BMW doesn't recommend replacing fluids other than oil and brake fluid as they have an unfortunate "lifetime fluid" recommendation. Although they say their "lifetime fluid" never needs to be replaced, it should be at around 50,000 miles. Changing the fluids this often will ensure a long service life for all of these components as well as increase the quality of your vehicle's overall driving experience.
BMW Differential Fluid
If you have an AWD-equipped BMW such as any "xi", "xDrive," or "X-series," it has a front differential that needs fluid just like the rear. BMW calls for their standard 75W-90 differential fluid. We not only have the BMW fluid, but we have LIQUI MOLY 75W-90 gear oil as well which is a great alternative.
Rear: 75W-90 & 75W-140
The rear differential on BMWs is a little more complicated. If your BMW is equipped with an open differential, you can use the same 75W-90 fluid that is used in the front differential. However, if you drive an M3 or have a limited-slip differential (LSD), this requires 75W-140 oil.
Open Differentials: 75W-90
Limited Slip Differentials: 75W-140
Transfer Case Oil/Fluid (xDrive Models)
If you drive an xDrive BMW model, it will have a center transfer case located behind the transmission. The transfer case requires fluid changes just like everything else, and should be done even though BMW claims it's "Lifetime Fluid".
Previously, BMW's transfer case oil/fluid was called "TF0870". BMW has since changed the naming scheme and it's called "DTF 1". You might find it listed as either or in photos as either, but know that what you will receive will say DTF 1.
BMW Automatic Transmission Fluid
When it comes to BMW's automatic transmissions, it's important to use the factory ZF fluid. Although we sell alternative fluids from companies like LIQUI MOLY, we don't recommend running anything other than the factory fluid.
BMW 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
BMW 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
If you have any questions about the types of fluid for the BMW E90 automatic transmission, transfer case, or differential, leave them in the comments section below.
Alex is FCP’s Blog Editor and a Desktop Engineer from Endwell, NY. He has over 9 years of experience working on a wide array of import makes, but has found his home with European cars. With a BMW and Volvo at home, the garage is always busy.