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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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Old 10-24-2004, 08:02 PM
RickyD RickyD is offline
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Question 98 2.8 How good/bad is the auto trans?

I'm considering buying a 98 Z3 2.8 with 60,000 Km on it and the auto trans. Normally, I'd prefer a 5 speed but the auto seems ok, particularly for just cruising which is what I want to do and it can be a blessing in Toronto rush hour.
Any experience with the auto...is it reliable? Can it be modified to shift a little crisper?
Odd but this car has a GM hydramatic, is that standard?
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Old 10-26-2004, 06:30 PM
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MZ.368 MZ.368 is offline
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Mein Auto: 99 Frankencoupe 09 mini S
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyD
I'm considering buying a 98 Z3 2.8 with 60,000 Km on it and the auto trans. Normally, I'd prefer a 5 speed but the auto seems ok, particularly for just cruising which is what I want to do and it can be a blessing in Toronto rush hour.
Any experience with the auto...is it reliable? Can it be modified to shift a little crisper?
Odd but this car has a GM hydramatic, is that standard?
I would assume it is pretty reliable, but why settle.....you can buy my 5spd 3.0 with only 18k miles on it.
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Old 10-27-2004, 08:34 AM
TurnAround TurnAround is offline
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Mein Auto: Z3C, Z3R, X5
Generally speaking, the newer Auto trannys are better...

The transmission, the software programming, and the Steptronic shifter on the later models would be a better pick for an automatic, IMHO ['01, '02. Might have also been '00 but would have to research this]. Shifts very crisply and tight. Zero lag / pause from a stand still in first gear (immediate torque delivery).

Reliability is "talked about" being better on the later trannys... but no one can really say, because there aren't enough miles accumulated on all of them yet. One indicator.. the later model trannys are the same ones used in the X5. A 4,800 pound vehicle, and can tow another 5,000 pounds. Tough tranny.

The earlier auto transmissions aren't bad a'tal. A little torque loss at start out, but this could be just programming and not the tranny's torque converter. My hunch is, a little of both. There's no way to improve the programming that I know of.

Once you get cruising, these transmission shift very smoothly and positively when driving easy, or even moderately. If you push the car hard, you will notice that the shifts aren't as crisp as you'd like them to be, and most notable, you will immediately detect a "sinking lagging" feeling upon initial accelerator press ("punch it.. and there's a lag). This is more noticable on the 2.3 / 2.5 liter engines.

Reliability wise, they're designed to go 100k miles, and then die. BMW recomends replacement with a reconditioned or new unit, and not repairing the old unit in the field.

If you're really set on this one car, it wouldn't be a bad decision at all. There are many many m a n y thousands of Z3, 3 Series, and 5 series automatics from that era on the road, and going strong. I wouldn't be fearfull of it. But if you can afford it, a later model steptronic will be much more gratifying and knows how to play hard.

All BMW Automatics are GM designs, and built in France. I don't know how far back this history goes, but I believe it's at least since the late 80's. You will read some teasing, maligning, and all out criticisms about them being made by GM. But you will also note... this is coming from the clutch owners, and who have German built transmissions. The plain fact is, GM has been building automatic transmissions since the 40's, including racing automatics in the 50's and 60's (yes kids, there is such a thing). They would be THE choice as experts. The GM units in BMWs are extremely tough.


- T
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'03 X5 3.0i [GrauGrün - Beige]
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Last edited by TurnAround; 10-27-2004 at 08:41 AM.
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