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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 06-29-2011, 08:45 AM   #1
protigwelder87
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Exclamation 328i auto transmission problems!! Please help!

I have a 2000 328i auto... Sometimes when the transmission downshifts the transmission light comes on. It stays on and shifts hard. If I shut the car off for a few seconds. When I start it up again, the light is gone and transmission shifts normally. Any ideas?
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:11 AM   #2
kpeng
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Transmission go bye bye. The early E46 autos were prone to failure.
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:34 AM   #3
jdstrickland
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At the very least you should have the transmission flushed, including the torque converter. There's no guarantee that this action will fix the problem, but if it does then you will have it fixed for about $150 as opposed to the cost of a transmission rebuild/replacement.

There is a thread, NO REVERSE PROBLEM, that will give you loads of information about which transmission you have, and what some of the problems are that it might have.

Your transmission is sealed, which means the somebody somewhere thinks the fluid should last the life of the car. The reality is that the car appears to last the life of hte fluid, which is a bad thing. One of the things that the fluid does, obviously, is that it lubricates. It also acts as a pump. Rather, it is pumped, and this provides pressure somewhere else that causes some manner of motion. The fluid gets old and becomes dirty and also absorbs moisture that contaminates the internal workings -- valves and stuff like that. When the valves get particles of dirt and other contaminates in them, then the malfunction is that shifting is rough and the light turns on or flashes. There are electrical issues that can cause the same problems, but having a fluid flush should be the first thing that is done. Alternatively, for about the same cost you can have a technician connect a diagnostic computer to the Data Link Connector (the round connector in the engine bay, adjacent to the right side shock tower) and see what the vehicle management system has to say about things.

DO NOT take this problem to a "transmission shop." Take it to your neighborhood independent BMW Service Center. These shops will be familiar with what you are experiencing, and they will know what transmission your car has, and what causes the problems. My limited experience is that a fluid flush with new filters and screens should resolve the issue.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:32 AM   #4
joyfulyurs
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328i Trans Intermitant no Reverse

JD

As a female my knowledge is limited. I shift (automatic) into R and the engine rev's. It has done it cold and hot. Most of the time it's fine. All other gears are smooth and fine. I don't want to go to a Trans shop because I feel "of course you need a new trans" because you're a female you won't know the difference! My regular mechanic said my reverse clutch was the problem. Clutch? Should I insist he run a diagnostic scan on the trans, not the engine? I don't want to insinuate that he didn't the first time. I sense that I don't need an entirely new trans. I sense problems to come if I go that route. Should I flush the trans first and see with new fluid what happens? Could it be just a pressure problem? Most of the time it engages in R . . . the rear end jumps into gear firmly???? Does any of this tell you something??

Last edited by joyfulyurs; 03-05-2014 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Thanks!
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:42 AM   #5
joyfulyurs
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328i Trans Intermitant no Reverse

JD

As a female my knowledge is limited. I shift (automatic) into R and the engine rev's. It has done it cold and hot. Most of the time it's fine. All other gears are smooth and fine. I don't want to go to a Trans shop because I feel "of course you need a new trans" because you're a female you won't know the difference! My regular mechanic said my reverse clutch was the problem. Clutch? Should I insist he run a diagnostic scan on the trans, not the engine? I don't want to insinuate that he didn't the first time. I sense that I don't need an entirely new trans. I sense problems to come if I go that route. Should I flush the trans first and see with new fluid what happens? Could it be just a pressure problem? Most of the time it engages in R . . . the rear end jumps into gear firmly???? Does any of this tell you something??
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:17 AM   #6
lszlszx
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Joy, the problem is in the valve body. That is a control unit in the transmission.
There are solenoids in the valve body operating plungers that determine fluid flow and the shifts.

What is the mileage? Have transmission fluid ever been changed?
That itself can help sometimes.

The next step is to inspect/replace the TCC solenoid in the valve body.
This solenoid has a filter on it, that can clog up form dirty fluid, or break off.

If that doesn't fix it, using a valve body repair kit, or rebuilt valve body is in order.
The bore, in which the plunger is moving, wears out.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:15 AM   #7
Poundingsand
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"At the very least you should have the transmission flushed"

I'm sure JD misspoke, as he's been around a while and seems to know his stuff, but don't have the transmission flushed...drain and refill (at least twice), yes. A flush puts pressure on the seals, and is likely to introduce further problems...
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:02 AM   #8
joyfulyurs
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Intermittant No Reverse

Thank you ALL !! This information helps me greatly as I have some understanding via my brother as to the structure and function of a transmission. It all totally makes sense and I will be sure to stress "drain fluid" not "flush". I knew what he meant though. It really didn't occur to me that it would be "flushed". I shared info with my brother that I omitted here. I think it makes a case for a fluid change and solenoid cell. I pulled into a driveway that had a slight grade. I braked, put it in reverse and let it roll backward. It was at this point the gear wouldn't engage. It rev'd as tho in neutral. The entire console of gears was lit up. Every gear. I got stuck nose in, in my garage because I tested the reverse before pulling in the garage that night and it was fine. I "assumed" it was a fluke and would back up the next morning. Wrong!! It has backed into my garage 15 days since without a problem, but again at work I trusted it and oops! Needed a push. It has backed up minimum 35 times elsewhere since.

