BMW automatic transmission fluid flush & replacement, made easy

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Our expert insights into automatic transmission fluid flush & replacement

What does Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) do?

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) provides the lubrication to the moving parts, wear and corrosion protection and is there to transfer the mechanical power of the automatic transmission.

What are the symptoms of requiring an Automatic Transmission Fluid Flush & replacement?

Usually, there a few signs you can look for:

  • Transmission grinding or strange noises

  • Problems changing or selecting Gears

  • Slipping gears

  • Failure to change up or down smoothly

  • Jolts or a delay as you change from Park to Drive

  • Transmission overheat warnings

  • Transmission Control Unit warning lights

What happens when we do automatic transmission fluid flush and replacement?

  • The gearbox drain plug will be removed, or a syphon pump inserted down the filler tube.

  • The old fluid will be removed and replaced with new fresh transmission fluid.

  • Once refilled to the correct level and run through its selection routine, the vehicle will be test driven before returning it to the owner.

Daniel, from LondonDaniel, from London

Hey Fixter, how often should I have my automatic transmission fluid flushed?

Most manufacturers recommend replacing transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. If you tow anything, or do mostly city driving with more frequent changes of gears, it may be wise to change your ATF even more often.

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Want to learn more about BMW automatic transmission fluid flush & replacement?

What does Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) do?

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) provides the lubrication to the moving parts, wear and corrosion protection and is there to transfer the mechanical power of the automatic transmission. This is why regular servicing of an automatic transmission is vital to change this fluid (and its filter where fitted) in line with manufacturers recommendation. Failure to do this can result in many issues, such as transmission overheat, solenoid failure, jerky gear changes and even total gearbox failure.

What is an Automatic Transmission Fluid Flush?

A transmission fluid flush is a process in which the fluid in an automatic transmission is flushed out of the transmission (gearbox) and replaced with new Automatic Transmission Fluid (AFT). The flushing process, when done correctly, replaces nearly 100% of the old fluid with new fluid, including fluid in the torque converter and oil cooler lines.

BMW

BMW AG is a German automobile and motorcycle manufacturer that was established over 100 years ago in March 1916. They also own Mini and Rolls Royce, after taking over the two British marques in 2000 and 1998 respectively.

BMW makes luxury vehicles and is possibly most famous for its sports saloon models. In 2018, BMW had 1.9m vehicles on the roads in the UK, a number that has been steadily increasing each year for the past decade.

As one of the ‘big 3’ German marques, along with Audi and Mercedes, BMW carries a strong reputation for making high-quality stylish vehicles, and have captured a large section of the UK market.

Luxury family and business models for every driver

Probably most popular for the 3 Series and 5 Series saloon models, BMW has got every possible angle covered for the more discerning drivers.

The full range includes everything from the 1 Series city car to the full-size saloons and sports coupes of the 7 and 8 Series models.

To provide everything you’d ever need for family motoring there’s a seven-seat MPV, their range of X model SUVs, and since 2014, the introduction of their plug-in electric i models. Top it all off with their M model high-performance supercars, the Z4 convertible and the i8 Roadster—and you’ve got the full package.

BMW: High performance on and off the track

BMW has a successful history in a range of motorsports.

They have been significant performers in touring car racing and rally driving, enjoyed success in Formula One with the BMW Sauber team, and BMW cars have been regular competitors and winners at Le Mans since the race’s early years.

BMW’s reliability and reputation

BMW ranked 16th place out of 30 car brands in the What Car? Reliability Survey in 2018. BMW hasn’t always had the best reputation for reliability but to rank alongside marques such as Honda, Volkswagen and Fiat they’re holding their own alongside plenty of the other big names.

How often should I have my automatic transmission fluid flushed?

Most manufacturers recommend replacing transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. If you tow anything, or do mostly city driving with more frequent changes of gears, it may be wise to change your ATF even more often.

What happens during an automatic transmission service?

There are many different processes required depending on the manufacturer, some of which may include all the following or just some:

  • Mechanics will raise the vehicle and increase the gearbox temperature if required by the procedures.

  • The gearbox drain plug will be removed, or a syphon pump inserted down the filler tube.

  • If the vehicle has a filter, the sump is likely to be removed so the filter can be accessed.

  • The parts will then be cleaned before a new filter is installed and the sump refitted with a new gasket or sealing compound.

  • The gearbox will then be refilled with the correct ATF for the gearbox and application in accordance with the manufacturer's procedure.

  • In some cases the refilling operation requires diagnostic input as well as manual.

  • Once refilled to the correct level and run through its selection routine, the vehicle will be test driven before returning it to the owner.

What are the symptoms of requiring an Automatic Transmission Fluid Flush & replacement?

Usually, there a few signs you can look for:

  • Transmission grinding or strange noises

  • Problems changing or selecting Gears

  • Slipping gears

  • Failure to change up or down smoothly

  • Jolts or a delay as you change from Park to Drive

  • Transmission overheat warnings

  • Transmission Control Unit warning lights

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