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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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Old 09-30-2005, 12:12 AM
bimboy bimboy is offline
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Location: San Diego, california
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3
Mein Auto: 1995 BMW 325i
Auto Transmission - Urgent HELP reqd. !!

I bought a 1995 325i (auto, almost 100K miles) a few months back and got it inspected by a BMW mechanic before buying. He suggested a few fixes (replace transmission flex disc, valve cover gasket, accessories belt) and a tune up after buying which came to around $500. He visually inspected the car and test drove it and said there are no major problems. I did all the fixes he suggested..

A few months down the line I sensed that the gear was getting stuck at Reverse or Drive occassionally. Also the gear transition when in Drive wasn't smooth. So I took it to a shop that specializes in transmissions and had them look at it. I got a shock of my life when the mechanic said that the transmission has to be re-built (around $6500) or replaced with a new BMW remanufactured tranny ($4200 parts + labor - 2yrs unlimited miles parts + labor warranty) and said that replacing with a new one would be cheaper than rebuilding. I got a shock of my life.. Initially I couldn't completely believe him..I went to the shop and he showed me many metal pieces that have worn out and come out of the the pulleys, clutch etc (not very familiar with this stuff anyway..). He said that this wear and tear has reached other parts of the transmission and they have been affected badly..I saw quite a few metal pieces and a worn-out pulley and others..still I find it hard to believe the complete tranny has to be replaced insted of just replacing the wornout parts....

I spoke about this to my wife and she got really furious. She was kind of against the idea of me buying a Bimmer (esp. this old) in the first place. I had to do quite a bit of convincing before buying it. Now I am in a dilemma, very confused and kind of upset. Answers to these q's would help me get out of this big mess I am in right now...

1. Should I try and sell the car as is w/o fixing the tranny. Not sure if this a possible.

2. Fix the tranny and then sell it to make sure I dont land up in such a big mess again. (doesn't make too much financial sense to me..)

3. Fix it and keep it. I dont mind keeping it and I certainly do enjoy driving it. Pretty fun to drive motor... But will always be worried what other big $$$ problem will arise...

4. What are the issues or big maintenance things that I need to be aware at 100K miles which would help me in making my decision. By that I mean which are the things that I need to inspect/check...anything big that can go wrong and burn my wallet again..i cannot take it anymore.

5. The most important of all - Is $4200 a lot to swap the old tranny with a new one. When I called the a BMW dealership they told me that a re-manufactured E36 tranny would cost $2750 (with taxes) if I give them the old tranny. Then the mechanic would be charging me almost $1400 for diagnosizing this problem and swapping the tranny. Isin't this too high? What can I expect to pay. I would be paying almost 75% of what I paid for the car to replace this tranny..

6. [May be a dumb question] Isin't it possible to replace/re-build the worn out parts rather than replacing the whole tranny..A problem this extensive is it common at 100K miles with a auto-tranny. Can this happen because of tranny abuse, bad maintenance or as such poor quality of the tranny. I just learnt today that the tranny's for these cars were made by GM.

Thks in advance for helping me out..
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Old 09-30-2005, 03:06 PM
s0crates82 s0crates82 is offline
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Location: CA
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 10
Mein Auto: 1994 325i Sedan - E36
Dude, go to another shop.

You can get another tranny by yourself, and have a mechanic install it for less than 2k total.

I think the shop you went to is trying to bend you over.

Ask around and see if you can find a mom + pop bimmer shop nearby and get a second opinion.
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Old 09-30-2005, 06:36 PM
Bmwcat Bmwcat is offline
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Location: Somewhere not here.
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,711
Mein Auto: A car.
Even a shop like AAMCO can fix it. Get a few quotes. Good luck..
"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." -Samuel Johnson
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Old 09-30-2005, 07:19 PM
BeRzErKaS's Avatar
BeRzErKaS BeRzErKaS is offline
U know how the game goes
Location: LI, NY
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 705
Mein Auto: BM-double Who's?
The prices they quoted you are absolutely absurd.

There are COMPLETE auto-manual swap kits (tranny, flywheel, driveshaft, guibo, shift linkages, knobs, boot, pedals, ..THE WORKS) available for $1200.

A complete rebuild/replacement of your auto, including used parts & labor, shouldn't cost more than $1500 at any reputable shop.

Take your car somewhere else A.S.A.P.
BMW 3 Series - "Consistency of Purpose...Excellence of Execution."

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Old 10-02-2005, 12:12 AM
Silver328i Silver328i is offline
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Location: Eastern US - like PA?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 182
Mein Auto: 1998 328i W/M3 sport susp
You could probably get a good used tranny from a wrecking yard that specializes in BMW parts. There is one on Ebay that has good used engines and trannies. You could call them with what you need since they have way more than what is listed on Ebay.

Here's another with some auto trannies - even an m3 automatic tranny - might be worth a phonecall too:

Ebay has remanufactured transmissions too.

Personally I'd go with a junkyard tranny. They usually are pretty good and junkyards usually offer a guarantee. I bought a junkyard automatic tranny in 1995 and put it in my 1989 Chevy Caprice and have run it hard for 10 yrs and 100,000 miles with no problem (car itself has 242,000 miles). You'd just need some independant garage to install it for you if you are not a DIY person.

And a little piece of advice to all those out there - next time get a stick shift - less to blow up and go wrong - and easier and cheaper to fix. That is why I purposefully set out to get a stick shift and hunted for one a long time, passing up several automatic BMW's since I know how automatics are in the long run - no matter what brand of car or truck.

Last edited by Silver328i; 10-02-2005 at 12:36 AM.
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