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Old 10-30-2019, 05:32 PM   #1
DrRonald
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323Ci Transmission Problems

I'll preface this by saying that I have scoured the forum and haven't been able to find exactly the answer I'm looking for.

My transmission decided to quit on me on my way to work yesterday. I got about 1/4 down the road and it started to lose power to the wheels. It would rev, and would move slightly more at higher revs, but gradually lost all ability to move. I left it parked on the side of the road for about 4 hours, then went and tried to move it at lunch. It seemed fine for about another 300 feet (at this point back towards my house since I was only about .5 miles from my house), then lost power again. I let it sit for another hour or so then got 300 more feet. Then another 2 hours and another 300 feet. Finally my girlfriend got home with her truck and I towed it the rest of the way home. Today I moved it into the garage and it seemed ok, but I'm sure it would lose power again. I'm not in a position to replace the trans (and I wouldn't bother even if I was considering the mileage) nor am I in a position to throw parts at it, so I am trying to narrow the issue down the best I can. Here are some details about the car:

- 2000 323Ci (coupe, not convertible)
- 205k miles (I have had it since 140k)
- A5S360R Transmission
- Transmission has not been serviced since I have owned the car. (I know. I am looking for advice, not a lecture)
- Reverse has been an issue since around 175k miles (presumably due to the D Drum), although in the last 3 months or so it has seemed better.
- Transmission has been going into limp mode every once in a while for the last week or two. Turning the car off and on would take it out of limp mode
- I have never had any issues with it shifting or slipping. It has however slowed rapidly a couple times in the last month (as if it suddenly downshifted)
- I reset the adaptive transmission and it didn't have any affect
- My first theory was that maybe there was a leak somewhere and the fluid was slowly draining back to the pan, hence my ability to drive it a short distance after it sitting. I opened the fill plug and trans fluid immediately poured out. The car was at a slight angle, but it was actually angled away from the fill plug, which I would expect would cause the level to seem lower.

My second theory is that the torque converter is shot, but I just can't figure out why it would run fine for 300 feet after sitting and then quit. That fact seems to be very consistent. In my experience, this is not how torque converters fail, but I also am not super experienced with BMW transmissions. They also have some parts in there that I'm not sure what it looks like when they fail. Again, I'm looking for advice on what could have failed from someone experienced with these transmissions, not advice on how to better care for my trans or how I should have handled the problems I saw. What's done is done at this point. Thanks in advance for any and all help.
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Old 10-30-2019, 05:54 PM   #2
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Of course, the problem with replacing it with a good used one is that a used one is also going to be 16+ years old. You could 'upgrade' to the GM version if you swap in the TCU also, or so I have been told.
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Old 10-30-2019, 06:29 PM   #3
cvx5832
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRonald View Post
I'll preface this by saying that I have scoured the forum and haven't been able to find exactly the answer I'm looking for.

My transmission decided to quit on me on my way to work yesterday. I got about 1/4 down the road and it started to lose power to the wheels. It would rev, and would move slightly more at higher revs, but gradually lost all ability to move. I left it parked on the side of the road for about 4 hours, then went and tried to move it at lunch. It seemed fine for about another 300 feet (at this point back towards my house since I was only about .5 miles from my house), then lost power again. I let it sit for another hour or so then got 300 more feet. Then another 2 hours and another 300 feet. Finally my girlfriend got home with her truck and I towed it the rest of the way home. Today I moved it into the garage and it seemed ok, but I'm sure it would lose power again. I'm not in a position to replace the trans (and I wouldn't bother even if I was considering the mileage) nor am I in a position to throw parts at it, so I am trying to narrow the issue down the best I can. Here are some details about the car:

- 2000 323Ci (coupe, not convertible)
- 205k miles (I have had it since 140k)
- A5S360R Transmission
- Transmission has not been serviced since I have owned the car. (I know. I am looking for advice, not a lecture)
- Reverse has been an issue since around 175k miles (presumably due to the D Drum), although in the last 3 months or so it has seemed better.
- Transmission has been going into limp mode every once in a while for the last week or two. Turning the car off and on would take it out of limp mode
- I have never had any issues with it shifting or slipping. It has however slowed rapidly a couple times in the last month (as if it suddenly downshifted)
- I reset the adaptive transmission and it didn't have any affect
- My first theory was that maybe there was a leak somewhere and the fluid was slowly draining back to the pan, hence my ability to drive it a short distance after it sitting. I opened the fill plug and trans fluid immediately poured out. The car was at a slight angle, but it was actually angled away from the fill plug, which I would expect would cause the level to seem lower.

