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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 03-13-2011, 04:45 PM   #1
brandonwish
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DIY: Fluid Change: Manual Transmission, Front & Rear Differentials, and Transfer Case

Welcome!
This is a Do-It-Yourself for changing out your manual transmission fluid, transfer case fluid, and both front and rear differentials. For the record, the car I'm using is a 2004 330xi with 6spd transmission. This is a simple job, just time consuming. Swapping out all the fluids took me around 3.5 hours total, but that was while taking pictures and forgetting how to put the splash shields back on . Anyways, you can do this job, it's really not difficult and will save you some cash for other modding delights. Anyways, on to the DIY...

Parts Needed
- Jackstands or ramps
- Drain Pan
- 3 quarts Redline MTL (70w80) (for transmission and transfer case)
- 3 quarts Redline 75w90 (for front and rear differentials)
- 2 copper crush washers (for transfer case drain plugs) part #07119963308
- 4 aluminum crush washers (for differentials' drain plugs) part #07119963355
- 14mm Hex Bit Socket (for differential plugs)
- 8mm Hex Bit Socket (for transmission plugs)
- 5/8in Wrench/Socket (for transfer case plugs)
- Fluid Pump (see picture below)


I purchased my Redline fluids from http://www.turnermotorsport.com/ and my crush washers from http://www.pelicanparts.com/. Prices came out to be $91.00 shipped for fluids and $5.00 shipped for the washers. I purchased a 14mm hex bit socket and fluid pump from local autozone for $20.00 which brings total price of the job around $116.00



Step One
Safely raise the car onto ramps or jack stands. The main goal of this is for the entire car to be level. If one side of the car is raised higher than another the fluids may not properly drain and refill which could cause serious problems. For less experienced people > http://www.impee.co.uk/bmw_on_jackstands.htm




Step Two
Remove all three splash guards. Unfortunately I forgot to take some pictures of the covers but these are very simple to remove. Front splash guard covers the belts, radiator, etc. Middle splash guard is directly below the transmission. Rear splash guard is around the transfer case. You will see screws from underneath, these are actually quick-release screws. Unscrew them about two turns and they will come undone and remain as a piece of the splash guard (can't lose them ) Take mental notes of how you are taking the splash guards off and where they were because these are tricky to get back on if you forget.



Step Three
Locate your front differential. Look at diagram below. The parts labeled number 10 on the diagram are the fill and drain plugs. The drain plug is pretty easy to spot but the fill plug is tucked up further towards the driver side. Below is also a picture of where the drain plug is already removed and another picture of where the fill plug is already removed. Using your 14mm hex bit socket remove the FILL PLUG FIRST. You want to remove the fill plug first in case you remove the drain plug and can't get the fill plug out to refill the differential. So as I said, remove the fill plug first and drain plug second. Let the fluid completely drain until empty.






Step Four
Locate your manual transmission. Look at diagram below. The parts labeled as #5 are your fill and drain plugs. These are fairly easy to spot but look at pictures below for help. Using your 8mm hex bit socket remove the fill plug first and then the drain plug. Let the fluid completely drain until empty.





Step Five
Locate your transfer case. Look at diagram below. The parts labeled #10 are your fill and drain plugs. These are also fairly easy to find. Using your 5/8in wrench remove the fill plug first and then remove your drain plug. For the fill plug I had to use a wrench, the socket wouldn't fit. Let the fluid drain until empty.






Step Six
Locate your rear differential. Oddly enough I couldn't find a good diagram of the rear differential that matched mine. Anyways the drain and fill plugs are easy to locate. Drain plug is located directly on the bottom facing the passenger side and the fill plug is directly to the rear of it slightly higher up. Using your 14mm hex bit socket remove the fill plug first, followed by the drain plug. Let all the fluid drain until empty.




Step Seven
You should have all fill and drain plugs removed at this point. Along with that, all fluids should be completely drained from the vehicle. Take the time now to remove the old crush washers from the plugs and replace with the new ones. To help the refilling process I cut the neck of my redline bottles enough so the pump could fit inside. See pictures below.





Step Eight
For the sake of the enormous length of this DIY I'm am going to show only how to fill the transmission. This is a very easy process and is the same for the transfer case, and both differentials. First, install the drain plug and place the spout of the pump into the fill plug.




