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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 09-24-2012, 05:53 AM   #1
brokensmile209
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e46 manual for auto?

lately i been thinking of trading my 2001 bmw e46 manual for a automatic one, i just got the car this year but now my back started hurting because i hurt my back while playing volleyball a few year back, (twisted my back while trying to spike the ball up in the air, hurt like f***, couldn't went to work for three day) i get lower back pain once in a while, so it get to the point where i don't wants to keep my manual anymore, automatic is more easier to drive. I just have a few question, how reliable is the automatic? would changing the auto trans fluid and differential fluid every 30-50k keep the car running without any trans problem? what are the common problem for automatic e46 vs manual. Due give me your opinions, or should i just sale it Sorry guys if my post pissed anyone of you off. Pic of my car is below....not sure if i can post my pic here but do let me know if i can't post it like this below



Last edited by brokensmile209; 09-24-2012 at 06:03 AM. Reason: add more information
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:02 AM   #2
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Took out the pics except one for now since so many are not needed for a thread like this.


Sorry to hear about your injury though. If you are wanting to get an auto I would shoot for a 2002+. I have 120k miles on my car, never changed the trans fluid and have zero issues.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:17 AM   #3
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I think of the most prominent issues is the no reverse problem. Regardless, though, if driving a manual is uncomfortable I'd definitely get an automatic. Discomfort isn't worth it.
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:28 AM   #4
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I appreciate what you're saying; all automatic transmission die (well, maybe not the TurboHydramatic GM 400 transmission) and when they do, the cost of replacing is usually higher than the value of the car when it breaks, so effectively, the car is scrap at that point.
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:53 AM   #5
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My car has 147k miles on it and the transmission still shifts smoothly and my reverse works perfectly. Granted I don't know if the fluid was ever changed, but considering what hasn't been done to my car it most likely wasn't.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:01 AM   #6
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If you buy a used sledgomatic E46, the damage is already done unless the owner can show you receipts for trans fluid service performed every 30k miles. Also, the ZF box can grenade the reverse drum regardless of fluid condition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkrotchko View Post
I appreciate what you're saying; all automatic transmission die (well, maybe not the TurboHydramatic GM 400 transmission) and when they do, the cost of replacing is usually higher than the value of the car when it breaks, so effectively, the car is scrap at that point.
This. Some cars blew up their transmissions early enough that it justified the $4k rebuild/replacement. 12 years later, most people won't spend the money.

What are the chances that an original automatic will blow up between 150k miles (when you buy it) and 250k miles (when you sell or trade it in)? I don't know. 20%? If that is an acceptable risk, go for it. What if the risk is 50%? 5%? 80%?
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Last edited by teamdfl; 09-24-2012 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:28 AM   #7
Chris C
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There's a lot of info on this site about the automatics in our cars and failures. I'd say do the switch if your back is bothering you. It's no fun driving in pain. To minimize your risk see if the owner has receipts for maintenance work do on the transmission (fluid changes and such.) Good luck.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:35 AM   #8
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Looks like you've made up your mind already. you have no choice. just make sure the gears don't slip and you go for an extended test drive. feel the hood and see if its warm when you go see the car. this could mean the seller warmed up the car before you going to see it in an attempt to mask any problems. this goes for any used cars, really. but at least with an automatic, you get to see its behavior under all conditions.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:49 AM   #9
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choxor View Post
if driving a manual is uncomfortable I'd definitely get an automatic. Discomfort isn't worth it.
^ This.

If you want an E46, then the your best bet is to perform your due diligence as Mango and teamdfl suggest. Take your time in selecting candidate vehicles. A PPI on top of that is money well spent.

Should the tranny--or other major component--fail at some point, don't fall immediatley for the "cost-to-fix-is-more-than-the-car-is-worth-so-it-is-junk" line. While there are certainly other considerations at this point, from a financial perspective, there is only one question to ask when this comes up, particularly if the rest of the car is in good shape:
Will the car that I can purchase in a short timeframe with the repair cost + as-is "salvage" value of my current car be better than my current car will be after the repair?
Ten years ago, I had an Audi with ~230K on the clock that needed $2000+ worth of work. The mechanic earnestly told me that I should sell it for a couple hundred dollars and get another vehicle. I'd had the car for the last 170K, and a copy of the dealer service records for the previous miles. $2000 was a lot less than a year's worth of car payments. I liked the car, so chose to go ahead with the repairs. I figured that I'd be well ahead of the game if it was on the road a year later.

We kept the car 6 more years, driving it another 90K without having to make another major repair. And then sold it to my mechanic.

Would a $2500 car have provided the same kind of servicer? Not likely.
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:44 PM   #11
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Automatics are a piece of **** man, dont get an e46 automatic, get another brand, DONT get a bmw automatic.
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:31 AM   #12
brokensmile209
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thanks all of you for your advice, i have read a lot about how e46 automatic are giving a lot of owner problem, so i have decide to keep my e46 manaul for now, as for my lower back problem i can deal with it, just going take some back supplement and hope it get better, as for the future I plan to upgrade to a new mtech 2 bumper soon ..
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:06 AM   #13
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I dunno I had my 03 330i (auto) for a few months and I loved it. If the car never got totaled I'd still have it, but now I have a 330xi (6sp) and I love it too.

But the way I see it is if the car is an auto it probably wasn't driven as hard as a car that has a standard gearbox.


Edit: I plan on getting a auto e46 touring in a few years for that reason.

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Old 09-28-2012, 08:28 AM   #14
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If you can afford it, go for something like a 135i DCT. Or even a normal auto with an n54/n55 motor. The E46 autos are really... boring. Or if you don't need something as sporty as the e46, move up to a 5er.

Also, whatever you get, seriously consider sports seats. I also have back problems and whenever I sat in an E46 without sport seats for more than an hour, I would get back pain intense enough to make me just lie down the rest of the day. Never had that problem in sport or comfort (5er/7er option) seats.
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Old 09-28-2012, 11:40 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
Also, whatever you get, seriously consider sports seats. I also have back problems and whenever I sat in an E46 without sport seats for more than an hour, I would get back pain intense enough to make me just lie down the rest of the day. Never had that problem in sport or comfort (5er/7er option) seats.
I'd also recommend seat heaters Great at soothing my back.
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