My second theory is that the torque converter is shot, but I just can't figure out why it would run fine for 300 feet after sitting and then quit. That fact seems to be very consistent. In my experience, this is not how torque converters fail, but I also am not super experienced with BMW transmissions. They also have some parts in there that I'm not sure what it looks like when they fail. Again, I'm looking for advice on what could have failed from someone experienced with these transmissions, not advice on how to better care for my trans or how I should have handled the problems I saw. What's done is done at this point. Thanks in advance for any and all help.
I though the D-drum was only a problem on the ZF. And if that were the case you wouldn't get it back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by All2kool View Post
Of course, the problem with replacing it with a good used one is that a used one is also going to be 16+ years old. You could 'upgrade' to the GM version if you swap in the TCU also, or so I have been told.
I thought he already had the GM tranny.
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Old 10-30-2019, 09:00 PM   #4
All2kool
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Originally Posted by cvx5832 View Post
I thought he already had the GM tranny.
My bad. This chart indicates the 323 used both depending on production date but he did in fact indicate his is the GM.
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Old 10-30-2019, 09:45 PM   #5
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First thing is to scan the EGS for trouble codes. BMW Scanner 1.4 or INPA can do that. If you get a K+DCAN cable I will set up the software for you on your Windows laptop and show you how to scan the AT codes and view the AT live data.

See my DME Update thread for what you'll need. Link is below.
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:59 AM   #6
LeverThis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRonald View Post

- My first theory was that maybe there was a leak somewhere and the fluid was slowly draining back to the pan, hence my ability to drive it a short distance after it sitting. I opened the fill plug and trans fluid immediately poured out. The car was at a slight angle, but it was actually angled away from the fill plug, which I would expect would cause the level to seem lower.
Fyi, the fluid level needs to be checked with the engine running and the ATF temp between 85F and 120F or so. (On level ground, car on four jack stands/lift/rhino ramps.) When you open the fill plug there should be a "small stream" of ATF dribbling out.

If you managed to catch any of the fluid that leaked out, was there any metal bits or grit in it?
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:04 AM   #7
DrRonald
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvx5832 View Post

I though the D-drum was only a problem on the ZF. And if that were the case you wouldn't get it back.
Good info. If I get it running again, I'll look for the issue elsewhere. Thanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by BaliDawg View Post
First thing is to scan the EGS for trouble codes. BMW Scanner 1.4 or INPA can do that. If you get a K+DCAN cable I will set up the software for you on your Windows laptop and show you how to scan the AT codes and view the AT live data.

See my DME Update thread for what you'll need. Link is below.
I'll see if I can get my hands on one of those scanners or that cable. I think a buddy of mine had a K+DCAN cable. Not sure if he still has it though. Thanks


Quote:
Originally Posted by LeverThis View Post
Fyi, the fluid level needs to be checked with the engine running and the ATF temp between 85F and 120F or so. (On level ground, car on four jack stands/lift/rhino ramps.) When you open the fill plug there should be a "small stream" of ATF dribbling out.

If you managed to catch any of the fluid that leaked out, was there any metal bits or grit in it?
I'll try that tonight. It might take a while to get the trans up to temp. Is there a way to check trans temp on the dash with debug mode.
I checked and didn't notice any metal shavings, but my main concern was getting the plug back in so I didn't lose too much fluid. The fluid was pretty dark, but I suppose that is to be expected after 200k miles. Thanks for the info.
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Old 10-31-2019, 08:40 AM   #8
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Without more information (adaptation values & filling times for each drum) and given what you've said, I think it's a goner.

FYI The proper way to fill just about every BMW transmission is between 30-50C

Filling when hot, will reduce the overall fluid level due to expansion.

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Old 11-10-2019, 12:37 PM   #9
DrRonald
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So I just wanted to update this thread with what I found. I found it really strange that the car ran fine for a little while after sitting then I had nothing. Also the fact that it seemed overfilled was weird. So I finally came up with the theory that the filter was completely clogged, which was starving the trans for oil. My theory was that the debris was dripping off the filter and settling while the car sat, then getting sucked back up when it was running. I changed out the filter and the car runs just fine. Obviously with enough grit in there to clog the filter, and running the car for any amount of time with the trans starved, it's for sure a goner. However, at this point I am just driving it 5 miles to work and back, so I will continue to drive it until the trans goes out completely or I can afford to drop a new tranny in there. Maybe I'll get lucky and get a few thousand miles more out of it. Thanks for all the help.
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:14 AM   #10
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How bad was the ATF filter? Any photos?

Did you refill your GM transmission with fresh Dexron VI fluid?

If you open the fill plug with the engine off it will seem overfilled and ATF will pour out.
You need to check the ATF level with the engine running and the ATF warm, but not hot.
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