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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 06-15-2007, 04:04 PM   #1
Deah7
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Transmission light came on in my car!!

So I was driving and I stopped at a light. I was completly stopped when i felt the car jerk a little like it shifted gears. So I look at my guages and the transmission light came on! I have no idea why. The only reasons I can think of is that I did drive my car very hard last night and I was very low on gas(dont know what that would do to it).

Well i read the manual and it said that when that light was on it would only go in 3rd and 4th gear. It said pull over and turn the car off and turn it back on. It said if the light went away continue driving as normal but if its still there go to a BMW center. Well I pulled over at a gas station got gas and turned that car back on and its perfectly fine. The light has gone away and it drives very smooth the gears are hardly ever jerky.

Well now i am afraid to drive it hard for fear i might mess it up again. What do you guys think happened and has it happened to anyone else. This does not necesarilly mean my transmission is failing does it. It kinda felt like to me it had something to do with the software just reseting??

I dont know but help me out please!!
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:19 PM   #2
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i felt a jerk every now and then but my transmission light never came on. hrmm interesting
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:25 PM   #3
Deah7
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bump... I need some help. Has no one ever had this happen?
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:43 PM   #4
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Mine came on about a year and a half ago and did the same thing you're describing, I turned the car off and then started it back on and it went away, I've never had a problem with it ever since.
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:50 PM   #5
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if your car is smooth afterwards, I dont think it is a serious problem. Just make sure u dont hear any clunking or grinding. The probable cause of the transmission light is probably an miscommunication between the transmission electronics and the ecu and sensors in the engine. One time when I had my car in drive and I pluged in a obd reader to check for codes, as i shifted to park, the transmission light came on.
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Old 06-16-2007, 04:57 PM   #6
Deah7
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OK well you guys are making me feel better. I appreciate it. Has anybody else had this happen to them?

I went on a two hour trip today and it was perfectly fine... so i feel pretty good about it now.
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Old 06-16-2007, 07:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Deah7 View Post
bump... I need some help. Has no one ever had this happen?
I've seen this light also. Just driving around and it came on, that thing about it only using 3rd & 4th gears certainly did happen. Pulled over at a gas station waited the 5 min the manual recommends and went on my way without any problems.

Its probably been 20k miles since that happened and still no problems.
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Old 06-20-2007, 11:43 PM   #8
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help trani light

My Bmw(2000323i) Is Messing Up My Transition Light Goes On When My Car Is In A Up Hill Position And When The Light Is On It Shifts Hard.but When I Put The Car In A Downhill And Turn The Car Off The Light Goes Off And The Car Shifts Perfect.pls Help. I Think It Could Be The Trani Oil?
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Old 06-21-2007, 09:14 AM   #9
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Last week I started a thread on similiar issue, my Transmission light came on also. But there was heavy jerking between RPMs and there was a grinding sound.

Error codes read PO732, PO733 and PO735.

Got it checked out and turns out that my transmission was damaged and needed to be rebuilt. When the mechanic took it apart there was all varnished gunky brown fluid everywhere.

Bottom line, needed new cooler, valve body, wire harnesses, solenoids.

Price tag - $3700

Not fun, but I will be getting the car back today so I hope I am done with this problem.
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Old 06-21-2007, 10:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by thaifyta2gz View Post
Last week I started a thread on similiar issue, my Transmission light came on also. But there was heavy jerking between RPMs and there was a grinding sound.

Error codes read PO732, PO733 and PO735.

Got it checked out and turns out that my transmission was damaged and needed to be rebuilt. When the mechanic took it apart there was all varnished gunky brown fluid everywhere.

Bottom line, needed new cooler, valve body, wire harnesses, solenoids.

