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  #1  
Old 11-13-2002, 07:49 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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ZF Tranny problems .... suggestions?

Jon or others that are following this -

There has been serious disgruntlement from E36 M3 owners regarding the ZF tranny. Basically, it's very easy to make the money shift in these transmissions. In fact, if you call the dealership and explain, when it is cold, the manual will rest in fifth, etc...they will know what you are talking about.

Considering my vehicle is completely out of the warranty ('99), have you heard of this problem and how widespread is it? I mean, a new tranny (what the local dealerships are recommending) is NO cheap matter. Notwithstanding that my vehicle has less than 30K miles on it. There is no way that problems with the manual transmission should be occurring.

This seems prevalent to 98-99 M3's. Although even the previous ZF tranny model (95's) have also stipulated similar symptoms. How prevalent of a problem must it be, before bmw would consider a recall? My vehicle was only 4 months out of warranty when symptoms first started appearing (of course! ). I guess this aspect is upsetting, because this seems to be more or a problem rather than just an isolated incident.

Any thoughts on how some of us, without the benefit of a CPO, can proceed to petition bmw to issue a recall regarding the XF tranny? Aftermarket warranties, such as warrantygold, request that a local transmission shop, for instance, AAMCO, try to fix the problem first rather than bmw.

IF you are still under warranty, bmw will simply put a brand new transmission in; however, if you are not under warranty, bmw tells you that you are SOL...and take a hike. To me, that's poor customer relations. I own 2 M3's - a 95 and 99 (and yes, I'm still one of those that harken back to the E36 style and have not appreciated the bloated E46). The 95 is luckily not exhibiting any symptoms with 62K on it.

We have sent a letter to bmw; but, of course, we have not heard any response in 6 months.

Suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2002, 07:53 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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Possible recall needed on 98-99 M3's -- advice?

As an aside, I'm not talking about the dreaded money shift. I'm specifically talking about the problem of resting in fifth under cold weather conditions.

Last edited by jderry; 11-13-2002 at 01:04 PM.
  #3  
Old 11-13-2002, 09:16 AM
DrBimmer DrBimmer is offline
 
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If you are looking for a recall, don't hold your breath. I have heard of this before, but it is far from being a common issue. BMW is not going to voluntarily start recalling cars to replace transmissions.

Another option you might try if BMWNA is not getting back to you is to try to petition your dealer for some help. BMWNA is very reasonable when doing "good-will" repairs, but you must use the appropriate channels to get there. You can not simply call BMW yourself. Your local service manager is your best candidate, as he/she has the authority to authorize a large number of repairs. BMW takes your vehicle's history into account, namely if you have used the BMW dealer for maintenance. If you have done your own maintenance or have gone to an independent, your chances are much less than those of someone who has gone only to the dealer to do all maintenance. Depending on the type of repair, the cost involved, how good of a customer you are to BMW (how many you own/have owned, where you do your maintenance, if you mooched off them when you were under warranty, if you still use the dealer after your warranty is over, etc) the can chose to break the cost up several ways, with BMW paying up to 100%, or splitting it in any way amongst the dealer, the customer and BMWNA.

Two examples: a guy I know bought a 94 530i from a used car shop. Two months later, he experienced symptoms of a bad short block. He was the 3rd owner of the car, it was his first BMW, and he had never been to the dealer before this. BMW was "very generous" in this case and paid 50% of the parts only. Another guy I know had a 95 540i M sport that needed an engine as well. He bought it originally at the dealer, did all service and maintenance there (oil changes, Inspections, brakes, etc.) and owned a few other BMWs as well. BMW picked up the tab 100%, parts and labor, and also paid for a rental for him to use. In both cases, the vehicles were out of warranty.

Lets just hope for your sake you have a good relationship with the dealer, otherwise you are out of luck.
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Old 11-13-2002, 09:47 AM
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The HACK The HACK is offline
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That's a little misleading Doc. The 540i Sports had the infamous "Nikasil" engine lining that dissolves in sulfurous gasoline and BMW knows about that problem...Often times BMW just replaces the engine without question asked (but still refuse to admit there was ever any problem with Nikasil based V8s) if the owners know which button to push.

