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BMW 5 Series E34 Gearbox Oil Change

When you for example buy a used car it is always a good idea to change all it's fluids, including the gearbox oil (if not a proper service book can prove it has been done recently). The gearbox oil in for example the E34 series is not, as many believes, a lifetime oil that never needs to be changed. In the recommendations from BMW, a gearbox oil change is included in a Service II maintenance. This occurs typically every second year or after 50000 km, whichever comes first.
Overview
Difficulty Level:

Applicable Models:

5 Series (1988-1995)

Tools:

box-end wrench (17 mm), socket (19 mm), torque wrench

Parts Required:

Castrol TQ Dexron III (2×1 liter), drain plug (optional), fill plug (optional)

Hot Tip:

Drive the vehicle to make the fluid hotter so more will drain out

Performance Gain:

Help extend gearbox life and improve shifting

Complementary Modification:

Change engine oil at the same time

When changing the gearbox oil, you not only give the gearbox fresh oil, you will also have the opportunity to clean out all the small metal fragments that have been created inside the gearbox and collected on a small magnet on the drain plug.

Tools, Skills And Parts

The job is very easy to perform and does not require any kind of special tools.

Difficulty Level:

The following tools are required for this particular work

  • box-end wrench (17 mm)
  • socket (19 mm)
  • torque wrench

The following spare parts are required for this particular work. Note that the BMW internal numbers are intended for a BMW 535i E34 -89.

Castrol TQ Dexron III (2×1 liter)N/A210 SEK
drain plug (optional)23 11 7 546 87645 SEK
fill plug (optional)23 11 7 527 44038 SEK

Draining Gearbox Oil

Drive around your car for about 10-15 minutes to warm up the gearbox oil.

Raise the car using a lift. The car must be level when filling up the gearbox oil, otherwise you will end up with incorrect oil level in the gearbox. Locate your fill and drain plugs on the gearbox.

Gearbox Oil Change on BMW E34
Gearbox (Getrag 260/6) with the fill plug (1) and drain plug (2) visible.

Remove the fill plug first! If you by any reason brake or can’t remove the fill plug you will only end up with an unfinished job and you can drive home and finish it another day. But if you first remove the drain plug and drain the gearbox completely of oil and then find out you can’t add any oil into the gearbox, you probably wished you read this first.

Gearbox Oil Change on BMW E34
A closer look at the gearbox (Getrag 260/6) and the drain and fill plugs.

Place a drain pan below the drain plug and unscrew the plug. Wait until all oil is completely drained. Reinstall the drain plug and torque it with correct amount of torque.

Filling Gearbox Oil

When you are about to reinstall the drain plug, you can do it in two ways. Either clean then existing drain plug (remving all metal fragments collected on the magnet) or use a new drain plug.

It is up to you to decide which way to go. The important thing is that all metal fragments are removed and the magnet if fully functional. The picture below shows an example of the amount of metal fragments the magnet on the drain plug have collected during a couple of years.

Gearbox Oil Change on BMW E34
Metal fragments originating from the gears inside the gearbox have been properly collected by the magnet on the drain plug.

After the drain plug has been reinstalled and torqued it’s time to grab your gearbox oil. The gearbox oil provided by BMW for this particular gearbox (Getrag 260/6) is Castrol TQ Dexron III. One bottle contains 1 liter and each bottle comes with a handy filler hose. You need two of these since the oil capacity in a Getrag 260/6 is about 1.25 liter.

Of course will other brands fulfilling the Dexron III specification work as well. Another popular gearbox oil for this particular gearbox (Getrag 260/6) is the Castrol Transmax Z. The major difference between Castrol TQ Dexron III and Castrol Transmax Z is that the Dexron III is mineral based while the Transmax Z is synthetic based which makes it more suitable for longer change intervalls.

Note regarding the product names, around 2005 the “Castrol TQ Dexron III” product changed name to “Castrol TQ DIII”. And in spring 2011 it changed name again to “Castrol Transmax Dex III Multivehicle”. But it’s the same product.

Gearbox Oil Change on BMW E34
The gearbox oil provided by BMW for the Getrag 260/6 gearbox, the Castrol TQ Dexron III mineral transmission oil.

Now start slowly to add oil through the filler hole until it begins to overflow. The correct amount of gearbox oil is simply just flush with bottom of the filler hole. Make sure you can not add any more oil, reinstall filler plug and torque it with the correct amount of torque.

Gearbox Oil Change on BMW E34
The fill plug (23 11 7 527 440) with a 17 mm hex head.
Gearbox Oil Change on BMW E34
The drain plug (23 11 7 546 876) with a 17 mm hex head.

Tightening Torques

Manual transmission drain and fill plug50 Nm (37 ft-lb)

Gearbox Applications

518iGetrag S5D 200 G
525i
M20 engine
M50 engine
M50 engine (from 7/92)
Getrag 260/5
ZF S5D 310 Z
Getrag S5D 250 G (only North America)
530iZF S5D 310 Z
535iGetrag 260/6
540iGetrag S6S 560 G

Gearbox Oil Capacity

GearboxCapacity
Getrag 260/51.25 liter
Getrag 260/61.25 liter
Getrag S5D 250 G1.0 liter
Getrag S6S 560 G2.3 liter
ZF S5D 310 Z1.2 liter

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