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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 05-06-2012, 07:52 AM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Switching from Automatic to Manual or Sport While Driving

What's everyone's thought on switching from automatic to manual or vice versa while driving the car? Does it hurt the transmission?

Yesterday I was toying around with manual mode and the transmission light came on for a second before going into second gear; it was only on for a second and went of immediately after shifting gears. Simply out of fear I immediately pushed the knob over and took the car out of manual mode. I don't think I hurt anything but I am merely curious.
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2012, 09:22 AM
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When I had my automatic (non step) E46 I had this happen when I took it to 7000rpm (shark software) in 3rd gear (non step trans would let you hold past redline) and got the same thing. I think the torque converter didn't appreciate the higher rpm.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2012, 09:55 AM
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Never had that happen on my step and I drive most of mine in manual mode playing with redline all the time. May be time for a trans fluid drain and fill.
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:14 AM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Originally Posted by av98 View Post
Never had that happen on my step and I drive most of mine in manual mode playing with redline all the time. May be time for a trans fluid drain and fill.
What about switching from manual to automatic while driving? Can that hurt the transmission?
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:22 AM
shadow 2 shadow 2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
What about switching from manual to automatic while driving? Can that hurt the transmission?
Don't think so. If I am in manual mode, I stay there till I stop, but that's just me. Never had a tranny light come on.
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  #6  
Old 05-06-2012, 01:51 PM
phatjoe phatjoe is offline
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I have been using the manual mode and switching to automatic when in traffic pretty regularly over the past couple months and I've had no problems. One thing I notice in manual mode though is that occasionally my RPMs will increase by about 250 - 500 without any increase in throttle or gear change. This typically happens on a hill. Any similar experiences?
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  #7  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:08 PM
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floydarogers floydarogers is offline
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Originally Posted by phatjoe View Post
I have been using the manual mode and switching to automatic when in traffic pretty regularly over the past couple months and I've had no problems. One thing I notice in manual mode though is that occasionally my RPMs will increase by about 250 - 500 without any increase in throttle or gear change. This typically happens on a hill. Any similar experiences?
That's probably the torque converter unlocking.
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  #8  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:02 PM
BigMotherWheels BigMotherWheels is online now
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I switch back and forth all the time and no hiccups from the car. Makes sense to me that if it would hurt the tranny there would be some type of safety mech that would not allow you to switch from one to the other. It does make sense that it would hurt anything - I mean it is even possible to accidentally switch.
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:48 PM
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halltristan halltristan is offline
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Originally Posted by BigMotherWheels View Post
I switch back and forth all the time and no hiccups from the car. Makes sense to me that if it would hurt the tranny there would be some type of safety mech that would not allow you to switch from one to the other. It does make sense that it would hurt anything - I mean it is even possible to accidentally switch.
I figured the same thing but it doesn't hurt to be sure. $5500 for a new transmission is nothing to take too many chances with.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:08 PM
BigMotherWheels BigMotherWheels is online now
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I am with you fully. Don't want to mess up such a great car. However,
I just reread the manual for my car(2005 but mine is 2006).
http://www.linquist.net/system/files/E462005Cic.pdf
They say to simply switch from one to the other when desired. It starts on page 77, it also talks about a warning light that can come on when there is a malfunction and how to mitigate it.

Last edited by BigMotherWheels; 05-06-2012 at 07:10 PM.
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  #11  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:29 PM
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KrisL KrisL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
What about switching from manual to automatic while driving? Can that hurt the transmission?

It's not like you are moving gears around when you change modes.

