I'm about to buy a 3 series BMW (318i SE Auto). This is a second hand
model and is a 2002 UK model. (The model just prior to the new angular
I know these are generaly very sound cars. My friend has a similar
model that I've driven, when I am in neutral (from memory) the gear
lever can simply be slipped down directly into drive gear. There is no
need to push the stick slightly left then slip it down.
My problem is the car I'm about to buy requires a slight left movement
of the gear stick and at the same time a downwards movement in order
to go from neutral to drive mode. I don't remember any beemer
requiring this motion. Usually BMW are simplicity itself to drive, and
anything quirky is strictly not in BMW's book.
So I am concearned that
1. My memory is completely going, and all BMW 3 series auto boxes
require this "left slide and downwards shift" motion to select drive.
I have simply forgotton that from the previous times I've driven
2. The 3 series autobox does not require anything more than a simple
shift straight down from neutral to drive in order to select the
driver gear. Which means the car I'm about to drive has a damaged auto
Please let me know your experience of the gear select on the 3 series
My daughter drives a '00 325i (USA version) with an automatic transmission.
I used it recently and noticed that if the car is in N, I had to depress the
brake pedal to select D again, but if the car was in R, I could move the
shift selector to D without doing anything else.
This seems to be a safety interlock item that prevents unintended gear
changes in an unattended (by and adult) vehicle that might have a child
inside. Never mind the fact that when the driver gets out of the car, it
ought to be shut off, there are people <raising hand> that have gotten out
of cars with the motor running and a child is sitting in a position to
operate the gear selector. The kids in my world do not operate gear
selectors, but BMW has no way of knowing about all kids, so they put in an
interlock that should keep the kids from selecting gears at a time when
there is no vehicle operator present.
Every auto I've ever driven can be put into D without doing anything beyond
yanking the shift lever. The only condition is, the brake must be depressed
to get out of P. But, once out of P, the lever moves freely from R to N or
D. The lever has to be manipulated again to select 2 or 1, but once either
of those are selected, the driver can select D or N by simply moving the
lever to the desired location. There are no gates to prevent shifting into
D, there are only gates to prevent shifting out of D to a lower gear, or
into R or P.
My daughter's '00 3 Series is the first car I encountered that does not
follow this rule. There are conditions on this car that must be met to
The safety point about accidentintal drive selection, is a good one.
But, as has been mentioned I thought this safety feature only applied
when selecting drive from parking mode, or reverse gear.
I am about 90% certain that once in drive you can freely slip the gear
shift to neutral and back again into drive, by a simple sraight flick
motion witout any fiddly left wiggling. I know this because when at
traffic lights (which are on a flat road serface) I always slip the
car into neutral and then back.
I also have a MGF tiptronic and that definately allows free linear
movment between neutral - drive and back without any fiddling.
BMW are about a billion times better than MGF's and pride themselves
on BMW simplicity, so I can't imagine them introducing a (slightly
more) "complex" gear change solution. Particulary when I look at the
auto box and the lettering on the side (PRND+/-) all reads as if it is
a 100% linear box. Mercades/ Lexus clearly have a wiggily auto box, so
any lateral movement is obvious. My VW Golf auto had an obvious linear
style auto box, but had a picture of a foot by the side of the drive
gear, indicating the brake pedal has to be applied in order to select
it. The BMW 3, does not have this, unless I'm mistaken, so I'm sill a
Most certainly allow you to select neutral from drive directly. I'm not
sure about an interlock from neutral to drive is the car is at speed -
it's not something most would normally try. But none I've ever driven
allow neutral to drive directly with the car stationary - unless the
brakes or parking brake is on. Try it. ;-)
*When blondes have more fun, do they know it?
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
On Sat, 26 May 2007 11:07:21 +0100, "Dave Plowman (News)"
In the mid-70s, I had a '72 automatic Triumph 2000. The ignition
inhibitor switch either got out of adjustment or failed, and I could
start the car while it was in drive. I didn't get it fixed, it was
very convenient, just turn the key and mash the loud pedal. I loved
It is directly. there is no requirement to hold the brake pedal, or move the
lever to one side or the other or press a button to get around a lock out.
The car is in P.
Press the brake pedal, operate the lever to accompdate the lock out, and
select R. Back out of the garage and down the driveway into the street.
