E36 Transmission help

Hi All, My '96 328i, automatic, with 129000+ miles, was just diagnosed as having a bad transmission. I had the dealer do a transmission service in hope of
that fixing the problem, but no joy. So now I need a new tranny. The car is in otherwise good shape. Wheels and tires about a year old, new head gasket, exhaust manifold, new shocks all around. I love driving the car. A few questions: Would you have anyone other than the dealer replace the trans? The dealers price is about $3500 for an auto unit with new internals in a used casing. I'm in New Jersey. Are the transmission chains like Aamco and Lee Myles suitable alternatives? What's involved, or is it even possible to convert to a manual transmission, and is that worth the trouble? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! TIA to all posters!
JP
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It's most unusual for any 'mechanical' parts like the gears to fail - it's commonly the wearing parts such as clutches, seals and possibly the hydraulic pump. What were the symptoms?
The vast part of the cost of overhauling an auto is the labour - and dealers by nature will have a high hourly charge due to the cost of 'posh' reception facilities, etc. And I doubt they have much expertise with auto overhaul either. In this case a specialist should do a better and cheaper job. I think your E36 may also have a GM transmission, (early E39 528s did) so finding a specialist in the US should be easy.
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I think it was called a GM "Strasbourg".
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JP wrote:

Yes
I guess that's plus fitting?
You must *really* love this car. You could take a gamble on a use tranny for a few hundred $ and get somewhere to replace it for you but I'd guess that'd still be a few hundred. ..or get the 'box overhauled but that'd still be several hundred.

I've replaced a manual 'box - you need to remove the mid exhaust pipes, the propshaft, then the hard bit which is separating the tranny from the engine. There's not much room and you also need to remove the starter motor to get to some of the bolts and that in itself is a pita. Converting to a manual would be tough 'cos you'd need all th epedal box and clutch components. If you're thinking about spending 4-5k on the car anyway then why not!
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do e36's have the same "no maintenance, never change" transmission fluid that the e46's have?
JP wrote:

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Tom wrote:

Yessir, indeed they do. The part they don't include is that those shitty GM transmissions usually don't last long enough for dirty fluid to become a real issue.
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JP wrote:

That's about the going price for this job, nationwide apparently. Even independent BMW shops will quote this price.

Never heard of Lee Myles, but general transmission shops might be able to do quick (temporary) fix, i.e. you'd probably be wasting money. I'd bite the bullet and get the $3500 replacement.
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