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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-13-2013, 01:21 PM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Unhappy Transmission crapped out today (sort of) need advice!

I think my worst nightmare may be happening...

First a short background: 2000 328i with a GM trans, build date 9/99, 113,000 miles.

Went to the store today and when I came back out to leave my car would not engage in reverse. The other gears worked fine so I pushed it out of the spot and drove it the 2 miles home. When I got back to my place I put it in reverse just to see what would happen and it backed right into a parking spot. I have done countless research on transmission problems of these cars and have even had a filter/gasket set in my trunk for the last few months now, Ive just been indecisive on which fluid to buy for a drain and fill. Im hoping to get the car into my indy tomorrow and at least see if he can get a transmission code pulled (im suspecting a failed reverse drum).

Is there any other reason my car could have randomly not engaged in reverse? Or should I expect the worst? I figured since it will still drive that the rest of the transmission is fine, so any idea on an estimate to get the reverse drum fixed? Maybe a fluid change would help? Any advice is appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2013, 01:31 PM
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cwsqbm cwsqbm is offline
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The infamous no-reverse. Use the search feature in this forum, even just start with the sticky thread about automatic transmission failures.
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:33 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Might be low on fluid since it later reversed when it wouldn't earlier. Could also be a vacuum leak somewhere. When your tranny fails it won't suddenly get better; however, reverse is usually the first gear to go when one does crap out.

You might get lucky this time. Stop being afraid of the fluid though and get it changed.
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  #4  
Old 01-13-2013, 01:37 PM
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I forgot to mention that there was fluid dripping right by the trans when i parked it, but its colorless and odorless like water. I dont know what it could be though, i didnt think water fro the ac would drip back that far.
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:27 PM
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charlesberry charlesberry is offline
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http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=706809

Here some info that might help.
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2013, 04:04 PM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Originally Posted by charlesberry View Post
Thanks a bunch, this appears to be great news (maybe).

I went back out to my car and pulled it up on a curb to get the transmission part #off the sticker (I dont have access to a jack right now). The car was able to shift into reverse again after being parked for a couple of hours. A fellow fester who lives close by has generously offered to help me out with a fluid change (drop and fill) tomorrow afternoon, so I really hope it takes care of the problem since it seems to be that the mesh screen associated with the TCC & PWM solenoid might be dirty. If it works then I will save a bunch of money and if not, well it doesnt hurt to try at this point. Wish me luck and I will have an update tomorrow after the DIY.
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  #7  
Old 01-14-2013, 06:25 AM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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hoping for some last minute advice.

I called BMW this morning about an approved alternative for my transmission fluid.

Its the Texaco ETL 7045E (BMW part #83220226922)

They told me that they werent aware of a substitute and that it would be $230 for a 20L container and a 2 week wait. Ive been searching through pages of forums and am leaning toward Castrol Import Multi Vehicle ATF, which is Dextron III. However, it seems that everyone discussing this has the A5S390R trans, where as mine is the A5S360R.

Is there a difference? Does anyone have any advice on this? I was hoping to go buy the fluid on my lunch break today because I really want to get this done this afternoon.
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  #8  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:39 PM
new_kid new_kid is offline
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I just got onboard and saw your question.

However you can check this out.


Good luck mate.
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  #9  
Old 01-14-2013, 03:45 PM
Starless Starless is offline
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Last minute advice: your problem has nothing to do with transmission fluid or its level. You need a new valve body. Changing the fluid would be a waste of time and money. Good luck. All the info is out there, just search for it.
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  #10  
Old 01-15-2013, 06:25 AM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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okay so heres an update for anyone interested:

I got my transmission fluid changed last night (HUGE thanks to BigMotherWheels for the help) and my car feels so much better than before. Im actually kind of annoyed with myself for not changing the fluid earlier. I dont know if this will fix my reverse problem, but Ive had it in reverse about 15 times since the mishap and it is working fine again in both cold and warm starts.

I decided to go with Valvoline Import Multi Vehichle ATF because it specified the BMW specific Texaco ETL 7045E compatibility on the bottle. The consistency was spot on with the original fluid, and so far seems to be working well. My old fluid was definitely worn out, almost totally dull brown in color and my pan magnet was completely coated in a very fine flour like sludge. I used to experience pretty jerky shifting from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 1st when coming to a stop, but not anymore. I work in an oil lab so I took a sample of the "lifetime" fluid and will be posting those results soon for anyone interested in how this stuff actually wears over time.
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  #11  
Old 01-15-2013, 06:49 AM
new_kid new_kid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OfTheLost View Post
okay so heres an update for anyone interested:

I got my transmission fluid changed last night (HUGE thanks to BigMotherWheels for the help) and my car feels so much better than before. Im actually kind of annoyed with myself for not changing the fluid earlier. I dont know if this will fix my reverse problem, but Ive had it in reverse about 15 times since the mishap and it is working fine again in both cold and warm starts.

