Why does BMW only offer the E90 335d with an Auto Transmission?!

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This is from a car for clunker thread on another BMW forum (bimmerhead): I was considering trading in my 1990 E34 535i, 5spd, 124K miles but the only new BMW that qualifies for the program is the
E90 335d, both in price - its base price is under the $45K limit and mpg its rated at 27mpg or 5 more than the 22mpg limit. Since my car is rated at 16mpg, there's an 11mpg difference and I would have qualified for $4500 credit.
The incentives on the diesel are great - $4500 from the program, PLUS another $4500 from BMW (Eco Credit) AND you get a $900 tax credit, that basically $10K before any negotiations! However, for some reason, BMW only offers the 335d with an automatic tranny ?! So, why doesn't BMW bring over its 335d with manual trans? There's a manual for just about every other 3/5 series, why not the diesel?
BMW Master Tech Brett Anderson noted that BMW does not have a manual transmission that can handle the torque, reliably. Too bad, as I like the diesel. However, since there are so many horror stories about BMW autos, I'm passing. :(
Interestingly, I was watching the news the other night and they interviewed a Toyota dealer. He was describing all the junk 80s and early 90s American car being traded in. He described what they do with the cars and it sounded terrible - they drain the engine of oil, then "blow the engine" and have the dead car tolled to a junker for crushing.... .it sounded so sad, like an execution or putting a dog down.
My 535i has a few problems (mainly a/c doesn't work), but the paint is still excellent (its bright red) and the car runs fine. With all the incentives, a 335d with manual trans might have been nice. Oh well....
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SNIP

Shame about blowing the engines...

The main reason is that unlike a manual it is phenomenally easy to overspeed the engine and destroy it - either by over revving or by changing down at too high a speed.
OTOH the new 316d comes with a six speed manual box (and 0-100kmph in 10s).
The 335d [auto] is 0-100kmph in 6.0s The 330d [manual] is 0-100kmph in 6.1s.
See http://www.bmw.co.uk/bmwuk/pricesandspecifications/0,,1156_181246500__bs-Mw%3D%3D%40bb-TEkwOA%3D%3D%40bm-WkoyNQ%3D%3D,00.html
I suspect for fairly obvious reasons BMW don't offer high torque manuals in the USA, although you might be able to privately import one from the EU.
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Don't diesels have governors any more? ;-) But of course they do - as do pretty well all petrol engines. So they can't be over-revved. Changing down at too high a speed could wreck either type of engine.
My guess as to why its only an auto in the US is 'luxury' diesels are a bit of a rarity. So the auto masks the different engine characteristics.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Actually, its my understanding that BMW only offers an automatic transmission on the 335d - worldwide. The rationale is BMW does not have a manual transmission that can handle the 425ft-lb of torque put out by that engine.
To verify, does BMW UK or any other Euro country offer the E90 335d with a manual trans? Thanks!
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Choosing the 335d on the UK website gives you an automatic (that you can't delete.)
FloydR
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Floyd Rogers wrote:

This cannot be changed in Germany, either.
BTW: This the double clutch automatic gearbox (aka DSG, direct shift gearbox), which nobody would want to change against manual or classic automatic. It is blindly fast, shifts gears in milliseconds AND is more fuel efficient than manual. Even new Porsches only have it that way. The sad thing: For BMW only high end cars currently have it. As the technology has been mainly pushed by VW and AUDI, these companies offer it for a broader range of cars. It would have loved to have it in a 320d, if it would have been available.
Probably the next one will have it...
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The problem I have with BMW automatics isn't about its performance, but more with its durability. According to Roundel and several BMW boards, BMW auto trans are known to have problems at about 100K miles. Sometimes a fluid change helps, many times it doesn't. That's outrageous as a rebuild sells for about $5-6K.
In contrast, a good manual trans with the fluid changed every 30K or so, will easily last 200-300k miles or more. Yes, you may have to replace the clutch periodically, i.e., I changed my clutch on my 90 535i at about 100K, but the cost is only around $1100, alot cheaper than $5-6K!
The newer DSG trannies are just that new. No service history, so reliability is still up in the air. Good Luck!
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In article

Well if it's a double clutch 'DSG' box it's not from the same maker. ZF supply the conventional autos - and IIRC the DSG comes from Getrag, same as their manual boxes.
FWIW my last BMW was at 160,000 miles when I sold it - and it was a ZF auto.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Hey, Dave, I've found the most powerful evidence yet that it is the ZF, not the GM, that has been problematic.
http://www.merchantcircle.com/blogs/Atlanta.Auto.Repair.404-537-2880/2009/6/Atlanta-BMW-Transmission-Mechanical-Problems-Roswell-Decatur-/263367
"This article deals with the reasons behind an unexpected loss of reverse in certain BMW automatic transmission equipped vehicles, specifically the 3 series and 5 series vehicles that use the ZF5HP19 or "steptronic" transmission. This includes the popular 323i, 323ci, 325i, 328i, 330i, 525i, 528i, 530i, X3 and X5 models well as some others built in the 1999 to present model years.
To eliminate confusion, this doesn't apply to vehicles equipped with the GM 5L40 E transmission, just the ones with the sometimes problematic ZF5HP19. The 5L40 E has some issues of it's own that are beyond the scope of this article but are certainly going to be the subject of another."
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The 335d (and X5 35d) both come with the ZF 6HP26 transmission. They do not come with the DSG.

http://www.merchantcircle.com/blogs/Atlanta.Auto.Repair.404-537-2880/2009/6/Atlanta-BMW-Transmission-Mechanical-Problems-Roswell-Decatur-/263367
Which has nothing to do with our current subject, as the 6 speed ZF is an entirely different transmission than the 5 speed that has been problematical.
FloydR
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Floyd Rogers wrote:

Incorrect. "Our current topic" has been changed. We have sequed into a related, but different, discussion.

