BMW transmission fluid change question?

Discussion in 'The Speakeasy' started by Austin, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. Austin

    Austin Moderator Emeritus

    Gents, my girlfriend owns a 2005 BMW 325I automatic. She has been negligent in having the transmission fluid changed. She does not know when it was last serviced. My guess is never.

    My question is whether to have the transmission flushed or just have the pan dropped and the fluid changed. The local dealer states that it should be flushed but I'm afraid that having it flushed will promote leaks that have been sealed by sludge. Thus causing new problems.

    Any Bimmer owners or mechanics on the forum?

    BTW the auto has 98K miles.
  2. I am in the used part business. Daily we test and sell transmissions for various cars and trucks. After testing, cleaning and pulling the transmission from the car or truck we have to drain the fluid. The reason for the draining is becasue most of my parts get shipped nationwide and the trucking companies don't like fluid that can leak out of something. If I could I would have invented a system to take the fluid out of a transmission and bottle it to send with the same transmission upon sale. Unless the fluid smells burnt or is really dark don't change it. Like you said, sometimes flushing them unseals leaks. Also, if the tranny has a problem and you are unaware of it new fluid will bring out the symptoms while the old fluid will actually hold back the symptoms. I have never had the fluid changed or flushed in any of my vehicles for this reason.
  3. Hi,
    I have a 98' M3 with manual transmission. It has 163,000 miles on it and still going strong. I've had it since it was brand new. I believe my transmission has "lifetime fluid" in it. But regardless, I get the fluid changed every time I do my major service(about 30k miles, it wont make a difference if it was at 30k or 45k or 60k). I sometimes have to argue with my advisor to get this done as it is unnecessary by them. All I do is get it flushed, I've had no problems with it, and I see it lasting me another 10 years. But here's how to save some money:

    1) Become a member of the BMW carclub of america. It costs about $35 a year for one or $40 for 2. It will save you a ton of cash later. For instance I had to get a new radiator, to the general public it costs $420, I got it for $292. I find that with this discount (they say 10%, or 15%, but some parts it's more) the parts are cheaper for my BMW than for our Honda, and Mercedes. If you are a member for a year, then you can get anywhere from $500-$1500 rebate on a new BMW (unfortunately, I didn;t know about this or I could have got $1000 back).
    2) For my car they have an oil service which costs $150, all they do is change the oil and filter, reset the indicator and check things over. So I just have them change the oil and filter and I check things over so it costs me $50. I use only Mobil 1 synthetic - my car still drives like it's brand new.
    3) They have the intermediate service - $532 at the dealer. Oil change, plus ac filter change plus check things over. So I just ge the oil plus ac filter and I check things over which costs me at most $150.
    4) They have the major service - $850 at the dealer. Minor plus intermediate plus they change the spark plugs and check things over. So I just get the oil, ac filter, and spark plugs so it costs me $400 max.
    Then somewehre I also do the transmission fluid $100, the differential fluid $100, and the radiatior coolant flush $100.

    With the tires I order them from tirerack ($810 for Michelin pilot's) and take it to the dealer and have the mount and balance and do the alignment - $300 bucks.

    So anyway that's how I do it.
  4. I have a 98 528i with over 130,000 original miles on it and life time transmission fluid.
    Never had it replaced and no problems.
    I've been a member of the BMW CCA and haven't saved a penny yet, I'll be dropping it this year.
    You need to find a good indy mechanic, buy the parts from outfits like or any other online place or learn how to do it yourself.
  5. Did you tell the dealer you have one? I don't see how that's possible, you never bought any parts from the dealer?
  6. I try very hard not to have to go to the dealer.
    Last year replaced the entire cooling system, $950 in parts from Autohausaz and my son did all the work.
    This year he replaced one of the rear window regulator, parts around $280.
    Imagine if I go to the dealer? Oil changes are very easy, and even replacing plugs is not too complicated.
    As far as BMW CCA, I tried twice to get a membership identification and they didn't pay any attention to my request.
  7. It is good that you have a son that is mechanically inclined. I can change oil, and even the spark plugs. But since I don't have all the tools, nor a lift in my garage, and since you only have to change the oil every 10,000 miles, I just take it to the dealer. You only save money on parts from the dealer, so it would be useless if you use aftermarket parts. There are a few independent garages that are run by ex BMW techs, but none near my house. Also for somethings such as changing the tires and alignment you have to go to the dealer, because other shops don't have the equipment nor the software to do this.
  8. First of all, find out what the fluid change interval is for that car. Some vehicles have intervals of 100,000 miles or more. If it is time to change it then do so. If leaks occur (doubtful) it is good to know now instead of having a breakdown later.
  9. Suzuki

    Suzuki Moderator Emeritus

    If she has the lifetime fluid, BMW now appears to recommend fluid changes every 100k miles.

    Im no expert, but I would skip the flush for the reasons mentioned above - but here's an interesting link:

    Is the tranny working properly - what colour is the fluid?
  10. A lot of car dealers and garages try to sell a complete transmission service with flush or what ever they call it often starting at about 30,000 miles and some charge several hundred dollars for it despite it not being recommended anywhere in any maintenance schedule from the manufacturer, I have seen TV news reports of this in the past being one of the easiest money making scams for the places that do these as often times if the fluid is okay they do nothing at all except maybe put your car on a lift and hook up a hose or so to appear they are doing something.
    As others mentioned I would first check the maintenance schedule for your vehicle and then check the fluid color if it appears ok and the transmission is working fine challenge the dealer as to where they are getting the info from, my ex challenged a car dealer about this and they admitted it wasn't really necessary according to the manufacturer or for warranty purposes just recommended by them.
  11. i just did an oil change on my 2001 mazda tribute,and i followed some advice from a mazda forum.i drained the tranny pan and replaced the 4-5 quarts.that left 8-9 quarts of old fluid in the tranny.hopefully this will freshen the performance but not expose or bring out any hidden was recommended to do this each oil change.i'm using semi-synthetic oil so that will work out to 6-7 k sounds like a good idea.

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