Make: BMW
Models: All E36

BMW E36 Fluids 

With the advent of BMW including scheduled maintenance in effect on cars since 1997, many are uncomfortable with letting fluid change intervals go the distance recommended by the "serviced indicator lights", a series of green, yellow, and red lights on the instrument cluster which determine when the car needs service.

Like most people, I'd rather go by mileage or by need (for an upcoming track event or long trip) than by the lights on the dash.  Here's what I've found to work very well on my 1996 E36 M3.

Area Fluid Tools Recommended
Transmission Redline Synthetic

2 quarts
- 17mm open end wrench
- 17mm socket & wrench
- hand pump
Differential Redline Synthetic

2 quarts
- 14mm allen hex-head socket & breaker bar
- hand pump
Brake ATE Super Blue
1 liter
- 7mm open end wrench
- Brake bleeder (one man units save time!)
Engine Oil Mobil 1 Synthetic
- 17mm open end (for drain plug)
- 13mm socket & wrench (to remove oil filter lid)

click for more detailBMW specs ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) for both their automatic and manual gearboxes.  Putting in anything else other than ATF would technically void your transmission warranty.  Redline makes a synthetic Manual Transmission Lubricant (MTL) which is popular among people to track their BMWs.  People claim that MTL is better in the winter when the transmission is stiff, but I could not tell the difference when I had MTL in my M3.  When changing both transmission and differential fluids, make sure that you loosen the fill plug first!  There may be the remote possibility that you cannot remove the fill plug, after you've drained the fluid from the transmission or differential, only to discover that you can't fill either back up.

ATE Super Blue brake fluid is my favorite fluid since it's the made by the people who manufacture the OEM brake calipers and master cylinders for many BMW models.  One benefit of the ATE is that its available in blue, but also in gold.  For people who track their cars often, it is required by most driver schools to change your fluid every 6 months, regardless of mileage.  If this is the case, you can switch from blue to gold to blue each time you bleed the fluid.  It makes the fluid change idiot-proof since you just keep bleeding until the color changes.

I normally bleed the brakes myself, with the use of Ultimate Garage's brake bleeder.  It makes bleeding easy for one person.  A typical bleeding job takes about 15 minutes with a one-man bleeder system of this type.  Additionally, the Ultimate Garage also carries ATE fluids and generally stocks most Redline fluids as well.

Whereas it would make sense to use all Redline fluids throughout the car, I generally use Mobil 1 synthetic engine oil for the sole reason you can get it for less than $4/quart at you local K-Mart.  I typically leave the Mobil 1 in the engine for 6,000 miles and change just the oil filter (OEM Mahle filter) every 3,000 miles.


Copyright � 1999 Chiba Technologies, Inc.  All rights reserved.  732.398.0001 Visit us on the web at