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Old 05-27-2019, 07:21 PM   #1
Jeremetrius
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'04 330Ci SMG (SSG) to 6MT Swap Questions

Hello all,

I'm researching and doing my homework with the intention of attempting to do the 6MT swap myself (from what I've read/seen, and the projects I've completed myself on this and my other car, I believe I should be able to handle this).

As such, I'm far from done and my plan is to have all necessary parts/tools in-hand before beginning anything, so part of that information gathering is resulting in this quick email. My apologies in advance, I'm not a young man (not old, either) and I know forum etiquette and using search instead of just posting questions so please bear with me - I've read through about 2 days' worth of posts related to auto-manual swaps (both 5spd and 6spd) as well as M3 SMG-6MT (which is what I thought I was going to be able to do until I learned a few days ago that them's not the sames, stupidly) but have not explicitly searched for these answers.

So, onto the (brief) background: like I said, I was gung-ho about taking on the M3-style SMG-6MT conversion until being dragged back to Earth with the discovery that non-M's have the lovely SSG transmission. Yes, my car is one of those awful cars, it was ultimately an impulse buy as I knew I wanted an E46 that needed some TLC (i.e. refreshing/maintenance type stuff) that I could tinker with and would be more fun to drive than a 7th gen civic with a 4AT (albeit probably way, way less reliable) but, in hindsight, I would NOT have bought it had I spent a bit more time researching, etc. I guess this paragraph is to ultimately dissuade the people who are going to convince me to simply sell the car and but a E46 MT for the same reasons I've seen posted on other swap threads: I've already invested enough time/money/blood/sweat in this car that the money I'll get back from selling it then having to put a similar amount of time/money, etc. into the replacement car is probably not worth it (plus I'm a sucker for projects, for better or, usually, worse). Hence why I'm planning on biting the bullet and putting in a damn 6MT to this money pit myself.

So, moving along, I have a couple of questions that have cropped up in my research thus far that I'm hoping people will have answers to or at least insight/thoughts on their answers and how to move forward.

I'm choosing to use a 6spd instead of a 5spd as that's what the car has now, and if I'm going to these lengths I want that 6th gear. Plus, presumably, since the 6MT I'll be swapping in for the SSG transmission it currently has should be the exact same dimensions (AFAIK and can tell from RealOEM/research, the SSG is literally the ZF 6MT with a largely-similar-to-the-M3 hydraulic system slapped onto it) such that I can reuse the driveshaft to save some money. Since I can't seem to find any DIYs about this swap (and definitely not conversion), I'm wondering about the two questions here for now:

1. The ZF S6-37 transmissions, can I throw in any old GS6-37BZ - XXXX transmission in here, or do I need the exact model number RealOEM is telling me my car would have (which would be a THEG, PN 23007532498)?

Obviously this will inform my purchasing and, also, budget as I'm getting a range of prices (whereas the THEG specifically I'm finding fewer used options online and they're at the upper end of the price spectrum, seemingly regardless of age/mileage). I'm seeing conflicting reports on this, so I'm unsure how to proceed as-is (hopefully this isn't an embarrassingly-quick forum/Google search...).

2. From what I can tell, my swap will actually be more like the M3 SMG-6MT swap/conversion as the car itself is functionally already a manual (just like the SMG) without a clutch pedal, etc. - can anyone confirm this or know areas specifically where they will (likely?) differ?

3. Finally (for now), and this is the part that makes me the most nervous, does anyone have any insight/thoughts on how the electrical and/or coding will be similar and/or different to both the M3 SMG swap/conversion, and the non-M auto-to-manual swap?

Again, I'm assuming things will be closer to the M3-conversion, but I don't know how similar the wiring is between M and non-M cars and have not done the appropriate amount of research yet to tell me more conclusively.

Anyway, thanks for bearing with me, and I appreciated anyone and everyone's thoughts, help, advice, input, and mostly time.

Best,
J
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:56 PM   #2
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I think you just want to do an SSG-to-MT conversion on your existing transmission. Shouldn't be any need to swap in a different 6-speed.

Edit: looks like SSG-to-MT conversion is not doable without massive reworking of the SSG transmisson.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:19 PM   #3
Jeremetrius
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BD, thanks for the response. That was one of my hopes, but from my (admittedly less than extensive) searches I'm not finding anyone who has converted the SSG to true manual (i.e. analogous to the M3 SMG conversion).

If I'm wrong, that would be wonderful as, obviously, not having to source a transmission will save a large chunk of change - has this been done and I simply haven't found it on the forums?

Looking at RealOEM diagrams and pictures there do seem to be a handful of differences between the two transmissions (SSG and 6MT ZF trans) that are not present between the SMG-6MT Getrag M3 transmission (like some extra openings/ports that would need to be plugged up) instead of literally just having a non-machined-hole in the BH and an unthreaded hole as well like the M3 conversion requires (that I don't know if either/both of these two situations also occur between SSG/ZF trans).

If no one has done this (or at least no one has documented it online) then I'd be unwilling to be the guinea pig to figure this out as I neither have the time nor the expertise to be spearheading that type of a project (after all, I'm a certified YouTube mechanic - nothing even close to a professional/expert hobbyist).

Thanks again for the response, and let me know whenever you get the chance.

J
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:51 PM   #4
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Don't use SMG in your searches or you'll get M3 info. You need to search using SSG.

https://e46fanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1216617
https://e46fanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1251885
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:33 PM   #5
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BD,

Thanks again for the response. I looked through both of those posts (as well as others) and it does not appear to be related to literally converting the SSG transmission itself to manual, but, rather, dealing with the electrical/coding once a 6 speed transmission has been swapped in (which is still great info and I've bookmarked both of those pages).

