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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first post, but I've been reading many others on these issues.

My car is a 1999 328i auto without steptronic.

1. In the past two days, my emergency shift mode indicator has come on. Both times, I pulled over within a mile and turned the car off to reset. The difference between my situation and all the others I've read about is the fact that I never feel any actual problems with the transmission before or after the (!) comes up on the dash. Also, after going into emergency shift mode, the car does not go into limp mode and seems to drive perfectly. Most of the transmission failures I've read about seem to be with "steptronic" transmissions. My questions would be then: is this an indicator of a failing transmission? Should I sell the car now? I have read that doing a fluid change might help but then I've also read that can make things worse.

2. From reading other posts, I believe I have a valve gasket leak. I get the smoke smell in the car when the heater is on and can see smoke coming out of the engine in small bursts after turning the car off and opening the hood. My question here is: how serious of a problem is this? Do I need to get this fixed right away or ever? I think I can deal with the smell and will check my oil frequently.

Thanks so much
 

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ROLL TIDE!
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Answer to #2. It is not "serious" and is very easy to replace. Even novice mechanics have successfully replaced it with little issues. It is more of a mind issue (dealing with the sight and sound of smoke and freaking out) than a mechanical one.

Answer #1. I had the exact same problem on my 99 323 with a non-step auto. It had 140k miles on it when I started getting the light, sometimes it would go to limp mode, sometimes not. I decided that I would change the fluid (cause in my mind, it was gonna die anyway so might as well give it a shot) and see what happened. In my case, it completely fixed the problem! I used Valvoline max life ATF and drained the pan, replaced the pan gasket and filter, and cleaned the magnet that catches sludge and that was it. Filled her back up with the ATF and all is well at 164k miles and going. Still drives and shifts smooth as butter. I would say if you want to keep the car, might as well give it a shot. If you want a new car or don't want to deal with this one, sell it, but give full disclosure to the buyer.

Personally I think the "don't change the fluid you could do more damage" is crazy. I mean, if you do a manual drain and fill (not a power fluid exchanger) you are only gonna change about 40% of the fluid. But hey, I sort of wanted mine to fail because it would be the excuse I need to swap in a manual, but it ended up adding 25k miles of trouble free driving!

Good luck and search my name for auto trans on the forum as my woes were well documented
 
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