As far as getting BMW to issue a recall...I concur, GOOD LUCK. First of all, BMW considers all money shifts OPERATOR ERROR. Quite frankly, it's widespread enough that I knew about it even before owning my very first BMW, but it's more a design sacrifice rather than a design flaw. The gates must be close together on a shorter throw shifter, there's just no ways around simple geometry. A lot of people not used to the closer gate are complaining that it's a flaw but it isn't.

My recommendation? Adapt your shifting habits to the way the shifter is constructed. Look at the tech tips section at UUC Motorwerks and there's a cool document on how to PROPERLY SHIFT a shortened shifter to avoid the money-shift.
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  #5  
Old 11-13-2002, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by The HACK
That's a little misleading Doc. The 540i Sports had the infamous "Nikasil" engine lining that dissolves in sulfurous gasoline and BMW knows about that problem...Often times BMW just replaces the engine without question asked (but still refuse to admit there was ever any problem with Nikasil based V8s) if the owners know which button to push.
Actually this applies to both example cars, as both 3.0l and 4.0l M60 V8s from 93-96 suffered from this issue (as well as some M52 L6s that never in US-spec cars).
  #6  
Old 11-13-2002, 09:56 AM
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The 3.0 was a V8? I did not know that. I stand corrected, my apologies to the Doc.
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"Bench racing" about track times driven by professionals are like a bunch of nerds arguing which Princess Leia is hotter, the slave Leia or the no-bra jail-bait Leia. No matter how compelling your argument is, the plain and simple fact is, none of you will EVER get to hit that.
  #7  
Old 11-13-2002, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by The HACK
The 3.0 was a V8? I did not know that. I stand corrected, my apologies to the Doc.
The E34 530i from '93-'95.
  #8  
Old 11-13-2002, 09:59 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD


The E34 530i from '93-'95.
Yep, and same engine came on the E32 too.

EDIT : Oops, E38 I mean.
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:07 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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Thanks...

but we are talking about OEM shifters and not SSK's. For example, it's not just about the money shift. It's more about the shifter sticking as well. I agree, that some consumer error is involved. HOWEVER, analogous to products liability law -- you have to factor in consumer stupidity and misuse.

You have to admit, it is WAY TO EASY to shift from third to second (while initially you were trying to goto fourth), etc...PLUS, you have to factor in, ESPECIALLY on M cars that are designed to be driven hard, HARD driving AND hard shifting as well....

I've talked to the local dealer. I have 2 M3's and no, none of them are serviced at the dealership, b/c I don't want them messing with my car. I know many people take their cars to the dealership; but, I've done ALOT to BOTH cars...and there's no way I'm taking the chance something will happen...all of my cars, including the bimmers, goto my mechanic. I trust him, he was trained as a BMW technician and worked there for a long time before setting up his own shop. I could tell you about some of the oil pump nut failures of people and how the dealership blamed the people driving the M3's....

I even pointed that out to the service manager of my mechanic's credentials, not like he was working for hyundai in busan, korea. But, the service manager said the added modifications placed stress on the transmission -- which, as you technical engine guys know, it's a bunch of crap.

Perhaps recall is the wrong word choice. I mean, when the service manager ADMITS to me, yes, I DO HAVE that problem; but, no, they won't fix it...that's wrong. I would understand with 90K miles on it or something; but, 30K miles on a 99? I'm just beginning to break it in.....

I guess I look at Jeep Wrangler's warranty which covers off-roading mishaps....so, I think the same mentality should apply to the "M" cars....they're meant to be driven. I don't redline the car, or anything like that, or beat my car to death- but, I'm not granny shifting at 2500 rpm's either.

If I have to replace the tranny myself, I might as well put a six-spd in it rather than replace it with a 5-spd. I don't think this is my error, or a reflection of my driving capabilities. Besides, I WAS NOT that far off warranty (I mean a few months)...and certainly mileage was under....To me, this is a known problem, I'm NOT specifically referring to the money shift either, that's one aspect (and pertains to ALL 95-99's). If you know the 98-99's -- there is a PARTICULAR problem with the 5th gear. That's the one I am referring to, not just the money shift....that's another issue by itself...
  #10  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:14 AM
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I concur generally with what everyone has said about it being unlikely that BMW will do anything.

