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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 03-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #1
delmarco
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Servicing your E46 Rear Differential Fluid? Has anyone been doing it?

We have a billion threads on coolant and oil maintenance, a million threads on tranny fluid maintenance, a few hundred-thousand threads on power steering and brake fluid, even lots of threads on windshield washer tank fluid...

but absolutely NO threads for the how-to and how-often on Rear Differential Fluid servicing.

Is this something we are suppose to do every now and again?



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Old 03-25-2012, 08:04 PM   #2
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I did it.... I found a DIY, maybe the mad russian one. Couldn't be easier. I would say 2 years or 30K miles.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:33 PM   #3
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yes. about every 30k miles I'd recommend. you can make your own tool. one bolt with two 14mm-head nuts threaded onto it and tightened against one another. then use the head of the bolt as the tool and turn your wrench on the threaded nuts. or i believe someone makes a tool for this as well.

i use mobil 1 75-90. doesn't matter whether or not it has the LSD additives. In fact, I don't think you can find a good synthetic without it.

edit:

also i believe the diff takes 1.1qts...so you'll have to buy a second quart just for the .1 quarts.. lol
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:42 PM   #4
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Autozone sells a tool that fits directly in the rear differential bolt.
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:08 PM   #5
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I'm running about 30,000 miles a year so I change mine every 2 years or 60,000 miles. Just my two and a half cents worth...
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:19 PM   #6
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changed at 100000 km and 150000 km with BG 75-140
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:35 PM   #7
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the rear diff fluid, when I drained mine, looked in very good condition. the only thing was it was a bit low.
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:49 PM   #8
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Sweet thanks! I just purchased redline 75w90 (2 bottles). Will be doing this Tuesday afternoon. I'll post pics!

Im at 170,000km, this will probably be the first diff fluid change.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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What are some of the things that could go wrong if you haven't been changing it every 30,000 miles?

I'm pretty sure I have not changed it in the last 45,000 miles and 4 years of driving the car!
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:35 PM   #10
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Lifetime fluid
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:52 PM   #11
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonbimmer View Post
the rear diff fluid, when I drained mine, looked in very good condition. the only thing was it was a bit low.
exact same here, a bit low.
So just top it off.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:18 PM   #13
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Lifetime fluid
Don't be surprised when your diff craps out on you.

Also, I serviced my diff last year with Royal Purple and those gears slam now!

And yes there are DIY's..

www.bokchoys.com

And if you have money, go overboard!
http://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-10...gn=33117512980
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:54 AM   #14
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Uhm... what happens if you forget to change the fluid?
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:53 AM   #15
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Oils break down and lose their ability to resist shearing. This means more wear. More wear means larger tolerances. You get the idea.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:22 AM   #16
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I was joking...
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:40 AM   #17
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i've done this a few times on my bmws.
although the bmw diff oil is very good stuff, it still should be replaced with newer oil even if it's "Lifetime" fill. as mentioned, it still breaks down from shear.
there are plenty of DIYs and info on this. make sure you have a correct socket/wrench to do the job. (harbor freight sells the socket). it's good planning to take out the "fill" plug first. if it's seized/stripped you're not stuck without being able to re-fill diff. also a hand pump to get the oil in helps if diff isn't out.

i'd suggest like every 50K-60K miles isn't bad. i'm sure one could go even 75K-100K on factory Lifetime oil and not have a single issue. the oil doesn't get contaminated like engine oil. i'd do it more often if previously replaced by non BMW oil.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:51 AM   #18
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Del, don't worry too much about it.

Both trans and diff fluids, originally, were called lifetime. I actually asked my dealer if they'd do them and it said leave them alone. Feeling that that wasn't right, I used RL 75/90 in diff and MTL in my manual trans. After a year or so I felt guilt about non-OE fluids...partly because my trans felt different...and after reading all the opinions about RP, RL, BG, LubroMoly, etc., I decided I needed the good stuff.

Went to dealer. When I begged, they said they'd change diff fluid for me. This was probably at 150K miles, and I'm sure it hadn't been done before. After I cried (using the 'pulling the nostril hair out' technique), I got OE fluids from them.

That said, that was many years ago, and I really need to get down there and check my diff fluid level as I know I have a minor seeping from the diff gasket...thanks for reminding and guilting me to do that!

I'm not sure what size tool I needed for it, but I had it...I think it's just a large hex key. Given that Mango had to get creative and make a tool, that makes me think that that's what it was on mine. If I'm not mistaken, there are crush washers for the plugs, but those might be for the trans. One gets them, the other does not.

As far as a diy...there's not much to it:

Remove filler plug first, because if you have an issue with getting it off and you drain it, then you won't be driving.

Obviously drain on level ground.

Then all you have to worry about is how to get the fluid in there. My diff just takes 1 L...one bottle...if you can get it all in there. Check your manual (or Bentley) for your capacities..some might take more.

...and in return for your having read this far, let me describe to you a little trick for filling it, because it can be a pain. Not sure words will work for you, but for some I know they will.

Take the cap from the usual bottle of diff/trans. fluid. Somehow, you want to attach a hose or pipe from the cap to the bottom of the bottle, and add a hose to the top of it with a bend in it. Pipe and hose need to connect together through the cap. This way you have a squeeze bottle. When you squeeze it, the fluid will push up and go into diff. Otherwise, you'll have an issue figuring out how to get it in.

I'd used a pump before...one with two hoses on it...and it was a pain. Others have rigged up the bottle pointing down outside the car with a hose attached and use a gravity feed, but stringing the hose through things while this bottle was above the diff was kind of difficult. (Mind you, I was doing this by myself. If I had a person holding the bottle, it would have made it much easier.)

I know you can buy trans. fluid from dealer, but it comes in 5L bottles when you only need 1-2L at most for manny. Last I checked, bmw doesn't sell diff fluid that way, but it may. But, if you do what I did, you can get OE fluid and not worry about it for 100K miles...plus or minus. Go to your parts guy at local dealer and ask for diff fluid. He'll say, "no." Say, "but I know some dealers sell it...are you saying "no" because I'm Black (or Latino, Jewish, Muslim, Australian, Fat, Ugly, etc)"

Just be calm, and keep asking for it using your version of English! I think the best tactic is to argue that it's a bmw part and that you can get every part for your car...every part...and you want the diff fluid. They have it in 55 gal. drums in the shop. When they say "okay, but we don't have any bottles for it" just run to your car and bring out the empty bottle you brought with you. (I brought 2 for diff and 2 for trans fluids...each marked with 1 L lines on it.)

Too much again?
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:21 AM   #19
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Word of advice, loosen fill, open drain, then fully open fill if you don't want poop smelling fluid sprayed on your face.
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:30 AM   #20
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I change my diff and trans fluids.

I read somewhere (I think the Bentley manual) that "lifetime" actually means 100,000 miles. I think.
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