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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Brake Fluid Research

(Image: 1 liter can of Pentosin DOT4 LV brake fluid)While planning my first DIY brake fluid flush on the E46 I fully expected to use the same ATE TYP 200 fluid I use in my E36 as I knew both vehicles required DOT4 and TYP200 was DOT4 compatible. However, research revealed newer BMWs including my E46 require DOT 4 low viscosity (LV) fluid. That meant I could not (or at least should not) use TYP 200 in the E46, though I know a lot of people do.

The problem is the information I discovered about the transition to the new fluid was anything but consistent. When I asked my technician about this he said that BMW changed the brake fluid they recommended back in the early 2000's. He handed me a couple spare bottles of BMW branded brake fluid and said “this is what we use in all cars now”. The part number was 81220142156. The label only specified DOT4 compatibility, and nothing about viscosity but I have since verified this is apparently rebranded Pentosin DOT4 LV fluid, and according to the TIS:

Earlier vehicles equipped with ASC like my E36 may therefore use either fluid but there is no benefit in that case to using the LV fluid. The moral of the story? I will use BMW fluid, Pentosin DOT4 LV, or ATE SL6 in the E46 and continue to use TYP200 in the E36.

My first choice was ATE SL6 but getting that online turned out to be more difficult than I expected. Local vendor Ultimate Garage was one of the few who appeared to stock it but not long after I placed the order I received an email indicating not only that he didn't have any in stock but that he was closing down his BMW parts business and would not be ordering more product. That forced me to go to Amazon and deal with a no-name vendor who wound up cramming four cans in a USPS standard rate box with no bubble wrap or other material to protect the contents so several of the cans came through dented (the nicest looking one is pictured). I was not happy and sent feedback to the vendor but the damage was done...literally. Ah, the perils of ordering parts online.

Mileage: 15900