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DIY Transmission /
Gear Fluid Change

impee's DIY Transmission / Gear Fluid Change for BMW 318i e46
How to Change Transmission / Gear Fluid yourself!

Difficulty Level: Easy / Medium

Approximate Time For This Project: 1.5 hours

Prices: Professional labour costs for Changing Transmission / Gear Fluid - £55 (private) or £155 (BMW) - per hour X 1 hours

Original BMW Transmission Fluid BMW MTF-LT-2 Manual Transmission Fluid
Part # 83220309031Part #2.
This is the Fluid sold by BMW. It only comes in a 5 litre bottle.
BMW 1 £60
Alternative Transmission Fluid
REDLINE D4 Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
- If it gets cold in your area use only Redline D4 ATF
- If it gets cool in your area, use a mixture of D4 ATF and MTL
- If it is usually warm/hot in your area, use only MTL
2 £30
Socket Wrench & Torque Wrench It is recommended to use a Torque Wrench, to avoid damage to the nuts.
For more details, please refer to this page.
17mm Socket     1  
8mm Socket     1  
Trolley Jack Should support up to 2 Tonnes. 1 £30
Jack Stands / Axle Stands Should support up to 2 Tonnes.
To lift car on stands, refer to this page.
4 £30
Star Brite Lower Unit Quart Pump - Oil Transfer Pump Try to get one that fits Quart bottles.

1 £16
Tissues     4  
Disposable Rubber Gloves     4  
Bottle / Bucket / Drain Pan To catch the oil.   1  


It is a good idea to go and buy an extra Screw / Drain Plug from BMW before you start the DIY. Past DIYs (and my impatient nature) have taught me to always have at least 1 extra of each screw, bolt or clip! Some times you could simply loose one, break or even strip it! They only cost from £0.70 up to £3.00 a piece, depending on what you buy.

Screw Plug Part number: 23117527440 Part #16. BMW 1 £2
Transmission Additive 125ml
Art no 0893 552
Use only if you find the gear is a little stiff. 1 £10

*prices correct at time of publication

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1) Assemble Your Kit + Notes

Below is the total kit I used. I used only 1 and a bit bottles of ATF, without mixing with any other oil. This car is a 5 speed Manual gear.

I have heard that some other Bimmers (at least US model ones) take just over 2 litres of Fluid, where as mine took just over 1 litres. Please check first.

BMW say and also the yellow stickers stuck on the transmission say that the oil is a lifetime oil, but that is nonsense. Everything has a shelf life! Once you change the oil, you will notice a huge difference while shifting gears.

Torque Wrench: For conversions, refer to this chart.

For general BMW Tightening Torques, refer to this document.

Change Duration: I personally believe that the Transmission Fluid should be replaced every 5 years or 75,000 miles or when gear shifting gets rough - which ever is sooner.

BMW Transmission Fluid Change Kit


2) Car On Jack Stands

I recommend that the car be lifted on 4 Jack Stands so that it is level and all the oil can drain from the chamber.

2 Jack Stands at the front and 2 at the back. I personally leave the actual car Jack / Trolley Jack still raised under the car, close to where I work, just to provide me with some insurance incase any of the Jack Stands fail!

For more details on lifting the car on Jack Stands, please refer to this page.

BMW on Jack Stands

impee Changing BMW Transmission Fluid


3) Shields - Removal

Some DIYs state there may be 2 plastic shields to cover the Transmission reservoir, however mine did not have any. Either my car never had them, or my mechanic took them off and kept them!

Take off the 2 shields by removing their nuts and clips. You will need a 8mm socket.
The smaller shield should be removed first.


4) Screw Plugs - Open

First remove the Fill Screw Plug (to ensure you can fill it up, before you drain it). This is the top one. You will need a 17mm socket.
Next remove the Drain Screw Plug, this is the one facing down . You will need a 17mm socket.

One of the Screws Plugs has a green/blue stain on the head, that indicates that this is the Fill Screw Plug. I am not sure why they are differentiated, as they are both exactly the same Screw Plugs.

As you can see I am using a hammer to turn the Socket Wrench, this is because both screw plugs were very tight indeed!

BMW Transmission Fluid Chamber

BMW Transmission Nut Opening

BMW Transmission Nuts


5) Oil Draining

Catch the oil being drained. Once you take out the drain plug, the oil will pour out very quick. It was nearly finished by the time I turned on my camera!

It will take about 5 mins to completely drain dry. You will notice the oil will be filthy and also see very tiny spots of metal float on the top (that is your gear).

Once all the oil has drained, connect the Oil pump to one of the D4 ATF oil bottle and pump some new oil into it (about 4 pumps), to remove any remnants of the old oil.

BMW  Transmission Fluid Draining


6) Filling Oil

Next fit the Drain Screw Plug back and tighten it to 37lb .ft. or 50Nm using the Torque Wrench. You will need a 17mm socket. Using a Torque Wrench reduces any chances of damaging the nuts.

Now using the oil pump and the 2 D4 ATF oil bottles, fill the gear oil chamber with oil. This will take about 15mins and alot of pumping. You will know when the chamber is full as oil will start to pour back out of the hole. It will take just over 1 bottle to fill the chamber.

Next fit back the Fill Screw Plug and tighten it to 37lb .ft. or 50Nm using the Torque Wrench. I wasn't able to fit my torque wrench in that little gap, so just tightened it as much as I could. You will need a 17mm socket.

With a tissue wipe around both Screw Plugs and do a sanity check to ensure no oil is leaking from both plugs.


7) Shields - Re-fitting

Fit the 2 shields back in the order that they were removed, i.e. the small to be fitted first. You need a 8mm socket.

Note: Remember to remove the car from the Jack Stands before you get into the car to test the gear!


8) Comments

Look at the difference in colour. BMW Life Time Oil?!?

You will now definitely find gear shifting alot smoother than before.

BMW Old Transmission Fluid Comparison

BMW Old Transmission Fluid

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DIY BMW e46 Change Transmission / Gear Fluid by - impee

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