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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 10-31-2010, 06:57 AM   #1
tttomttt
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330xi transfer case fluid question

Hi all,

Recently purchased a 2003 330xi and I am in the middle of accomplishing all the great DIY maintenance items associated with our cars.

I have already changed the automatic transmission fluid and filter using several posts as my guide and I thank you all for your insight.

My question is about the transfer case oil. Although I have read several posts about changing the oil most had to do with manual transmissions. Is the oil the same for automatics as well as manuals or is there a difference?
I have seen that redline d4 has been recommended is this the oil I should use?

I absolutely love my car and I am driving at least 100mi. a day to and from work plus whatever else my busy day requires. Thanks in advance for any and all help.

Tommy T
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:31 AM   #2
xi_ter
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Use the Redline D4 ATF. I have had it in my transfer case for a year.


Pic of drain plug. Fill plug is on the other side. You'll need to buy a hand pump.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:10 PM   #3
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Some good to know info! I have debating swapping the fluid and filter on my auto trans but I have 174k on it and has never been done
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:22 PM   #4
tttomttt
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xi ter,

Thanks for the quick response. I spent the day draining the tranny again to remove the mixed fluid and to complete the transfer from old fluid to new dexron VI. Also accomplished the transfer case and front differential while I was there. Yesterday my 15yr old and I spent the day removing and replacing the valve cover gasket and replaced the vanos with a unit from Dr. Vanos, all went well and replaced the plugs at the same time. The car always ran good since I bought it about a month ago but now it really runs well.
I currently drive to Brooklyn everyday and it is a pleasure to drive this vehicle and I am sure it will be even more pleasurable tomorrow.
This site has been such a big help to me I just want to say thank you all for all your help.

Toommy T
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:27 PM   #5
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I'm using Redline D4 ATF in my xfer case, as well.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:15 PM   #6
latitude39
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"recheck oil level again after driving 600 feet" -- according to Bentley

Quote:
Originally Posted by tttomttt View Post
xi ter,

Thanks for the quick response. I spent the day draining the tranny again to remove the mixed fluid and to complete the transfer from old fluid to new dexron VI. Also accomplished the transfer case and front differential while I was there. Yesterday my 15yr old and I spent the day removing and replacing the valve cover gasket and replaced the vanos with a unit from Dr. Vanos, all went well and replaced the plugs at the same time. The car always ran good since I bought it about a month ago but now it really runs well.
I currently drive to Brooklyn everyday and it is a pleasure to drive this vehicle and I am sure it will be even more pleasurable tomorrow.
This site has been such a big help to me I just want to say thank you all for all your help.

Toommy T
I also used Redline D4 ATF in my transfer case...at 111k miles. It seems to be the stuff to use, after reading all the posts here and elsewhere on the web.

Make sure that the transfer case gears are turned through the new fluid and then recheck the level. The Bentley manual, page 270-2, states, "recheck oil level again after driving car approximately 200 meters."

I think this is especially important since the capacity of the NV 124 transfer case is only .25 quart (8 ounces). 2 ounces low could be critical.

I too just completed service on the automatic tranny, front and rear diffs, rebuilt VANOS with Beisan seals, etc. The rear diff gear oil was pretty clean but the front diff fluid was nasty. My transfer case fluid was also nasty. I'll probably drain & fill it again soon since you can only drain about 5 ounces --65%.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xi_ter View Post
Use the Redline D4 ATF. I have had it in my transfer case for a year.
Quote:
Originally Posted by My325XI View Post
I'm using Redline D4 ATF in my xfer case, as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by latitude39 View Post
I also used Redline D4 ATF in my transfer case...at 111k miles. It seems to be the stuff to use, after reading all the posts here and elsewhere on the web.
Just because it is all over the web doesnt make it right....

When I was researching this almost 2 years ago now I was presented with the same "consensus" that D4 ATF was what the XI transfer case needed. But in my research I discovered that was not necesarily the case.

Here is why: The original fill for the xi transfer case was/is MTF-LT1 P/N 83-22-9-408-942. (E46XI.PDF) The specs seem to be a closely held secret from BMW but from used oil analysis information it has been determined that the fluid matched up to roughly a 70 or 75w-80 GL-4 gear oil. D4 ATF is considerably thinner than that.

What I did: Based on the information at hand I was able to determine that Redline MTL (70W80 GL-4 Gear Oil) more closely matched the original fill of the XI transfer case. So this is what I used over 20 thousand miles ago. Will change out again after 30K.

My point is this: Just because "everyone" says something doesnt make it true. Do your own research to come to a conclusion--if for nothing more than to verify that information. Doing so you will probably learn a little bit in the process.

