'00 3 Series Transmission

I have a chance to buy another '00 3 Series that is very clean and has reasonable miles, and I know the owner -- a little old lady that only goes to the store.
Anyhow, she says the trans does not shift into R when it's cold. She has to wait for the fluid to get warm -- I'm not sure how she would do that, or how long it might take.
I know there have been reported problems with that transmission, but I don't know what they are. My instinct is that the problem with this one is fluid level or dirty fluid, or something along those lines. I also know there is a valve body that shouldn't require a professional to replace, and if this handles the selection of R, then I could do the job.
What was the issue that these cars had?
My daughter has an '00 3 Series that the previous owner had to replace, but I don't know why.
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Consesus is that these boxes need new fluid every 60k miles, it's not lifetime as BMW state. So new fluid may well help. Sounds like you have a sticking solenoid, could be damaged or just dirty.

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Dirty is my gut feeling. Flushing is the first order of business, I think.
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So you can likely quadruple the mileage in terms of wear. ;-)

I think reverse is selected 'mechanically' so it still works in event of a electronics failure so likely a blocked or sticking valve. However, you'd need to ask yourself just why it is blocked and with what.
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wrote:

If the symptom is indicative of something common, then I'm not worried unless the remedy is a complete rebuild. I was hoping one or more of trhe regulars here would have first-hand experience.
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Is the transmission problem fatal? I think that I'm finding this is a serious defect. I have another 2000 3 Series, and I'm giving consideration to getting my second one. I was expecting a simple issue with a stuck solenoid or similar kind of thing. Does anybody here have any real-world experience with transmission problems with the 2000 3 Series?
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I've not dealt with those much, but I've been involved in hydraulics a bit over the years (ROVs). Dirty fluid due to BMWs "lifetime" policy would always be my first suspicion.
But a fluid change may not be the answer for a high mileage (say >100k miles) car, changing it might release dirt and debris into the valves. I belive this killed the tranny on my own 635CSi at 150k miles, which gave me a great excuse to make it a manual ;-) I bought it with almost no history and did a fluid change on the box. Shortly afterwards it died, I've heard this story more than once.
The answer is to have the hydraulics either flushed or stripped down and cleaned. On the four speed box you could remove the gearbox sump and reveal the valve pack, this could be removed easily. I've not worked on the five speed though.
It's also worth noting that on the older four speed boxes they held six litres of fluid, but only three was changed in a fluid change as the rest was held in the torque convertor. So you really needed to have a specialist flush the system. Not too bad with normal ATF, but I believe the fluid in the five speed box is a lot more expensive.
The four speed box also had a filter gause, this could be replaced or cleaned in solvent. I think the five speed has a similar filter screen but I'm not sure. On the old box BMW recommended new fluid every 30k and a filter every 60k. On the new box popular opinion seems to say new fluid every 60k but I've heard little talk of the filter screen.
I'd love to know more if anyone can add something.
Do BMW recommend fluid changes on the SMG boxes?
Personally I'd get a manual.
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I'd say it's rather easier to convert an older car to manual than a later one where the electronics of engine and gearbox communicate. Unless you had a complete donor vehicle and lots of time. ;-)
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Actually the box and engine DID communicate electronically even on early 80s BMWs! On the 3.5 litre Motronic cars the kickdown was done electronically and there was a link from the DME to the gearbox's electronic controller. I'm not sure if the gearbox had a microprocessor (like Motronic) or more basic non-processor parts (like Jetronic-L).
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Jeff Strickland wrote:

Any way you look at it, a car needing (possibly) a new tranny had better come with a steep dscount...
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The discount is there, but I hate to spend the savings on fixing the trans. I need to know what the problem is so I can understand what it takes to fix it.
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Welcome to the marvelous world of the automatic transmission, where the cost to diagnose a problem is usually more than the cost to just drop it and put a rebuilt in.
It could be a lot of things, but to actually figure out what the real story is will require dropping and disassembling, and when you're at that point you might as well just change it anyway.
And no, putting a manual in isn't a realistic option. I've looked at what it takes to put a manual in place of an auto and there's just a lot of stuff to replace and line up. --scott
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That's certainly the case where you have a complete lack of drive - or slipping. Because the transmission has to be removed and stripped to replace a clutch etc, so you might as well just do a full overhaul. Since when things start wearing out they contaminate the ATF and there is no proper filter, so everything needs cleaning out of debris.

