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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 08-15-2008, 05:21 PM
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Auto trans problems (I knew it would happen one day)

So on the way home I was doing some spirited driving. My low coolant light came on, (because I have a leaking expansion tank) and as I was downshifting into third I got an (!) light in the middle of my auto gear selector. It was saying s(!)4 or (!)D etc. It would not downshift or upshift and felt like I was stuck in second or third gear. Got home, turned car off, restarted and all seems fine. Did I maybe overheat the trans? Could it just be a glitch or am I in for serious trans work soon? Anyone have this happen?
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2008, 05:27 PM
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Sorry to hear about your problem! Can you still reverse?
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  #3  
Old 08-15-2008, 05:31 PM
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Sorry to hear about your problem! Can you still reverse?
Yep. After I turned it off and drove it it drives fine again and the (!) symbol is gone and I read the OBD with my scanner and nothing. Weird. Maybe my battery is loose from last nights angel eye install?
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  #4  
Old 08-15-2008, 05:56 PM
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Hmmm...is it possible to swap a 5MT into an E46...? Maybe we'll find out...

Sorry to hear Smolck, hope you find out what the cause is. Is it intermittent, like loose ground maybe? No clue on autoboxes, sorry...
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Old 08-15-2008, 06:03 PM
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Hmmm...is it possible to swap a 5MT into an E46...? Maybe we'll find out...

Sorry to hear Smolck, hope you find out what the cause is. Is it intermittent, like loose ground maybe? No clue on autoboxes, sorry...
Well I can promise you this, if it DOES die, I'll be doing a manual swap for sure. Already got a quote of $2000 (including trans) IF (big if) I dont DIM. (do it myself). My negative battery cable was loose (forgot to cinch it down after angel eyes last night) so maybe the hard corners caused it to get loose or something.
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Old 08-15-2008, 06:07 PM
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Smolck,

Could you have worn down the battery? Sometimes when working on the car, time passes quickly, and the interior lights take their toll. I keep my battery tender hooked up when working. Seems to help.
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  #7  
Old 08-15-2008, 06:12 PM
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I would bet even money that either the loose ground caused a "drop-out", or the momentary low coolant light triggered a "limp home mode" in the trans` brain box....
(friggin` furrin cars :-)
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  #8  
Old 08-15-2008, 06:21 PM
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I would bet even money that either the loose ground caused a "drop-out", or the momentary low coolant light triggered a "limp home mode" in the trans` brain box....
(friggin` furrin cars :-)
Yea, now that I think about it, it was an electrical issue because the gear selector didn't respond whether in S2 or D it did the same thing. I had it floored and only made it to 3,000rpm and abhout 40 mph.
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Old 08-15-2008, 06:23 PM
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I wonder if I can convince my wife this means certain trans death and see if she will let me upgrade to a manny tranny (insert joke here). I am thinking about buying an e30 with a manual and a bunch of work for a "toy" so if I get that then I can put the E46 on blocks and work on it slowly.
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Old 08-15-2008, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by smolck View Post
I wonder if I can convince my wife this means certain trans death and see if she will let me upgrade to a manny tranny (insert joke here). I am thinking about buying an e30 with a manual and a bunch of work for a "toy" so if I get that then I can put the E46 on blocks and work on it slowly.
C`mon, Dude....ya can`t bullsh!t a bullsh!tter....we all know you well enough to know that a second Bimmer in the house will only give you TWO cars to mod.... :-)

Regards,
Bob

(seriously, man....I hope your wife IS understanding enough to go along with your plan)
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  #11  
Old 08-15-2008, 06:33 PM
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C`mon, Dude....ya can`t bullsh!t a bullsh!tter....we all know you well enough to know that a second Bimmer in the house will only give you TWO cars to mod.... :-)

Regards,
Bob

(seriously, man....I hope your wife IS understanding enough to go along with your plan)
Well put. We'll see.....My angle is that my 15 year old needs a car to learn on and eventually drive. The e30 is a red two door with euro body kit, 5 speed, tan recaro seats, a ton of suspension mods, and 146k on it. For $3500! I love Alabama!
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now, go burn your Man Card, and buy yourself a Camry....
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  #12  
Old 08-15-2008, 06:40 PM
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Well put. We'll see.....My angle is that my 15 year old needs a car to learn on and eventually drive. The e30 is a red two door with euro body kit, 5 speed, tan recaro seats, a ton of suspension mods, and 146k on it. For $3500! I love Alabama!
Yeee-Haaah! $3500 sounds like Christmas in August ! Good luck, amigo....
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Old 08-15-2008, 06:46 PM
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Yeee-Haaah! $3500 sounds like Christmas in August ! Good luck, amigo....
Should I get a $3500 E30 or a $3500 6 speed? Decisions Decisions.....