ALSO--I am not saying that those people who have used the D4-ATF will have their transfer cases seize up and go tumbling down the road behind them because they used the wrong fluid. More than likely everything will be just fine. For me personally I wanted to use something that was as close to what BMW put in there to begin with. Which was why I chose the MTL.

UIltimately its your car and your decision I just wanted to share what I had learned on my journey.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCoop View Post
Just because it is all over the web doesnt make it right....

When I was researching this almost 2 years ago now I was presented with the same "consensus" that D4 ATF was what the XI transfer case needed. But in my research I discovered that was not necesarily the case.

Here is why: The original fill for the xi transfer case was/is MTF-LT1 P/N 83-22-9-408-942. (E46XI.PDF) The specs seem to be a closely held secret from BMW but from used oil analysis information it has been determined that the fluid matched up to roughly a 70 or 75w-80 GL-4 gear oil. D4 ATF is considerably thinner than that.

What I did: Based on the information at hand I was able to determine that Redline MTL (70W80 GL-4 Gear Oil) more closely matched the original fill of the XI transfer case. So this is what I used over 20 thousand miles ago. Will change out again after 30K.

My point is this: Just because "everyone" says something doesnt make it true. Do your own research to come to a conclusion--if for nothing more than to verify that information. Doing so you will probably learn a little bit in the process.

ALSO--I am not saying that those people who have used the D4-ATF will have their transfer cases seize up and go tumbling down the road behind them because they used the wrong fluid. More than likely everything will be just fine. For me personally I wanted to use something that was as close to what BMW put in there to begin with. Which was why I chose the MTL.

UIltimately its your car and your decision I just wanted to share what I had learned on my journey.
GCoop, Thank you for sharing your research into transfer case fluids for this gearbox. My reference was fuzzy and you correctly pointed that out.

My unnamed source on which I relied was Turner Motorsport, who sells a kit for our "xi" gearboxes. This includes Redline D4 ATF for the transfer case:
http://www.turnermotorsport.com/html...=E46Xi-REDLINE

That seemed credible to me. So I took the advice, hook, line, and sinker.

I am not a professional mechanic. Nor am I a chemist or anything like that. When I read the specifications on oils and auto trans fluid, I realize that I don't have the knowledge to make an informed choice. Therefore, I count on alternate sources on which to make my decisions. I should probably just pony up the dollars and stay with the BMW product. But I am stubborn.

I too have have delved into reading many sources, looking for an alternate, reasonably-priced fluid. Since the transfer case only holds 8 ounces, I figured I would have a "lifetime supply" if I purchased a quart of the original BMW juice and wanted a more cost-effective solution, maybe something that I could use in my 390 Auto Trans box. I liked Turner's solution primarily because I had Redline D4 on-hand from my Auto Trans service.

Who knows. We're all trying to make these machines last as long as possible, spending our money wisely.

Has anybody contacted the maker of the transfer case? My research indicates that New Process Gear of Syracuse, New York makes this transfer case. They would certainly know what oil to put in these boxes.
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:46 PM   #9
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Either way, I have to believe the best fluid is new fluid.

Whatever you decide, change it often.
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:48 PM   #10
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Hello everyone,
I would like to change out my ATF and filter on my Xi but I am not sure which one is the fill plug. Any help with a pic or diagram would greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latitude39 View Post
GCoop, Thank you for sharing your research into transfer case fluids for this gearbox. My reference was fuzzy and you correctly pointed that out.

My unnamed source on which I relied was Turner Motorsport, who sells a kit for our "xi" gearboxes. This includes Redline D4 ATF for the transfer case:
http://www.turnermotorsport.com/html...=E46Xi-REDLINE

Has anybody contacted the maker of the transfer case? My research indicates that New Process Gear of Syracuse, New York makes this transfer case. They would certainly know what oil to put in these boxes.
I never really understood why Turner suggests the D4-ATF instead of something a little closer. In any case the similarities between that fluid and the MTL are numerous. Really the only difference between the two are the viscosities

Quote:
MTL TYPICAL PROPERTIES


API Service Class GL 4
SAE Viscosity Grade (Motor Oil) 5W30
SAE Viscosity Grade (Gear Oil) 70W80
Vis @ 100C, cSt 10.6
Vis @ 40C, cSt 56.2
Viscosity Index 183
Pour Point, C -50
Pour Point, F -58
Flash Point, C 232
Flash Point, F 450
Brookfield Viscosity @ -40C, Poise 120
Quote:
D4 ATF TYPICAL PROPERTIES


Vis @ 100C, cSt 7.5
Vis @ 40C, cSt 34
Viscosity Index 198
Pour Point, C -60
Pour Point, F -76
Flash Point, C 225
Flash Point, F 437
Brookfield Vis @ -40C, P 52
The transfer case in our XIs model 124 from New Venture (NV124).
They are now known as New Process Gear a division of Magna Powertrain.
6600 New Venture Gear Drive
East Syracuse, NY 13057-1209
(315) 432-4000

I think I may give them a call before my next change and see if they can finally put this issue to rest.

