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8 Series - E31 (1989 - 1999)

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  #1  
Old 02-06-2013, 09:28 AM
jolo3361 jolo3361 is offline
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Location: Hilton Head
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Mein Auto: BMW 540 IT
840 CI Droning

I just purchased a US automatic 1997 840 I with 68,000 miles. Other than cosmetic blemishes the car is in excellent condition. However, at speeds between 1200 and 1500 rpm and under acceleration or constant mild acceleration, I hear a droning noise from the middle to rear of the car and as you accelerate out of the 1500 rpm range the drone disappears and the tach needle jumps slightly, giving the sense that the tranny is slipping, but no noticeable slip is detected. Can this be bad universal joints, a bad rear, or a bad tranny. Unfortunately, I am the fourth owner so I don't know if anyone defied manufacturer recommendations and drained and serviced the transmission. Compared to my 2002 540 IT, I also feel that there is a mild vibration when accelerating from first through third. It's just not that real smooth acceleration I am accustomed to with a BMW. One other thing; with foot on brake, moving the gear shift from P to R or N to D emits a metallic ping (no clunk) which sounds like the drive shaft universals.

I am hoping this is not a transmission or rear end issue. I would like some ideas before I head over to the Bimmer Dealer.

I am quickly finding that there is not much info or parts out there for the e31. Thanks much.

Last edited by jolo3361; 02-06-2013 at 09:29 AM.
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  #2  
Old 02-06-2013, 11:35 AM
02540ico 02540ico is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 850Ci
Sounds like a guibo or center bearing.

Nothing wrong with servicing the trans, unless you believe BMW that their fluid is lifetime. That simply means when your trans fails, that's its lifetime, the fluid served it well. Multiple drain/fills are good, flushing is bad.

I've serviced the 5hp24 trans in my '02 540i/A sport, as well as the 5hp30 in the 850. I used Castrol Multi-Vehicle European trans fluid and Filtran filters in both. After servicing it, I only put ~7k miles on the 540i before I sold it, and now have ~8k on the 850Ci since the service. Have/had no issues with either so far.
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Last edited by 02540ico; 02-06-2013 at 11:37 AM.
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  #3  
Old 02-06-2013, 01:26 PM
jolo3361 jolo3361 is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 540 IT
Thanks. Very helpful, I appreciate it.
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  #4  
Old 02-08-2013, 01:38 PM
jolo3361 jolo3361 is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 540 IT
It does not appear to be the flexible disc/guibo or center bearing according to a mechanic who says he services all foreign makes including bimmers. He wants to service the tranny to see if the filter is blocked or if there is gear damage. The droaning/slipping only seems to occur in fifth gear at 1500 rpm in Drive and at 2000 RPM is Drive Sport Mode. It really does seem to point at the transmission if it only occurs in fifth gear and at a specific rpm range.

Should a BMW with only 68,000 miles have tranny damage even if it was driven hard? Could this be a blocked transmission filter, a rear end or a rear wheel bearing issue?

The transmission service will cost $170 plus $58 for the filter kit plus $297 for fluid. The transmission should be serviced but it seems an awfully high repair cost and may not solve the cause of the immediate problem. The car is very miserable to drive because the droaning/slipping problem occurs at normal cruising RPM, so it is constantly there.

Before I have him service the transmission, should I bring it to BMW and will they be able to diagnose the problem without guessing it is the transmission? Can this be electronically diagnosed by a BMW Dealer?

Last edited by jolo3361; 02-08-2013 at 01:40 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-11-2013, 06:11 AM
02540ico 02540ico is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 850Ci
I'd think if the trans were slipping, you'd get a CEL flagging the unexpected input/output ratio. Is the exhaust system stock?? Can get alot of drone if the center resonator is removed.

Servicing the trans is a good idea, especially with the relatively low miles; just make sure to use an OEM filter, the cheap aftermarket filters can cause problems. (moreso with the 5hp30's but why take the chance)
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  #6  
Old 02-11-2013, 06:58 AM
Jolo Jolo is offline
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Mein Auto: 2002 540 IT; 1997 840 CI
It does appear to have the stock exhaust. The underside of the car is real good. I really believe this car is very sound mechanically. I just can't imagine I have a bad tranny at 68,000. But stranger things are known to happen.

