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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I want an E46 coupe, as a paraplegic w/wheelchair must use an automatic & my '86 528e is fading fast. Since many of you have more experience or knowledge with the E46 AT's is there one should I avoid? I can look at fluid color and feel shifts, but is there any way to tell if it might die soon via codes? What preventative measures are there, if any? We all know the motors are good for 300K+ miles and the BMW is a car that's fun to drive!

I looked at a 528i that uses A5S-390R and they guy had all maintenance records, but not the tranny & I asked the guy to check w/his dealer. He called Motorwerks BMW of MN and they said "Do not change fluid if things are working now or expect problems". I have been frustrated by mixed information about fluids as well. Not only from dealers, repair manuals, sellers, mechanics, but even BMW. If lifetime oil do they sell filters just for repairs not maintenance? Do you put the old fluid back in? On fixed income I can't keep buying vehicles then putting in another $1000, $2000 or more right away to keep them running. This is a great forum.

THANK YOU,

"The Token Gimp"

p.s. GM's 5L50E the replacement for the 5L40E is supposed to handle 30% more torque. My 99 240HP Pontiac GTP had 4L60E went out at 66K miles. After rebuild & rewired motor pushing 300HP tranny took a lot more of torque w/o issue :^)

ALL VEHICLE Automatic Transmission List FYI:
http://www.automaticchoice.com/Catalogue/v_index.pdf
 

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Definitely change the transmission fluid no matter what if you plan on keeping the car and are pre-100k miles. Not changing it is ridiculous... the fluid to use for the GM Trans is Dexron VI now since BMW discontinued all the other fluids. I believe that the ZF trans use a different fluid though.
Obviously you didn't read Neil's thread. Or the other 1000 posts out there about this. You can read till your head spins about whether or not to change the fluid on an auto tranny, but ask around and see who has changed it and had problems and who has not an has had problems. I can speak only from experience, my buddy's E39 2000 528i has 160K+ miles, fluid has never been changed, never had any issues with his tranny. Still shifting perfectly. My wife's E46 2001 325iT has 110K, never changed the fluid, never had problems with the tranny, still shifting smooth as butta. My buddy's wife's 1999 E46 328i has about 120K, never changed the fluid, still shifting like a champ.

I guess the best bet for your situation is to find a car with about 100K miles or less that has NOT had the tranny fluid changed, and then you can read all you want and make up your own mind. Getting a car that has had the tranny fluid changed by someone could potentially lead to many problems depending on if they knew what they were doing. Plus, Neil's multiple threads about this speaks the knowledge from deeply investigating the matters at hand, and that is worth it's weight in gold.
 

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I believe that changing the tranny fluid is essential, if you start changing it at the 50-60k mark...If you buy a car at even 80-90k....fugidaboudit

Past that 50-60k mark you are asking for more trouble...but I don't believe that there is a fluid out there that is really designed to be lifetime...its a conundrum because nobody can state how long "lifetime" is...
 

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I would simply stay away from the early ZF 5HP transmissions found in a lot of BMWs (whether it be a 18, 19 (the one found in the E46), 24, 25, 30 etc). I can't talk about anything outside of the scope of BMWs, but almost every 5HP has a problem associated with it.

Any auto in a post 2002 325/330 should be fine. I personally would try to find a 330 auto as it will be rated for a higher torque. The later the model year, the better though in regards to the expected reliability of the auto.
 

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http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=706809

Neil wrote this up, It explains the no reverse problems associated with some transmissions. But the likelihood of that happening is greater if you have a A5S325Z (ZF) transmission.

and a free bump :hi:
:luv:

Definitely change the transmission fluid no matter what if you plan on keeping the car and are pre-100k miles. Not changing it is ridiculous... the fluid to use for the GM Trans is Dexron VI now since BMW discontinued all the other fluids. I believe that the ZF trans use a different fluid though.
Obviously you didn't read Neil's thread. Or the other 1000 posts out there about this. You can read till your head spins about whether or not to change the fluid on an auto tranny, but ask around and see who has changed it and had problems and who has not an has had problems. I can speak only from experience, my buddy's E39 2000 528i has 160K+ miles, fluid has never been changed, never had any issues with his tranny. Still shifting perfectly. My wife's E46 2001 325iT has 110K, never changed the fluid, never had problems with the tranny, still shifting smooth as butta. My buddy's wife's 1999 E46 328i has about 120K, never changed the fluid, still shifting like a champ.

I guess the best bet for your situation is to find a car with about 100K miles or less that has NOT had the tranny fluid changed, and then you can read all you want and make up your own mind. Getting a car that has had the tranny fluid changed by someone could potentially lead to many problems depending on if they knew what they were doing. Plus, Neil's multiple threads about this speaks the knowledge from deeply investigating the matters at hand, and that is worth it's weight in gold.
BMW even frowns upon not changing the fluid. They have said loud and clear that they recommend changing the fluid by 100k miles.
I say that although the fluid does eventually degrade, that BMW's new 100k "lifetime fill" is on par with what I've noticed. Changing fluid at anything earlier than 100k is a waste in my opinion. Yeah the real "lifetime fill" is complete bs, but BMW's updated 100k recommendation is spot on if you ask me. No where do I say that I agree with the real "lifetime fill" that is nonsense :hi:

If the OP wants a solid automatic transmission he doesn't have to worry about no reverse happening to, he should opt for a car with a 390R.

I'm not a real mechanic so nobody here should take what I say as truth, it is but mere opinion. Do with it what you will from what you know of me :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No to draining the tranny fluid

Thanks. I read enough to figure out not changing fluids was the best option. Neal has it down.
Just trying to clarify which of the transmissions that aren't great successful.
I'm looking at four cars with a wide price range. an 03 M3 w/SMG w/34k for $23K and warranty, an 06 325i w/45K, for $17,5 an 04 330Ci w/32K for $19 and an 02 330Ci w/93K for $13K. Colors in order are Silver, Alpine, Black or Smoke Grey all have black leather
Obviously the M3 w/warranty and I will be seeing the car this week to check it out. Carfax history is clean. The 06 is pristine one owner w/two dings in the hood and I can drive only so fast anyway, The 04 might be over priced, but the 330 is a nice option in between fast and efficient. I like driving, but hate buying cars. Again thank you.
 

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03 M3 w/SMG w/34k for $23K and warranty <-------- Great car but SMGs have problems of their own. But :drool: anyway

06 325i w/45K, for $17,5 <--------- would be a great little car, my second pick

04 330Ci w/32K for $19 <------- I'd go for this one, 04s are a great year and you cant go wrong with a 330

02 330Ci w/93K for $13K. <----- meh
 

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03 M3 w/SMG w/34k for $23K and warranty <-------- Great car but SMGs have problems of their own. But :drool: anyway

06 325i w/45K, for $17,5 <--------- would be a great little car, my second pick

04 330Ci w/32K for $19 <------- I'd go for this one, 04s are a great year and you cant go wrong with a 330

02 330Ci w/93K for $13K. <----- meh
+1 I agree
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Cool. I'd rather have 330Ci anyway and it's black the least ticketed color:^)
If I found a mid 80's M3 for collector value great, but I'd rather have a reliable long term car with more than enough merging power.
 
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