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Discussion Starter #1
My car is in a garage where they have replaced the leaking transmission fluid cooler/radiator..
As there was fluid lost in the process, the ATF now needs to be replaced/added.
The garage called me as they were struggling to find anywhere obvious to put the fluid back in.

I looked in the user manual but nothing, the E31 tech CD shows a separate dipstick with a cap that has to be tilted to lift up, then the ATF oil is added into the tube with a funnel. This is supposed to be located towards the rear of the engine on the left hand side. The garage is saying my car does not have this.

I enquired at the dealers and one of the mechanics told me that the fluid has to be put into the sump of the auto gearbox whilst the engine is running.
Apparently, there is a 17mm hex plug at the side of the sump which is removed to allow the ATF to be put in using a 'tube'. :confused

I passed this information on to the garage and sure enough, they removed the plug and all the remaining ATF ran out. They have tried putting it back in using a tube, but as fast as it goes in, it comes out again - not surprising as the plug is in the lower part of the sump.

The garage then made their own enquiries and said it can only be done using a special 'pump' which costs £1k. As they dont have one, it means putting the car onto a transporter at a cost of £40 to take it to the dealers so that they can do it at a cost of £85 + vat.

All that just to top up the ATF?
I cant believe that BMW have (badly) designed it this way. :confused
Surely there is some other way to get the ATF into the auto gearbox?

Can somebody please advise if they know how to do this and also how much ATF fluid does the auto gearbox hold?

Understandably, I am quite desperate to resolve this as the car cannot be driven without any fluid in the gearbox and so it is stuck at the garage for the time being.
Many thanks!
 

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The information that I have suggests that to refill the gearbox after it has been drained requires just 3 litres...(Autodata 2006 - surely you need more than that?)

Not a clue how you will get it in though as I can only see the one plug myself, I would suggest making sure that they get the correct grade of oil, as there are quite a number of "special" oils for that gearbox depending upon the exact type of gearbox fitted and colour of the label on the gearbox (green or black label).:frown
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I found this information about the type of oil to use;

Life-time oil: E31, E32, E34, E36, E38, E39

Situation: In future automatic transmissions are to be converted to life-time oil to reduce service costs. With life-time oil, it is not necessary to renew the oil at any point throughout the service life of the transmission.
The following measures have been introduced so that a transmission filled with life-time oil can be easily recognized:
- A green transmission type plate
- The lettering "Life-Time-Öl" (Life-time oil) on the underside of the oil sump
- The "Oil type part number" for use in the event of repairs has also been included on the underside of the oil sump
Note:
One exception to this rule is the A5S 300J transmission made by Jatco on the E36 with M52 engine which is already filled with life-time oil but which has no external markings to indicate this fact.

Affected vehicles:
A list of vehicles on which the automatic transmission has already been filled with lifetime oil;

Procedure: In the event of a repair to the transmission, only the type of transmission oil approved for that particular gearbox should be used. It is not permitted to mix different types of oil as this impairs the functioning of the automatic transmission.
Below is a list of the different types of life-time oil in use, -the associated transmission types and --the vehicle types:

ATF oils in accordance with Dexron III spec
-A4S 310R (THM-R1) -- All with life-time oil

Esso LT 71 141
-A5S 310Z (5HP18) -- All with life-time oil
-A5S 440Z (5HP24) -- All models
-A5S 560Z (5HP30) -- 740iA E38, 750iA E38, 540iA E39, 840iA E31/M62, 850iA E31/M73

Shell LA 2634
-A5S 560Z (5HP30) -- 540iA E34, 740iA E32, 840iA E31/M60

Apolloil-ATA-D3 made by IDEMITSU
-A5S 300J (Jatco) -- All with and without life-time oil


Now I know what type of oil to use, its just a matter of getting it in the gearbox..

It does appear that the only way to put the oil in is via the plug in the gearbox sump and by using a pump to do it.

Has anyone done this and/or can advise what type of pump is needed ?
Is it really a specialised job or can it be DIY ?
 

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My friend just did his on a 740, this is his take on it, so credit to John


Depends on what gearbox he has. There could be 2 different types. Same procedure just drain and fill holes in different positions.

But there are separate drain and fill holes. Obviously the fill hole will be higher than the drain. And the drain will be at the lowest point.

