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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 09-17-2014, 04:41 PM   #1
Bogwon
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CORRECT Power Steering Fluid

Why is it so hard to get a straight answer on which fluids to use in a BMW. I have a 2002 330ci convertible. I want to change out my power steering fluid. I realize I can't get it all out, but want to replace as much as I can. I understand the process. But because the recommended fluid can be hard to find, there are many opinions on the correct fluid. I have purchased "Castrol Transmax DEX/MERC ATF. Is this the correct fluid to use? I know the correct level for the fluid when the exchange is finished. But during the process of siphoning out the fluid and replacing each time, should the reservoir be filled only to the fill line or can it be filled completely so more fluid is exchanged with each cycle? I know this question has been "beat to death", but with so many opinions, some complete opposites, it's tough. Thank you, I really appreciate any help on this.
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Old 09-17-2014, 04:55 PM   #2
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That fluid is fine. I think I used dex iv? When you're bleeding it is okay to fill as high as you want it. I filled the reservoir to the top. Turned the steering wheel full lock both ways a couple times, turned the car off, and then pulled out the brown fluid until the reservoir was empty. Rinse and repeat until your fluid is bright red.

You may not have to turn off and on the car, but I am a little anal when it comes to maintenance.
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IMO, the euro clear corners looks too aftermarket/ricey.
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This 323 would most likely handle and drive better than a stock e46 m3.
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Old 09-17-2014, 05:23 PM   #3
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Thank you for the reply, but you are confirming my comment on confusion about fluids. If you Google "Dex iv for E46", the first entry is this website and the first post says "don't use it". How can there be so many opposite opinions? There is even different opinions on overfilling the fluid during exchange cycles. If you go to this link, it states "DON'T OVERFILL". http://www.linquist.net/motorsports/bmw/maf. Is there a BMW tech out there that can put this question to rest? There is a different opinion posted somewhere on every brand out there.

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Old 09-17-2014, 05:59 PM   #4
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Try it and find out. I've driven on dex for more than 10,000 miles and have no problems. Many others use and recommend dex fluids.
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I am going to install M3 fender grill on my 323ci.
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IMO, the euro clear corners looks too aftermarket/ricey.
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This 323 would most likely handle and drive better than a stock e46 m3.
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:07 PM   #5
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Why is it so hard to get a straight answer on which fluids to use in a BMW. I have a 2002 330ci convertible. I want to change out my power steering fluid. I realize I can't get it all out, but want to replace as much as I can. I understand the process. But because the recommended fluid can be hard to find, there are many opinions on the correct fluid. I have purchased "Castrol Transmax DEX/MERC ATF. Is this the correct fluid to use? I know the correct level for the fluid when the exchange is finished. But during the process of siphoning out the fluid and replacing each time, should the reservoir be filled only to the fill line or can it be filled completely so more fluid is exchanged with each cycle? I know this question has been "beat to death", but with so many opinions, some complete opposites, it's tough. Thank you, I really appreciate any help on this.
You are overthinking this. If you're really so worried about it, go to the dealer and get the BMW fluid. This way you cannot go wrong. Really though, you're overthinking it.

Me myself and I use Valvoline MaxLife ATF from Wal Mart. Cheap, available everywhere, and works great.
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Old 09-18-2014, 02:17 AM   #6
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Just strange about all the different opinions on BMW maintenance. Use the wrong fluid and you ruin your pump. Owned Corvettes for years and could always find pretty straight forward recommendations on maintenance. And you didn't have to replace half of the car at 100K miles.
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Old 09-18-2014, 07:21 AM   #7
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It hasn't ruined my pump. Just go buy stuff from the dealer at $50 a quart if that'll make you happy.
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IMO, the euro clear corners looks too aftermarket/ricey.
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This 323 would most likely handle and drive better than a stock e46 m3.
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Old 09-18-2014, 09:07 AM   #8
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I use Redline D4AFT. There's a procedure on this forum to flush the entire ps system. Takes about 20 minutes. Uses 3 or 4 qts of dino ATF followed by 2 qts of (for me) Redline D4ATF.


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Old 09-18-2014, 05:19 PM   #9
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Bogwon, your car uses a CHF11S Hydraulic fluid for the power steering. We do have it available if you need it. Check the link below.