FWIW, the 5th-gear spring issue and the money shift issue are, AFAICT, completely unrelated. When the 5th gear spring starts to go, the gearshift comes to a rest under 5th gear, rather than 3rd, when in neutral. Shifting is weird and kind of tricky when this happens, but it increases the probability that you will shift from 2nd to 5th, rather than shifting from 2nd to 1st.

I agree that the money shift is usually operator error, but the spring issue is clearly just a fault with the transmission.

FWIW, I just got a letter from VW yesterday saying that they were extending the warranty on window regulators to seven years, and would reimburse covered owners who'd already paid to have them fixed. This is a problem far more prevalent in VWs than the tranny issue in M3s, and a lot cheaper to fix, but it's still instructive.
  #11  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:39 AM
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We're talking about two completely different issues here, jderry.

Money Shift: There is nothing BMW will do to make this more difficult to accomplish. It's just the nature of the transmission, which has so much going for it. And actually, the reported ease of misshifting is simply a side characteristic of its smooth, closely gated nature. Yes, it's certainly possible to shift from 3-2 instead of 3-4, but not if you are famliar with the transmission and get used to its operation. Think about it like this: If you burn out your clutch because you're new to manual transmissions, is BMW truly responsible for replacing it under warranty? Or is it your problem for being inexperienced with the operation of the vehicle?

Sticky gate: This is an issue that BMW has quickly fixed for all cars that exhibit the problem under warranty. I agree that they should do something for owners who come across the problem out of the warranty period. My own car's warranty runs out 4/30/03, and I have less than 23,000 miles on it. According to the reports I see online, it's unlikely that the problem will manifest itself by then....but there's a good chance it will happen, eventually. I'm still trying to decide what to do about that.

There is anecdotal evidence, however, that BMW is at least paying for half of a tranny replacement for some owners who are out of warranty. I suspect that BMW's "generosity" depends largely on the approach and demeanor of the customer.
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  #12  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:44 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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OT: Anyone care to explain to this german what 'money shift' is ?
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  #13  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Baumann
OT: Anyone care to explain to this german what 'money shift' is ?
It's the shift that costs a lot of money to fix.

Basically, any downshift that induces mechanical overrev. For example, when shifting from 5 to 4, you accidentally skip the gate and end up in 2. Or perhaps, from 4 to 3, you actually end up in 1.
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  #14  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:51 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jetfire


It's the shift that costs a lot of money to fix.

Basically, any downshift that induces mechanical overrev. For example, when shifting from 5 to 4, you accidentally skip the gate and end up in 2. Or perhaps, from 4 to 3, you actually end up in 1.
Oh, I see

Since the very first day, I've never experienced this on other BMWs I've driven. The only thing I'm experiencing is the notchy 1-2 shift on my new car (a few days old)
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  #15  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:53 AM
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umnitza umnitza is offline
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the notchiness is what got my tranny replaced when I bought the car. I just complained and BINGO the tranny was remanufactured.

I'd suggest that someone do the following:
Contact the local news team that wants to do an expose.
Contact a few of them!
  #16  
Old 11-13-2002, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Alex Baumann
OT: Anyone care to explain to this german what 'money shift' is ?
Is that anything like a "money shot"?

A money shift is a 4-1 down-shift or a 5-2 downshift at high engine speeds when you mean to do a 4-3 or a 5-4 shift. The big difference in gear ratios will result in the engine exceeding maximum safe operating range and result in bent lifters and valves...complete engine tear down and rebuild or a new engine.

Common "problem" with new E36 M3 owners. Most experienced drivers I know scoff at it and attribute it mostly to lack of skill and experience with the stick. You should see the early days of alt.auto.bmw...You have two camps, one that thinks all who executed the money shift are idiot drivers, and one that thinks BMW should pay for all of "their" transmissions when they DO execute the money shift. Some big time heated flames on that topic.
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  #17  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:07 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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True...

but the fact is, the 5th gear issue makes it EVEN MORE likely I will do the money shift. So, I don't believe I am conflating the issues at all. Both are directly correlated with each other.

