1999 E39 Transmission question

Page 1 of 2  
I just bought a 1999 528i that is in emaculate shape.
It has 46,000 miles on it. It literally was owned the "a lady who only drove it to church."
I already have a 2000 528i with 185,000 miles and bought the 99 with plans to sell the 2000.
I noticed the 2000 shifts a lot smoother than the 99. The part that is the most noticeable is going from 2nd to 3rd gear. The transmission is not slipping or anything but in my opinion it's shifting "hard."
Any comments on this?
Today at lunch I stopped by the local transmission shop and the mechanic took it out for a test drive. The computer is not picking up any codes and he stated that it "shifts like a honda." but he feels nothing wrong with it.
He said if I was that worried about it I should take it to the BMW dealership. Well, we all know they won't test drive it and give an opinion for free, huh?
does anyone have any experience with the 99's and do you think I'm being too picky? It just doesn't shift like I would expect a $50,000 car should, and especially since my 2000 feels so much nicer.
JB
PS, the Transmission guy said that becuase the car was sitting for a couple of years I might want to have them change the fluid and filter. Should I?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Do you know what make box it has? My '97 528 has a ZF Steptronic 5 speed which is fine - apart from a very occasional hard shift from 1-2 at low speed when cold.
--
*Acupuncture is a jab well done*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Most certainly. Excellent advice.
--
Who needs a life when you've got Unix? :-)
Email: snipped-for-privacy@unixnerd.demon.co.uk, John G.Burns B.Eng, Bonny Scotland
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

In Xdrive models manuals there's a transmission reset procedure that has been reported to work in many other models.
It consists in turning the key to running position without starting the engine and then push the accelerator to the floor and hold it for about 30 seconds.
A faint sound it's supposed to be heard while the transmission resets.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The E39 528 ONLY carries the GM 5L40E transmission. Other models of the E39 carry other transmissions, but the 528 got the GM5 from first production to the end of production.
This tranmission has problems, but they are not fatal, and generally can be cleaned up with a fluid change. One of the problems that this trans will give is that it will randomly refuse to shift into R. It will sometimes accept the gear selection and other times not. This is caused by dirty screens and maybe a defective solenoid, called a TCC/PWM solenoid. The solenoid costs $85-ish for the part plus some other parts that are routinely replaced with a transmission flush -- other screens and gaskets, and stuff like that.
The fluid is SUPPOSED to be "lieftime fluid" that never needs replacing, but this turns out to be a pipe dream. Change the fluid.
Having said that, the 1st to 2nd shift is a bit on the harsh side for my liking too. I haven't noticed the 2nd to 3rd shift so much. Your 2000 and the 1999 should have the same transmission, so they ought to behave the same way. Shifting smoothness is a function of the fluid, so changing fluid should resolve most of the issues.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Rubbish.
--
*The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging!

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Say w2hat you want, but I did loads of research when I bought an E46 323 two weeks ago and found that there are two transmissions used on that car, depending on the production date. The 328 and 528 (E46 and E39) all got the same automatic transmission throughout the production run. Other
Sorry, I said they only got the GM 5L40E, I ignored the possibility that they may carry a manual transmission, and I ignored the possibility that the car may have been destined for a different delivery port than the USA. Assuming an automatic transmission and US delivery, all E39 528s and E46 328s only have the GM 5L40E.
I did make a mistake though, the E39 528i and iT carried the GM THM-R1 from first production until Aug. 99, where it carried the GM5L40E from Sep. 99 to the end of its production run. I have no information of any problems with the THM-R1.
The main complaint that I can find with the automatic transmissions from this vintage is the refusal to select Reverse. The GM5 has a problem where the screens get clogged and the fluid gets burned causing tarnish to make some of the solenoids sticky, which leads to random poor operation of Reverse -- Reverse might work fine one time you select it, and not work at all the next, then work again later on in the same drive cycle. The other automatic transmission used in the other E46 and E39 cars is the ZF 5HP19. This transmission has a clutch drum that breaks apart, causing a complete and total failure of Reverse - once the drum breaks Reverse will never work again and the transmission must be rebuilt or replaced, which as far as I can tell costs about the same..
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You're again looking at it from only a US perspective. Just why BMW chose to fit the inferior GM box in the US, I've no idea. Luckily not in Europe where we got the ZF. And a 5 speed from the start - not the four as used on early US cars. Indeed some versions of the previous E34 had the ZF 5 speed from about '92.

The 5HP19 seems to be generally pretty reliable based on the low prices secondhand ones fetch.
As a matter of interest, do you know if the 5L40E has a removable bellhousing?
--
*Beware - animal lover - brakes for pussy*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

The ZF has a fatal error that requires replacement or a rebuild. The "inferior" (as you call it) GM 5L40E has a solenoid that gets a glogged screen, which can be repaired by pulling the trans pan and replacing a simple component. I'll take the inferior transmission given the expense of the better one.

No, I don't know. But the ZF has an exploding clutch drum that renders the unit unserviceable, and the complaint rate seems to be pretty high.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

So you say. But I'd guess neither of these faults happen to all. Like all such things. With the millions in use it's easy to get a possible fault out of proportion.
As I said if the ZF box had this as a common problem, the price of good secondhand units would be high. But it's not.
My previous E34 with a 5HP19 was sold with over 160,000 miles - and the box still fine.
GM at one time long ago made the finest auto transmissions. For good reason others like Rolls Royce and Jaguar etc used them. But no more.
IMHO, 5 speeds are the minimum needed for a medium engined car. Like a 528. Took GM almost a decade to catch up with ZF.
--
*Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery? *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jeff Strickland wrote:

I'm glad my 323 has the GM 5L40E. Too many scary reports of the ZF breaking.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Flush the fluid.
The GM5 will randomly decide to not go into Reverse when the fluid gets dirty/old.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jeff Strickland wrote:

Did it at 90k miles.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Check Ebay for what a secondhand 5HP18 makes. If those 'scary reports' were true, they'd be in great demand.
--
*When I'm not in my right mind, my left mind gets pretty crowded *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

I don't know that's true... Buying a used tranny with known "issues" would not appeal, to many of us...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

To be fair, once the transmission has been fixed, the repair lasts far longer than the original part.
I have no idea what the failure rate is, but the ZF has a fatal error when it stops going into R. The GM5 just needs to be cleaned out.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

That's, the once the ZF transmission has been fixed ...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Unfortunately, there are no trustworthy rebuilders of ZF transmissions in the United States (IMO)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You imply the GM lasts for ever. If so it's very different from any GM transmission I've owned.
--
*A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Given the age of some vehicles fitted with this tranny, a recon would likely cost as much as the vehicle is worth.
BTW 'known issues' is your view, not mine. Every single component is likely to have a part which fails first. For it to be a 'known issue', you'd need to know what percentage fail with this fault - and the mileage too.
--
*The more I learn about women, the more I love my car

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.