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Old 03-14-2016, 10:03 AM   #1
Gyuri1
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Manual Transmission Fluid Flush for Smoother Shifting?

Hi guys,

I've been thinking about changing the transmission oil simply because I feel like if I did it could slightly improve shifting.

Currently when I shift it feels somewhat stiff and jerky especially from 1st to 2nd gear. I've read that most e46 manual transmissions feel the same but that to me that's no excuse.

I researched further and found people who swear that changing the transmission oil to Redline brand improves shifting considerably.

My question is... Is it indeed worth changing it when it is supposed to be a lifetime oil in the first place? My mechanic on the other hand says it's not going to improve anything.

I need opinions here please.

Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:13 AM   #2
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change all lubricating fluid always. no exceptions.
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:21 AM   #3
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In my experience it's hit to miss. I've used Redline products in half a dozens transmissions and it's improved shift quality slightly around half the time.

Is it really supposed to be a lifetime fill? If so, seems odd that there would be drain and fill plugs on the trans...

If you do decide to go with Redline, make sure you buy the appropriate product. Many BMW manual transmissions use ATF and not gear oil.
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Old 03-14-2016, 10:30 AM   #4
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Change it for maintenance purposes. Don't expect it to make an appreciable difference in shifting.
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Old 03-14-2016, 11:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spannerhead View Post
In my experience it's hit to miss. I've used Redline products in half a dozens transmissions and it's improved shift quality slightly around half the time.

Is it really supposed to be a lifetime fill? If so, seems odd that there would be drain and fill plugs on the trans...

If you do decide to go with Redline, make sure you buy the appropriate product. Many BMW manual transmissions use ATF and not gear oil.
My 97 M3 manual with 200,000 miles and same transmission as our cars shifted perfectly. Original fluid. No noises, no grinding. perfect. However, the fluid is cheap and there's not that much of it. No brainer to change.

For an automatic, there's more of a pressure to change it since there's a ton more abuse involved.
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Old 03-14-2016, 11:17 AM   #6
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Changed mine not too long ago with 145k mile. Didn't feel any different at all.

Just did it for peace of mind
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Old 03-14-2016, 11:22 AM   #7
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Changed mine as well at 117k mile expecting to feel a difference from what I have read. No change at all in the feel of the shifts.
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Old 03-14-2016, 11:54 AM   #8
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So what's the issue with your 1-2 shift?
May be it just the way you change gears.
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Old 03-14-2016, 01:01 PM   #9
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Redline MTL in mine and it made a massive difference to shifting, even the maint shop owner noticed and commented
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mango View Post
change all lubricating fluid always. no exceptions.
That's where I'm heading... Can't hurt right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZWis212 View Post
Changed mine as well at 117k mile expecting to feel a difference from what I have read. No change at all in the feel of the shifts.
What oil did you swap it with? Because if you read below someone again claims Redline made a noticeable difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ilia View Post
So what's the issue with your 1-2 shift?
May be it just the way you change gears.
No it's not me. I've owned 7 manual cars, never had automatic and I find this one is the jerkiest car I've owned. First thing when I'm idling at a red light for example and I slowly shift into 1st gear, I can feel sometimes a very slight like "clunk" or a jumpy feeling. Very slight but noticeable and it feels like it's coming from the tranny.

From 1st to 2nd, it's almost impossible to produce a smooth shift unless very gentle with the clutch. It's more care and attention than I like to put into shifting. It also creates a lag in driving because I have to release the clutch much slower.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sprintman View Post
Redline MTL in mine and it made a massive difference to shifting, even the maint shop owner noticed and commented
I think it's worth a try for the low cost of the maintenance, and I think it can't hurt so I will be doing this soon after all. Hopefully it will improve the feeling.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:15 PM   #11
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Just to be clear, what produces the jerkiness? Is it the notchiness of the shift lever itself, or the clutch takeup? The reason I ask is because if it's the latter, then your CDV could be at fault. I have a hard time producing a smooth 1-2 (and sometimes 2-3) shift as well, and I've been driving manuals for 20 years. My trans is notchy but it's obviously the clutch takeup. A CDV delete is pretty high on the to-do list.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:16 PM   #12
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I'm also wondering however...


If not the oil... What else could be causing a jerkiness in shifting aside from the driver? Because it's most definitely not me.

Could it be the pedal module that so many tend to "hack"? I've heard that remapping the module can drastically improve throttle response and therefore shifting perhaps...

And finally could it even be the clutch itself at a certain point?

To describe this the best I can once again. Shifting into 1st gear from idle sometimes produces a "clunk" that I can feel with my hand or sort of a jumpy feeling if you like. Nothing as dramatic though as the word jumpy states. Just a noticeable annoying feeling.

Then from 1st to 2nd it's almost impossible to release the clutch normally to continue a smooth acceleration, instead I have to take extra care in slowly releasing it while playing with the throttle to smooth it out. So for instance if I try to redline 1st and shift into 2nd, when I go to press the gas hard once in 2nd I lose all the torque before the throttle finally decides to engage, and no again it's not my shifting.

