How To: Auto Gearbox oil checking/topping up

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  1. How To: Auto Gearbox oil checking/topping up 
    #1
    DSK
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    Auto gearbox's usually never get their gear oil changed as per the general 60,000miles service intervals so its best to keep an eye on the level and condition yourself. Leaving the oil to dergade or allowing the oil level to drop will result in the gearbox starting to behave strangely, some of the of the following are common symptoms;

    - gears are held for longer before changing up
    - gear changes are not as smooth
    - the gear box is not as responsive to minor throttle adjustments
    - kickdown is not consistent, may not kick down to a low enough gear
    - strange rattle noises on modest acceleration and revs

    Generally its best to check the gearbox oil level when the car is warm, take it for a short steady drive simoply to get the car upto temperature then;

    - pull up and park and leave the engine running
    - select each of the gears in turn one at a time (repeat this approximately 6 times)
    - check the gearbox oil level in relation to the 'HOT' mark on the dipstick
    - if the oil is not at the right level (at the top of the 'HOT' marking) then top it up (only use the correct specified gearbox oil!)
    - select each of the gears in turn once again (repeat this a few times)
    - re-check gearbox oil level

    Once the oil level is correct, take the car for a short drive to see what difference has been made.

    A friend with a 1996 Mercedes AMG C36 automatic contacted me asking if I could take a look at his car as suddenly he's noticing a rattling noise under acceleration which he thought was his engine going and that the kickdown only went up by around 500-1,000rpm rather than whipping itself round to more higher revs. I took the car for a drive and thought this feels like a crude 4spd auto box rather than a slick n smooth 4spd. The throttle itself seemed fine with the correct tension, the gearbox oil (checked with engine initially off) indicated an 'OK' reading. So I thought I'd check it properly with the engine on, now the reading was off the scale! So a gentle drive to Halfords and then threw some Castrol ATF in bit by bit to ensure it went to the correct level (with the engine on).

    Once I was happy with the oil level, I asked my mate to drive the car now and see how it felt and I'll try and see where this rattle noise is comming from....... the box instantly operated like a more modern 5spd box, very responsive to all throttle inputs, kickdown was accurate and consistent every time, shifting to the right gear for maximum attack mode. Also the rattle on acceleration had been eliminated! I also asked him to head towards faster roads where the revs can be kept around 2,500/3,000rpm and then to floor it a few times. The box now kicks down as it should each and every time.
    Last edited by DSK; 02-10-2009 at 17:43.
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  4.  
    #2
    DSK
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    Also I'd recommend carrying out a typical basic gear oil change once a year at the least. So long as this is done often enough, you will get away with usually removing the gearbox oil sump or draining it (some boxes have a drain plug, some don't) and refilling it (fit a new filter if applicable).

    If the oil level is correct but the oil is dirty with over approx 60,000miles on the original oil I'd advise on a full gearbox oil change (more oil will be drained and required to refill the system).
    Let the fun times roll .....

    BMW 328i Coupe - Boge M-Tech Shocks, Boge Turbo Lowering Spring Kit (30/20mm), ATE Power Discs
    Volvo C70 T5 GT
    UK Spec Toyota Supra 3.0ltr Twin Turbo Automatic
    ZX6R J1 Ninja

    Tyre Guide & FAQ http://www.bimmerforums.co.uk/forum/...re-faqs-t1569/

    BFUK weekday crew
     
     

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    Good write up but im a bit confused. Would this method apply to my 1997 e36 323i auto? I want to change the ATF in that and my Haynes manuals telling me i have to check it under the car at the box itself. I cant see a dipstick under the bonnet for the autobox. Saying that i know im due an eye test a long time ago!
     
     

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    The E36 gearbox is a GM unit and there is no dipstick so your Haynes manual is correct.
     
     

  10. same prob with my 96 328i coupe auto 
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    Hi, after having a bit of a gearbox leak from the cooling pipe seals by the radiator I lost enough oil too cause it too now slip outta gear when I break at a junction. After replacing the seals an gettin the fluid ready too get it up too level am now having a prob finding where too top it up from? There's no dipstick, we found a bolt on the side of the box, once removed there's a plate inside an tryin too get any oil in the was imposible, I phoned bmw who told me I had too remove the sump an there will be a bolt an I fill it through there which too me sounds wrong lol filling it up from the bottom??? Any help on this would be great .
     
     

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