Like I said, the service guy opened the hood, and said it's b/c of this "x" thing on here, to much stress on the transmission. If I was stock, he said he would have probably replaced it -- but you are right, probably my "demeanor" resembles a bastard going around telling people to f- off.... He said he could not do it b/c they write reports of why they are replacing the tranny and also if there are any possible contributing factors. Which begs the question, what is a contributing factor and how is it defined.

All I will say is this, I KNOW for a fact that these tranmissions can hold up to 500 crank hp EASILY....heck, even 600 crank hp (look at Omer's coupe). I'm not close to 600....so it's not the power that caused my problem....and no, I'm not running NOS....

Jetfire, arguably you are right in one manner; however, I disagree emphatically. The transmissions should be built such that some abuse by a consumer is anticipated. E.g., why do you think the clutch pedal is such a pain, e.g., travels so far to engage? Because they take into account neophyte drivers -- with a clutch stop, it's harder for new drivers. Similar situations, people will sometimes be shiftng into fourth and accidentally try to put it into second...that's human nature ... everyone has done this accidentally sometime if they've driven a manual... most other manual tranny's though....grind like the gates of hell for you to successfully make the shift....

I mean, if I use a chair to change the lightbulb and the chair breaks and I falls breaking my leg; of course I CAN sue the manufacturer for a defective product, even though I'm using it in a different fashion than it was designed for ... so, I think bmw should anticipate some misshifting by people, based on human stupidity, error, whatever you want to label it as.

I disagree also with the 5th gear issue, there are MANY people with their warranty in effect, that dealerships have refused to replace the tranny. They see an aftermarket strut bar, k&n filter, UDP's, SSK, etc...and they point to those items as causing the problem. The 5th issue doesn't normally manifest itself to around 40K+ -- that seems to be the time symptoms will develop.
  #18  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:17 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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@jderry

In some cases you can't expect a tolerance for user fault. If I'd go to BMW because of a 'money shift', they'd advise me to make a new driver's license and make me pay the gearbox and labor.

You can't sue the glass manufacturer , just because you broke the vase or the glass. It can happen too and can also be user fault (mostly it is).
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Old 11-13-2002, 11:17 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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BTW --

I haven't done the money-shift YET ..so, maybe I am not an idiot driver...heheh...but, I don't like the fact that the "probability" of it rises b/c of the way my tranny is acting now.

It's interesting shifting in this car now...with this problem.... and I guarantee, people that have not been driving manual for 15 some years...might have problems....

plus having two M's...never a problem with the 95'...great car... no problems....the '99, had the window regulators replaced, rear defroster wiring had to be redone, and sunroof motor -- all of these were under warranty and done at the dealership -- so, I think there's a history of problems with the car...and I think my patience is wearing thinner now...especially with the potential cost of a new tranny...

I mean, I would consider a rebuild; but, they don't even do a rebuild, they completely replace it...which makes me wonder why...it's definitely not cheaper to put in a brand new one, rather than rebuilding it...
  #20  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:20 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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as an aside...

I NEVER SAID I made the money-shift.... so, I'm not pissed off b/c of that aspect!!

I'm pissed off b/c of the 5th gear issue, and the "increased likelihood" that I COULD make a money shift.

I'm pretty sure that I said that my issue focuses on the 5th gear issue, which to me, is PURELY BMW's fault, not mine.

Does that make sense?

It makes shifting much more difficult and trickier at times, especially NOW since it is getting colder....

I just went on about the money shift in my previous posts b/c I disagree with people's logic. The last poster's analogy is incorrect in relating glass and vase ... manufacturers have a duty to foresee some consumer abuse... so, that was just my counterargument to those stating, it only happens to idiot drivers, new M3 owners, etc.....you have to expect idiot drivers driving...ALL types of vehicles, including the M3....

I mean, all of us encounter them daily...

Last edited by jderry; 11-13-2002 at 11:23 AM.
  #21  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:22 AM
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Re: True...

