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Old 04-27-2011, 07:45 AM   #1
deepblue7
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Question How to change the Differential Oil

Hi guys, I want to change the differential oil of my BMW 323i Sedan (E46) 1999.

1-Will 1lt Box be enough if I can pump all of the oil till last drop, without wasting?
2-Where are the bolts?
3-Which tools I need?
4-How can I understand that the oil is enough? Is it same logic as changing the transmission oil?

I look forward to hearing answers soon.

Cheers.
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Old 04-27-2011, 08:30 AM   #2
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Here is the DIY i used. Just make sure you can get the fill plug off before you remove the drain plug.

http://www.impee.co.uk/bmw_differential_oil.htm
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:24 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Hector45 View Post
Here is the DIY i used. Just make sure you can get the fill plug off before you remove the drain plug.

http://www.impee.co.uk/bmw_differential_oil.htm
...and drain plug on before fluid!

Same principle. Fill until it comes out the fill plug on level ground. There might be an optimum temp at which you do this, but I just pumped in what I could and got the plug on as soon as possible. Figuring either way, a dab up or down, you're close enough!

My Bentley shows Auto trans diff 0.9 L
manual 1 L
M3 1.3 L

BMW/ SAF-XO sythetic oil

Torque on differ drain or fill plug

With o-ring 44 ft-lb
with sealing washer 48 ft-lb
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by deepblue7 View Post
Hi guys, I want to change the differential oil of my BMW 323i Sedan (E46) 1999.

1-Will 1lt Box be enough if I can pump all of the oil till last drop, without wasting?
2-Where are the bolts?
3-Which tools I need?
4-How can I understand that the oil is enough? Is it same logic as changing the transmission oil?

I look forward to hearing answers soon.

Cheers.
Aykun.
I just did this on Saturday (MAN, does the old oil stink like crap!) and it was fairly easy. 20-25 min, mostly to let the old oil drain.

1- No, you need more than just 1 qt. I suggest buying 2 qt. (I used 1.5)
2- Fill plug faces rear at downward 45 degree angle, drain plug faces right side
3- 14 mm hex socket head or hex key (found a set @ Sears), ratchet, pan
4- Yes, once it's drained screw in the drain plug and fill until it overflows

Everyone says that you need to keep the car level but I managed to do the change with just my left rear tire up. I just used my oil pump to suck out all the excess old oil from the differential (wasn't very much) and filled. So far so good!

Also, I have a '01 330ci and so the plugs were on ridiculously tight. Took alot of leveraging my hips so I can pull down on the ratchet (this is your most powerful move from under the car) so make sure to get a good grip and tug
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:54 PM   #5
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this is the recommended fluid. It is formerly called SAF-XO.



http://www.opieoils.co.uk/p-737-cast...xo-75w-90.aspx
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:02 AM   #6
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Thank you very much for all of the answers, I appreaciate alot. Only problem is that I can not find fully synthetic 75W90 at the market in Australia. There is only Penrite and 2.5 lt is 60 bucks.
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Old 04-28-2011, 08:46 AM   #7
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Tips

One added tidbit. Don't overfill the differential. I recently did this job on both a 325 and 330. On the 325 the rear end of the car was jacked up only, so the angle of the differential let me put a little extra in before it started pouring out the fill hole. After a day of driving there was diff oil running down from the top of the diff.

There is a release valve on the top of the differential with a pin hole spout that will spit out the excess fluid making you think that you have a leak. STICK TO THE RECOMMENDED CAPACITY AND BE ACCURATE.
Didn't cause any harm (except to my wife's driveway) and after about 2 tablespoons leaked out I cleaned up the diff with brake cleaner and haven's seen a drop since.

E46 Diff. Fluid capacity:
Rear wheel drive: 0.9 liter (0.95 US qt.)
All wheel drive: 1.0 liter (1.06 US qt.)

Torque: Rear differential filler plug to housing 70 Nm (52 ft-lb)


The following site was helpful.
http://bokchoys.com/differential/diff_fluid.htm

By the way, removing the cover plate (8 bolts) is NOT necessary for this job and be aware that BMW no longer makes the gasket, so if you remove it or have to remove it to fix a leak, you need to make your own gasket or use RTV. However, contrary to common belief you can remove the cover plate and change the seal without dropping the differential or removing the sway bar and exhaust. I just did it last week by loosening 2 of the differential mounts and removing the rear bolt. NO more differential cover plate leak.


Lastly, and this is subjective, I use Amsoil SVG Severe Gear 75W-90. (These guys invented synthetic oil). I used it in my Land Rover without issue (towing lots) and friends around here use it in snow plows where the differential gets a real work out . My bimmers love it.
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Old 04-29-2011, 01:03 AM   #8
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One added tidbit. Don't overfill the differential. I recently did this job on both a 325 and 330. On the 325 the rear end of the car was jacked up only, so the angle of the differential let me put a little extra in before it started pouring out the fill hole. After a day of driving there was diff oil running down from the top of the diff.