Last edited by GCoop; 11-02-2010 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:40 AM   #12
latitude39
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New Process phone gives msg and then loops back to same msg

I tried to call New Process gear with the phone number provided by GCoop but couldn't get through. The "attendant" whose voice mail I am automatically directed to does not answer and, "does not subscribe to..." voice mail service.

New Process is going through layoffs, according to an article on Syracuse.com. Maybe their phone "attendant" got cut.

I'll try their number later.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latitude39 View Post
I tried to call New Process gear with the phone number provided by GCoop but couldn't get through. The "attendant" whose voice mail I am automatically directed to does not answer and, "does not subscribe to..." voice mail service.

New Process is going through layoffs, according to an article on Syracuse.com. Maybe their phone "attendant" got cut.

I'll try their number later.
It's still hearsay even if you do speak with someone.

The only way to do this properly is to get a sample of the BMW fluid tested- then you will be able to put in what matches specs the closest.

Note: this will not tell you the 'best' fluid to use- I doubt the same BMW fluid is still the 'best' for a TC with 100k miles anyway. I even have my doubts that the original fluid was the best for a brand new TC based on what the fluid looks like when it comes out after 50k or so.
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:11 PM   #14
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transfer case oil

G,

Great research and I'll be sure to drain and refill with the proper fluid. Surprising that Turner would advertise and sell an improper fluid to refill a major component such as this.

T
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:20 PM   #15
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G,

Great research and I'll be sure to drain and refill with the proper fluid. Surprising that Turner would advertise and sell an improper fluid to refill a major component such as this.

T
I wouldn't go so far as to say Turner is recommending the wrong fluid.

Redline also recommends D4.

Has anyone had a problem using D4? I haven't heard of one. I don't know GCoop, but it seems like he did some internet research and has filled once with MTL- hasn't even drained it yet. Seems preliminary to be making this recommendation.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:38 AM   #16
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Just to toss this one out there, xiftw.com recommends using RP Synchromax in the transfer case which is the same as the manual transmission fluid.
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Old 11-03-2010, 11:32 AM   #17
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Just to toss this one out there, xiftw.com recommends using RP Synchromax in the transfer case which is the same as the manual transmission fluid.
You do know that site was made by a fanatic, right? He's a really nice guy. I've met him a few times. I trust the info on there, but it is what it is.
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Old 11-03-2010, 12:01 PM   #18
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You do know that site was made by a fanatic, right? He's a really nice guy. I've met him a few times. I trust the info on there, but it is what it is.
I didn't know that, but good to know! Either way, that's what I did and it hasn't blown up yet so we'll see in another 30k miles.
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Old 11-03-2010, 12:25 PM   #19
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G,

Great research and I'll be sure to drain and refill with the proper fluid. Surprising that Turner would advertise and sell an improper fluid to refill a major component such as this.

T
I dont think I ever said that the D4 fluid wasnt the proper fluid. What I did say was that I wanted something in specification to be as close to what the original fill was and that the redline product that matched up closest was the MTL.

The D4 ATF from Redline is also a GL4 lubricant with the main difference between it and the MTL being its viscosity. Like I said it is thinner than the original fill but that doesnt necissarily make it wrong to use. Changing it out to either one will get you ahead of the game and then changing it out regularly after that will keep you there.

Neither one of the specs (MTL or D4ATF) match up exactly to what was in there originally. The D4 is thinner and the MTL is just a little thicker. If the transfer case was chain driven I would have gone with the D4 ATF but since ours is a gear only design I went with the MTL. That is really what it all boiled down to. I really dont know the reasoning behind why Turner as well as some others recomned the D4 for our cars but the D4 fluid has been wideley accepted as THE fluid for the Chain driven transfer cases in the X series for some time. That maybe it, but I really have no idea.

Either one will get you in the ballpark and is a matter of personal preference. I tried to make that clear above and my only point was to not accept what you hear (this means my words too) until you do your own research. In the process you will probably learn something.

Last edited by GCoop; 11-03-2010 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:53 PM   #20
Mark M
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I used MTL in mine last winter. I think it was the first time she was changed ever, was at 94k miles, only 1500 miles after I bought the car.

One note, the old transfer case fluid was FILTHY! Pitch black like tar. I was baffled how dirty it was given it does not see combustion or other impurities like motor oil would. So, me personally, this is now on a every 30k mile interval for changing. However, in contrast, the front and rear diff fluids were still gold and clean. They are on 60k mile intervals for me.
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