Price tag - $3700

Not fun, but I will be getting the car back today so I hope I am done with this problem.
Another case supporting regular ATF changes instead of relying on the "lifetime" fluid. Although some trannies do conk out with the fluid still in relatively good condition, this one was obviously preventable if BMW didn't insist on "lifetime".
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Old 06-21-2007, 10:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DADON4SHO View Post
My Bmw(2000323i) Is Messing Up My Transition Light Goes On When My Car Is In A Up Hill Position And When The Light Is On It Shifts Hard.but When I Put The Car In A Downhill And Turn The Car Off The Light Goes Off And The Car Shifts Perfect.pls Help. I Think It Could Be The Trani Oil?
Yup, seems your ATF is severely underfilled.

I dropped the pan on the auto tranny a few weeks back. The way it's designed, if you had the correct level, the filter should be completely submerged in ATF whether the car's inclined or not. The ATF filter output is in front of the tranny. Seems like you don't have enough fluid so the ATF pump (integrated in the transmission) can't suck in enough fluid when the car's uphill since all the fluid just stays at the back.
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Old 06-21-2007, 05:02 PM   #12
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... Got it checked out and turns out that my transmission was damaged and needed to be rebuilt. When the mechanic took it apart there was all varnished gunky brown fluid everywhere ...
thaifyta2gz, I see in a separate thread (Got my fault codes checked...) that you changed your ATF at 90K miles.

What fluid was used? I'm curious now that it turned to gunk anyway after just 40K of changing it. Was it done at the dealer?
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Old 06-21-2007, 06:19 PM   #13
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How many kilometers or miles on the car? What year is yours? Do you have the non-steptronic one like me? Mine is a 99

I had the exact same thing happen to me. The light came on, I turned the car off, checked the manual, did what it said, and it went out when I restarted it. It ran fine for a month, then it came back on again. I shut it off, then turned it back on again, and the light went out. It ran fine for a couple weeks, then it came on again. I took it to the dealer, and there was almost no fluid in it. That was at 160000km, and they recommended a new tranny be installed. I had them clean the dark fluid out as best they could, and refill it (they said it is a sealed unit, and there is no way to completely flush it). It was starting to make grinding noises and shift roughly, both of which dampened a bit when it was filled again. However, probably about 4 or 5 months later, it started again. The dealer checked, and again the fluid was extremely low. That was at around 175000km. It got progressively more and more noisy from there. I had the fluid changed again at 220000km last August when the light came on again. I'm at 245000km now, so I'll be getting it done soon even though I haven't had the light come on again since I changed the fluid last. I'm convinced it has something to do with the tranny overheating, since I only have the light come on when it is hot outside, and it's been awhile since it's been changed. I have never had it come on in the winter. On a really cold day it is smooth and quiet like it is new until it gets warmed up, then it gets noisy, but not as noisy as summer. BMW refuses to admit the light has anything to do with overheating of the transmission.

I have heard the automatic I have is very proned to problems (hence the reason they only put it in for one year!) I guess I've milked mine for almost all it's worth! 250000km is tranny overhaul territory anyway I guess, so the rough shifts and noise are somewhat normal for the kilometers.
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Old 06-26-2007, 05:50 PM   #14
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Ive posted this in couple similar threads, sorry, but NOBODY outside this forum has any idea what i am talking about or can relate to me whatsoever, and it has been the exact same problem since I got the car. I'm not sure if mine gets worse in warm weather like the last poster, but i actually, now that he says that, it did seem to happen much more frequently in the last few weeks and the same time last year. Here is my post:

I have a similar problem - automatic e46 1999 328i, 150k miles - had an engine replacement, brand new one at around 121k. Engines been great, but transmission always goes into (!) and gets stuck in (i think) third gear ALWAYS when i take a highway curve between 68-78 ish MPH, or sometimes randomly on long drives usually when i hit a series of stoplights. I then pull off, turn off the car for 10 seconds, and 'whala', its temporarily fixed again.

I always thought it had something to do with a bad installation, and the dealership said its because the previous owner never swapped out the tranny fluid, and its too late to ever do it now.

Its really the single greatest issue screwing up my car.

The tranny also shudders almost ever time i floor it when shifting, causing the whole car to shake and almost gives you whiplash! it sucks.

Ive been thinking about getting it rebuilt. Thoughts?