Lastly when shifting into 1st and 2nd it doesn't feel smooth, even from a still standpoint. It's as if there was friction preventing a smooth shift.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Spannerhead View Post
Just to be clear, what produces the jerkiness? Is it the notchiness of the shift lever itself, or the clutch takeup? The reason I ask is because if it's the latter, then your CDV could be at fault. I have a hard time producing a smooth 1-2 (and sometimes 2-3) shift as well, and I've been driving manuals for 20 years. My trans is notchy but it's obviously the clutch takeup. A CDV delete is pretty high on the to-do list.
Forgive my lack in knowledge, I'm learning a lot of things on here hehe. What is that CDV your are referring too?

Last edited by Gyuri1; 03-14-2016 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:20 PM   #13
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Hard to compare across models 330i vs the rest, because they use different transmissions from different manufacturers with different flywheel and clutch disc setups. But concerning 330s, might have to do with the flywheel and clutch combo BMW uses. On both of my E36 M3s, shifting was notably easier and smoother. However with years of experience on the 330i, i learned to drive it smoothly.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:23 PM   #14
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Hard to compare across models 330i vs the rest, because they use different transmissions from different manufacturers with different flywheel and clutch disc setups. But concerning 330s, might have to do with the flywheel and clutch combo BMW uses. On both of my E36 M3s, shifting was notably easier and smoother. However with years of experience on the 330i, i learned to drive it smoothly.
I have the 320i... They never even released it in the US. It's my only disappointment with that model because for clutch and engine components I have to dig harder. It's a 2.2litters. I'm wondering though if it might use the same tranny as a 325? The only way I can produce more natural shifts is if I heal toe... Which is quite annoying sometimes.

Last edited by Gyuri1; 03-14-2016 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyuri1 View Post
To describe this the best I can once again. Shifting into 1st gear from idle sometimes produces a "clunk" that I can feel with my hand or sort of a jumpy feeling if you like. Nothing as dramatic though as the word jumpy states. Just a noticeable annoying feeling.
Could be a failing clutch master or slave cylinder. Are you losing brake fluid? Is your driver's floorboard wet at all?

Quote:
Then from 1st to 2nd it's almost impossible to release the clutch normally to continue a smooth acceleration, instead I have to take extra care in slowly releasing it while playing with the throttle to smooth it out. So for instance if I try to redline 1st and shift into 2nd, when I go to press the gas hard once in 2nd I lose all the torque before the throttle finally decides to engage, and no again it's not my shifting.
Sounds an awful lot like CDV issues.

Quote:
Forgive my lack in knowledge, I'm learning a lot of things on here hehe. What is that CDV your are referring too?
Clutch Delay Valve. It's a small valve in the clutch line that bottlenecks the fluid, supposedly to "smooth out" hard shifts, but many (most?) BMW drivers find it has the opposite effect. Very easy to remove if you're so inclined.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:32 PM   #16
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Could be a failing clutch master or slave cylinder. Are you losing brake fluid? Is your driver's floorboard wet at all?



Sounds an awful lot like CDV issues.



Clutch Delay Valve. It's a small valve in the clutch line that bottlenecks the fluid, supposedly to "smooth out" hard shifts, but many (most?) BMW drivers find it has the opposite effect. Very easy to remove if you're so inclined.
Well I was just researching on that as you responded hehe and it's a terrible feature I find... It looks like it could be the thing to blame.

There is absolutely no leak anywhere and the master cylinder fluid is at the proper level so I've crossed that a while ago.

I think I will start with the fluid and then look for that CDV if I'm not satisfied.

Thanks for all the great help guys, always fun to come by here.

Last edited by Gyuri1; 03-14-2016 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 03-14-2016, 03:34 PM   #17
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Well I was just researching on that as you responded hehe and it's a terrible feature I find... It looks like it could be the thing to blame.

There is absolutely no leak anywhere and the master cylinder fluid is at the proper level so I've crossed that a while ago.

I think I will start with the fluid and then look for that CDV if I'm not satisfied.

Thanks for all the great help guys, always fun to come by here.
Removing CDV is a must. Not one of BMW's brightest ideas
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Old 03-14-2016, 03:50 PM   #18
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I just changed mine and it made a noticeable difference. I love the way it feels now. Was a little stiff before now it just slides into gears. I replaced it with amsoil synchromesh mtf. I highly reccomend changing fluid as it holds a little over a quart. So imagine only a quart of oil after all these miles with no filtration system still being adequate? I doubt it
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Old 03-14-2016, 04:04 PM   #19
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I changed mine with redline MTL and now my shifts are pretty smooth when the transmission is warmed up. I live in California so the weather never gets below 50 degrees. Now when it's cold outside, my transmission can be a little hard to get into gear so if you live somewhere were it actually gets cold, you might want to consider using the oe fluid.


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Old 03-14-2016, 05:14 PM   #20
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That's weird because even though I used heavier amsoil mtl synchromesh mine shifts like butter hot or cold. I did a lot of oil research and was worried I'd get stuff cold shifts not running an atf style fluid but nope. Works great
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