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To change ATF or not to change. That is the question.

Discussion in 'E39 (1997-2003)' started by AngryE39, Jun 27, 2008.

    • Member

    AngryE39

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    New BMW owner. New Club member. First post.

    I am looking for opinions on whether or not to change the "lifetime" automatic transmission fluid on my E39. It is a 2001 540i sport with 94k miles. I bought it 3 months ago and have thoroughly enjoyed the car. The car runs and shifts fine. I have no noises or other symptoms of tranny problems. My BMW mechanic (private BMW shop; not a dealer) says he does not believe the tranny has been serviced and he says that even at 94k I should go ahead and do the service now. My brother the Benz technician (Can I write "Benz" on this site?) says I might want to leave well enough alone and not "stir up" whatever might be in there at this point.

    I have most of the service records on the car and other than the neglected tranny service, all of the regular maintenance (fluids, filters, hoses, etc) has been performed at proper (i.e. NOT BMW extended) intervals and with correct parts/materials. I really like my E39 and am hoping to keep it as my daily driver for several years/miles.

    Please let me know if you think it is too late to service this AT or if I can have it serviced and not worry about creating problems that do not currently exist. (If I decide to have the transmission serviced now, I plan to get on a "regular" schedule (60k miles?) for future ATF swaps to help extend the life of my transmission.)

    Thanks for any opinions.

    niemibl guest

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    Have you read the June issue of Roundel? In the Tech Talk column Mike Miller addresses a question similar to yours. The car is a 1995 525i with 82,000. That might help you.

    Poormech guest

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    In addition to my e39 6 spd, I have two e34's with automatics. One had 145k miles on the original fluid and the other had 125k. I replaced the fluid in them last year and after putting 20k miles on each of them, they still run fine. In February, I replaced the "lifetime" fluid and screen in a friends 540i. He says it shifts alot smoother with no problems. Maybe I've been lucky so far, but the two previous e28's I sold had over 300K miles on them with the original transmissions.
    • Member

    AngryE39

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    Thanks for the info. I would love to get about 300k out of my e39.

    I suspect I'll go ahead with the AT service. My sense is that's the way to go. I wold be especially interested to know the approx mileafge on your friend's e39 540i when you did the AT service on it in Feb. That's the same "lifetime" fluid tranny I have.

    Thanks again.

    Poormech guest

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    The mileage was 124,526. By the way, I worked as a tech at a BMW dealership for a while and I was told that, according to BMW, mileage on a lifetime fill is 75K to 100K miles. The fluid I've used is made by Pentosin in Germany (I bought it here in Ga. by the liter) They have a Website at www.pentosin.com but it's all in German so that doesn't help much. The bottle says that it's good for 120K miles, But I'd change it about every
    50k miles if were me. I think Bavarian Autosport also carries the auto fluid. They can be found at www.bavauto.com. I can help if you need further instructions on how to do the process.
    • Member

    AngryE39

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    Outstanding. Thank you very much for the help.

    robmontag guest

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    99 540i -

    Greetings - curious about your thread - my 99 540i sport has 155k - daily driver - car sat for < week while on business trip (+golf!) - returned car to service and from first start tranny slips into "trouble mode" - been very hot/humid as well -also have noticed seepage/splatter/small drips on what looks to be tranny lines to cooler - is it possible that the slippage is due to low fluid/heat? What about fluid change/replacement?

    MFarisE39 guest

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    Fur dein leute das nicht Deutche Sprecken,

    There is an English link on www.pentosin.com. It doesn't specify fluid life.

    :D
    • Member

    AngryE39

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    I am sorry but I have no idea what's going on with your e39. (As noted, I have only owned my first BMW for a few months.)

    Maybe one of the other members will pick up on your question here. If not, You should create a new post to this forum and re-post your question there. I am certain you will receive replies.

    Good luck.

    Poormech guest

    Post Count: 19
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    Well let's see... After your intial drive from vacation does the car drive normal or does it still slip? Have you had any trans problems before the day you went on vacation? Sometimes when the car sits for a while two things may happen. Fluid may drain down out of the upper section of the trans filling up the pan a little more. When initially starting it up you may want to let it idle for a minute and it should run normal after that. The next day when you drive it operation should be normal. Another thing that can happen. Depending on the state of the battery and after sitting for a while, battery voltage may drop below a predetermined level and upon start up it may give you a trans light or message. Many times it will lock the trans into a certain gear (limp home). From what I've seen after the first time the car is driven the message is gone and isn't seen again unless the alternator is not charging and the voltage drops down below 10 volts I think. Of course low oil level and a clogged filter will also cause this. Hopefully after your first drive everything is ok.
    • Member

    330indy1

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    +1

    change it every 45k if you can. that is the regimen I am following with our e39 530i step.
    I drive it hard and don't worry about it.

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