I have searched everywhere for transmission issues, Giubo,/Flex Disc, Center Bearing, out of balance driveshaft, bad wheel bearings and none of that seems to match my symptoms. A reputable foreign car mechanic inspected and drove the car and does not think the problem is any of that - not in the drive shaft. He recommended to drop the trans pan and search for a clogged filter or more serious trans damage.

The droaning noise comes under constant moderate acceleration at 1500 rpm - normal cruising speed. Let off the gas and the droan immediately disappears. If I increase acceleration I get a slight bump and the car stops droaning. You will see a slight movement in the tach needle when the car bumps. At a constant 1500 RPM the droan comes and goes in a consistent rhythem similar to a warble as you might have from a bad bearing and you will see the tach needle move in that same rythem.

I really do not feel any sense the transmission is slipping - there is no revving of the engine, the car moves along and accelerates from all speeds just fine. Whatever the faulty part, it is impacting engine rpm, but again, I feel no sense of transmission slippage or engine revving other than the slight tach movement. The car operates and shifts normally. My only other matter is that when accelerating from a stop, there is a very moderate vibration - just not a smooth takeoff like my 540.

1. Can the center bearing be causing this even if there is no play in the drivshaft?
2. Can the Giubo be bad but show no visible signs of wear?
3. Can this be the transmission?
4. If it is the transmission, are there any repairs or adjustments (tightening of the bands, replace valve bodies, etc) that can be done to repair the fault, short of having to replace the transmission?
5. I think you may be on to something with the exhaust but a possible restriction somewhere. If I have a restriction in the exhaust, I assume at a certain RPM the engine will restrict and drop in RPM and the pickup in RPM will result in a mild thump in the driveline.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I don't want to dive into this unknowing and start incurring unnecessary cost.
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  #7  
Old 02-12-2013, 01:04 PM
02540ico 02540ico is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 850Ci
The vibration from a stop rings a bell, but not sure if its the guibo or center bearing.
I think all the 840's had the 5hp30 trans. If someone had done a trans service and used a cheapo filter, they can whine. When I bought mine, it would whine through the gears at lower rpm. After servicing the trans using a Filtran filter, no more whine.
Would still be worth having a good mechanic who is very familiar with the E31 take a look at it. Might be worth the 1-1.5hrs in labor to find the issue, or at least narrow down the list of possibles.
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2013, 03:11 PM
Jolo Jolo is offline
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Location: Hilton Head, SC
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Mein Auto: 2002 540 IT; 1997 840 CI
Moved here three years ago. The Bimmer dealer in Hilton Head is a joke. Called the other day and asked if a tech can take a test drive with me. Service writer said, no we have no time for that. You'll just have to make an appt and allow us to look at it and drive it.

I found one guy that works on all foreign makes and classics. He was repairing a Bantam Roadster, restoring ground up, a Model A, a Jag and other interesting vehicles in for service. He drove my car and said exactly what you are saying. I need to service the trans and have a look inside. So, the car is going to his shop next Friday. He is using an OEM Filter and Esso Fluid. I am hoping the trans is good and we don't find chunks of metal in the pan. I will have him take another good look at the center bearing and Giubo too.

No check engine light except initially at start up so I know it works and is not coming on while driving or when the whine/droan occurs. Thanks for all your help. We shall see. I am praying it is not a bad tranny.
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2013, 11:49 AM
Jolo Jolo is offline
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Location: Hilton Head, SC
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Mein Auto: 2002 540 IT; 1997 840 CI
The car goes in soon to have a tranny service. Last week, I brought my 540 IT (165,000 miles) for its first tranny service to a foreign car mechanic. Seems to know his stuff so my 840 CI will be having the same service next week with one added measure. I will have the mechanic add a 2 oz vial of "Dr Tranny (Lubegard) Intstant Shudder Fixx" to see if it corrects the droning and slipping. Some additional research points to the possibility the torque-converter is failing to break lock during very mild acceleration. Could be the lock-up-clutch is locking-up prematurely. Could be I am low on fluid or could be a previous tranny service involved the wrong fluid and a tranny service with the correct fluid will fix the problem. Just don't know, but I will have the Lubegard Shudder Fixx added while the car is on the lift and the tranny being serviced. If I had a lift, I would try without the Lubegard but I don't. If it is the torque converter, I suspect the problem is low fluid or the wrong viscosity fluid.

Just had the car PDR'd so all the minor dings are gone. I now have the passenger seat out. I had the good old Bimmer Seat Twist going on, so I repaired the adjuster cables and I am waiting for seat dye from Leatherique so I can refurbish the seats. The driver seat comes out next because the cables connected to the motor that raises the seat are slipping completely and need adjustment.

