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Old 10-07-2018, 10:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 1,621
cn90 is on a distinguished road
DIY 2004 X3 E83 ATF SIMPLE Drain/Refill using Gravity!

My 2004 X3 with 84K runs fine. This is just preventive ATF maintenance.

Useful videos:



- The ATF at 84K is dark (can ran fine, no issues).

The BMW ATF Drain/Refill is never fun because:
1. There is no dipstick tube!
2. Refilling is done with engine running and HOT Exhaust right next to fill bolt!

I found an easy way, I have been using gravity fill for a long time as I dislike the "Suction Gun" (messy).


- For simple Drain/Refill: 4.2 ---> 4.5 quarts, depending on the car is tilted or not.

- I used Valvoline Synthetic Dexron-VI (Menards hardware sells it for $5/each qt).

- You can repeat this step 2-3 times if you wish (just run engine in between Drain/Refill).

- Thick Dishwashing Gloves (Hot Exhaust nearby).

- Tiny Funnel that fits inside clear tubing.

- Clear Tubing I.D. = 3/8", get about 4 feet at local hardware store.

- Torx 50

- 17-mm 6-point 3/8"-type socket + 3/8" breaker bar.

- Wood Ramps.


- Watch the videos to be familiar with the pros and cons.

- I drove the RIGHT side on ramp. The purist would say I overfill it a bit this way.
If you are a purist, then drive all 4 wheels on 4 wood ramps.

- I know I drained 4.2 quarts, this is from factory. With the RIGHT side on ramps, it takes
4.5 quarts before it runs out of the Fill hole. Alternatively, if the right side is on ramps like my photo, then fill until 4.2 ---> 4.3 qts, then stop. Nothing will drip out if the right side is tilted up.

- ALWAYS open the FILL bolt first, just in case you stripped it, it is not the end of the world.
When you are down there, it is very easy to get disoriented between CW vs CCW. Make sure you turn it CCW.
There is an O-ring, don't lose it.
The O-ring got stuck on the Trans, so I left it there during the whole process.

- Drain the ATF and re-install the T-50 plug. Finger-tight then twist a bit (I don't know the torque).

- The clear tubing: I pour a tiny amount of gasoline in there to clean the inside.
Then TAPE shut both ends because when you tunnel the tubing through the Engine ---> Exhaust ---> Trans, dirt can get inside the tubing. And dirt is the #1 enemy of Trans!

- Once you are happy with the tubing (place a breaker bar or some metal between exhaust + tubing to avoid damage to tubing from heat).

- Engine OFF: Exactly 3 quarts will start to drip out of fill hole.

- Now turn engine ON: the Transmission Pump will suck ATF from the pan and pumps it into the Torque Converter.
Now, you can add either:
a. 1.2 quarts, then stop, nothing will drip out of the hole (b/c the car is tilted a bit).
b. 1.5 quarts like I did.

- Now wear thick gloves and gently install the Fill Bolt (Don't lose the O-ring).

- Turn engine OFF, allowing Exhaust to cool down a bit.

- Now tighten the Fill Bolt: just finger-tight then turn it a bit (I don't know the torque).

- Test drive the car.

Now you can see that using Gravity Fill is a much better technique than "Suction Gun".

Hope you like this DIY!!!

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Old 10-23-2018, 02:56 PM
CleanIsFast's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 956
CleanIsFast is on a distinguished road
Nice DIY.

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