The transmission controller normally tells the transmission to shift when it feels it is appropriate. When you switch modes, it simply doesn't tell the transmission to shift until it receives input from you (or it encounters a redline or low rpm condition, of course).
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2012, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
What about switching from manual to automatic while driving? Can that hurt the transmission?
No, I do that all the time.
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  #13  
Old 05-07-2012, 06:35 AM
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I drive in Sport mode 70% of the time - love it - no issues.
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  #14  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:02 PM
tdd tdd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
What's everyone's thought on switching from automatic to manual or vice versa while driving the car? Does it hurt the transmission?
I shift my step in and out of sport ("manual") mode all of the time while driving and I've never had a problem.
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  #15  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:05 PM
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The best part of a step is that whether in "manual" or "automatic" modes, they feel the exact same. Numb. Like wearing 3 or 4 prophylactic devices at the same time.
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  #16  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:21 PM
tdd tdd is offline
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The best part of a step is that whether in "manual" or "automatic" modes, they feel the exact same. Numb. Like wearing 3 or 4 prophylactic devices at the same time.
Read the top-10 list in your 10/8/10 blog entry (very funny). I suppose you'd say the same about step owners (btw, I'm a size 34 and I voted for the other guy )
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  #17  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:27 PM
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Read the top-10 list in your 10/8/10 blog entry (very funny). I suppose you'd say the same about step owners (btw, I'm a size 34 and I voted for the other guy )
Forgot I wrote those (just re-read), dang I'm a funny SOB!

I only kid cause I drove an auto for a long time before I switched to the correct side of the force.
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  #18  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:37 PM
kmorgan_260 kmorgan_260 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halltristan View Post
What about switching from manual to automatic while driving? Can that hurt the transmission?
That is what it is designed for so it is not supposed to hurt anything. The computer is supposed to disallow anything that could cause damage so if you have stock software you should be fine. Depending on mileage I would agree with the other poster who said to change the fluid and would for sure check the level.
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  #19  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
The best part of a step is that whether in "manual" or "automatic" modes, they feel the exact same. Numb. Like wearing 3 or 4 prophylactic devices at the same time.
That's ... that's ... a nightmare!

halltristan, like others I have switched modes many times while moving and not moving, no ill effects, but no tranny warning light either. It's an automatic with electronic controls -- the shifter doesn't have much in the way of mechanical linkage for the sport/manual modes, as far as I know. So changing modes just instructs the controller your desire, and it will take care of the rest in a safe-for-automatic-tranny way.
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  #20  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
Forgot I wrote those (just re-read), dang I'm a funny SOB!

I only kid cause I drove an auto for a long time before I switched to the correct side of the force.
Smolck,

Just read your latest blog entry. I remember that day too. Brought a tear to my eye. The only time I ever cried ( that I can remember) was when I lost my dog and my Parents. Your blog is very well written, and unless I knew differently, I would say that it was written by a different guy than the sometimes hard a$$ you portray here. LOL. Thanks for helping me to remember a defining moment in my life.
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  #21  
Old 05-07-2012, 03:20 PM
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Western Skier Western Skier is offline
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Hmm Dont have step but when my transmission starts acting funky like yours I'm just going to have it converted to manual...
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  #22  
Old 05-07-2012, 04:58 PM
Captj27 Captj27 is offline
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Use mine mostly to down shift when approching red lights. Never had a problem
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  #23  
Old 05-07-2012, 05:31 PM
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Use mine mostly to down shift when approching red lights. Never had a problem
Totally stupid technique....doing that puts FAR more strain on all driveline components compared to just using the brakes. I hope you have lots of money for future repairs....
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  #24  
Old 05-08-2012, 10:15 AM
Brucifer325 Brucifer325 is online now
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From what I understand about the Steptronic:

D - 4 speed transmission with 5th (overdrive) with gearing determined by engine load and speed.

SD - 4 speed transmission (no overdrive) with shift points set 500 rpm higher than normal.

Manual - Driver chooses the gearing with the computer not allowing damaging selection.


I rarely use Manual, if at all. I'll use SD if I need to punch it when getting into traffic, but most of the time I just leave it in D.

http://www.ehow.com/how_5097735_use-bmw-steptronic.html
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  #25  
Old 05-08-2012, 10:39 AM
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Totally stupid technique....doing that puts FAR more strain on all driveline components compared to just using the brakes. I hope you have lots of money for future repairs....
Yup. Even with a standard trans, downshifting to use engine braking when approaching a light is just wearing everything out. Only time this technique is valid is when descending a long mountain where the brakes might overheat. Brakes are cheaper than transmissions or clutches, and slowing well before you actually need to stop saves a lot of wear and tear on everything.
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