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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 05-18-2014, 12:48 PM   #1
323i jlviii
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Question Transmission Fill from under the hood??

OK how many times have we wished for a easier Check AND Fill from under the hood?

What we know - with the car(s) turned off and cold - (might be a concern with this thought)

Oil Will pour out of any of these transmissions with the fill plug removed.

All right - put on your X-Ray vision glasses (just go with me here) as you look thru the walls of the car, thru the casing of the transmission, you can see the level and color of the oil. You see how high it is from ground level and therefor see IF there was a way to tap into a oil line, you'd see the level and color of the oil as being just below the "cold" fill line marked on our new clear vinyl tube. (teed from that line)

Now this tube will need a open/close valve or plug so the oil doesn't get pumped out during normal operation; but however we decide to mark this tube hot - warm - cold, we should have the first visual inspection / fill tube ever for these cars?

If it's low, you simply put a funnel in the top of the hose and top it off? If it's dirty or black, you've been driving too long with checking!

Now you won't need your ex-ray glasses ! besides they'd get us all in trouble!

Where from here? two lines come forward from the transmission; the cooler lines. One is from the torque converter, the other goes to the transmission fill pan??? that's the question; is that line a clear shot the the transmission for filling the operation of the tranny? Or is it into the valve body for actual operating?

Looking for feed back before I try this. I've already had success using the one line to empty the converter changing the tranny fluid.

Hope you all can picture this - I'm looking for the Brainiacks to put this idea to the test, in theory anyway.
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:21 PM   #2
wildcat293
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I think its a lot easier to put it on ramps and jack stands and slide under with the car running. e46 one of the easiest cars to jack up all 4 sides level...
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 323i jlviii View Post

Where from here? two lines come forward from the transmission; the cooler lines. One is from the torque converter, the other goes to the transmission fill pan??? that's the question; is that line a clear shot the the transmission for filling the operation of the tranny? Or is it into the valve body for actual operating?
No relation from the cooling hoses to the level in the pan, they come and go from well above the pan level. in this cutaway you can see the fill plug and where you would need to try to measure the level



Here you can see the flow on the schematic, they come and go from roughly the center of the transmission, these are for the GM transmission only, ZF may be different:


There just isn't a good place to put a dipstick, the tunnel around the transmission is pretty tight, good thought but I cant see an implementation.
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Old 05-22-2014, 12:05 AM   #4
323i jlviii
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Lightbulb Awesome Reply!

"There just isn't a good place to put a dipstick, the tunnel around the transmission is pretty tight, good thought but I cant see an implementation. "

Not for a dipstick! But with the diagram you've provided there is still the idea. Take away the dip stick; replace it with a clear plastic tube, teed off one of the cooler lines.

Now if you measure the bottom of the pan from the floor - say 7" and the cooler lines are 9". So you have a 2" difference; does the holding capacity of the transmission oil come up above that difference with the engine off?

5 quarts, plus maybe 2 resting out of the torque converter? The pipe would come up alone side the expansion tank, where hopefully it could be seen or
mirrored to check the resting level of the fluid - cold or hot. Giving you the
first mark (or level) of the transmission oil.

I've not looked at the diagram on a larger screen yet, but do the cooler lines stay in the fluid depth to give a resting height? This is where the valve would come into play, to stop the vacuum / pressure in the tube.

If you could tell me where the cooler lines come or go to? That would be helpful, just need the one - although it really won't matter. There is No check valve up there.

I'm going to try this weekend to see if I can put this thought into action, I,ll
take photos too!
Thanks again for the diagrams!
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Old 05-22-2014, 12:16 AM   #5
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Thumbs Up The Fill Hole is the marker?

It really will depend on how deep is the oil from that fill hole. If that is really our top "level" of oil - how much would run out with the motor off and
in the full resting "cold" mode?
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Old 05-22-2014, 10:02 PM   #6
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The fill level I marked is with the engine running, with the engine off the level goes higher but it doesn't reach the level of the cooling hose input and output, they are isolated from the fluid in the pan anyway. I can generally fit 3 more quarts once the engine is running, after filling with the engine off until it runs out.

See the lower left corner, this is the area where the cooling input and outputs are above, they are closer to the center of the transmission than the pan:
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:32 AM   #7
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Not 100% sure of what I seeing. Lower left hand corner, below the salmon colored filter rings still in the valve body? So what your saying is the fluid will come up higher, just not to the level of the cooling lines.