Upon closer inspection of pictures of both the SSG transmission and its true 6 speed counterpart, there seems to be a physical difference in the transmissions where the shift rod connects to the transmission on the 6spd compared to the "shift actuator" on the SSG that does not seem reconcilable. It does not appear to be a situation like on the M3 SMG where they simply attached a hydraulically-controlled shifter to this connection point that can be removed and replaced directly with a shift rod, but instead looks like the housings of the transmissions themselves are actually molded differently and the shifting needs to be done by the hydraulic shift actuator for the SSG.

As such, unless someone can confirm with absolute certainty and, preferably, documentation otherwise that this transmission can be easily/readily converted to a stick shift, I'm going to proceed with planning for a swap with a true 6spd transmission I'll have to source.

Thanks again for your time, and I hope to hear from you and anyone else who might have thoughts, input, and experience with auto-to-manual swaps (especially 6 spd) and especially anyone who might have done so with an SSG transmission.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:35 AM   #6
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Unfortunately you cant convert SSG ZF to true 6 speed manual as easy as you can SMG m3 to true manual.

Transmission it self has different casing and no way to connect the shifter lever to unless changing back half of transmission.

Here are few pictures of both. I might still try to do it and see what happens.

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Old 07-15-2019, 02:49 AM   #7
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Around here the 6 speed ZF goes for about $500-$600 at the wreckers, the problem is most places seem to throw out the stuff bolted to it (you can buy it new but that'll add a few hundred to your cost). From the looks of it you can reuse the clutch, driveshaft, and crossmember at least. The pedal box and hydraulics can come from any E46 manual, but the shifter assembly is specific to the 6 speed box. Check your favorite version of the ETK to be sure of course.
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Old 09-02-2019, 04:54 PM   #8
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gtride - Thanks for the response. Yup, not long before your response I had scoured images of the two transmissions and made the same realization myself.

blarf - Also thanks for the response. Yeah, I've started my (hopefully thorough enough) planning, and have my parts list mostly complete (based on Nervous' auto-6spd swap Google spreadsheet). My intention is to go ahead and replace clutch and flywheel (140k miles on my car) at the same time. I'm basically following Nervous' auto swap as much as possible in terms of going ahead and replacing all seals, etc. and wear parts while I'm going through this effort.

I actually purchased a 6spd trans online (I live in Miami - junkyards here are mostly worthless and sketchy so I wouldn't trust them) that I'm going to have shipped next week, so I've theoretically committed to this project (for better or worse - probably worse). Still need to purchase all other parts, but I'll do that hopefully before the end of the year (I want this done ASAP but my work/life schedule and wallet will not currently abide that - I only pulled the trigger on the transmission purchase as it seemed in good condition and was a great price so I didn't want to lose it).

I'm not overly concerned about the wrenching aspects (I'm going to borrow my boss' QuickJacks that I'm hoping will be able to get the car up high enough that wrestling the transmission in/out won't be overly problematic), but the two aspects that still have me concerned are the electrical and programming.

Electrical because I'm imagining the car's electrical is closer to manual than automatic, however I'm sure(?) there are subtle differences between 6spd and SMG wiring that will throw me off. Also, pictures and explanation-wise all I have at my disposal are auto swaps, so this concerns me.

Following up on that is the subsequent reprogramming. I've had some guidance so far as to how the SMG reflash/reprogramming will differ from auto swap, however I will definitely need guidance on this as well.

So, if anyone has any pointers/tips/knowledge/etc. they can provide WRT electrical hacking and/or programming specifically for SMG (or at least how you imagine it will differ from auto swap), I'm all ears. Like I said, the only reason I've been able to do any of the things I've been able to do on my cars (especially the more intensive wrenching) is because of the internet, so I'm entirely relying on the kindness of strangers for this and all future projects.

Anyway, you guys rock, and I hopefully will be able to document this enough to write up some kind of (probably useless) instructional thread specific for SMG-to-6spd swap for any other unfortunate souls out there dumb enough to try this like I apparently am.

Thanks.
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Old 09-03-2019, 01:25 AM   #9
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I recently finished up the five-to-six speed swap on my 325. The only electrical thing I had to contend with was that the two transmissions have the reverse switch on opposite sides of the transmission. From an SSG I don't know.

If you're using the auto-to-manual list I think that's overkill. There's really not a lot on the exterior you'll be able to easily replace (selector shaft seal is about it). Coming from an SSG you will need a new slave cylinder and the bendy hydraulic pipe, both of those are used on most (if not all) E46 manuals so they should be cheap new or easy to find used. You should be able to reuse the crossmember and exhaust brackets if your new transmission doesn't come with one. See if you can get the shifter from the donor car if it's an E46, you can get all the parts new but reusing the metal bits will save you some coin.

The only part that caught me off guard was that the clutch kit doesn't come with flywheel bolts (yeah, most don't but the one for the V8 uses captive bolts). The bolts changed between pre-3/2003 and post clutch kits. Assuming your transmission came from an E46 whether you want to replace your clutch is up to you. If your transmission came from a different model, get the clutch kit for that car.

In terms of installation ensure that the throwout bearing is oriented correctly (I misread the instructions in TIS). Plan on pulling the intake manifold too. You can do it without, but you'll have a lot more room to manipulate the starter with the intake manifold out of the way. Take lots of pictures (when you unbox something, when you tear it down, when you install it).
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