Hello there and welcome to the BMW Car Club of America.

If you are a BMW CCA member, please log in and introduce yourself in our Member Introductions section.

Guess That Fluid...

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by Elkoholic, Nov 22, 2009.

    • Member

    Elkoholic

    Post Count: 183
    Likes Received:0
    Okay, so I haven't been home for two months (hooray graduate program), and it appears that in that time my parents haven't really exercised my car much. My dad's got a bad ankle and can't handle the third petal, and my mom fries clutches better than she fries chicken. And they're also wary of the considerable amount of fluid on the floor beneath the car...ruh-roh...

    Now, my deductions: all levels look okay (coolant, oil, and washer fluid :p), so I'm gonna pass on those. Doesn't smell remotely like gasoline, so check that off the list. Brakes and clutch all in perfect working condition--pass there. I did, however, in the springtime, have the clutch replaced, and after the service there were a few drops appearing here and there, and now there's enough happening to completely dye a newspaper and a paper towel--see the attached crappy-quality pictures.

    So how does a bad transmission seal sound? Is that a good guess? What do you guys say? Are there any symptoms of low trans fluid I should look out for? I took 'er for a spin today, and it's running as smooth as ever (after the tires rounded themselves out again...lol).
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 2,908
    Likes Received:151
    See what your Bentley manual says for how to check transmission fluid - I think there's a plug on the side of the transmission you have to pull (presumably the fill plug), and it should be full up to that level. make sure the brake fluid level is where it should be. Might be a good idea to get it up in the air and look around from the underside.
    • Member

    az3579

    Post Count: 3,270
    Likes Received:3
    If it is brake fluid, be careful as it will damage your paint.
    • Member

    Brian A

    Post Count: 657
    Likes Received:7
    Seems to me to be the only way to figure it out too. If its not obvious, give everything down there a good scrub so that you can more clearly see where the fluid is coming from. (It's a little embarassing that the underside of my car is usually cleaner than the top.)
    • Member

    tiFreak

    Post Count: 523
    Likes Received:2
    transmission fluid should be red, I think that might be brake fluid
    • Member

    Elkoholic

    Post Count: 183
    Likes Received:0
    Thanks for the input guys. But I just checked the brake fluid reservoir, and it's in tip-top shape--entirely filled. Same level that's been in there since I did a slave cylinder swap last year and needed to feed the whole hydraulic system--there's no dip in the level that the amount of fluid on the floor would indicate...
    • Member

    Elkoholic

    Post Count: 183
    Likes Received:0
    UPDATE: I'm home from school (again) for Thanksgiving, and I made a run to the grocery store--don't know if its the chilly weather, but shifting seemed a little more notchy than usual. I'm thinking it's definitely the tranny fluid...aka gear oil, a la Bentley. Gonna put her on the jack stands tomorrow and see what lies beneath. And take lots of pictures! :D
    • Member

    109941

    Post Count: 342
    Likes Received:23
    IMHO, the stains/drops seem too light in viscosity for gear lube. ATF, possibly, but not gear lube.

    Because of the potential paint damage, I would focus on brake fluid leaks. What about the slave cylinder?

    Good luck
    • Member

    CRKrieger

    Post Count: 1,616
    Likes Received:20
    He isn't losing brake fluid. It comes from the same reservoir.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

    Post Count: 1,880
    Likes Received:15
    I would def. check the trans fluid. It may be equipped with gear oil, motor oil, ATF, or a mix of any of those as is common practice. It will likely be a little notchy anyway due to cold weather, but you really don't want to drive it with the trans too low on lube.
    • Member

    109941

    Post Count: 342
    Likes Received:23
    I understand, but do you think those stains are gear lube? I'm guessing some light viscosity fluid.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

    Post Count: 1,880
    Likes Received:15
    Why would you guess that?
    • Member

    109941

    Post Count: 342
    Likes Received:23
    Gear lube is relatively high viscosity so it should travel slowly thru those paper towels and newspapers. As such, I would expect rings of a trapped debris and dirt. (Note; that garage floor looks cleaner than my kitchen table in my bachelor days). If it was ATF, I would have no problem. However, the guy says he has a stick.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

    Post Count: 1,880
    Likes Received:15
    Gear lubes are avialable in a wide variety of viscosities and are not as thick as you might think. They will soak into paper pretty quickly. Also, as I said before, the trans could have motor oil, ATF, and gear lube in it. The 260 gearbox acutually uses ATF as a lube from the factory (but you would likely see the red color if that were the case.) It can easily have been changed out for motor oil or thin gear oil.
    • Member

    109941

    Post Count: 342
    Likes Received:23
    If his transmission can run ATF, then I stand corrected. I'm familiar with nice thick, smelly 75w-90 GL-4 gear lube in my manual transmissions.
    • Member

    Brian A

    Post Count: 657
    Likes Received:7
    You folks are starting to sound like new parents analyzing a dirty diaper. Eww.
    • Member

    Elkoholic

    Post Count: 183
    Likes Received:0
    ROFL @ Brian! And 109941, where in Central PA are you? This "home" that I've been speaking of is Lancaster. I'm planning to take my car to CR's BMW Wholesale and Service in Harrisburg to repair this little upset (and maybe check out a cheap used 7-series as a commuter car for my next co-op). Anyone ever have any experience with this place? http://www.bmwwholesale.net/
    • Member

    109941

    Post Count: 342
    Likes Received:23
    Yeah, but I would touch the oily drop cloths......
    • Member

    109941

    Post Count: 342
    Likes Received:23
    Chris,

    I'm outside State College in the town of Bellefonte. Which Drexel co-op program are you in? Relative to CR's BMW Wholesale, I have no experience with them, but, perhaps, someone in the Nittany Bimmers Chapter can help you.

    Good luck.

    Jon
    • Member

    John in VA

    Post Count: 624
    Likes Received:3
    I've only purchased parts from Chris and the crew - no idea of mechanical prowess.

    "cheap used 7-series" = the ultimate oxymoron!!

Share This Page