Thanks for the help though on the trans issue, I feel better.
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  #14  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:02 PM
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Should I get a $3500 E30 or a $3500 6 speed? Decisions Decisions.....

Thanks for the help though on the trans issue, I feel better.
If I was gonna lay out that kind of dough for a trans, I would investigate rebuilt close-ratio 5-speeds from someplace like Metric Mechanix (sp?) , or a Getrag 280 ("Sport Trans"), which was used in E28 & E34 M5s....IMHO, a stock 6-speed really does`nt offer much advantage over the 5-spd.
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  #15  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:34 PM
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If I was gonna lay out that kind of dough for a trans, I would investigate rebuilt close-ratio 5-speeds from someplace like Metric Mechanix (sp?) , or a Getrag 280 ("Sport Trans"), which was used in E28 & E34 M5s....IMHO, a stock 6-speed really does`nt offer much advantage over the 5-spd.
Except that I have a 3.46 rear diff so 6th gear would be nice to keep the revs down at 8o mph
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  #16  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:38 PM
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Except that I have a 3.46 rear diff so 6th gear would be nice to keep the revs down at 8o mph
Yeah, the extra gear would cut the RPMs by about 500 @ 80, giving a less-frantic cruise (I`ve owned enough hotrods with diffs in the fours to appreciate that !)
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  #17  
Old 08-16-2008, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
So on the way home I was doing some spirited driving. My low coolant light came on, (because I have a leaking expansion tank) and as I was downshifting into third I got an (!) light in the middle of my auto gear selector. It was saying s(!)4 or (!)D etc. It would not downshift or upshift and felt like I was stuck in second or third gear. Got home, turned car off, restarted and all seems fine. Did I maybe overheat the trans? Could it just be a glitch or am I in for serious trans work soon? Anyone have this happen?
Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
Yep. After I turned it off and drove it it drives fine again and the (!) symbol is gone and I read the OBD with my scanner and nothing. Weird. Maybe my battery is loose from last nights angel eye install?
Sounds like a hiccup; maybe brought on by the low coolant/heat situation. But, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure you know this, of course, but it just means your transmission went into "safe mode". The owner's manual recommendation is to stop the car and turn it off, wait a few seconds and restart. If the light goes out normal transmission operation has been restored.

It has happened to me once. In my case the car was cold and I think I didn't allow the transmission to warm up and the fluid pressure to build sufficiently. It happened as I began to accelerate after slowing to take a turn. I stopped the car and turned it off. Waited about 20 seconds and restarted and all was well. Has never happened again.

Now when I start my car I immediately put the car in M1 (with my foot on the brake, of course) while my garage door opens. Then after I back out to the end of my driveway I put the car back into D and pull forward a few feet to make sure the transmission has good hydraulic pressure.
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  #18  
Old 08-16-2008, 05:41 AM
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Should I get a $3500 E30 or a $3500 6 speed? Decisions Decisions.....

Thanks for the help though on the trans issue, I feel better.
Go for the E30!
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Old 08-16-2008, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
So on the way home I was doing some spirited driving. My low coolant light came on, (because I have a leaking expansion tank) and as I was downshifting into third I got an (!) light in the middle of my auto gear selector. It was saying s(!)4 or (!)D etc. It would not downshift or upshift and felt like I was stuck in second or third gear. Got home, turned car off, restarted and all seems fine. Did I maybe overheat the trans? Could it just be a glitch or am I in for serious trans work soon? Anyone have this happen?

I would replace the coolant valve that is used to control the transmission cooling.
It is located in the bottom of your coolant tank.

