BMW E46 Fanatics Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Put the Snap-On tools through their paces today, and installed a BMW-factory rebuilt trans in my daugthers E46 323i (100K miles on the clock). Started at 9:30 a.m and finished at 6:30 p.m. with a one hour break for lunch. It took exactly as long as Brett Andersen of Koala Motorsports in Ohio had said it would.

The hardest part, BY FAR, was belly-crawling under the car time and time and time again. My 52-year-old bones protested mightily on the cold concrete floor, and the last 2 hours were really tough as arthritic joints and a stiff neck almost put the an end to the job for the day. But when all you have left is to install the driveshaft, heat shields and the exhaust, then you just keep on pushing. This would have been so much easier to do on a walk-under lift. Jackstand work SUCKS.

I had all the tools in my Snappy Box, but foolishly sold off my Snap-On magnetic extensions last year. Those really would have come in handy today and instead I had to tape the bolts onto the sockets as I fed them along the 50" of extensions to the bellhousing for attachment. Never sell off your tools that you think you won't need.

It's been almost 30 years since I pulled a trans, and that was a manual box on a '63 Corvette. So I approached this job with some apprehension, wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew. Brett assured me it was most likely in my capabilities, and sourced a BMW factory rebuilt trans for me.

There are two auto trans for the E46n 323i, the ZF and a French-built GM trans. Of course, mine had to be the latter, which was $ 1,000 more expensive than the ZF. Drat.

I had a friend come over for the actual trans pull, glad I did as that would be very hard to do solo, and to install the new one as well. At one point he quipped "I need richer friends who can afford to take their cars into the shop."

Odd notes:

* There is NO ROOM in the trans tunnel to work. Very, very tight. Domestic cars and trucks have FAR more access.

* If you ever do this, buy a pair of O2 sensors, as they are so easy to get to with the trans out. I wish I had thought of that ahead of time.

* Replaced the Guibo which still looked good, but at 100K miles why not? I failed to buy new exhaust gaskets and should have, other than that, everything else was with the new trans.

* You need a LOT of extensions to pull a trans on a BMW. Both straight and wobbles. Bolts were really corroded in the bell housing, making it difficult to get them out. Surprisingly, after cleaning them up they installed very easily.

* Fookin' exhaust is 1-piece from the manifold to the tailpipe, and that includes (1) Cat, (1) Resonator, and (1) muffler in the pipestream. Good God, that sucker is heavy, and it comes down RIGHT NOW when you pull the last fastener.

Double-checked everything along the way and pulled it off the jackstands, then sweated out the test drive in the newly fallen snow. Who doesn't hate it when you do major work on a car and something slips or goes clank and you have a do-over. Thankfully, the trans engaged perfectly, shifts sweetly and other the burning off some trans fluid on the manifold, drives like a brand new car. I was so jazzed I called Brett and told him (had to call him 2x earlier in the day for tech advice) and he told me that I saved $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 over taking it to a shop. He said next time I could do it in 6, and that his guys do it in 5 on the lift.

So my $ 8,700 car has become a $ 13,000 car with all the parts I've put in it, but now its all fixed and I see nothing else that needs repair other than a new Serpentine belt. My hot deal on the '99 323i has evaporated, but on the other hand, I have a car for my daughter that is very solid right now and doesn't need anything else.

Feels good to turn wrenches and get the job done right the first time. I do need a twin post lift though - doin' that crap on the floor under jack stands is ridiculous.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
very nice job! if my tranny ever craps out, i'll be sure to follow in ur footsteps, this def gives ppl with slush boxes hope.

few more questions

how much was rebuilt tranny?

could u reuse the old drive shafts? or does everything need to be replced?
Thanks Stephen,

Well, my pal Brett gave me a killer price on the trans, but the GM unit lists at the BMW dealer for $ 4,400, and the ZF unit for $ 3,350. I can't disclose what I paid for the unit, but it was less than $ 4,400. THe BMW trans is either new or rebuilt (they intermix them) and comes with a 2 year warranty.

A new Guibo is around $ 80, and the only other thing you need is a pair of exhaust gaskets. (replace your 02 Sensors as well if they have over 80K miles on them, easy to do with the trans out).

Used trans are $ 1,200 to $ 1,600 at the junkyard with 60K to 90K on them. I just can't see putting in a used unit as the auto trans in the E46 is a weak spot and known to start failing at 100K miles.

Drive shafts look great, as did the center bearing. Guibos usually fail at 100K to 150K miles so I just replaced mine as a matter of course, even though it was not cracked or hard.

Mark the spline on the center bearing shaft with a dab of paint so it goes back into the same spot on re-install. You have to separate the driveshaft during the procedure (it just slides apart)

-Duane
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,018 Posts
Nice job Brett is a good guy I know him from the bimmer tech group and we buy our perfomace diffs from him
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,426 Posts
Great Job! Sounds like a very intense DIY.

Makes my ATF change seem like a walk in the park.

And yes... Jackstands aren't fun at all to work under.

Congrats :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,916 Posts
Wow! Amazing job.

I was helping my friend do rear brakes on his Jetta and it sucked. It was so damn cold in the garage. We then attempted to do front ball joint but gave up due to the cold.

He was quoted $350 for rear brake pads, right ball joint (incl. install)
I got him the parts online for $65 and now he'll have to pay 1hr labour to get the ball joint replaced but he's still saving over $200

Long live DIY (but not in cold) :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,531 Posts
excellent work! not an easy DIY to pull off..especially in the cold. :bow:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
66 Posts
i have a '99 323i also, with 154k miles on it, and my trans is still going great, i had diaganostics run on it and other vital components a few months ago so im wondering, did your tranny crap out or did you just feel like replacing it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
118 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
i have a '99 323i also, with 154k miles on it, and my trans is still going great, i had diaganostics run on it and other vital components a few months ago so im wondering, did your tranny crap out or did you just feel like replacing it?
I never fix anything thats not broke, especially at the price of a trans!

It was shifting poorly (very hard shifts) and had a loud buzz in it. A few weeks ago it puked ATF all over the driveway and I said 'Thats it'! Done. Pan gasket was wet, and although it may have gone a few more weeks, better to do it now while its on the home turf rather than send a flatbed to fetch it up when it broke down away from home. The Trans fluid was burned when I drained it today. It was due.

If you have 154K out of your original automatic, you're doing great! Most do not last that long.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top