There is a release valve on the top of the differential with a pin hole spout that will spit out the excess fluid making you think that you have a leak. STICK TO THE RECOMMENDED CAPACITY AND BE ACCURATE.
Didn't cause any harm (except to my wife's driveway) and after about 2 tablespoons leaked out I cleaned up the diff with brake cleaner and haven's seen a drop since.

E46 Diff. Fluid capacity:
Rear wheel drive: 0.9 liter (0.95 US qt.)
All wheel drive: 1.0 liter (1.06 US qt.)

Torque: Rear differential filler plug to housing 70 Nm (52 ft-lb)


The following site was helpful.
http://bokchoys.com/differential/diff_fluid.htm

By the way, removing the cover plate (8 bolts) is NOT necessary for this job and be aware that BMW no longer makes the gasket, so if you remove it or have to remove it to fix a leak, you need to make your own gasket or use RTV. However, contrary to common belief you can remove the cover plate and change the seal without dropping the differential or removing the sway bar and exhaust. I just did it last week by loosening 2 of the differential mounts and removing the rear bolt. NO more differential cover plate leak.


Lastly, and this is subjective, I use Amsoil SVG Severe Gear 75W-90. (These guys invented synthetic oil). I used it in my Land Rover without issue (towing lots) and friends around here use it in snow plows where the differential gets a real work out . My bimmers love it.

Thank you for the information, so if 0.9 lt is necessary then 1lt oil box will be enough and I do not need to buy the 2.5 Lt one right?
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Old 04-29-2011, 06:06 PM   #9
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Thank you for the information, so if 0.9 lt is necessary then 1lt oil box will be enough and I do not need to buy the 2.5 Lt one right?
The fluid capacity you got of .9 is for an automatic. For manual, as I said above, it's 1 L, so you'll have to get every drop of fluid in if you have a manual and only get a 1 L bottle. If you get a 1 Qt. bottle, you'll be short a bit for a manual diff...so watch the label carefully.

Also, the torque spec above is different, slightly, than the one I gave up above too...not that 10 lbs. is a big difference...just saying.
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Old 04-29-2011, 08:16 PM   #10
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The fluid capacity you got of .9 is for an automatic. For manual, as I said above, it's 1 L, so you'll have to get every drop of fluid in if you have a manual and only get a 1 L bottle. If you get a 1 Qt. bottle, you'll be short a bit for a manual diff...so watch the label carefully.

Also, the torque spec above is different, slightly, than the one I gave up above too...not that 10 lbs. is a big difference...just saying.

Thank you. So what is the torque value for my manual differential?
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Old 04-29-2011, 08:28 PM   #11
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Thank you. So what is the torque value for my manual differential?
Post #3 in this thread, which you started, so I would think you would have read?

That's from Bentley. Other sources might vary. Mine had a crush washer, I guess, but I don't recall. I know either my dif or trans had the crush washer, so I'm guessing it was the diff.

Another way to use crush washers in to go until you hit mating surface, and then give it another 1/4 turn and see how that feels. 48 ft lbs is pretty tight. Think of the weight of 48 pounds pulling down on a one foot long ratchet handle. Or, figure out what that is in your body weight. If you use a two foot long wrench, only about 25 pounds of force is then needed.

Develop your feel. Knowing approximately what the bolts should be torqued to will give you an idea from lightly tight to 'are you fn kidding me?' Front wheel hub is 200 and the front crank is 300 ft. lbs--haven't tried either, but know I'd use a long handle or just a monster Nicaraguan mechanic!
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:24 PM   #12
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Doug's right - you'll need more than 1 liter since there will be spillage and the pump and fill tube will steal some more.

In regard to the Bokchoy DIY listed in my earlier posting their torque is wrong - the correct torque is 65NM or 48.1 lbs with a new washer.

See attached TIS excerpt.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf e46-tran-diff-torques-TIS.pdf (18.0 KB, 311 views)
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Old 05-01-2011, 02:02 AM   #13
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Deepblue7, Redline 75w90 available here: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/REDLINE-Engin...item2a093ee2dd. $25 per litre. If you're in Melbourne you can pick up & save shipping. Dan 1337 has bought stuff from this guy & was happy with the deal. HTH
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:34 AM   #14
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Hey all,

I found CASTROL MANUAL SYNTRAX 75w90 which is GL5. I am confused is it the right one? It is not in yellow bottle like the one above it is in grey bottle and it says Manual Syntrax, it doesnt say especially differential oil but it is 75W90 and GL5 is it okay then?


