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lhintos 12-16-2011 04:44 AM

1999 528i 5 Speed Manual Hard Shifting
Hey Guys,

I need a little help from the experts. I have done a lot of research, but not sure what exactly the solution should be to my issue.

I have a 1999 BMW 528i with 140k (Vortech V2 supercharged) with a 5 speed manual transmision (I believe the sticker on it is MTL-LT2). Last year I had my clutch and flywheel replaced. Not long after that, I also changed the oil with a Royal Purple (as the shifting was hard when the engine was cold). The shifting got worse so I chaged the oild with Redline and I had same rsults. The shifting in all gears just kept on getting harder (it is not smooth, like I can almost feel the gears when I am shifting especially in high rpms with first and second gear).
It feels about the same when the engine is turned off so I do not think it is the clutch. Also, there is a small play in the stick when in first, second, third gear, and the play gets smaller the higher the gear (about 1/2 inch left and right in first gear).

Any help on where to begin/ continue with trying to solve this problem would be greatly appreciated.


BentValve 12-16-2011 06:21 AM

Did you change the slave cylinder when you did the flywheel/clutch? What about throw out bearing and guide tube?

edjack 12-16-2011 10:23 AM

I seem to remember a kit that replaces the detent balls in the internal shift shaft. IIRC, the trans must be removed to install the kit. The purpose is to replace the detents that have become worn, and tend to jamb.

Looked in the TIS, but could not find such a kit.

cn90 12-16-2011 10:31 AM


Originally Posted by lhintos (Post 6504730)
...The shifting in all gears just kept on getting harder (it is not smooth, like I can almost feel the gears when I am shifting especially in high rpms with first and second gear)...

1. You may have bad synchros (did the previous owner abuse the car).

2. Or air in the slave cylinder, is fluid level good?
Is the slave bled properly?
When there is air in the system, the slave cannot extend the rod very far ---> difficulty with shifting.

Try to bleed the slave.
a. Make sure brake fluid is up to the neck of the reservoir (the partition for the clutch system is in the back of the reservoir!).
b. Open the slave bleeder screw, fluid will flow out slowly.
Despite what people tell you to remove the slave to bleed etc. you don't need to do that, gravity bleeding will work just fine. Been there done that.

All info is here:

lhintos 12-16-2011 11:06 AM

I can't thank you enough giuys, I have heard of all the things you al have mentioned. At this point I am going to rule out transmission oil. I am also ruling out bad clutch since it was eplaced about 10k ago. Is that a safe assumption at this point? I think the first think that I am going to do is to check the fluid and bleed the slave as I do not think has been done ever. Could the air get into the system during the clutch replacement because it all kind of began after the clutch was replaced. If bleeding the slave does not help, I think I am going to look at replacing the throw out bearing and guid tube. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. I wish it was easier to diagnose the actual problem. Thanks again guys.

Mtnman42 12-16-2011 06:38 PM

I think it is the slave. I had a similar issue. With or without the engine running I could barely get mine in gear. With steady pressure it would eventually slip in with force. Then with the clutch in and in first at a light if I rev it up it would drift forward. I changed the slave ($52 at Advance) and bled it. Problem solved.

Vin M 12-17-2011 05:25 PM

Before you consider replacing labor intensive items, you should contact the mechanic who replaced your clutch and flywheel, I can't imagine any decent mechanic doing a clutch job without replacing the throwout bearing (amongst other parts) while the tranny is down.

Usually, when a throwout bearing is going bad, it will make a whining noise when the clutch is depressed.

If this problem started right after the clutch job, you should take it back to the shop that did the work and see what they can do for the very least, you'll probably get a diagnosis out of it.

cn90 12-18-2011 10:45 AM

I still think the slave cyl needs bleeding.
This is because when they replace clutch, mechanics often disconnect the slave to remove the Trans.
They may have forgotten to bleed the slave cyl.

lhintos 01-02-2012 06:34 PM

Ok guys, here is an update. Here is what I have done so far: while car on the lift, I pressed clutch about 10 times and then kept it pressed as my mechanic unscrewed the slave vent and let air/ break fluid leak out a bit. We repeated this procedure 3 times. After that we added more break fluid to the reservoir and went for a test drive. At first it seemed about 90% better ( shifting and also clutch response). After about a day or two, the shifting became a bit hard again. Before I spend any money, can anyone comment on this? My next thing at this point would be to replace the slave. Do you think I should also replace the delay valve? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Mtnman42 01-02-2012 06:44 PM

I did not replace my CDV I just removed it. Try that first, bleed it again and see if that works. I always try to not spend money unless I'm sure parts need to be replaced.

lhintos 02-04-2012 04:43 AM

Another update. Just yesterday I replaced my slave cylinder (OEM) and installed a new CDV valve (zeckhousen racing one). After that I took air out of the system by pressing the clutch few times and then opening the screw on the back of the slave (while the clutch stayed pressed). I repeated the process about 7 to 8 times and then I went for a test drive. The clutch engagement was much better (I suppose that was due to the new CDV valve), but the hard shifting only went away by about 20%. I am really not sure what to do now. What else do I need to replace? Could there be more air in the system? Master slave? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Mtnman42 02-04-2012 07:32 AM

Without driving it myself and comparing it to mine I am at a bit of a loss on offering help. I will say mine is very "notchy" and is pretty slow on shifts. It's only worse when it's cold. I have instructed my 17 yo son to never rush the shift. So after some reflection mine sounds similar to yours. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make it better I'm all ears. However I feel like it works fine. I can get it in gear. It shifts smooth, but I at times have to resist the urge to jam it through the notches.

cn90 02-04-2012 08:19 AM


Originally Posted by lhintos (Post 6609284)
...Master slave? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

As a general rule, when you replace the Slave, most mechanics change their Master too.
This is b/c once the Slave is bad (bad seals), the Master follows soon.
Not to mention that the Slave is now nice and tight, it creates additional stress on the Master that is used to "leaky" situation (i.e. internal leaks around the seal).

So since you already replaced the Slave, I'd consider replacing the Master.

pleiades 02-04-2012 08:55 AM


Originally Posted by lhintos (Post 6609284)
.... I repeated the process about 7 to 8 times ....

Did you make sure to keep the brake/clutch fluid reservoir full? The rear section of the reservoir is reserved for the clutch and it's fairly easy to empty that partition just doing the bleed cycle a couple times. It's also easy to fill the reservoir to the FULL mark and still not have any fluid in the rear partition. That's why you need to keep the reservoir topped up to the cap when doing a bleed.

The mechanic that did your clutch job.... Is he a BMW specialist?

edjack 02-04-2012 09:42 AM

I have found this bleeding procedure helpful.

Make sure the master cylinder reservoir is full.

Dismount the slave cylinder, but leave the hose connected. Push the actuator rod all the way in. Let it out slowly. Repeat 3 times. Remount slave cylinder.

Good idea to orient the cylinder so that the hose connection is at the highest-most position, so the air can be flushed out.

BMW has a Special Tool to compress and release the rod.

lhintos 02-05-2012 07:47 AM

Just some answers to the above threads, Yes the brake/ clutch reservoir was kept full (all the way to the cap). The guy that works on my BMW is my personal friend. he specializes in BMWs. Let's put it this way; I trust him to work on my car + I am always there when anything is being done. I guess I will try replacing the master slave and see what that does. Any suggestions on what is the best way to do this? Could the clutch replacement job gone wrong? I really do not think so, but you never know.

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