fucks sake don't hook the compressed air up to it", which may very well cause the things mentioned, but he said flowing clean fluid in this way can only be good and "people just say these things because they read it on the internet". His words, not mine.

He quoted me 550AUD for a full flush with filter etc, which is too much for me for that car. When I said that he said just get an ebay transfer pump, pull the quick fit hose off the inlet of the heat exchanger and gently clamp some soft hose onto the pipe and pump it in there for a full flush. He also said the box should be fine at my miles unless it's been driven hard or badly, but it's definitely time to service it and keep on servicing it.

I've got no reason to doubt him. We've used him for a couple of years and his business is always very busy. He's a good guy too, and seemed to know the E46 very well.
 

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Here to serve y’all
2004 330Ci 85k miles
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14,320 Posts
So what are you recommending? Shop flush or DIY?
 

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2005 325i Auto
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Discussion Starter #20
I'm looking at your flush technique over a shop job. You've got some good info there, thanks for that.
 
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