Replace the Manual Transmission Fluid (MTF) on an E46 (1999-2005) BMW 3 Series
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 BMW 3 Series Models
BMW 3 Series Includes: 316, 318, 320, 323, 325, 328, 330 and M3 .
This install takes 20 – 30 minutes of actual work and a bit of time to allow the old fluid to drain. This is really easy, if not a little messy.
Click on the images for larger views.
- Go to a marine supply and buy a gear oil pump they sell for use with outboard engines. This will set you back around $10 but will save you an enormous amount of aggravation caused by the use of a regular siphon pump (trust me). I’ve since seen these gear oil pumps at WalMart as well.
Step 1: Getting the required items together
This install requires:
- 2 Qts. of Royal Purple SyncroMax. Probably a good idea to buy 3 Qts.
- A lift or hydraulic jack and jack stands (see how to jack up the car here)
- Socket wrench
- 8mm socket
- 17mm socket
- Torque wrench (with a range of 50ft lb +)
- Breaker Bar
- Gear Oil or Siphon pump
- Drain pan (oil drain pan works great)
- A BMW M3 (E46).
- 20 – 30 minutes of free time.
Step 2: Getting Started Under the Car
- Two of the plastic shields have to be removed in order to gain access to the transmission drain and fill plugs.
- Work from the driver’s side of the car and remove the two shields pictured here –>
- The shields are have a series of 8mm screws and bolts as well as being interlocked with tabs.
- Remove the smaller shield that is closest to the side of the car first.
- Make a mental note at to how these are installed – this will make reinstalling them MUCH easier.
Step 3: Locate the Transmission Fill and Drain Plugs
- The drain and fill plugs are located on the driver’s side of the transmission.
- Grab your 17mm socket, breaker bar and drain pan.
Step 4: Draining the Old Fluid
- Remove the FILL plug first – these are very tight and may require the use of a breaker bar (see image in previous step).
- Some fluid may drain from there so have your drain pan ready.
- Remove the drain plug once you have the fill plug under control (see image in previous step).
- Let the fluid drain for a while.
- My fill plug had a dab of green paint in the center. If your plugs do not have some type of mark to differentiate them, make sure you keep track which on is which – you don’t want to interchange these.
Step 5: Filling the Trasmission Fluid
- Once the fluid is completely drained reinstall the drain plug (see image). Torque it to 37 ft lbs.
- Capacity is between 1.8-2 Qts. and you will need some sort of a pump to get the fluid up into the case.
- Keep pumping transmission fluid into the transmission until it starts to overflow out of the fill hole (see image).
- Once fluid starts to overflow, the case is full. Reinstall the fill plug and torque it to 37 ft lbs.
Step 6: Replace the Plastic Shields
- Reverse the order in which you removed the shields.
- The shields have interlocking tabs which can make things a pain when putting them back on.
- Take your time and then snug up the screws/bolts that hold the shields in place and you’re done.