Quote:
Originally posted by jderry

I disagree also with the 5th gear issue, there are MANY people with their warranty in effect, that dealerships have refused to replace the tranny. They see an aftermarket strut bar, k&n filter, UDP's, SSK, etc...and they point to those items as causing the problem. The 5th issue doesn't normally manifest itself to around 40K+ -- that seems to be the time symptoms will develop.
Aftermarket strut bar? K&N? Good god. TMEs and SSKs I can understand; after all, these are directly related to the transmission, and while empirical evidence suggests that it happens to bone stock cars, too, I can see the rationale behind pointing to these things as contributing factors. UDPs are a bit of a stretch. But I think we all know that a K&N does nothing, and how stiffening the chassis could have *any* effect on the transmission is well beyond my understanding.

Some dealers are better than others, clearly.
  #22  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:22 AM
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Interesting discussion going on here.

Regarding warranty coverage, you're right that a dealer should NOT dismiss a claim on the transmission because of the existence of an X-brace or STB. I'd expect this from my old Pontiac dealer service manager (not my advisor, who was cool), but not from a service department with actual brains. If your BMW dealer is saying that your warranty on the trans is void because of something completely irrelevant, then you need to find a new dealer. Even a short shift kit should not cause the 5th gear stickiness issue. But I thought you were already out of warranty when your problems started?

But with the money shift, we're going to have to agree to disagree. In your chair analogy, I woud dismiss any claim if the owner used it in an inappropriate manner. Now, should chairs be intended for people to stand on them? Probably. But where do you draw the line? If I stand on a swiveling office chair to change a bulb, lose my balance and break my neck, should I sue the chair manufacturer? No way.

Getting back to the focus of the argument, BMW does in fact anticipate abuse of the trans and clutch. The car was designed and built to be driven very hard, and it generaly delivers on all points. But the money shift is NOT abuse, it's misuse - think of a 500-lb person sitting in a folding chair, vs. a 180-lb person standing on a swiveling chair. While you might think about suing in the first case, I'd laugh my ass all the way to "case dismissed" if I saw someone try to sue for the second.
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  #23  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:35 AM
jderry jderry is offline
 
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True jetfire...

Although, I could gather enough caselaw to survive a 12b6 motion, which then might make the case viable b/c a jury would decide.

Well, I was thinking about going to Sterling b/c I've heard great things about them. Fairfax ?? well, some have good luck, some bad.

True, my symptoms developed AFTER the warranty period. But, I have a 99, it's not like it happened a year later. Plus, I don't have a SSK. I DO have TME's though to, ironically, help prevent a money-shift...hehe. My shifter is OEM. That's my complaint, I mean, the symptoms were like, "wait, he's almost out of warranty, okay....NOW...he's out of warranty..." ...

My posting re: other people under warranty, some dealerships have refused to do it. For whatever reasons, perhaps the person is an f-face to them, to young, has aftermarket parts, etc. I would be going postal if I was under warranty and they refused to help. I have an aftermarket warranty; but, I don't want AAMCO to touch my car...no offense to AAMCO employee's

I trust bmw trained technicians, not AAMCO...I went in and spoke to the service manager at my local AAMCO, I asked him, have you ever worked on bmw's before, answer = yes. Have you ever worked on M3's before? Answer, yes, hundreds of them. Okay...what type of transmission problems have you seen with them, he starts of...well, with a six-spd configuration...blah blah...

yeah, I wish I had a six-spd...
  #24  
Old 11-13-2002, 11:48 AM
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BTW - I performed the money shift on my car while trying to avoid a wrecked "something" in the road. 3rd @ 6K went to 2nd.

I'd driven the car for over 45K miles, so I'm hardly a "new M3" owner.

Money shifts aren't endemic to the transmissions, stupid shifting will cause a money shift, I agree. However, the tranny design does lend itself more to it than others.

Some of the Nissan's that I'd driven simply would not let you engage any gear if the revs were higher than it could handle, it would just be locked out.
  #25  
Old 11-13-2002, 12:08 PM
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The HACK The HACK is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by umnitza
...snip...

Some of the Nissan's that I'd driven simply would not let you engage any gear if the revs were higher than it could handle, it would just be locked out.
Hence *SOME* Nissan's aren't considered PERFORMANCE cars. Why let a car/transmission decide whether or not you CAN engage that gear? Might as well get an auto. Makes no sense to me.

Lower trim BMWs lock out the first gear when the car is past a certain speed. M models have that "feature" removed.
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