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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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Old 11-16-2012, 11:54 AM
VA525FREAK's Avatar
VA525FREAK VA525FREAK is offline
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Location: Richmond
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 224
Mein Auto: 2001 525i
Transmission Problem

Wanted to get some opinions here:

I just had a long talk with someone that schooled me on transmissions. They are fluid driven and require ample ATF to work the clutch plates. When you do not have sufficient fluid, the plates cannot work properly and you experience "slipping" due to lack of pressure. Makes sense to me now that I understand the workings. If you ever experience the slipping, change your filter because the fibers from the clutch plates are wearing and blocking your filter, which causes the fluid not to circulate.

Ok now let me back it up about a month I guess. I was experiencing slipping, although it was only intermittent and minor. It was worse in cold weather due to the thickness of the atf being cold I think. I thought it was a coil pack on one of my cylinders because I had this problem before and it felt similar. Turns out I was wrong. The other day I heard a whinning sound and pulled the car over immediatly. Looked under car and there was oil everywhere. Upon further review at the mechanics shop, it was not oil but ATF fluid. The front seal of my transmission blew out. The cause, I am not sure, perhaps the pump was getting hot and breaking down the seal.

My question or advice I am seeking is, when mechanic pulls tranny, he stated you may be able to just replace the seal and put it back in ($1200) or you might need to find another transmission and quoted $2500 and $3800 for a 166k and 86k mile tranny available. Geez, if only I knew now what I knew then I could have changed the filter. My dilema is if he comes back and says put the seal in, do I listen and take that risk? Are there questions I can ask him to maybe figure out if this is the best approach? How fast does the fiber portion of clutch plates break down?

The car has 207k miles on it and I am not really in a position to go buy a car and I am having trouble justifing a 5k spend on a transmission. The easy choice is the $1200 because I have that available but it hurts!!! Gonna make for a lame xmas for my sons

Any advice, guidance, help, etc. would be greatly appreciated

Last edited by VA525FREAK; 11-16-2012 at 11:57 AM.
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