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Driveline, Engine & DME Tuning
Talk about driveline improvements, NA tuning and DME tuning your E46 BMW here. This includes diffs, intakes, exhausts, chips, software and OBD tuning.

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Old 02-22-2013, 04:36 PM   #1
Gussers1
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E46 323ci Steptronic question, Fluid coming out of transmission Breather, HELP!

I have a 2000 323ci 153k with an steptronic automatic Transmission GM built. I'm having a couple of issues with my tranny. First off, I live in Minnesota and it has been cold here and averaging 15 degree's out side. I'm not sure if the issues are because of cold. First Problem, when the car is cold and hadn't been started when I try to move the car the engine revs like its trying to move with the e-brake on, barely moves in forward or reverse, with that being said, the second issue happens, If you try moving it, fluid starts to come out of the breather hole on the top of the tranny. It leaves a decent puddle if you try to move it. Now if you start it up and let it warm for 10-15 Minutes without shifting it, it drives and shifts beautifully. I have done tranny fluid changes before this happened. I have done a fluid change after this happened and it drove fine twice and the problem is back again. It also started when it was below 25-30 degrees out. Has anyone had this problem or know whats wrong with it?
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:31 AM   #2
eweis
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Bump....I'm having the same problem.
It's cold here in Ohio and on reversing out of my driveway the transmission burped out a bunch of fluid. I got it up in the air and didn't see any specific spot where it might be coming from but it probably is this breather hole that the OP mentioned.
I have a GM transmission in a 99 328i.

I'm going to do a fluid and filter change to see if that helps. Anything else me or OP should do?
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:46 PM   #3
Gussers1
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Smile Solved My issue with the transmission

Here is what worked for me. Two weeks now with a working transmission, and under $100. Good Luck hope it works for you.

1.) I did a fluid drain and fill, Follow the fill instruction for BMW transmissions, warmed up the transmission for about 10-15 Minutes, drove the car for 15-20 Miles. Let the car cool over night and put it on jack stands.
2.) Next day, with the engine cold. Removed the fill plug and drained out about Ĺ quart of fluid and put the fill plug back in. Take a bottle of Trans Tune made by sea foam and a pump. Trans tune is designed to clean the transmission as well as take moisture out of the fluid. Start the car and unscrew the fill plug, fill up the transmission with as much Trans Tune you can put in, screw in the plug, slowly run through the gears. Warm up the car again for 10-15 minutes and drive it around for 20 miles or so.
3.) Put the car up on jack stands, you may want to wait for it to cool a little so you donít burn your hands, drain the transmission fluid, remove the pan and pull the filter, Make sure you clean off the magnet in the pan. After pulling the filter down check to see if there are any rubber gaskets stuck in the hole. If so remove them. Install the pan and gasket. Fill the transmission and add a ľ bottle of Trans Tune while you are filling it up. Start the car and fill up the remaining amount with transmission fluid.

Hopefully it will work for you. It did for me. I had done a transmission fluid and filter change one year before and put on about 10k then this happened. Thinking back I should have done another fluid change to get all the old fluid out. Looking back at the fluid it was very dark since I donít think that it had been done for quite a while. When I changed it this go around it looked more like Tea color the first time, doing the fluid change, second time it looked better and now it looks pink. If you haven't done a Transmission fluid change in a while I might do another round of fluid changing with a filter. It can't hurt.

I used Volvoline Max Life Dex/Merc, I have heard good thing about this fluid.
Its $6-7 a quart at Oíreilly auto, Autozone has a Gallon (4 Quarts) for $15.99, Better deal. Each fluid change is about 6-7 Quarts
Filter and pan gasket are $24.99 at OíReilly auto
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:17 PM   #4
eweis
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Re: E46 323ci Steptronic question, Fluid coming out of transmission Breather, HELP!

Well, I did the fluid and filter change. I didn't have a chance to do the cleaner as suggested above
but, I think my tranny is too far gone anyways. After changing the fluid I continued running it through the gears while up on the stands. And boy it sounds bad. Lots of grinding and slipping. It wasn't on the ground and of course not under any real load and I couldn't even give it any gas because it would just slip and grind...both in drive and reverse.

The transmission/limp mode light (the one with the triangle and exclamation point) kept flashing when I tried to give it any gas.

Unless someone thinks it could be anything else, I think I'm in the market for a rebuilt transmission.

Anyone know where I can get one in Columbus, Ohio.?

Sent from my EVO
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:24 PM   #5
Gussers1
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Mine never had any grinding but it did rev high and barely moved. That happened then it was cold. That's also when the fluid was coming out of the breather. When warmed up without trying to move it, it moved and shifted correctly.
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:13 PM   #6
HakenTT
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worn clutch packs, the piston over extends and sprays fluid out of it, colder fluid has higher pressure and metal thinner. Once warmed up, metal expands and fluid gets hotter and less pressure.

Cluthes do wear out, and you all got early E46 cars so this is normal. Plan on doing tranny rebuild. Thats it.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:52 AM   #7
eweis
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Thanks for those insights. So...how difficult is a tranny rebuild anyways? I've done just about every common job on my car that you can think of from rear differential bushing to VANOS seals to cooling system to front/rear wheel bearings, CVV, plugs/valve cover gasket, shocks/struts....you get the idea. Hell, I've had my 1999 since 2001 and it now has 159,000 miles and I've done every repair myself so far on it so everyone knows what all has to be done to these car of this age.

Is a transmission rebuild plug and play...just bolt on type stuff on or is there special diagnostic skill involved or any special tools? I haven't done the research on it yet obviously....does any place sell like a rebuild kit? Or, would it be better to simply buy a rebuilt unit?
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:58 AM   #8
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The best course of action is to manual swap, honestly. A rebuild is pretty complicated, and I don't think you can get parts that aren't made in China/Taiwan/etc.

Beyond that, I'd find a low mileage car with body damage and swap that trans.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:22 PM   #9
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Any updates?
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:13 AM   #10
eweis
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Here's the update.
I went ahead and did the transmission fluid and filter change. That didn't help.
I had noted in my previous post that I was getting the triangle and exclamation point symbol and I led myself into thinking that it was transmission related because it had just puked a bunch of transmission fluid and the transmission wasn't engaging so I thought it was going into limp mode. But, here's what the deal was.

The *gear* symbol with the exclamation point is actually the transmission specific symbol while the triangle version I was getting is for the ASC (automatic stability control). I failed to think it was important at the time but the wheels spun (maybe just one of them) because it was cold and snowy out. This must have tripped the ABS/speed sensors. By either resetting the system or cleaning them, I fixed the problem. I reset the car by leaving the battery unplugged for a while and pulled each of the rear speed sensors and cleaned them --pretty dirty. Once I did that, I started it and it went through the gears and drove just fine whereas previously, it wouldn't engage. I assumed it was the transmission slipping/failing but it was really just the ABS system kicking in and not allowing the transmission to engage.

As to why it spewed out a bunch (about a quart) of transmission fluid, I don't know for sure. I'm guessing it's somehow related to being cold, the wheels slipping and that I was on a slope. I've driven a couple times now and it all seems to be back to normal....which is good because I was this close to shopping for a transmission.

Hope this helps someone else.
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:44 PM   #11
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I am glad it worked out!
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