I went to Bimmer to order new seat back latch release handles. He said they are still made in plastic and BMW never upgraded them. I thought I saw something on this site that a metal handle is now available. I will do a search, but if anyone knows anything about this, please let me know.

Kind regards,

Jolo

PS: I will advise if Dr Tranny is the fix or if I need a new torque converter.
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  #10  
Old 03-06-2013, 10:19 AM
02540ico 02540ico is offline
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Location: Colorado Springs, Co
 
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Mein Auto: 1997 850Ci
With an 840, you have the 5hp30 trans, correct? If so, the native state of the TC is locked. It requires fluid pressure to unlock it. Many 5hp30's (including mine) are f'ed up. The passage that provides fluid to the TC is too small, so it limits pressure/volume and the trans doesn't unlock properly. Sitting at a light, I can feel mine unlocking, then losing pressure and locking back up. There is a repair kit, but digging in the trans is required. Mine will be this way until it ultimately dies. It does, however, throw a TC code.

Just ensure the filter is a true FilTran filter, cheap aftermarket filters can cause problems when they collapse under pressure and llimit fluid flow.
Best of luck with yours!
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  #11  
Old 03-14-2013, 05:06 PM
jolo3361 jolo3361 is offline
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Location: Hilton Head
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Mein Auto: BMW 540 IT
Thanks, Problem Solved, At Least for Now

The car is fixed. I just picked it up after its transmission service. I had the mechanic add one vial (2 oz) of Lubegard Dr Tranny 19610 Instant Shudder Fixx Friction Modifier. I don't know if Dr Tranny made the difference or if simply doing a Tranny Filter and Fluid Service on a 16 year old car was the difference, but the drone and slip are gone and the car is a pleasure to drive at all speeds including cruising speeds of 1200 to 1500 RPM where I was having the problem under mild acceleration.

Still have some drive line vibration that I don't have on my 2002 540 IT so at some point, even though the flex disc looks good, I will probably replace the entire driveshaft assembly to ensure I have a true and balanced unit in the car with a new flex disc and center bearing.

Thanks much for the time you took to help me diagnose this problem. Getting help on an E31 is not easy, so I really appreciate your assistance.

Now on to reconditioning and re-dying the seats and the seat trim. I am using Leatherique products and I am extremely happy with their helpful support.

Kind regards
Joe
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  #12  
Old 06-13-2013, 05:52 PM
Mr._Graybeard Mr._Graybeard is offline
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Mein Auto: '95 540i, '87 325ic
I found this thread through a search and am interested in verifying that the transmission in question was the 5hp30. I get the drone on occasion in my '95 540i transmission, and am looking at the possibility of adding a friction modifier like Dr. Tranny or Lubegard Red. Joe, are you out there to confirm which transmission is in your car? The chart I looked at said the 840i got the 5hp30 only through mid-1996.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2013, 08:38 AM
Jolo Jolo is offline
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Location: Hilton Head, SC
 
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Mein Auto: 2002 540 IT; 1997 840 CI
Sorry for the late repy. I have not been on line. I am not sure which transmission, but Dr Tranny solved the problem on my 2002 540 IT as well. Had the tranny fluid changed in the 540 and I should have bought the fluid and filter and given it to the mechanic myself because I think he used a good but not recommended fluid and the 540 tranny started to fluttering at cruising speed. Had the mechanic put Dr Tranny in (one vile) and all is good now. It's not snake oil, it works.
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  #14  
Old 07-21-2013, 08:11 PM
Mr._Graybeard Mr._Graybeard is offline
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Mein Auto: '95 540i, '87 325ic
hey, thanks for the response. I've used Dr. Tranny, and it did eliminate the drone for awhile. I think I'll try Lubegard Red next, which is made by the same company.

My car has an early 5hp30 "black label" transmission that specs Shell LA2634 fluid. I recently talked with Nat at Eriksson Industries, an authorized zf service center, and he told me he couldn't get LA2634 anymore. Bavarian Autosport is selling the stuff for over $500 for a 5-liter jug.

As long as I've owned the car (since 2005 and 160K miles) it's had an occasional torque converter chatter at 70-75 mph. Other than that, it operates smoothly at 240k miles.

I'm also going to try a Fuchs ATF product, Titan 3353. Turner and other parts dealers are pitching it as a substitute for LA2634. We'll see.
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