DIRECTLY shift to D by moving the lever without any lockout devices in the
I don't know how much clearer to say that.
My daughter's '00 3 Series is the only automatic transmission that does not
operate that way. Having said that, perhaps all BMW atuomatics work the same
as my daughter's, but apparently the OP and myself are the only ones that do
not know this.
All U S automatic transmissions work this way. It is (now) a safety
requirement that is
mandated by the powers that be. Other countries may have different
At least that is what they telll us. Exactly how this became a safety
requirement and what
it protects is rather unclear to me.
Once again, YOUR reading comprehension skills have failed you.
Read my first post (HINT: I was the first to reply to the OP), I said that
BMW is accomodating errant shifts by locking out the selection of D.
Read my first post to you (HINT: I was the first to reply to your first
reply to the OP), I said that no other car I've encountered has this sort of
I've got more general automotive experience than most, my father was the
General Manager of a new car dealership, and he owned a used car dealership
after that. I've been in literally thousands of makes and models of cars and
trucks. Admittedly, the vast majority of them American cars and trucks, and
American car companies tend to all do the same thing most of the time. But,
in my experience, I've driven every major brand of automobile in the world,
with very few exceptions.
In every case, the selection of D is a straight shot after the gear selector
is taken out of P. My daughter's '00 3 Series is the first car I've
encountered where this is not always true. If the car is placed into D, then
placed into N or R (I forget which, and don't really care), the operator
will encounter a lock out that demands depressing the brake pedal or
operating the lock out button, or both (again, I don't know or care) to
select D again.
Automatic transmissions around the globe have gates that the selector must
be moved through to change gears. The gates can be in the form of a button
on the shift lever that the operator must depress, or slots on the shift
rail that the lever must be aligned with, or tabs that are cleared by
pulling up (toward the steering wheel) in order to be cleared. The first two
are found on floor-shift models, the third is found on column-shift models.
The gates are always as such
P-- the gate is encountered to shift into and out of P. Aditionally, since
about 1990 (give or take), the vehicle operator must also depress the brake
pedal in order to shift out of P.
R -- the gate is encountered to shift into R from N. There is no gate to
shift out of R to N. It pains me to state that there is a gate to shift into
R from P because that gate is really to shift out of P.
N -- There is no gate to bar selection of N from any direction.
D -- There is no gate to bar selection of D from any direction, but there is
a gate that bars selection of 2 and 1. The operator can shift from D to N at
any time, but will encounter a gate to select any gear below D if there are
any. (See NOTE below)
2 -- There is a gate that bars selection of this gear and the gear below it
if there is one, but no gate to control the selection of D. The operator can
move from 2 to D by simply moving the gear selector. If there is a physical
gate that the selector must be laterally aligned with to get into 2, the
selector will be spring loaded in such a manner to cause the selector to
return laterally to the D gate without the operator making a conscious
1 -- There is a gate that bars selection of 1, but does not impede the
selection of 2.
The gate that bars movement out of P is for safety reasons. It prevents the
vehicle from being put into motion inadvertantly. The relatively recent
addition of the Brake Pedal switch to the P gates/lock out is a further
attempt to make automatic transmission equipped cars and trucks safer.
The gate that bars selection of P from another gear selection is intended to
protect the transmission. Inadvertant movement of the shift lever from a
position that allows vehicle movement into P can destroy the transmission.
The gates that bar inadvertant selection of R, or the 2 and 1 gears is also
are an attempt at fail safe -- if the selector is moved to these positions
at an inappropriate time, serious damage to the engine or transmission can
result. Albeit, recent improvements in automatic transmission controllers
might preclude damage by selecting a low range gear at high speeds, the
gates remain. The vehicle operator has to make a decision to select these
gears. The decision may or may not be appropriate at the time, but it has to
Very recently, it seems that some car makers have added a Brake Pedal switch
to prevent some selections of D. If there is such a switch, it will be for
safety reasons -- the car will be prevented from being put into motion
inadvertantly. If there is any prevention of placing the shift selector into
D from N, it must be inoperative if the vehicle is already in motion.
Sigh. And said every auto I've had since the '60s doesn't allow direct
selection of drive from neutral simply by moving the lever. Whether by
having a brake interlock on as later cars or by requiring a button etc to
*Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
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.