Power Steering Fluid
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:13 AM   #10
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Bogwon, your car uses a CHF11S Hydraulic fluid for the power steering. We do have it available if you need it. Check the link below.



Power Steering Fluid

Ummmmmm, are you sure???


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Old 09-19-2014, 08:48 AM   #11
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Vendors....
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Originally Posted by phenom323ci View Post
I am going to install M3 fender grill on my 323ci.
Quote:
Originally Posted by futureSubie View Post
IMO, the euro clear corners looks too aftermarket/ricey.
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This 323 would most likely handle and drive better than a stock e46 m3.
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:50 AM   #12
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Ummmmmm, are you sure???


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Yes sir.
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Old 09-19-2014, 05:46 PM   #13
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Well, this is confusing ... Bentley manual calls for Dexron III ATF for e46's. Pentosin says the fluid referenced above works in BMW's, but doesn't mention ATF or Dexron. The cap on my power steering reservoir says "use ATF oil only". FWIW, I used Mobil 1 synthetic ATF, and haven't had any issues.
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:54 PM   #14
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Let me clarify the fluid confusion, if I may. In E46's with a production date after 4/2001 through 8/2002 have the LF-30 power steering pump that uses ATF, and models with a production date of 3/2001 or earlier uses the LF-20 pump that uses CHF11S.
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:37 AM   #15
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Let me clarify the fluid confusion, if I may. In E46's with a production date after 4/2001 through 8/2002 have the LF-30 power steering pump that uses ATF, and models with a production date of 3/2001 or earlier uses the LF-20 pump that uses CHF11S.
Well there ya go. That's pretty straight. Just use the specified fluid.
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:54 PM   #16
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Let me clarify the fluid confusion, if I may. In E46's with a production date after 4/2001 through 8/2002 have the LF-30 power steering pump that uses ATF, and models with a production date of 3/2001 or earlier uses the LF-20 pump that uses CHF11S.
Not to stir the pot further, however, realoem.com and parts base.org show different LF20 and LF30 for different e46 models. For instance, mine, which is a 5/2001 build, has an LF20, which is what realoem says for 325i's. However, 330ci, just to pick a different model, would have an LF30 in the same timeframe. I can't talk to various fluids used, however, my LF20 says to use ATF fluid on the power steering reservoir.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:59 AM   #17
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Hmmmm. My 2001 330Ci was produced on July 3, 2000 on assembly line 2 at the BMW plant in Regensberg, Germany (beautiful city, btw). It has the original LF20 ps pump. I have flushed the entire system once using dino ATF and finishing with Redline D4ATF. The ps operates fine (a bit over-boosted) with zero noise and no leakage. And you're tell me I need to use some godawfully expensive fluid? I think, sir, you are mis-informed.


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Old 09-21-2014, 10:22 AM   #18
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Hmmmm. My 2001 330Ci was produced on July 3, 2000 on assembly line 2 at the BMW plant in Regensberg, Germany (beautiful city, btw). It has the original LF20 ps pump. I have flushed the entire system once using dino ATF and finishing with Redline D4ATF. The ps operates fine (a bit over-boosted) with zero noise and no leakage. And you're tell me I need to use some godawfully expensive fluid? I think, sir, you are mis-informed.


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I am going to install M3 fender grill on my 323ci.
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IMO, the euro clear corners looks too aftermarket/ricey.
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This 323 would most likely handle and drive better than a stock e46 m3.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:44 AM   #19
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I call it vendors trying to get a sale with misinformation. Won't be ordering from them ever.
I've ordered from Autohausaz for many years, and certainly don't hold this discussion against them. They carry quality parts at reasonable prices with excellent service.

I think this is a case where there are different sources of information, which unfortunately, don't sync up. If you look at the Pentosin web site, their CHF11S fact sheet says it is BMW approved and covers "BMW 1990-on (check owners manual)". If you look at the Pentosin catalog, it lists CHF11S specifically for e46's, all years.

For me, the cap on the power steering reservoir says to use ATF, so I use Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:57 AM   #20
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The e46 (and most cars) use either dexron III or dexron VI ATF. That's it. End of story.


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