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E36 General discussion and technical help for (E36) 1992-1999 3 series cars. 318, 323, 325, 328.

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Old 08-29-2007, 08:28 PM   #1
Chris
 
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E36 Automatic Transmission Fluid Level Check

Okay, the first thing you need to do is check and make sure that your car actually needs Transmission fluid. This will require a new filler/level plug sealing ring whether you change out the fluid or not.


Disclaimer: As usual, all of this is at your own risk. Neither I, nor UB will take responsibility for anything that happens to your car by following this guide.

1) To check the Automatic Transmission fluid level, you must remove the filler plug from the transmission fluid pan (which is under the car). While you can do this without jacking up the car, its a little easier to work if you do. Please use jack stands if you do jack it up.

2) When you check tranny fluid, the fluid can't be cold, but it also can't be at operating temperatures, so drive it around the block and make sure the car uses all the gears. You'll regret it if you drive too hard (second degree burns anyone?), so take it easy.

3) Turn off the engine (This should have been a no brainer).

4) Place some sort of container under the transmission fluid pan jsut in case (its normal for a little bit to drip out anyways)

5) Unscrew the filler plug and recover the sealing ring.

6) With the plug out, restart the engine and shift the car into Neutral.

Fluid Levels should be up to the lower edge of the hole. If necessary, top-off the fluid until it overflows from the plug hole.

While you're here, don't forget to check the condition of the fluid. If the fluid is black, or a dark reddish-brown, or smells burnt, it should be replaced. <Link to fluid change thread coming soon>

7) Replace the filler plug using a new sealing ring. You'll kick yourself later if you don't use a new ring. Trust me on this one.

8) Put the car back in park, turn off the engine, and lower the car (if you raised it)

And you're done!
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:13 PM   #2
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Bentley also recommends adding the fluid at the same temperature as the existing fluid. Not sure if it's absolutely necessary, but could be.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:40 PM   #3
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I added some fluid the other day. Finally getting rid of the auto soon.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:31 AM   #4
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Was gonna add a DIY on changing the fluid and gen maintenance on the pan, but scooter called and bothered me, and i closed the window mid post. GRRR. Soon to come.
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:42 AM   #5
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make sure that the car is level when doing this.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:53 PM   #6
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Hi Chris,

As a newby E36 owner (1997 323i saloon in Hong Kong), I've just posted a query about this - mine has an auto box and has started "hesitating" at junctions or when you stop. Not every time but I'm thinking low ATF level and wondering if there may be a relatively accessible internal filter that may also need replacement if a fluid check & top-up doesn't cure the problem.
Let's hope this lovely little car doesn't need severe surgery already - with only 95,000 kms on the clock, I'd rather not pay BMW prices for a torque converter or gearbox rebuild...!
Cheers,
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:25 PM   #7
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The 1997 323 never came to our shores so I don't know what transmission it has, or whether it uses synthetic or conventional fluid.

On my '97 328 auto, I replace the fluid every 60k miles, and it shifts much nicer with a fresh oil change. Even with fresh fluid, however, this transmission tends to hesitate and then shift with a thud when it is cold, and smooth out when warm.

The kit for mine includes 2 gaskets, a filter, and 28 new pan bolts and costs $30 US if you buy Meistersatz brand on line or $180 from the dealer for BMW branded parts.

If yours uses synthetic fluid, you should be able to push that change interval to 100k miles. Good thing, synthetic tranny fluid is extremely expensive.
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:34 PM   #8
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Re Auto box fix

Hi Manolito,

Thanks for info and I'll check out the price & availability of a Gearbox filter kit at the main BMW agent here - then have the work done (under supervision), at my local garage. That's if the transmission fluid top-up doesn't fix my problem.

Cheers,

Autolycus.
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Old 10-27-2012, 03:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autolycus View Post
Hi Manolito,

Thanks for info and I'll check out the price & availability of a Gearbox filter kit at the main BMW agent here - then have the work done (under supervision), at my local garage. That's if the transmission fluid top-up doesn't fix my problem.

Cheers,

Autolycus.
Odds are you have an A4S 310Z Automatic transmission. Also known as the GM 4L30E. Transmission filter ans gasket kits are available from BimmerSpecialist.com for less then $40.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manolito View Post
The 1997 323 never came to our shores so I don't know what transmission it has, or whether it uses synthetic or conventional fluid.

On my '97 328 auto, I replace the fluid every 60k miles, and it shifts much nicer with a fresh oil change. Even with fresh fluid, however, this transmission tends to hesitate and then shift with a thud when it is cold, and smooth out when warm.

The kit for mine includes 2 gaskets, a filter, and 28 new pan bolts and costs $30 US if you buy Meistersatz brand on line or $180 from the dealer for BMW branded parts.

If yours uses synthetic fluid, you should be able to push that change interval to 100k miles. Good thing, synthetic tranny fluid is extremely expensive.
The 323i did make it to North America. Their available here in Canada at least. Check the bottom of the transmission pan. Look for a sticker on the bottom. Mine has a Green sticker. That sticker denotes what transmission fluid to use. My 328i has a GM 4L30E transmission and uses DexronIII. Castrol Dexron III is sufficent. Dont push 100,000k. All ATF is "synthetic". Keep it to 50,000 miles.
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