Yeah, but I've seen a lot of implications of "ZF good, GM bad", and it's looking like that's not the case at all.
The OP himself mentioned "so many horror stories about BMW autos", so the topic change in this sub-thread was quite appropriate, and you need not follow it, if you're not interested in it.
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Dunno if there's much to choose between them reliability wise in fairly recent times. The days of GM making bomb proof transmissions are probably gone. My other car dates from the '80s and has a TH180 - and that certainly isn't bomb proof. At least in that application. And possibly rightly so - over engineering something (and keeping it simple) to give it a very long life isn't the way things are done these days.
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Maybe. But it's the "no reverse" things that really had me spooked - it seems almost inevitable with the ZF - I found a couple Web sites where there was just an amazing number of people with "my car" (2000 323i) who had reverse go out on them. I find it really amazing that it's been so difficult to pin-down which of the two trannies were doing that - you'd think that's the FIRST thing these Web sites would try document!
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Wasn't there a problem with older 4 speed ZFs giving out when being revved in neutral for a lengthy period for US emissions checks? And was that also the reverse clutch pack which failed?
It must be difficult when designing (and testing) this sort of thing to know exactly how it's going to be treated locally.
All I can say is reverse failure doesn't seem to be common in the UK. So wonder if it's another 'local' type thing? Selecting reverse while going forward etc?
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That's perhaps a little too strong a statement. It's clear that BMW has had durability problems with it's automatic (steptronic) transmissions. IMO, the ZF-sourced ones have been better than the GM-sourced ones, but not by much.
It's also VERY CLEAR that BMW's "lifetime" fluid and no-maintenance programs are crap, and quite conceivably contribute to the durability issues.
FloydR
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So the issue then is if you get or have a BMW automatic transmission, is it wise to change the "lifetime" fluid at say the 60k or 80K mile interval? Yes, the BMW lifetime fluid is very expensive, but its still cheaper than a new transmission? Further, can an alternative substitute like Redline ATF or Royal Purple Max ATF be used instead of the factory stuff? Finally, is this something that can be done at home by a DIY type person?
I ask the last question because on some of the newer BMWs, its my understanding that the differentials no longer come with a drain plug, only a fill plug. I guess BMW wants you to suck out the old fluid, instead of draining it, before putting in the new. Thoughts? Thanks!
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Might be 'very clear' to you - but I prefer evidence to gut feeling. If worn out fluid caused the failure it would be possible to tell by analysis. In the same way as you can do with engine oil. BTW, what 'maintenance' do you advise on an auto other than fluid changes? The days of adjustable brake bands are gone.
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I think the "maintenance" in question is if one looks at BMW's old maintenace schedule versus what it recommends today. Mike Miller of Roundel's Tech Talk is a high proponent of the old schedule. He claims that at one point, BMW recommended doing things like changing:
- brake fluid every year or two - coolant every two years - manual transmission fluid every 30K miles - auto transmission fluid every 60K or 80K miles - differential fluid every 30K miles - engine oil and filter (every 10K miles? not sure about this one too)
He also recommended a "tune-up," i.e., spark plug, cap/rotor and possibly O2 sensor every 90K.
In contrast, BMW's *new* maintenance schedule is something like:
The BMW Maintenance Program has two categories:
Standard Maintenance, as described below, is available on new BMW vehicles for the first 4 years or 50,000 miles from the original in- service date, whichever comes first.
The Upgraded Maintenance option extends the Standard Maintenance period, when purchased, by an additional 2 years/50,000 miles to 6 years or 100,000 miles from the original in-service date, whichever comes first.
The factory-recommended maintenance service items listed below are covered when required at specified service intervals, on eligible BMW vehicles during the applicable BMW Maintenance Program period1:
Engine oil change and filter replacement Vehicle inspections or check (per the applicable service maintenance checklist) Cabin dust microfilters fresh air and recirculating2 Air filter replacement Brake pads (front/rear) Brake discs (front/rear only in conjunction with a covered brake pad replacement) Brake fluid replacement Engine drive belts Windshield wiper inserts (front and rear2) Manual transmission clutch disc2 Manual transmission oil2 (only in conjunction with an applicable engine oil and filter replacement) Spark plugs3 Oxygen sensors3 Fuel filter2 (diesel engines only) Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)2 drain and refill (only in conjunction with a covered engine oil and filter replacement) Running-in check at 1,200 miles2 (BMW M vehicles only) Reset the maintenance system
Note - automatic transmission oil is not listed nor are differential fluid or coolant change. Granted, auto trans has "lifetime" fluid, so changing it before 60k or 80K may not be necessary. Don't know about differential fluid, but suspect (hope) its some sort of synthetic that last longer than regular gear oil. Further, coolant change use to be every 2 years and now its supposedly every 4 years. This despite the fact that the coolant formula has not changed.
Mike claims this *new* schedule was implemented when BMW went to "free" service for 4 years or up to 50K miles
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In article

[snip]
Each time a maker changes a schedule there will be some who don't agree. I'm old enough to remember 3000 mile service intervals. And the same was said when those were increased. But cars have got a *lot* more reliable since. So the overwhelming evidence is the makers are right. Oh - and at those old service intervals there could be dozens of grease points to be attended to. When those were replaced with sealed units plenty said they would fail early. But again no firm evidence this happened.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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This sounds convenient but it simply not true.
(In the US), the ca. 15k oil interval came with the change to OEM synthetic oil in '99. My '97 Z3 2.8 had factory dino oil and a countdown system which called for oil changes about every 7,500 miles. It also had 3 year/36k mile free maintenance; although brakes were not included at that time.
Tom
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