Saturday, 8 September 2012

BMW E90 DIY Automatic Transmission Fluid Change

DIY Disclaimer: I hold no responsibility should anything goes wrong when you decided to follow my guide. It’s strictly meant as a reference for knowledge sharing purposes.
2007 BMW E90 N46B20
Mileage: 80k km
Transmission model: ZF GA 6HP19
1. Park the car on a level ground. Secure the rear wheel from rolling. I use a piece of brick.
2. Jack up front left of the car. I use my Toyota scissor jack. A hydraulic jack would make the job a lot more easier.
3. Place extra support to prevent the jack slip. I use another brick below the raised front left tyre and a jack stand to support the lower arm knuckle end.. I also inserted a piece of solid rubber into the plastic jack stand point to prevent the plastic jack stand point from damage due to the incompatible jack used.

4. Open the bottom shield (item 10) and ..

.. unscrew fill bolt (Item 3)

Get the drain pan ready because old ATF may gush out when the fill bolt is removed, best just loosen it first and leave the bolt in place until step 5 below is completed.
5. Release drain plug (item 4) and the used ATF will be released.

6. Close the drain plug (item 4 above), don’t over tighten because it’s plastic, can break.. and they don’t sell them separately. It comes with a new plastic transmission oil sump.
7. Insert refill hose to feed new ATF. Do not push in too much as you can damage the transmission box’s internal fragile components.
8. Drop the jack so the car is level to the ground again. Refilling ATF must be done with car level to the ground.
9. Pump in ATF until overflow and that’s how they measure the level.
10. Start the engine with aircond running, and run through all the gears R, N, D, DS, M1~M6, 3 seconds for each with handbrake engaged and brake pedal firmly depressed. Then back to ‘P’ and let engine run for 3 minutes to heat up the ATF to 30~35 Celsius.
11. With the engine running, top up the fluid until it overflow. Make sure it’s not exceeding 50C because you will under-fill the fluid due to heat expansion.
12. Jack up the car again to plug the fill bolt and reinstall lower shield.
JOB DONE!! Smile
Some photos to help you better understand the procedure.
~ Getting ready the fill hose.
~ Check out the other end of the clear refill hose, getting ready to be inserted into the fill hole.
~ The tools that helped me open the fill bolt and drain plug.
~ Below is how the "custom” tool being used to open the plastic drain plug. I do not the a hex wrench that’s large enough, has to DIY the opening tool.. Smile with tongue out
~ Work in progress..
~ Fluid used, the red cap is old stock, blue cap is new design. Old bottle design do not have an inner plug while the new design has. 4L is sufficient if transmission sump with embedded strainer is not replaced.
~ Fluid level guide..
After the job, I found few better ways to perform the job. Please stay tuned! Smile
Thank you for reading and please provide feedback or query if any.
Next job should be valve cover gasket..

Update: Found ZF Procedure in Video:


  1. This is a great blog, thank you for sharing! I've been looking for a Calgary transmission company to help me maintain mine, but it looks like I could eventually do it myself if I can learn all of the different parts.

  2. It seems to be a tough job for someone who has no guts to lay a finger on repairing the car of their own. Also, it's complicated for someone who doesn't know about car and car parts. Just like me, I know for sure that many still will find this blog post to be awesome and educational! Thanks!
    Jae Gunderson

  3. Do we need to change the transmission oil pan for everytime we change the transmission oil? PM me

    1. BMW says no need change.. most owners change ATF and pan together at 60~80k km interval. I adopted a different approach.. ATF change every 40k km interval to keep my fluid fresh and stretch my pan till 120k km. It‘s entirely your choice. Hope I answered your question.

  4. Exciting stuff! definitely helping for my used cars ! thanks for sharing!

  5. It is illogical to only do a fluid change without the filter replacement as well. The reason behind this idea is that when you drain the fluid and fill it back up again it can dislodge some of the contaminants trapped in the filter and will negate the work you just did. I have also seen cases where people drop the pan and filter to clean then re-install. This is also a bad idea since they just broke a seal (the gasket) that should always be replaced whenever it is broken. Those that chose to do this method are at a higher risk of a leaky seal between the pan and the transmission.

    Bottom line: Always replace filter and fluid together. On these cars the way that the filters and pans are installed just order the "level 2" kit from the online suppliers which should be the standard auto tranny service anyway. This ensures no contaminants that may be left in the filters re-entering the fluid and leaves no concerns about leaks.

  6. yes this is great many thanks :)

  7. Great site! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also.
    transmission holding fixture

  8. hi greetings from venezuela, i have an e90 320i and i want to replace mi oil pan from transmission so i have the same trans than yours, its ok if i use DEXRON 6 on it? or i want to now to be sure how to identify if is ZF or GM thanks bro

    1. GM transmission uses Dextron6. ZF transmission uses ZF Lifeguard6.

      You can see from under the car how the transmission pan looks like. If black plastic pan with many fins, it is ZF. If silver color smooth metal surface, it is GM.

    2. GM transmission uses Dextron6. ZF transmission uses ZF Lifeguard6.

      You can see from under the car how the transmission pan looks like. If black plastic pan with many fins, it is ZF. If silver color smooth metal surface, it is GM.