Unfortunately, I don't have a mechanic that specializes in BMW's. He works on foreign of all kinds. Not sure if I trust him as I've gone to him three or four times for fluid leaks and he keeps replacing hoses, seals gaskets, power steering pump ( I can tell you I did need this) and I still have the leak. He claims it's the main seal . . . not sure I buy that. Should I try another mechanic or get a diagnosis from a BMW dealer where I NEVER go except for light bulbs, and then take it to an different independent to do the repairs? I trust the mechanic that said I need a reverse clutch . . . he just doesn't specialize in BM'rs or foreign, but is very trustworthy. He does routine maintenance and simpler things on foreign cars.

I welcome your feed back and thanks so much for your responses.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:26 AM   #9
lszlszx
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Go with the mechanic that is more trustworthy, even if he isn't a BMW specialist.
What needs to be done is pretty simple, I've done it and I'm not a BMW specialist and it's my first automatic car.

If your brother was able to explain the structure and function of the transmission, maybe he can do it for you?

Let's start with the basics. What is the mileage?
Do you know if the trans fluid has ever been replaced?

Last edited by lszlszx; 03-06-2014 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:52 PM   #10
joyfulyurs
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How do I get the repair shop to not flush . . .drain and refill?

Iszlszx,

You have been a big help. Before I go further . . . what does E46 mean?

I'm the 328i with intermittent no reverse.

I know the trans fluid is expensive, but I don't want fluid that's been run through other cars. This is what a mechanic told me they do when you ask for trans service! Is that a dishonest practice or what?? I would never have guessed. I didn't know this is the practice. So now the dilemma . . . do it the expensive way because I'm willing to pay for it the fluid necessary to do it? I won't be able to tell !! How would I get them to do this because they probably have only one piece of equipment and fluid reservoir, so they won't be willing to dump all that fluid.

I found a shop in San Diego, 85 miles away, but I'm willing to go because you know when you get that gut instinct about a person's integrity? Older guy and all his shop does is Bimmers. Son work's there too. In addition, he wants $1650 to do what I bet you suggested because I asked what he does to fix it. He said it's proprietary information, however guarantee's the job for two years. Service oriented too. Said he would have a rental car there for me! $25 a day . . .I hate to see what it is. ha! If he's not as reasonable on the other issues, leak, main seal or not, I'm not sure, I have found an alternative shop with three good reviews near home. I'm debating due to distance, but Monday will find out what the shop nearby charges for no reverse problem. I'll go from there. Zip codes determine the bottom line I've decided. I'm seeing independants Charging $2200 $3000. Dealers . . . twice the price. By the way local dealership Service Writer wouldn't return my call when I left a message as to what I wanted done!! Afraid of argument over known problem?? Should be a recall, but after 94K mi. it's hard to argue their responsibility.

Thanks again! This has been a real education.
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Old 03-09-2014, 12:02 AM   #11
2003silver330i
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BMW associates an "e-code" for each generation of a series ("E" stands for Entwicklung, German for development or evolution). The "chassis codes" only change to signify a major redesign of a series, or the introduction of a new series.
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Old 03-09-2014, 08:46 PM   #12
lszlszx
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Mechanic wants to charge $1600 and he won't tell you what he'll do to your car? Hell no!
$25 per day for a rent a car? That can add up real quick.

I would have a rebuilt valve body installed to fix the no reverse issue.

http://www.valvebodyxpress.com/index.php

There is a slight chance that replacing the fluid and the TCC solenoid will fix the reverse problem, but if you pay a mechanic to do that, it can cost close to what a rebuilt valve body costs, so why not do the job once.
Last time I saw rebuilt valve bodies were priced around $800. With fluid, filter and installation, I'm guessing it could end up costing $1500.

A few members posted in the no-reverse thread, who had the valve body replaced. You could get more info from them. Read the whole no reverse thread and also this one:

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=458451

Last edited by lszlszx; 03-09-2014 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:14 PM   #13
joyfulyurs
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Smile Thanking you again. . . feel like

Iszlszx, I feel like I should be paying you a consultation fee . . . seriously!!

When I am hesitant about some major decision, there has always been a different outcome and always good reason I hesitated. Since writing that to you I started thinking . . . why am I driving 80 mi. What if I had problems and have to go back. In addition, I thought on every repair receipt part numbers were identified, number of parts used and labor. I started thinking about his comment "proprietary information". Late last night I realized NO WAY I would accept that description on my invoice. I still feel the guy is probably honest in his work and maybe he thought I was just pumping him for info and he didn't want to go there. Also by CA he law would have to identify parts used, but I went to Bimmers.com which is where I got his number on a review I read and revisiting the site found four shops that do BMW within 4.5 mi. of me. One shop is Solely Bimmers. I will have to stick my neck out and start with them for estimates because if anyone has seen the no reverse they will be the ones. One of the responses on E46 mentioned substantial fluid leak. I have taken it in for this problem 3-4 times. Parking backwards instead of over constant new pieces of saturated cardboard, I am over fresh concrete and see what I would say is clear fluid . . . I'm now wondering if it's trans fluid. If so Ill be ticked of ( being polite here) because it could have been taken care of three years ago. I might have gotten more miles out of it before encountering this infamous problem or maybe never had it happen.

Like I said, yes I'm a female and never had a problem that led me to the internet and one so controversial, but all the searching and reading has educated me and thanks greatly to you, I've questioned everything and waited!! Your opinion is most widely held. I've forwarded to my brother and printed your responses. I checked the links you've sent as well. I will let you know what the fix turns out to be. This has been an experience !!! Thanks!!
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