BMW Coupes and Sedans 1970-1988 Repair Guide

Automatic Transmission



BMW recommends the use of DEXRON®II or III Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF).


See Figures 1 and 2

Check the automatic transmission fluid level at least every 12,500 miles (20,000 km). The dipstick can be found at the rear of the engine compartment. The fluid level should be checked only when transmission is at normal operating temperature. The transmission is considered warm after about 20 miles (30 km) of highway driving.

  1. Park the car on a level surface with the engine idling. Shift the transmission into NEUTRAL and set the parking brake.
  3. Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean and then reinsert it firmly. Be sure that it has been pushed all the way in. Remove the dipstick again and check the fluid level while holding it horizontally. With the engine running, the fluid level should be between the 2 marks on the dipstick.
  5. If the fluid level is below the second mark, add DEXRON®II or III automatic transmission fluid through the dipstick tube. This is easily done with the aid of a funnel. Check the level often as you are filling the transmission. Be extremely careful not to over fill it. Overfilling will cause slippage, seal damage and overheating. Approximately one pint of ATF will raise the fluid level from one mark to the other.

Always use DEXRON®II or III ATF. The use of Type F or any other fluid will cause severe damage to the transmission. The fluid on the dipstick should always be a red color, If it is discolored (brown or black) or smells burnt, serious transmission troubles, probably due to overheating, should be suspected. The transmission should be inspected by a qualified technician to locate the cause of the burnt fluid.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Tilt the top of the dipstick to unlock

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Use a funnel to add ATF fluid through the dipstick hole


The drain and refill procedures for an automatic transmission are detailed in Drive Train .