I decided to go with Valvoline Import Multi Vehichle ATF because it specified the BMW specific Texaco ETL 7045E compatibility on the bottle. The consistency was spot on with the original fluid, and so far seems to be working well. My old fluid was definitely worn out, almost totally dull brown in color and my pan magnet was completely coated in a very fine flour like sludge. I used to experience pretty jerky shifting from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 1st when coming to a stop, but not anymore. I work in an oil lab so I took a sample of the "lifetime" fluid and will be posting those results soon for anyone interested in how this stuff actually wears over time.
Congrats, OftheLost on getting it done, and all seems to be well so far. (Fingers crossed)
I'm glad it wasn't an all-out-drag-down expensive fix.
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  #12  
Old 09-27-2013, 05:36 AM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starless View Post
Last minute advice: your problem has nothing to do with transmission fluid or its level. You need a new valve body. Changing the fluid would be a waste of time and money. Good luck. All the info is out there, just search for it.
UPDATE:

It has been 9 months and ~6000 miles since my no reverse debacle. It ran great for about 3 months (May), and the same result happened again. I got a guy to drop the pan again,clean all the solenoids,and refill with more clean ATF (he stated that all solenoids looked relatively clean). Drove fine again for another couple months (July)... same issue. Another couple months go by, then it happened again this morning after I got to work. It seems to come around like clockwork, and it happens at completely randoms times whether the car has just been started or has been driven for an hour. It also only happens once or twice for the day and then it is gone again.

The car drives flawlessly otherwise, so I cannot understand why this phantom no reverse ghost keeps coming around every few months. My exhaustive research is leaning toward a valve body replacement, but I am having a hard time with where to purchase one and how to know if it is the right one for my transmission. My other issue is finding a shop that will be willing to replace just the valve body and not try to immediately replace the entire transmission for thousands of $$$$.

I know there is a sticky about auto transmisison failures, and I know there has been many threads about it, and yes... i have read them all. But does anyone have any insight, specifically on valve bodies (or what could be a solution), that could be of help to my situation?
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  #13  
Old 09-27-2013, 07:09 AM
cvx5832 cvx5832 is offline
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Isn't the reverse issue on that transmission just a solenoid problem? Here's a DIY, interestingly also a 2000 328.
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  #14  
Old 09-27-2013, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvx5832 View Post
Isn't the reverse issue on that transmission just a solenoid problem? Here's a DIY, interestingly also a 2000 328.
Thanks... I'll have to open it up later when I'm home. Would a bad reverse solenoid only cause intermittent trouble like I have experienced though? Logic says that a failure like that would have a permanent result, but I guess that would apply to the valve body as well if it were the culprit. I hate weird problems like this which can't be fixed just by watching a tutorial or reading a DIY on the forum, I have wrenched just about everything on this car but this kind of crap really bugs the sh!t out of me
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Old 09-27-2013, 02:56 PM
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A thread in my signature tells you everything you need to know about your problem and how to fix it . But if you choose to ignore it, I cannot help you.
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  #16  
Old 09-27-2013, 03:14 PM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Originally Posted by Starless View Post
A thread in my signature tells you everything you need to know about your problem and how to fix it . But if you choose to ignore it, I cannot help you.
Starless-

I'm glad to see you're still around. I did read through it extensively this afternoon, and I am leaning toward a Sonnax remanufactured valve body. However, I am torn between doing this or just doing a manual swap for a couple of reasons. 1) Valve body replacement would be cheaper, but what if there is more to the problem? I also don't know where I could take it in my area to get the job done without someone just trying to sell me a new tranny. 2) Manual swap is more expensive, but would be more fun and reliable.

Thoughts?
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:22 PM
Starless Starless is offline
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Originally Posted by OfTheLost View Post
Starless-

I'm glad to see you're still around. I did read through it extensively this afternoon, and I am leaning toward a Sonnax remanufactured valve body. However, I am torn between doing this or just doing a manual swap for a couple of reasons. 1) Valve body replacement would be cheaper, but what if there is more to the problem? I also don't know where I could take it in my area to get the job done without someone just trying to sell me a new tranny. 2) Manual swap is more expensive, but would be more fun and reliable.

Thoughts?
A couple of things. Are you going to do any of these jobs yourself or take to the shop?

People say "Manual swap ftw!" all the time. But it's not an easy job. To do it yourself, even with all the info available on the forums, you still need many hours of research, good set of tools, skills to do it, time to source parts and at least $3000 just for parts. To have a shop do it? A lot of shops would have no clue how to do it, how to source all the parts, some parts have to be used to keep the cost down, etc. And if you find one you can double the money needed, so $5000-$6000. Worth it? I do not know.

The nice thing about the valve body swap is that you do not need to remove the transmission. Just drain the atf and remove pan and filter and remove the valve body. If you do it yourself it's going to be under $1000. Now I can not guarantee anything 100%, but most likely it's the valve body problem. For that money you can also get a used transmission but again, who knows how long it will last and it's more labor intensive.