He will need a pump to pump the new oil up into the box. My newest addition to my tool kit.

There are a few write-ups on this site: www.E38.org

After he drains all the oil. He needs to refil until the new oil starts to run out of the fill hole. Then get a second person to get into the car and start the engine and switch on the aircon. With the foot on the break you cycle through the gears pausing in each gear for a bit. Then back into park with the engine still running and check the level. Continue to fill again until the new oils begins to pour out the fill hole.

Many people get this level wrong because they don't check the level when the engine is running. When the engine is running the box is pumping the oil around the box and its cooling system. When its switched off all the oil drops back into the sump giving an illusion of higher fill level.

If this is the first time he is changing the oil in the box he should change the filter as well.

Hope that helps.

John


PS he also said find the fill hole was interesting , general tip for auto box oil change, find and make sure you can loosen the fill plug before you remove the drain plug.. many a soul has succumbed to draining and then mashing up /destroying the fill plug with a spanner..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Many thanks, that helps.

The gearbox type is: ZF A5S 560Z (5HP30)
I found out the fill capacity is 13.1 Litres from this link: http://www.bimmerboard.com/members/davidc/original/ZF_transmission_oil_chart.jpg

I also found out that the following can be used instead of the expensive Esso LT 71 141;
BG Universal ATF, Castrol Import ATF, Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF, Valvoline Maxlife ATF, VW/Audi Transmission Fluid.

The garage told me the 'special pump' needed costs ££££'s and they don't have one.
What kind of pump will do the job?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, those pdf's confirm the oil capacity and fill procedure.

I just need to know about the pump now.
 

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Thank Vultch for directing me here.

Here is an effective cheap pump that is perfect for infrequent use.

http://www.sealey.co.uk/PLPageBuild...rogroup=1211&analysiscode=&requiredresults=16

Its the one I bought nd have used it to service the gearbox on my E38 and my E34. Only cost £40. Worked a treat.

I recommend that you buy at least 6 litres of the correct ATF that you need. In case of spillages. Also if you have reomved the sump and there has been oil drained through the cooling system then you will definately need more than the service amount of 3 litres.

The specific oil for your box (A5S 560Z) depends on the colour of the identification sticker/plate on the box itself.

If it is Black then you need Shell LA 2634 or equivalent

or

If its Green then you need Esso LT 71 141

Esso has recently been purchased by Mobil. Therefore you will be looking for Mobil LT 71 141.

It can be sourced cheaply from these people. http://www.lubricants.org/Automotive-Oils/

Do not skimp on the oil!!! A hundred quid now will save you £2000 in the future!

Here is a link to a service procedure for your box. Use it to show the locations of the fill and drain holes.

http://www.e38.org/zf-5hp30-service.html

However follow the procedure I detailed to Vultch earlier. It is critical that the box is filled to the correct level.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for that, looks like I'm good to go.

I already have a pump similar to that and could not understand why the garage was saying it requires a 'special pump' costing ~£1k.

I will get the fluid, take a copy of the service procedure from the link, my pump and let them get on with it.

Many thanks to all for the quick responses.
 

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I found a much cheaper (and better?) alternative to to the Esso/Mobil LT71141;

Smith & Allan (Shell) MV LT71141 Fully Synthetic at £5.50/Litre (+VAT)

Order online from here: http://www.smithandallan.com/prodpage.aspx?id=1825
I strongly recommend that you use the name branded ATF Mobil LT 71141.

You are risking the longevity of the box for the sake of less than £20. :confused

BMW and ZF were very specific when they recomended this type oil.

Normally I am all for saving a few quid but in this case when there is so little to be saved and the risk at stake its simply not worth using the cheaper oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
BMW and ZF were very specific when they recomended this type oil.
I agree that for the sake of ~£20 its not worth the risk and for that small amount I would not be bothered, however, the quality is really what I am looking at, the lower cost is a welcome bonus.

BMW and ZF made the recommendation well over ten years ago and in accordance with the specifications available at that time. I presume they also took into consideration the cost factor.

The recommendation met the Dexron III spec at that time when semi-synthetic was more expensive than oil, but fully synthetic was more than triple the price. At that time, the most likely place you would find fully synthetic oil in use was in aircraft engines / race car engines.

