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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 04-22-2015, 06:55 AM
MoShadeTree MoShadeTree is offline
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Location: Saint Louis, MO
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Mein Auto: 330ci
Replace 5 spped with 6 speed

Hello Guys - Tried to search for the answers but nothing in wiki and the search engine don't like "6 Speed" - keeps dropping the 6. Anyway - I have an 02 330 ci and the when I shift, there's a 50/50 chance that I will go from 2-5 instead of 2-3. I have read that this is common and the gearbox basically need to be rebuilt. Does it make sense, from a DIY point, install a 6 speed instead? Is it a simple bolt on? Your thoughts please?
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  #2  
Old 04-22-2015, 06:59 AM
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kyfdx kyfdx is offline
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Mein Auto: 2006 330Ci ZHP
Start with shifter bushings..
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  #3  
Old 04-22-2015, 07:40 AM
Germane Riposte Germane Riposte is offline
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Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
 
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Mein Auto: 2001 325i Touring 5-speed
As kyfdx mentioned, worn shifter linkage bushings can cause a lot of ills. Those undoubtedly could use a refresh, especially the selector rod joint.

Also do a search on "sticky fifth gear detent". This is a well-known problem, especially with 5-speed ZF transmissions, but it also can happen with Getrag. The detent pin sticks, and makes it really easy to go into fifth instead of third. If you can flop the gearshift lever over to the right with no resistance when you're intending on going into fifth, that could be the problem. The symptom can come and go as the pin may move back into position after the transmission warms up.

It's a straightforward fix, but you do have to pull the transmission out to replace the pin and its sleeve & spring. It's also a good idea to do the same for the reverse detent. I did both on my car's Getrag transmission when I had it out for a clutch job.

IIRC, the only thing the 6-speed gets you is better highway MPG with the tall 6th gear. The lower gear ratios are similar to the 5-speed's. It's cool to have a 6-speed and all, but I don't know if I'd go to the trouble and expense of a swap if your existing transmission is okay except for a potential detent issue and worn shifter linkage bushings.
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Last edited by Germane Riposte; 04-22-2015 at 01:26 PM. Reason: typo
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  #4  
Old 04-22-2015, 11:15 AM
fretburnr fretburnr is offline
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Location: Aurora, IL
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
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Mein Auto: 03 330i ZSP
Agreed on all counts. I had the same issue with my '98 M3 ZF trans, and replaced the shifter detent pins when I had the trans out to replace the clutch. The pins are accessed via snap rings and covers on the outside of the case, so no internal work needs doing. Those and fresh shifter bushings completely cured any issues, and made the car shift as well as, or better than, new.

As far as upgrading the trans for performance use, you'd want to also change the diff ratio to a shorter one and therefore have better acceleration in gears 1-5 and have 6th end up like your current 5th. That's the same setup that ZHPs and '04+ 330i with the 6 speed have.
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  #5  
Old 04-22-2015, 12:02 PM
MoShadeTree MoShadeTree is offline
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Location: Saint Louis, MO
 
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Mein Auto: 330ci
Thanks Guys - For now, I'll take the advise on changing the bushings. I assumed that the issue was inside the gearbox, and I thought it would be easier to swap gearbox than to (for me) experiment with repairing / rebuilding it. I also did not think about the diff ratio, which will increase the price and push it closer to not making sense. I will wait until I need a clutch replacement to do the detent pins - but glad to know they can be replaced easily.
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  #6  
Old 04-22-2015, 12:05 PM
Fishful Thinking Fishful Thinking is offline
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Mein Auto: '04 325ci
What about worn, sloppy engine/transmission mounts? I've heard of folks money shifting because of them...
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  #7  
Old 04-23-2015, 04:00 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Location: New York
 
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Mein Auto: '04 330Ci 6-speed
Quote:
Originally Posted by Germane Riposte View Post
IIRC, the only thing the 6-speed gets you is better highway MPG with the tall 6th gear. The lower gear ratios are similar to the 5-speed's. It's cool to have a 6-speed and all, but I don't know if I'd go to the trouble and expense of a swap .
You are exactly correct. I have a six-speed and it's cool, but with my stock 2.93 rear end it's not something I'd miss.
Maybe if I ran a higher rear I'd appreciate the 6 more.

And if I want to accelerate to speed I shift down to 5th which will pull strong up to 125, whereas 6th will take you nowhere fast above highway speeds.
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  #8  
Old 04-23-2015, 05:19 PM
Cliff Cliff is offline
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There is a TSB for this: http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/att...1&d=1429834113

My shop charged me $150 to do the work, not including dropping the transmission. Parts were maybe $10. Of course, since this defect led to an overrev that caused the failure of my oil pump, the transmission was already out of the car, as was the dead engine.

I was considering swapping my 5 speed for a 6 speed, and I think the shop and I ballparked the cost at $2500-$3000, assuming I sold my 5 speed. If you're looking for more performance, I can highly recommend a 3.46 diff swap. I did that to my car (a custom LSD in my case) and it transformed the car. Edit: my fuel economy does suck now, but I mostly drive the car to and from tracks these days.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf trans5thsib.pdf (20.7 KB, 23 views)
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Last edited by Cliff; 04-23-2015 at 05:21 PM.
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  #9  
Old 04-23-2015, 11:02 PM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Mein Auto: '04 330Ci 6-speed
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff View Post
If you're looking for more performance, I can highly recommend a 3.46 diff swap. I did that to my car (a custom LSD in my case) and it transformed the car. Edit: my fuel economy does suck now, but I mostly drive the car to and from tracks these days.
Not to mix up the idea of more performance up here. Adding an overdrive is the opposite of installing a 3.46 diff.
One makes for lazy cruising by reducing revs, while the other helps acceleration by increasing revs. One does not sub for the other.

Last edited by GoForthFast; 04-25-2015 at 10:13 AM.
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  #10  
Old 04-24-2015, 08:09 AM
Cliff Cliff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoForthFast View Post
I think you're mixing the idea of more performance up here. Adding an overdrive is the opposite of installing a 3.46 diff.
One makes for lazy cruising by reducing revs, while the other helps acceleration by increasing revs. One does not sub for the other.
The diff swap idea was mentioned previously in the thread and since I have first hand experience with this modification in a 5 speed car, I shared a bit of that experience. Same concept with the transmission fix that is the subject of the thread. And I looked into a tranny swap too, but decided against it because a) it's very expensive, and b) I can live with the shorter gearing in the car. All my comments are based on first hand experience and are directly on point with what has been discussed in this thread.
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  #11  
Old 04-25-2015, 10:10 AM
GoForthFast GoForthFast is offline
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Mein Auto: '04 330Ci 6-speed
All your facts are certainly correct. Just wanted to eliminate the misleading aspect of your post for the uninitiated.


Wow, original owner with an '02 you bought from new! Not too many of us on here with those roots.

And no sunroof too. Very impressive!

Last edited by GoForthFast; 04-25-2015 at 10:26 AM.
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