E39 "ATF oil only"

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In checking the fluids on my 2003 E 39 I noticed what appears to be the power steering reservoir (small tank with plastic cap and dipstick). The cap says "ATF oil only." The owner's manual doesn't
deal with this at all.
Is this really the power steering reservoir? If so, should I use ATF fluid or power steering fluid? Finally, I assume that the two marks on the dipstick are the "hot" and "cold" levels.
Am I the only person who thinks that the owner's manual for this car stinks?
Thanks in advance,
Ambrose
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On Feb 21, 11:15 am, snipped-for-privacy@e-mailanywhere.com wrote:

anything other than ATF fluid like "power steering fluid?" Use ATF.
Further, the two marks on the dipstick is Maximum and Minimum, not "hot" and "cold." IF the fluid goes below the lower Minimum mark, add ATF fluid.
If you're planning on doing any sort of repairs on your car, I highly recommend you fork out the $$$ and get yourself a Bentley Manual:
http://www.bentleypublishers.com/product.htm?code ΅02
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ditto, but if he asks the question "can I put power steering fluid where it says ATF ONLY".... maybe he shouldn't be doing his own work even with a Bentley!
wrote:

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


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D4 ATF. Redline is very good. Mobil 1 good enough. Change every 30-32K.
R / John

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On 21 Feb 2007 11:15:40 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@e-mailanywhere.com wrote:

No, you're not alone. The power steering fluid reservoir is not mentioned in the owner's manual.
Although, I do share others' concern that you would put anything other than ATF in it.
Given your question, I think you should also ask why you should not put water in the engine, instead of oil.
--
Dan.

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Thanks to those of you who offered your kind advice.
To those of you who think I shouldn't be trusted to lift the hood of my car, let me explain. I have two containers in my garage. One says "Automatic Transmission Fluid" the other says "Power Steering Fluid." Neither of the labels uses the acronym "ATF." Although I strongly suspected that ATF meant "automatic transmission fluid," I wondered why the cap would say "ATF oil," which would literally mean "automatic transmission FLUID OIL." To be sure that ATF didn't have some other meaning, I thought I would check. Given that the owner's manual is written so poorly, it wouldn't have surprised me if it meant "Advanced Tactical Fighter Oil."
Ambrose
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My apologies for not being more informative. The PS reservoir has a cap with 6 (IIRC) flutes on it, to the left (driver's side) of center just behind the fan shroud. The dipstick is integral to the cap. The fluid of choice is synthetic ATF. I would not use generic parts store ATF or power steering fluid. If the fluid has not been changed since new, drain the reservoir (use a suction device) and fill with ATF. Drive about 50 miles, drain and fill. Another 50 miles, drain and fill. You'll have flushed the system, expended a quart of synthetic ATF, and not had to fiddle around with hoses, clamps, etc under the car.
To differentiate, the oil filter canister is almost on center, is larger diameter, and has a 36mm hex head fitting on it for removal (a 36mm socket works well). DIY oil/filter changes are quick and easy if you can get the car up on a lift or jacks. I'm conservative when it comes to oil changes, but regardless of your trust in the service indicator, change it once a year. 5W30 synthetic motor oil, the OEM stuff is fine.
Coolant is added through the expansion tank, passenger side of radiator. The fill indicator should be flush with the top of tank neck when cool (nominally 15C/60F). Use 50/50 BMW coolant (it's expensive) and distilled water. Check your service manual for minimum service interval. Half that if you plan to keep the car a long time.
Brake fluid reservoir is under the driver side micro filter housing if you need top fluid off. Bleed/flush every two years at an absolute minimum. One year is better. Ate or similar fluid.
Differential needs service every 30-32K. Drain and refill with 75W90 synthetic gear oil (not limited slip variety).
Auto trans. Who knows? BMW recommends flush and fill at 100K, probably too late to do much good.
Manual trans. 30-32K. Synthetic ATF if you value no-sweat cold weather shifting, Redline MTL if you want better lubrication and can finesse a shift or two until the trans warms up in cold weather.
You're right. The owners and service manuals aren't particularly enlightening. The Bentley manual is very good and not cheap. Recommend you check the roadfly E39 newsgroup: http://bimmer.roadfly.com/bmw/forums/e39 /. Too much goo gah stuff, but informative as well and E39 specific. Over almost 6 years of E39 ownership, I've accumulated a number of links that cover just about every quirk of the car (and there a more than a few). Welcome to the club.
Wishing you all your pixels for a long long time, John
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<snip>

FWIW, My 18 year old daughter was being helpful when she told me that our E34 low engine oil warning light had flashed on, and asked me where I kept the oil. She proceeded to top up the power steering reservoir with the engine oil. When "it didn't take very much" she wondered if she had made some kind of mistake. I had her take our Subaru to work and I suctioned out the contents of the reservior and refilled it with ATF. I will repeat the process this weekend and look for any signs of leakage from underneath the car. The steering responds as it always has. Hopefully there was no seal damage.
Homer
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Homer wrote:

Further proof that 10W30, ATF and 18 y/o women don't mix.
--
-Fred W

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<snip>

Amen to that! My 23 year old daughter that served in the military is the exception that proves the rule. When she was 18 we began a complete restoration of her 1969 Karmann Ghia. Since returning from her national service, we completely overhauled her Civic's 5 speed Manual transmission, and she changed her own timing belt. (My eldest daughter. however is a bit of an embarrasment as she purchased a Volvo...)
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Homer wrote:

<sarcasm> Probably only interested in a safe car to transport herself around for many years and miles.
Yes, I can see how that would be an embarrassment... </sarcasm>
--
-Fred W

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I guess "oil" or the oil lamp icon on the oil cap wasn't helpful. Fire the guy who designed it, dammit! Oh, yeah, and sue the manufacturer! It's all faulty! WHAAAAAA! No, I'm just funnin' with you. I was caught looking for the trans fluid dipstick (what's that?) when we first got the wife's '98 528i. You're right... there isn't one! Ha! It's "lifetime fill." Shameless Plug: See my rants on the thread "Observations from the BMW Armchair" around here somewhere.
Bill in Omaha '86 535i
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It's a fair old time since I've seen a dipstick on a manual transmission, so I've oft wondered why they lingered on so much later with autos. Perhaps it took them longer to make decent seals.
--
*Time is the best teacher; unfortunately it kills all its students.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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While most automobiles are relatively easy to figure out in terms of what goes where, they're hardly fool proof. It'd be nice if they'd somehow key the various receptacles to their fluid containers, but I'm sure no matter how well "idiot-proofed" the concept, God would create a more advanced idiot.
R / John
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I might be able to help with an explanation of ATF in the UK. Many years ago there were only really two autobox makers - Borg-Warner and General motors - that were fitted to a variety of makes of cars. And they used different lubricants. I *think* one was mineral based, the other vegetable. They were generically known as ATF for B-W and Dexron for GM. It could be that B-W registered Automatic Transmission Fluid or the initials as a brand name.
It would be interesting to know what specification your Power Steering Fluid follows, as both ATF and Dexron are used for this purpose too. I suspect in the older days it influenced the choice of seal material rather than anything fundamental in the design.
--
*Is there another word for synonym?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On Thu, 22 Feb 2007 09:40:15 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

Hi Dave
I have to come back on this one - Generic meaning over the years has meant the Hoover = Vacuum cleaner ATF over the years has meant ATF = Auto Transmission Fluid. However it actually stands for Automatic Transmission (oil) to FORD specification hence AT-F. This has the decent grip when the clutches are pressurised but a higher "grip" when changing. DEXTRON is the opposite with a "SLUSH" feel on taking up the drive and gear changing and a high grip when engaged. Remember many GM boxes were only 2 speed at first and the derogatory name was "Slush Box".
BTW - contrary to popular belief FORD engineering specifications are as high or higher then many prestige car makers and in the years 60's to 80 were higher and more stringent in enforcing than the supposedly leaders ROLLS ROYCE.
The LSD (Limited Slip Diff oil) you could buy off the shelf so called to SAE spec etc and recommended by RR was totally useless in reducing the clicking and slip in Powr-Lok or Salisbury LSD units. Ford spec - EM-2-C-22-B (If my memory serves me well) worked wonders in every LSD vehicle I have owned (Never touched my BMW though)

Sir Hugh of Bognor
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. Intelligence is not knowing the answer but knowing where and how to find it!
Hugh Gundersen snipped-for-privacy@h-gee.co.uk Bognor Regis, W.Sussex, England, UK
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wrote:

Err, no. *Dexron* has almost always had a mention somewhere in the name - or there's been a D suffix somewhere. If you asked for ATF you invariably got a B-W type fluid. Of course that may have depended on where you were.

Ford autos are relative newcomers in the UK. Up until about the mid '70s they fitted B-W boxes.

;-) You learn something new every day. BTW, the first GM box we saw in the UK was a four speed...

Oh yes? That will include such abortions as their V4 and V6 engines with cardboard drive gears to the cam?

Which R-R was fitted with a limited slip diff?

--
*Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Those were products of your good old English/UK/Scottish/Welsh engineers - never sold (or engineered) in the US.
FloydR
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Well yes, but Hugh was referring to Ford UK? Which did produce some world beating small engines in the '60s - and superb gearboxes too. But then lost the plot. Indeed at one point they tried to buy British Leyland to get their hands on the K-Series engine range. Before finally going to Yamaha for engine design.
The German Ford V4 and V6 were far better units.
--
*Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Thank you very much Ambrose for remaining so civil. I think several others in the group may need to take a lesson from you on manners.

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