It is the one on the link BELOW

http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgu...1t:429,r:0,s:0
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:46 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by deepblue7 View Post
Hey all,

I found CASTROL MANUAL SYNTRAX 75w90 which is GL5. I am confused is it the right one? It is not in yellow bottle like the one above it is in grey bottle and it says Manual Syntrax, it doesnt say especially differential oil but it is 75W90 and GL5 is it okay then?


It is the one on the link BELOW

http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgu...1t:429,r:0,s:0
Hi,

It doesn't state specifically "differential oil" as it may be used in multiple applications. I use the same 75w-90 oil in my iX transfer case as I do in the differential.

This oil will work for your e46 diff. It meets the three most important requirements - viscosity (75w-90), type (synthetic), standard (GL-5) (and also that you do not have the limited slip diff that is only standard on E46 M3 models)

Oil is a very subjective issue on this board and folk get personal with "brands" - your car will just appreciate that you've changed the oil with a compatible one./
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Castrol-syntrax-BMW-03-2011.pdf (34.9 KB, 202 views)

Last edited by BMW-North; 05-10-2011 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Added the Castrol announcement from 03/2011
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:54 AM   #16
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Hi,

It doesn't state specifically "differential oil" as it may be used in multiple applications. I use the same 75w-90 oil in my iX transfer case as I do in the differential.

This oil will work for your e46 diff. It meets the three most important requirements - viscosity (75w-90), type (synthetic), standard (GL-5)

Oil is a very subjective issue on this board and folk get personal with "brands" - your car will just appreciate that you've changed the oil with a compatible one./
Thank you. So, I will rely on you and as the oil is 75W90 fully Syn and gl5, then I will ignore the WORD Manual Syntrax on the bottle and just buy and try it.

I bought 14mm alien key and I also have an extension bar for it. One bolt is at the right side and another one is at the back side of the differential is that right? The level between those two botls are too low that is why I asked.

Cheers.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:49 AM   #17
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I grabbed these three pics off the net that explain exactly where the plugs are. Just make sure to remove the top one first (fill plug) cus if you remove the bottom one and drain the fluid, then find out you can't get the top one off - you'll be stuck with no oil in there.

Fill till the fluid starts to run out the top plug. Again keep the car level if you can. If you only jack up the rear end you'll get more in there than you need - won't cause any serious damage but it might spit out the overfill valve. If you stick your finger in after removing the top plug you should be able to feel the surface of the current oil before you drain it.

Let it drain for a good 30 mins min since this stuff is thick. Preferably drive the car (not just run the engine) for a good 20 mins above 50 km/h so that the diff oil heats up before draining - hotter oil drains better.

Other than the torque specs that DMAX corrected the Bokchoys DIY link posted earlier should provide you good step by step directions.

Good luck
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:48 PM   #18
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I grabbed these three pics off the net that explain exactly where the plugs are. Just make sure to remove the top one first (fill plug) cus if you remove the bottom one and drain the fluid, then find out you can't get the top one off - you'll be stuck with no oil in there.

Fill till the fluid starts to run out the top plug. Again keep the car level if you can. If you only jack up the rear end you'll get more in there than you need - won't cause any serious damage but it might spit out the overfill valve. If you stick your finger in after removing the top plug you should be able to feel the surface of the current oil before you drain it.

Let it drain for a good 30 mins min since this stuff is thick. Preferably drive the car (not just run the engine) for a good 20 mins above 50 km/h so that the diff oil heats up before draining - hotter oil drains better.



Other than the torque specs that DMAX corrected the Bokchoys DIY link posted earlier should provide you good step by step directions.

Good luck
Thank you very much for all of this information. One last thing: I do not have a torque wrench, but I mark the bolt and the differential with a red manequire and I will know where to stop while tightening. I did same at every bolt in this car and did not have problems at all. Is that a good method?
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:54 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by deepblue7 View Post
Thank you very much for all of this information. One last thing: I do not have a torque wrench, but I mark the bolt and the differential with a red manequire and I will know where to stop while tightening. I did same at every bolt in this car and did not have problems at all. Is that a good method?
Seems okay, but use your feel for the final 'stopping point.' There are crush washers on it, so another method my mechanic uses is to get to the flush fit with crush washer on, and then go another 1/4 turn. If snug, you're done...if you feel like it's not so tight then, maybe another 1/4 turn, but probably not any more.
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:42 PM   #20
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This might be one of those jobs where a torque wrench is not absolutely necessary. Unlike say, tightening spark plugs or head bolts that need very precise tightening and where over tightening can cause serious damage.

These two plugs are just fill and drain plugs - do like Doug says above and after you are done wipe the oil that has run down off and clean the area with a rag and brake cleaner or solvent and then just check later for any leaks.

Let us know how you made out.
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