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General E46 Forum
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:06 AM   #1
tums
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03 325xi transmission fluid question

I have used the search option and cannot come up with a definitive answer.

I have a 03 325xi with 68k miles. It has the steptronic automatic transmission. I am the second owner having bought the car at 30k. My car is going in to my independent next Monday for some preventative maintenance: belts, coolant, diff fluid, fuel filter, valve cover gasket. I am going to replace the spark plugs and power steering fluid this weekend myself. I am wanting to get to 140k without any major issues.

Do I need to or should I change the transmission fluid? My independent tech says the lifetime fluid is BS and I agree. From the service records the ATF fluid has never been changed. Is 68k too late to change?

I read all these horror stories about the ATF failing after a transmission fluid drain at high mileage. Is this isolated to 99-02 ATF E46 or does apply accross the series. So should I change the fluid or leave it and pray?
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:22 AM   #2
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The answer is, there is no definitive answer. You have to evaluate your scenerios.
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:56 AM   #3
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I would personally rather change the ATF and then pray and hope things don't die, rather then keep the original fluid in there and pray.
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:11 PM   #4
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These are all DIY. Although it will take much of your time if DIY Changed Prev Mainteinance: Trans fluid and filter w/ESSO, Replaced 2 upper/lower hoses, WP, Thermostat, 2 belts, Temp Sensor, Leveling switch, Coolant Thermostat, 2 pulley, expansion tank of course new coolant. Whew. Currently I have 63,345 mileaage on 2001 325I Sedan Steptronic
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:20 PM   #5
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I changed mine for the first time at 130k and had no problems.
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by tums View Post
I read all these horror stories about the ATF failing after a transmission fluid drain at high mileage. Is this isolated to 99-02 ATF E46 or does apply accross the series. So should I change the fluid or leave it and pray?

I think you meant your transmission failing after a fluid change.

Catch 22 in regards to changing your fluid or not. I'm with a previous poster though, I'd change the fluid rather than not changing it.
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:27 PM   #7
Bimmer Dude Xi
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At what point of mileage is transmission fluid is supposed to be changed? Also what type of fluid is supposed to be used?
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:33 PM   #8
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I changed mine for the first time at 130k and had no problems.
How did the outgoing fluid look?
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Old 10-20-2008, 06:57 PM   #9
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The ATF is coming to the end of it's life now. Looking a photos of some lifetime ATF, it starts to get grey sludge in it (formerly were detergents). If you change now, the grey sludge drains out and any remaining gets dissolved by the detergents in the new ATF. I used the Red Line D4 ATF.
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