Step Nine
PUMP! Pump the fluid into the fill hole. This may take a couple minutes. Continue to pump until a steady stream begins to pour back out through the fill hole (See picture below). After you see the steady stream pouring out re-install the fill plug and tighten. Wa-La! You're Done!




Extra Info
Fill your differentials and transfer case the same way as the transmission was above. Don't forget to change the fluid to Redline 75w90 when it comes time to fill the differentials. After filling the transfer case and differentials re-install the splash guards. Hopefully you didn't forget how they go back on (like I did). After splash guards are installed, safely lower the car from the stands, and drive the car around a little to ensure everything feels and drives good. You're done! If you have any questions at all feel free to pm me or just ask. I hope you found this DIY very informative, detailed, and precise but if you have anything to add to it let me know and I will edit accordingly. Thanks and enjoy fanatics! My contribution to e46fanatics!
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Old 03-13-2011, 04:53 PM   #2
MF325XI
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Very nice! This is on my list for spring maintenance.

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Old 03-26-2011, 06:10 PM   #3
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Fluid?

New to differential DIY...what's the difference between 75w90 and 75w140?

Thanks
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CamCam View Post
New to differential DIY...what's the difference between 75w90 and 75w140?

Thanks
The difference is viscosity.

When cold, they're about the same (that's the 75w part).

When hot, both of them thin out but 75w-90 thins out more.
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Old 04-09-2011, 01:44 AM   #5
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Nice write up. One question though, how you tell that the car is leveled. In your pictures above front end on ramp and back end on jack stands. did you measure and re adjusted the jack stand to the hight of the ramps, possibly the same!!!!. where do you put the level to check and see it's leveled. One thing missing from this DIY is a one picture that show the locations of all parts in reference to each other. Thanks for taking the time and efforts to share this great DIY. What do u think about automatic transmission fluid change, any particular references?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:47 AM   #6
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Nicely done!
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:31 AM   #7
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Thanks! Great DIY.
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Old 04-09-2011, 09:34 AM   #8
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:22 PM   #9
brandonwish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mhnd View Post
Nice write up. One question though, how you tell that the car is leveled. In your pictures above front end on ramp and back end on jack stands. did you measure and re adjusted the jack stand to the hight of the ramps, possibly the same!!!!. where do you put the level to check and see it's leveled. One thing missing from this DIY is a one picture that show the locations of all parts in reference to each other. Thanks for taking the time and efforts to share this great DIY. What do u think about automatic transmission fluid change, any particular references?

Thanks again!
To tell if the car was level honestly I just eyed it up. Got it as close as I could and had a buddy verify it looked level. I think if you're an inch or two off on either side it won't make as much of a difference as you might think. If you feel the need to though you could probably just measure the bottom of the front tire to the ground and level it to the distance of the bottom of the rear tire to the ground. Then, like you said, you can adjust the jack stands appropriately.

I'll be going under the car again hopefully in the next couple weekends to do CDV delete and oil change so I can hopefully get a couple good pictures of where the parts are in relation to each other. Thanks for the advice, I think that definitely could help this DIY Love the feedback!

Honestly I haven't had much experience with automatic tranny fluid changes. I did a lot when I used to work for a valvoline oil change way back in the day but they were all done through a machine. All the cars I've owned have been manual since I was 17. If you're looking to attempt an auto transmission fluid change I could probably find a DIY for you

Thanks for the feedback guys! Any questions at all don't hesitate to pm
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:59 PM   #10
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GREAT DIY - very thorough and imformative
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandonwish View Post
To tell if the car was level honestly I just eyed it up. Got it as close as I could and had a buddy verify it looked level. I think if you're an inch or two off on either side it won't make as much of a difference as you might think. If you feel the need to though you could probably just measure the bottom of the front tire to the ground and level it to the distance of the bottom of the rear tire to the ground. Then, like you said, you can adjust the jack stands appropriately.

I'll be going under the car again hopefully in the next couple weekends to do CDV delete and oil change so I can hopefully get a couple good pictures of where the parts are in relation to each other. Thanks for the advice, I think that definitely could help this DIY Love the feedback!

Honestly I haven't had much experience with automatic tranny fluid changes. I did a lot when I used to work for a valvoline oil change way back in the day but they were all done through a machine. All the cars I've owned have been manual since I was 17. If you're looking to attempt an auto transmission fluid change I could probably find a DIY for you

Thanks for the feedback guys! Any questions at all don't hesitate to pm
Thanks for the information, I found a DIY for AT, I'll post the link when I have the chance, it might help someone with an AT.