In this case I'd look at a possible sticking valve, etc. There shouldn't be any appreciable wear at that low mileage. But finding someone to do it might well be difficult if you can't DIY.

I'd guess so since the ECUs communicate.
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The harnesses are all in place and the engine ECU is the same version whether you have a manual or auto, so I am _thinking_ it probably has some code in there to look for an automatic or SMG controller on startup. But I don't know anyone who has actually dropped it in and turned it on and seen what happened.
Hmm... maybe an SMG retrofit might not be as bad. --scott
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Ever driven one? Nasty rough gearchanges as an auto - and not the fun of changing gear well in a manual. Not before time BMW has seen sense and will be fitting a twin clutch version.
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wrote:

I have no plan to convert from an automatic to a manual, the cost to do so is greater than the cost to just fix the automatic (or replace it), and the ripple effect with the computer and other components of the drive train is more than I feel like dealing with -- and likely exceeds my skill set.
I've converted a carburated engine to MPFI (by using a kit conversion), so I'm pretty familiar with my tools, but converting an automatic to a manual isn't in the tea leaves for me.
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I only did it on my 635CSi as I'd wanted a manual in the first place. But BMW UK imported almost all post-82 635s as autos :-(
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Turns out there are a significant number of complaints of a fatal condition with the ZF transmissions used in the 323i after Mar. '00, but a completely different problem with the 323i from before then or any 328i -- these cars use the GM 5L40E, that has a similar problem but a completely different cause.
The ZF transmissions (no 328i, E46 Series uses the ZF) has a fatal condition where the driver selects Reverse, but the car will not respond. This is a fatal condition because once it happens it will never again be able to select R. The trouble is a clutch pack, referred to as the D&G Clutch physically is destroyed and must be replaced.
The GM 5L40E used in the early E46 323i and all E46 328i also has a problem with selecting R, but the trouble here is that R might not work this time, but works fine the next time. The problem is not fatal because R will work or not work depending on the zen of the moment. The issue here is that there is a solenoid that's called a TCC PWM, or something like that, that has a screen over one of the ports that allows fluid to flow through the passages of the Valve Body when R is selected. The screen can be covered with debris one time R is selected, and not covered the next time. The result is that R will randomly fail. There is no noise when R works properly, or when it has failed, and there is no noise in any of the forward gears that continue to function properly whether R is having a hissy fit or not.
I have found sefveral Websites devoted to the issues surrounding the 2000 3 Series and the transmissions they carry.
The E39, 528, the E46 328 and the E46 323 all have the GM 5L40E from first production. The 323 only carried the 5L40E until Mar. '00, when it was changed to the ZF 5HP19.
The ZF 5HP19 was used in all other E39 and E46 cars equipped with an Inline 6, EXCEPT for the AWD models. The xi (all versions) got a GM transmission, but a different one than the GM 5L40E -- and I don't know what problems it might have. One more model, the 325iT started life with the GM transmission that came in the xi models and carried it until Mar. '01, when it was changed to the same ZF transmission of the other Inline 6 equipped cars.
So, to boil this down, The ZF transmission (BMW reference A5S325Z) is used on all E46 models (except the 328, early 323 and iT, and all xi versions) and E39 models (except the E39 528 and early production 525 and 530). The ZF has an exploding clutch.
NOTE, the 540i/iT and the X5 (4.4 and 4.6) get a ZF transmission, but not one that has the exploding clutch pack.
The GM transmission (BMW reference number (A5S360R) is used on the E46 328, early 323s, all xi versions, the iT until Mar. 01 production, and the E39 528. The GM has a screen that clogs.
NOTE, the early production (until Mar. 01) 525 and 530 models use a GM transmission, but not the one with clogged screen.)
BMW claims that the transmission fluid is lfietime, but maybe one would like to think about that for a while. There's no indication I can find to say that replacing the fluid would prevent the clutch from exploding, but logic says that replacing fluid could prevent the screen from clogging on the GM transmissions. I have no information that says a fluid change will cure the clogged screen if you have one, but I see nothing wrong with hoping to avoid a clogged screen by changing the fluid.
BE ADVISED, THE FLUID IS SPECIFIC FOR EACH OF THE TRANSMISSIONS, BE SURE TO ONLY USE THE CORRECT FLUID FOR THE TRANSMISSION YOU HAVE.

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