My hope was that the fluid would "hold" and level in the vinyl tube because more fluid would fill the rest of the pan and come back up the tube - resting somewhere in the tube to be useful in this quest.

They can't both go into the pan? one will need to be pumped to the cooler, right? would that line "hold" the fluid level while the car is turned off? Actually the oil should seek the level of the combined "loose" fluid.

Bill Cosby just sounded off in my ear! R I G H T !

So the new answer to this problem, and probably easier would be to drill a hole in the pan, attach a hose, steel line to the front, then the clear, sight glass if you will? with the filler top of course!
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Old 05-23-2014, 06:58 PM   #8
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The picture is sideways, the transmission is standing on the bell housing, the lower left hand is where the valve body is resting, neither cooling hose go to the pan, a sight glass tube off of the pan would work.

The orange gasket is for the filter.
See the cigar shaped casting coming in from the lower left here: that is a pressure test port. It is two inches below the cooling ports:


It is the round plug under the cooling hose ports:
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:31 PM   #9
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Question Pressure Test Port Then?

Ok, you are the man! Where would be the best place in your opinion to put this "test" sight glass? And because it looks so low, a test rod - stick to check the level? NO- really hoped for the visual filler/ sight glass tube?

Every point I think of is to high? What about a magnetic sensor?

Isn't the transmission suppose to throw a gear light if the fluid is low? or could this be the fix to "know" the fluid is low, and have it be the same place to fill or top it off?

Who said buy a CHEVY? Kidding- although I do have a Tahoe to pull the boat.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:55 AM   #10
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This off the side of the pan would probably work:
http://www.mcmaster.com/#1224k17/=s3lrs7

There is no specific code for low on fluid that I know of, normally you will get slippage which will throw a gear check code.
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Old 05-24-2014, 11:26 AM   #11
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Nice! only problem is it's "vented". But then again too, much more classy than what I originally was thinking.

Let me review with you about this. The transmission holds 2-3 quarts more while running and warm to properly fill it? I think that sounds more than I could get into it but we do know that it does hold more warmed up.

Here's the point I'm trying to see if it would work. Once the fluid is properly filled and is running out of the filler hole; the plug is screwed back in and we're good? Right? Or should we be "foot on brake" going thru the gears, then top it off. I don't think that would matter.

When the car is turned off, does the level in the transmission reach the cooling lines where it could transfer the reading level to the front? although the tapping into the pan, running that forward, putting a low level switching on it and call it good? This would probably be pre-running "prove" switch.

Skimmed your DIY on your transmission repair, what was the cause of the line blowing off? And in retro, was the rebuild something you'd do again? The Valves were the problem?
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Old 05-25-2014, 01:57 PM   #12
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Here's the point I'm trying to see if it would work. Once the fluid is properly filled and is running out of the filler hole; the plug is screwed back in and we're good? Right? Or should we be "foot on brake" going thru the gears, then top it off. I don't think that would matter.

Yes, you are good once it is running out but you want the fluid circulating through all the passages as you fill, the TIS says to run through the gears before topping off, I have one of my kids going through the gears as I fill.


When the car is turned off, does the level in the transmission reach the cooling lines where it could transfer the reading level to the front? although the tapping into the pan, running that forward, putting a low level switching on it and call it good? This would probably be pre-running "prove" switch.

Once the car is off fluid runs back into the pan, once again there is no relation of the cooling hoses to pan level, the pan level itself would need to be monitored. This really would be a novelty in a way, if you have no leaks, there is no reason to check the level periodically, the transmission doesn't consume oil, the key is to repair any leak.

Skimmed your DIY on your transmission repair, what was the cause of the line blowing off? And in retro, was the rebuild something you'd do again? The Valves were the problem?

I don't know why the hose quick disconnect failed and came off, I chalked it up to high mileage.
I would do it again and have, but I don't recommend rebuilding these for others until we learn more about the valve bore wear and how to detect it. The first failure was second gear frictions, the last failure was a bad shift solenoid that was 6 months old.
Quite a few of these GM transmissions give actual transmission shops a hard time with difficult problems and warranty returns.
I do recommend changing the valve body as most problems are tied to failures within it.
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