E39 Automatic Transmission Issue

Lately, when car is cold (not really cold, its Florida, but before the engine is warmed up) and I put in either drive or reverse, sometimes it doesn't go immediately. When this happens, the engine sounds fine, but no
movement for 1 - 1.5 secs. After it warms up, seems fine (except it always sounds a little like you are riding the clutch in a manual car when you accelerate hard).
This is my first automatic - could I be low on transmission fluid? Do I need a new filter/some kind of transmission tune up? I didn't see a dipstick for the fluid, is it obvious?
99 528i
thanks
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I read the Auto Transmission section in the Bentley - no dipstick, sounds like a pain to check the fluid level (lenghty procedure). Anyone seen my issue though? Think the dealer or a transmission shack could do anything for less than a few thousand $$?
thanks

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always
Mileage?
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120k, any ideas?

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Yep, you're transmission (probably never serviced, "Lifetime" fluid, eh?) is entering its death throes. The several BMW auto trans used in the E39 are quite notorious for a short lifespan if left unattended (check tech articles in Bimmer and Roundel). 120K seems to be the mileage that symptoms start to appear.
You may be able to drive indefinitely with the current trans quirk, or it may decide to give up the ghost tomorrow. Rebuild or new trans will probably be the only sure cure, but either option is expensive.
Sorry for your pain, John
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Every component has a life - and some will end sooner than others. I'd dispute they are 'notorious' for this, though. These sort of mags only tend to carry details of faults - not a genuine survey on reliability.
--
*Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Isn't this normal auto gearbox behaviour? Certainly been the case on every auto I've ever driven. The "clutch slip" feeling is the torque converter and it should lock up somewhere between 2000 and 3000 rpm. If you start the engine, put it in drive, put your foot on the brake and then put your foot on the gas it shouldn't go to more than the 2k-3k rpm. Don't do it for too long though!
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Hmm, hasn't always been like that... and after it warms up, it seems to take off "much more" immediately.
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There is always a *slight* pause before drive etc is engaged - you're dealing with hydraulics rather than electronics. And a torque convertor does act rather like a slipping clutch as it works by converting revs into torque - rather like an infinitely variable gearbox. But should only exhibit this behaviour at lowish revs - below about 2000 rpm.

Later BMW transmissions have a 'lifetime' fluid so no easy means of checking or topping up. But if there are no obvious signs of leaks the level should be fine. The transmission is basically operated by oil pressure which comes from a pump and if the fluid is too low to reach the pump input it won't engage drive etc at all. If it is marginal this usually shows up more on hills or when cornering fast when fluid 'slosh' causes drive to be lost completely.
Although the fluid is 'lifetime' it's now recommended to change it at about 80,000 miles or so. But is an expensive process so not really to be recommended much below this sort of mileage.
--
*If vegetable oil comes from vegetables, where does baby oil come from? *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Since it has 120k miles, maybe I should get new fluid and a filter... thanks for the feedback though.
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Doesn't sound right to me. I have the same model. A 528i E39 auto. A couple of years older than yours, but the drive engages immediately the the lever snicks into drive or reverse, with no feeling like clutch slip once moving. I also have a 525i E34 auto. That behaves in exactly the same way. Certainly sounds as if something is not quite right with yours. Low oil? Mike.
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Its not horrible, but its not right either. I will bring it in for a check-up fluid change. Thanks!
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