The only thing holding me back is that it hasn't gotten any better or worse since I got the car, and its a big bill to fix, so i was considering just waiting and "living with" having to pull over every couple hours of driving till it breaks down.
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Old 06-26-2007, 08:23 PM   #15
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I would rather get a reconditioned used transmission from a wrecker. Really the car isn't worth enough to do major tranny work. I looked at a used one, and it would be like $2500 Cdn installed by BMW. I'm in the same boat as you though, my car is great otherwise, just the tranny is screwing it up! The car is worth like $9500 Cdn now, because it has 245000km. I don't know who would buy a car with so many kilometers, and dealers will just low ball me just as a courtesy to take my old car away. My car shows very nicely, so maybe I will get some more for it on a trade. BTW, do you have the f'd up BMW logo on your hood? Mine has been f'd for a while now, just silver with the blue left on it. The rest of the logo flaked off. Kind of disappointing!
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Old 06-26-2007, 08:26 PM   #16
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Ive posted this in couple similar threads, sorry, but NOBODY outside this forum has any idea what i am talking about or can relate to me whatsoever, and it has been the exact same problem since I got the car. I'm not sure if mine gets worse in warm weather like the last poster, but i actually, now that he says that, it did seem to happen much more frequently in the last few weeks and the same time last year. Here is my post:

I have a similar problem - automatic e46 1999 328i, 150k miles - had an engine replacement, brand new one at around 121k. Engines been great, but transmission always goes into (!) and gets stuck in (i think) third gear ALWAYS when i take a highway curve between 68-78 ish MPH, or sometimes randomly on long drives usually when i hit a series of stoplights. I then pull off, turn off the car for 10 seconds, and 'whala', its temporarily fixed again.

I always thought it had something to do with a bad installation, and the dealership said its because the previous owner never swapped out the tranny fluid, and its too late to ever do it now.

Its really the single greatest issue screwing up my car.

The tranny also shudders almost ever time i floor it when shifting, causing the whole car to shake and almost gives you whiplash! it sucks.

Ive been thinking about getting it rebuilt. Thoughts?

The only thing holding me back is that it hasn't gotten any better or worse since I got the car, and its a big bill to fix, so i was considering just waiting and "living with" having to pull over every couple hours of driving till it breaks down.
Hey just converted the miles to kilometers, and your car has 241000km, and mine is at 242500km now. haha, our cars are like twins, and they share the same stupid tranny problem! You had to put in a new engine?? I got 220000km out of one set of spark plugs! And, I'm still on my original timing chain.
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Old 06-27-2007, 11:01 PM   #17
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Well now my transmission light has come on again. It only does it when I am at a complete stop and in gear. It seems like the car is about to die then it just shifts to 4th and the light comes on. My rpms when stopped and in gear are very low(barley over 500). Is this normal or is that too low?
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Old 06-28-2007, 03:42 PM   #18
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Yeah, similar problem - just seem like everyones does it at different times!!

Haha 99 - yep, we have the same thing going on! It seem to be a very rare issue, and i really dont know how to fix it. Im basically waiting for it to die and just replace it with a used one for like $2500 at this point, unless somebody on this forum can come up with a solution. Its very embarrasing/annoying when it happens with a car full of friends, although BMW did say its ok to start from a stop in the high gear if you half to, as long as you dont drive for too many miles with 3000+ rpms.

I got the car with a new engine, which has just under 30k miles on it now - and much of the rest of the car has replaced parts. Basically, its just the tranny issue! What should we do?
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Old 06-29-2007, 06:25 AM   #19
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I have a 99 328i Automatic. Ive had the (!) come on recently 3 or 4 times. It goes away for a week or so then comes back. my car has 125000 miles and the dealer said my syncros are starting to go $3800 to fix I dont know what to do as this is my daily driver.

I drive a 75 mile round trip everyday from home to work n back.
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Old 07-03-2007, 11:54 AM   #20
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*EXACT* Same problem/car/mile range as me (Lucino). Any cheaper way to fix it? What is a synchros, and what would they do to fix that?

Any experts here have a take on what we should do?
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