Thanks!
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Old 04-11-2011, 10:51 AM   #12
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Great DIY, I've been meaning to do this myself but you beat me to it.

Just a quick word of advice though. The transfer case holds such a small amount of fluid that it is very advisable to drain the TC, then do a couple quick pumps to get any crap out of it, put the drain plug back in, fill it up, drive for about 200 yds, then top it off again. Just filling up to the mark and driving around you might actually be low on fluid as it moves around inside the TC.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:15 PM   #13
brandonwish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamDoe1 View Post
Great DIY, I've been meaning to do this myself but you beat me to it.

Just a quick word of advice though. The transfer case holds such a small amount of fluid that it is very advisable to drain the TC, then do a couple quick pumps to get any crap out of it, put the drain plug back in, fill it up, drive for about 200 yds, then top it off again. Just filling up to the mark and driving around you might actually be low on fluid as it moves around inside the TC.
I'd definitely advise rechecking all fluids and topping off. It'll be time consuming but I plan on topping off all components, not just TC here in the next couple weeks (I have no free time and keep putting this off).

Thanks for all the good feedback guys
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:52 AM   #14
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The following is the DIY I found for the AT oil change.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=438667

Good luck
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Old 04-12-2011, 10:05 AM   #15
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Pics are down for me.. I plan on doing this next week. Any new wisdom? Was that enough fluid?
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Old 04-12-2011, 06:18 PM   #16
brandonwish
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Originally Posted by Amhague View Post
Pics are down for me.. I plan on doing this next week. Any new wisdom? Was that enough fluid?
Plenty of fluid. I have almost a full bottle left of both the MTL and 75w90. Hopefully the pictures are back up by the time you decide to do this, apparently photobucket is doing maintenance. If you need any particular pictures let me know and I'll pm them to you
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:16 AM   #17
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Plenty of fluid. I have almost a full bottle left of both the MTL and 75w90. Hopefully the pictures are back up by the time you decide to do this, apparently photobucket is doing maintenance. If you need any particular pictures let me know and I'll pm them to you
Did u change the fluids when the car was warm or cold. Someone suggest after the initial fill up to drive the car for about 200m and then to recheck the fluids again, have u done that? Did u notice any difference after changing the fluids? My car is 2004 330xi but automatic w/ steptronic , I'm trying to collect as much information prior to completing this work?

Thanks!
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:14 PM   #18
brandonwish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mhnd View Post
Did u change the fluids when the car was warm or cold. Someone suggest after the initial fill up to drive the car for about 200m and then to recheck the fluids again, have u done that? Did u notice any difference after changing the fluids? My car is 2004 330xi but automatic w/ steptronic , I'm trying to collect as much information prior to completing this work?

Thanks!
I drove the car a little over an hour before I changed all the fluids. Fluids were still warm while I drained. I have not rechecked the fluids yet but I would recommend checking them next day or after a good, long drive. I've just been busy with work and haven't had the time recently. I definitely noticed a difference with my shifting as the transmission fluid in my car was never changed before. Shifts much better. As far as the differentials and transfer case I didn't notice a difference in how the car drives but I'm sure it's making a difference. The old fluids were pretty dark. Any other questions feel free to ask, happy to help
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:45 PM   #19
Mhnd
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Originally Posted by brandonwish View Post
I drove the car a little over an hour before I changed all the fluids. Fluids were still warm while I drained. I have not rechecked the fluids yet but I would recommend checking them next day or after a good, long drive. I've just been busy with work and haven't had the time recently. I definitely noticed a difference with my shifting as the transmission fluid in my car was never changed before. Shifts much better. As far as the differentials and transfer case I didn't notice a difference in how the car drives but I'm sure it's making a difference. The old fluids were pretty dark. Any other questions feel free to ask, happy to help
What do u think about tranny oil change for a car that has 124k miles, someone said that changing the oil might cause harm to the tranny. Any ideas or information about high mileage AT oil change? No problems with shifting, it's just part of preventive maintenance! The car is a 2004 330xi auto w steptronic.

Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:36 AM   #20
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Very nice! Makes me happy I do not have an xi with FOUR fluid changes to do.
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