I hope someone can help, the local BMW dealer wouldn't, he just wanted
me to get my car in the shop and up on the ramp for £££. Kept saying it
could be one of several types, even when I said it was an A5S 310Z box.
My automatic transmission is showing signs of low fluid, sluggish
pulling away when hot, and the occasional snatched change.
This is one of the infamous "sealed for life" boxes, so it's probably in
need of a change (E36 '96 325TDS 100,000 miles).
But... What fluid?! All the books in the local car parts place say refer
to handbook, which you can guess, says refer to BMW dealer.
I'm all set to top it up, the under tray is off, I've found a 17mm allen
key to remove the recessed plug, and I have some Dextron II type (Comma
AQM) laying about, but I don't know what I should put in it!
I keep thinking even the wrong stuff is better than not enough stuff...
I'm in the UK, so if anyone can give me a UK brand, that would be fantastic.
This is a copy from a very knowledgeable friend that has many years of
experience. If you read this Bill then please forgive the copyright
I guess if your transmission is smooth both shifting up and down there wouldn't
be a need to change the fluid using that criteria.
However, having checked with pros in both the BMW and Ford organizations,
virtually everyone said that no lube lasts and it's the additives that break
down. So, from that perspective it does need to be changed. In fact, the
industry is moving toward transmissions with no drain or fill plugs because
transmission fluid changes will be done by flushing in the future, I'm told.
There's still a lot of conversations going on about the preference of draining
and filling versus flushing.
BMW says changing fluid is not an option and the dealers won't do it. It's
called "Lifetime fluid." I don't understand it, but fortunately, there are fill
and drain plugs on the transmission. The fluid I used, recommended by ZF, is:
Esso LT - 71141.
The label is Exxon Mobile Lubricants and Specialties, Belgium.
It was literally half price from the same stuff under the BMW label, but still
the most expensive transmission fluid on the market by lots. It came in a 20
liter container, a little less than half of which I've still got and plan to use
in another 30K or so miles.
In summary, I'd recommend replacing the fluid, filter (use only a BMW filter), O
ring and of course, the pan gasket. We drained the transmission and refilled
it with the same amount, although the 5HP24 I have can't be over filled as it
has a overflow hole. I drove it around for 20 miles or so and then we dropped
the pan (cleaned it of the small deposits of "mud"), drained it again, changed
the filter, used lots of carb cleaner on the solenoids to get them squeaky clean
and then put it all back together.
I was quite surprised at how much better it performed. By performed, I mean
harsh shifts that had always occurred on firm accelerations and fast
decelerations were eliminated. Hope this helps a little. Oh, I also change
both oil and filter every 5K and rear end grease every 100K (I use Redline 75W90
Sir Hugh of Bognor
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.
I hope you didn't send them to the email address on that post, it's a
Anyway, thanks for the replies, I found a chart with ZF boxes, and
with a bit of cross referencing left right and centre, found that VW
use some ZF boxes, namely the 5HP19FL in the passat, which uses the
Esso LT 71141 fluid... VW supply the oil in litres at just under £10 a
VW Part # G 052 162 A2
Far better than the £19 a litre BMW wanted to charge me, and that was
with me bringing in my own container!
Well that wasn't half as scary as I thought it would be... (Well apart
from the noise the 17mm allen keyed filler plug made when it came
undone, I thought I'd cracked the Alley sump on the box!).
After draining I got 2.5 litres into the gearbox sump. Then started
the engine, cycled through all the gears a few times, then got back
underneath the car and topped it up.
Another 1.5 litres ended up going in. So 4L in total.
200 miles done since then, gear change noticeably smoother, and kick
I'll give it a few weeks, then I'll go the whole hog and drop the pan,
change the filter, and flush it through again... Assuming I can find
someone who'll sell me a gasket and filter of course!
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