If it was my car, I would personally do the valve body myself. May be even disassemble the valve body and see if I could find the blocked bore inside. In Neil's sticky on fanatics there is a post where a guy did that and found pieces of reverse solenoid blocking a passage, removed it, put it together and was back in business.

So, many options and a lot of factors to consider: your skills, money, time, resources, etc...

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do. If you decide to R&R the valve body, buy the GM transmission manual and see that post that I mentioned.

P.S The option that I would NOT recommend here is rebuilding the entire transmission. Very rarely I see that it's done right and very often you here that after they rebuilt the transmission and after $4000-5000 the unit develops problems, leaks, etc.

Last edited by Starless; 09-27-2013 at 08:11 PM.
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  #18  
Old 04-30-2015, 07:25 AM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starless View Post
Last minute advice: your problem has nothing to do with transmission fluid or its level. You need a new valve body. Changing the fluid would be a waste of time and money. Good luck. All the info is out there, just search for it.
I have an update on my situation.

After a year and a half of driving with an intermittent no reverse issue I came across a deal on a genltly used remanufactured sonnax valve body for $300. The guy I bought it from had installed it only to have his torque converter fail a few thousand miles later so he ended up doing a manual swap. A local indy I know dropped the pan and swapped it in for me for $150. I am going to pick up the car on my lunch break today and I hope it will finally solve my issue. I am getting pretty tired of having to find pull-through parking spots or shamefully having to push my car by hand in certain situations when it wants to act up
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Old 04-30-2015, 09:12 AM
forzam forzam is offline
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Hope it works out for you.

In the meantime, there is always this:
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  #20  
Old 05-01-2015, 12:29 PM
Starless Starless is offline
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Originally Posted by OfTheLost View Post
I have an update on my situation.



After a year and a half of driving with an intermittent no reverse issue I came across a deal on a genltly used remanufactured sonnax valve body for $300. The guy I bought it from had installed it only to have his torque converter fail a few thousand miles later so he ended up doing a manual swap. A local indy I know dropped the pan and swapped it in for me for $150. I am going to pick up the car on my lunch break today and I hope it will finally solve my issue. I am getting pretty tired of having to find pull-through parking spots or shamefully having to push my car by hand in certain situations when it wants to act up

Update us on the outcome of the swap. Make sure the shop clears the transmission adaptations after the swap.
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  #21  
Old 05-03-2015, 12:39 PM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Originally Posted by Starless View Post
Update us on the outcome of the swap. Make sure the shop clears the transmission adaptations after the swap.
Can you elaborate on the transmission adaptations?

My transmission gear light has been coming on and the car has going into limp mode ever since the swap. Today I also got the CEL code P0735- gear 5 ratio incorrect. Have I now traded one problem for another?
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Old 05-03-2015, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by OfTheLost View Post
Can you elaborate on the transmission adaptations?

My transmission gear light has been coming on and the car has going into limp mode ever since the swap. Today I also got the CEL code P0735- gear 5 ratio incorrect. Have I now traded one problem for another?
I do not believe you have traded one problem for another. You need to reset transmission adaptations. Basically your transmission control module has been learning and remembering your driving style parameters for all these years, such as shift points, etc. Now you installed a new piece of hardware but the software still 'remembers' the parameters of the old valve body. You need to reset the adaptations stored in the TCM.

I do not know what shops use for that but I use INPA. In INPA you can go to transmission module and reset adaptations to factory defaults.

It does sound like its a software issue you are experiencing, not a mechanical problem.
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Old 05-04-2015, 05:15 AM
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OfTheLost OfTheLost is offline
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Originally Posted by Starless View Post
I do not believe you have traded one problem for another. You need to reset transmission adaptations. Basically your transmission control module has been learning and remembering your driving style parameters for all these years, such as shift points, etc. Now you installed a new piece of hardware but the software still 'remembers' the parameters of the old valve body. You need to reset the adaptations stored in the TCM.

I do not know what shops use for that but I use INPA. In INPA you can go to transmission module and reset adaptations to factory defaults.

It does sound like its a software issue you are experiencing, not a mechanical problem.
Thank you once again Starless. I will contact my guy today and see if I can swing by there at some point to have the TCM adaptions reset. If for some reason he cannot do it I have an enthusiast friend who I am pretty sure has INPA software. I will keep you updated.
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Old 05-05-2015, 05:23 AM
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ahull ahull is offline
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Transmission crapped out today (sort of) need advice!

Sorry to hear bro. Hope you find a reasonable fix. I'm 3-pedal club so
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Old 05-05-2015, 07:26 AM
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I swapped out the solenoid some time ago, but there are still pieces in the valve body.

Just too cheap to go to the local transmission shop to have them clean it out.
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