If this valve goes completely bad you will have to replace the transmission.
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Old 08-16-2008, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by smolck View Post
Should I get a $3500 E30 or a $3500 6 speed? Decisions Decisions.....
I thought you had already settled on the black M3 that you were going vroom, vroom in at the dealer.
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  #21  
Old 08-16-2008, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tturedraider View Post
Sounds like a hiccup; maybe brought on by the low coolant/heat situation. But, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure you know this, of course, but it just means your transmission went into "safe mode". The owner's manual recommendation is to stop the car and turn it off, wait a few seconds and restart. If the light goes out normal transmission operation has been restored.

It has happened to me once. In my case the car was cold and I think I didn't allow the transmission to warm up and the fluid pressure to build sufficiently. It happened as I began to accelerate after slowing to take a turn. I stopped the car and turned it off. Waited about 20 seconds and restarted and all was well. Has never happened again.

Now when I start my car I immediately put the car in M1 (with my foot on the brake, of course) while my garage door opens. Then after I back out to the end of my driveway I put the car back into D and pull forward a few feet to make sure the transmission has good hydraulic pressure.
So I drove the car about 40 miles this morning, no problems (oh and I added coolant). ON my way back home (another 40 miles) coming off the interstate (hard right hander I took fast) it did it again! It drove fine but wouldn't shift up or down. Then I stopped to get gas and it went away and drove home fine. What the heck could it be? Low fluid? Seems like it happens when I put significant G force on the car from hard turns. Maybe I should just service it?
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  #22  
Old 08-16-2008, 12:36 PM
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A filter kit is $54. Then another $50 for fluid. Hmmm....is it that or an electrical problem? 153k, I am confused....
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  #23  
Old 08-16-2008, 01:08 PM
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I would replace the coolant valve that is used to control the transmission cooling.
It is located in the bottom of your coolant tank.

If this valve goes completely bad you will have to replace the transmission.
Exactly.

Smolck - there is a transmission thermostat in the base of the expansion tank. It controls coolant flow through the transmission cooler. If the tank is leaking or the thermostat is bad, the heat exchanger for the auto gearbox isn't getting coolant. Probably fine when things are cold; not so much when things warm up.

You said you have a leaking tank; I would replace both the tank and the thermostat (and belts/hoses too).

I read your previous posts and doubt the problem is electrical. That stuff tends to be binary - it either works or it doesn't.
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JUST...LOOK...UNDER...THE...CAR....for Chrissakes....it`s like checking to see if a dog is male or female....
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A bimmer with forced induction should have a proper manual gearbox. Anything less is like french kissing your sister.
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  #24  
Old 08-16-2008, 01:44 PM
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Exactly.

Smolck - there is a transmission thermostat in the base of the expansion tank. It controls coolant flow through the transmission cooler. If the tank is leaking or the thermostat is bad, the heat exchanger for the auto gearbox isn't getting coolant. Probably fine when things are cold; not so much when things warm up.

You said you have a leaking tank; I would replace both the tank and the thermostat (and belts/hoses too).

I read your previous posts and doubt the problem is electrical. That stuff tends to be binary - it either works or it doesn't.
So in your opinion is changing fluid less likely to help versus your suggestion?
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  #25  
Old 08-16-2008, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott ZHP View Post
Exactly.

Smolck - there is a transmission thermostat in the base of the expansion tank. It controls coolant flow through the transmission cooler. If the tank is leaking or the thermostat is bad, the heat exchanger for the auto gearbox isn't getting coolant. Probably fine when things are cold; not so much when things warm up.

You said you have a leaking tank; I would replace both the tank and the thermostat (and belts/hoses too).

I read your previous posts and doubt the problem is electrical. That stuff tends to be binary - it either works or it doesn't.
Quote:
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So in your opinion is changing fluid less likely to help versus your suggestion?
OK, Mr. smolck, I'm a little reluctant to make fun of you, ....... but I'm gonna do it any way!

Let's think about this. If your tranny and its current fluid are getting too hot because they're not getting sufficient cooling it does stand to reason that absent correcting the cooling issue the tranny and new fluid would also get too hot, right?

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