Since then, technology has moved on in leaps and bounds with the result that fully synthetic is now more accessible and affordable.

My (limited) research on the subject is telling me that fully synthetic is much better and that modern day full synthetics far exceed the Dexron III specification laid down a long time ago.

Here's some info from Castrol;

"Synthetic oils are manufactured specifically to stand up to the severe conditions under which conventional oils might falter. They possess viscosity characteristics superior to those of mineral oils. The resulting lubricants have a molecular structure that meet and often exceed manufacturers' criteria for high-performance engines.

Among the many performance advantages that synthetic oils offer is their ability to remain stable at high temperatures (under which conventional oils begin to break down) and remain fluid at low temperatures (under which conventional oils begin to thicken). This provides optimum lubrication at extreme temperatures, reducing wear for a cleaner, more efficient engine.

Synthetic Oil Grades:

Synthetics are sometimes mixed with conventional mineral oils to produce a cost-effective middle ground between the two, referred to as a "semi” or “part-synthetic." However, while semi or part-synthetics and conventional mineral oils are both capable lubricants, fully synthetic oils provide the highest level of engine protection. "

As a consequence, most modern day high performance car manufacturers will recommend nothing but fully synthetic.

Just because the "Smith & Allan (Shell) MV LT71141 Fully Synthetic", which meets and exceeds the Dexron III spec, can be obtained cheaper than the "ATF Mobil LT 71141 Semi-Synthetic", which met the Dexron III spec over ten years ago, does that rule it out as being unsuitable ?

What do you think, I would welcome a few opinions on this.
 

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synthetic oil

hi there
I really hope that you are correct on this as I feel the same as you about
modern lubricants, but where I work the motor tekkies attitudes are the
same as rob B 740 on this subject, so if I was you I would stick to the recommended specs and let the oil companies prove to us that these products are ok and pick up the bills when something goes wrong
just my opinion.
Nigel
 

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Knowing very little about it I'll throw in my opinion

Modern synthetic oils more than likely are vastly superior to the old stuff and have vastly superior temp properties.

stating the obvious here...
As long as your replacement oil has the same viscosity over the temp range of the original oil spec
Its more than just lubrication, it is transmission of power via hydraulics and a oil with a different viscosity might be detrimental inside the box

I'm seriously considering changing mine so I'm interested in the outcome of this thread..

PS find out from your mechanic where the intake hole for the box was and the filter
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
if I was you I would stick to the recommended specs
"recommended specs" is the point I am raising..

Dexron III is the recommended spec that the "ATF Mobil (formerly Esso) LT 71141 Semi-Synthetic" was seen to meet all those years ago.

"Smith & Allan (Shell) MV LT71141 Fully Synthetic" is a much later generation technology and is claimed to not only meet the Dexron III spec but also to exceed it.

From my point of view, if something exceeds the required specification then it is a logical progression that it must be better than something which only meets that same specification.

What do you think?
 

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My car is in a garage where they have replaced the leaking transmission fluid cooler/radiator..
As there was fluid lost in the process, the ATF now needs to be replaced/added.
The garage called me as they were struggling to find anywhere obvious to put the fluid back in.
The main lesson to be learnt here is that an E31 needs to be worked on at a bare minimum by a BMW specialist independant garage. The sealed for life auto boxes are very common and I would be very worried by a garage that has no idea how to fill/top them up.

As they have also been working on the coolant side I would be very concerned that they also have no idea of the correct bleed procedures or even which coolant to use!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The main lesson to be learnt here is that an E31 needs to be worked on at a bare minimum by a BMW specialist independant garage. The sealed for life auto boxes are very common and I would be very worried by a garage that has no idea how to fill/top them up.

As they have also been working on the coolant side I would be very concerned that they also have no idea of the correct bleed procedures or even which coolant to use!
I have a long standing relationship with the garage in question who don't normally get involved in work on transmissions. They either sub out or refer to the dealers. They are trying to accommodate me at my insistence for which I'm very grateful.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Any more news on what you choose as ATF
After speaking to a techy at S&A I'm convinced the fully synthetic is a far superior product regardless of the cost.
Therefore I'm willing to give it a try.
It will be flushed out and replaced at the first sign of anything untoward.

Anyone got a spare gearbox handy just in case? :silly
 
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