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  #1  
Old 02-24-2016, 10:34 AM
sew sew is offline
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Gearbox oil change - how often?

When I got my 2000 E53 M62 back in 2012 it had just short of 44k miles on the clock. I had the gearbox oil and filter changed immediately as I don't do "lifetime" oils! I understand they can only change 3-4 litres of the total, so some of the oil is now over 15 years old and has now done over 60k miles. The gearbox is absolutely fine (touch wood) but how often do folk think the oil should be changed (whatever amount you can get at to change, that is)... I'm inclinded to think to do what I can every 30k miles but maybe not the filter every time...?
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:05 PM
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See that can of worms over there - think you've just opened it!

Massively varying opinions on this one, do a search.

Personally, I'm on 106k miles and as far as I know it's still the original fluid. I'm very tempted to change it, but there seems to be a weight of opinion against changing it on older cars due to the risk of dislodging gunky mess.

As an ex-aircraft engineer, old oil makes me a little nervous, but then so does knackering my gbox!!

I think you'll have to have a good read around here and come to your own conclusion. My conclusion is that I will do it, but in the summer months when I can get the ragtop out of the garage if I break the Zimzimmer...
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:11 PM
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My local BMW dealership absolutely recommends that it be done, but they don't say how often! I wouldn't buy a car over 70k miles unless it had been changed (which of course never happens when mere mortals buy them!). I've seen the effects of not changing the oil (my 1999 540iAT died for this very reason, I got it too late to save it though changing the oil prologed its life, I'm sure). Nobody, just nobody will ever, ever convince me that NOT changing the oil is the right thing to do!
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:55 PM
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IMO, it's not enough to just drain/refill the gearbox oil. The filter needs to be changed and perhaps most importantly, the pan and the magnets need to be cleaned. A surprising amount of fine sludge accumulates on the bottom of the pan and around the magnets. Some argue that removing this friction clutch residue is what leads to failure after a trans oil change; I would suggest that changing the oil without removing this crud is what leads to early failure, as the new fluid/detergent dissolves some of it and then recirculates it.

I'm due for another trans oil service; my X5 has 154k miles (bought it new in Feb 01) and this will be the third time. Still shifts like butter. Of course, now that I've said that, it'll probably grenade itself tomorrow.
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:59 PM
sew sew is offline
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@Scott ZHP am I right in thinking that the pan needs to come off to do the filter? I've not done it myself yet, I've had the dealership do it because of getting the "matching" oil for which they have to refer to the green label on the gearbox itself, apparently... If the pan has to come off to do the filter then I'm sure they'll clean out the pan at the same time, we're lucky that we have a very good (and very obliging) local dealer. Some look down their noses at the older cars, but ours is fine... From what you're saying you're working on changes every 50k miles, correct?
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:16 PM
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BMW X5 Automatic Transmission Fluid Replacement (E53 2000 - 2006) | Pelican Parts DIY Maintenance Article

Yes, the pan has to come off to change the filter. I have a nagging feeling the filter is integral to the pan, and a new pan may be required...? Stand to be corrected on that one though.

The refill procedure is a little protracted, and you either need a BMW scan tool or other method of checking the trans oil temp.

When I do mine I have either an infra red thermometer or a temp probe type thermometer - not sure which will be most effective, but I'm not ready to splash the cash on the scan tool yet.
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:28 PM
sew sew is offline
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Thanks @Rosssavage, looking at Bentley it seems the pan is seperate and I believe I do have the relevant tools to do the job (incluing checking the fluid temperature). But I'd still need to get the correct fluid and filter from BMW themselves, so all I'd be saving is the labour charge.
Still not sure when I need to do it next...!
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:56 PM
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Just been watching the bavauto video - yup, looks like the filter is a separate part and can be replaced independently.
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Old 02-24-2016, 02:32 PM
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There are strong feelings on to change or not to change. The vast majority of the time the not to change contingent bases their opinion on the BMW statement that the fluid is for the lifetime of the transmission. As noted, there is often mention that it will cause problems.

The change folks base their opinion on fluid degradation.

Changing the fluid and filter is an easy DIY and having the capability to take the temperature of the fluid is not critical. As long as the fluid is full, which means there is a small steady stream running out of the fill hole after the transmission has been filled and also after the vehicle has be cycled through the gears and the vehicle is driven but not hard for a few miles and then the fluid is topped off it will be fine.

The filter is completely separate from the pan. I don't think there is any reason to use other than the proper ZF fluid.

If you decide to change the fluid, how often is up to you. My interval is every 50,000 miles.
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Last edited by bcredliner; 02-25-2016 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 02-24-2016, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcredliner View Post
There are strong feelings on to change or not to change. The vast majority of the time the not to change contingent bases their opinion on the BMW statement that the fluid is for the lifetime of the transmission. As noted, there is often mention that it will cause problems.

The change folks base their opinion on fluid degradation.

Changing the fluid and filter is an easy DIY and having the capability to take the temperature of the fluid is not critical. As long as the fluid is full, which means there is a small steady stream running out of the fill hole after the transmission has been filled and also after the vehicle has be cycled through the gears and the vehicle is driven but not hard for a few miles and then the fluid is topped off it will be fine.

The filter is completely separate from the pan. I dot think there is any reason to use other than the proper ZF fluid.

If you decide to change the fluid, how often is up to you. My interval is every 50,000 miles.
+1.

I try to keep it at 30k on previous cars.
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