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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been getting a slow drip off the shift linkage for a while now. When I looked into a solution it appeared the seal for the selector rod (shifter shaft) was the likely culprit. I took it to a well recognized automatic transmission shop to replace the seal. They replaced the seal, but indicated it could be a worn selector rod (shifter shaft) so the seal may not stop the leak. With the new seal in place the leak is now worse.

There solution is to drop the transmission and open the tranny to replace the worn selector rod. However, if I do this then they've suggested I might as well do a "refresh" of the transmission at that point as they need open the tranmission to replace the rod.

The transmission is perfectly fine with only 160,000 kms (100,000 miles) on it. There is nothing wrong with it besides the leak.

Anyone experience this same issue and have found a fix?
 

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If I’m understanding correctly where you say the leak originates this is a very common failure point.

There is a special tool to remove the seal and you can buy a new seal as well. Without dropping the trans if I remember correctly.

Maybe someone else can chime in with a link.

Edit: I just reread your post. Not sure if a new seal would fix the issue if the shaft itself is worn.

Sent from my iPhone using E46Fanatics
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That would be great if someone has already tackled this task. I took it to the transmission shop as it appeared there was no way of getting the seal in while the transmission was in place.

Where I can get a new seal would also be great info?

I think I will have to experiment with adding a little RVT gasket sealant to the seal to tighten it up a bit if the shaft is worn.

I really don't want to have to pay the money to pull the transmission over a simple seal leak!
 

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Discussion Starter #5

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Yeah, Google search works better than the forum tool.

I'm having same problem. Replaced seal twice but still leaks. Now, I'm trying the washer and o-ring 'fix':
E46 5L40E selector seal - o-ring.jpg.jpg E46 5L40E selector seal, washer over o-ring.jpg.jpg E46 5L40E selector seal, washer o-ring trick.jpg.jpg

The washer is a 1/2 x 3/4 x 1/16 thrust bearing, copper I think, and fits well with no interference. The o-ring in pic is temporary and for a faucet (1/2 X 11/16 X 3/32). Tried this last weekend so not sure yet how well it works.

Yesterday, I received a pack of 12mm ID by 4mm wide Viton o-rings that I want to try. Read about these on another thread and think they will fit better but i haven't had a chance to install yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sweet! This the kind of fix I'm talking about. Watched a youtube video of a guy doing the seal job. He lifted the engine off the motor mounts so he could twist it and the tranny sideways to get enough room to fit the seal tool in place to pull and replace. Did not look like anything I'm interested in particularly given I just change my motor and tranny mounts about 2 weeks ago while the tranny fluid dripped on my forehead from this leak. I have little to no patience to go back and do the job over again when there I such a low probability of success.

LeverThis can you provide further clarity on where you are going to place the viton O-rings? Will it be replacing that yellow sink faucet washer or go behind the copper washer and be pressed back against the original seal?

Secondly, what is the faucet washer doing to assist in stopping the leak? Is it just helping to align the shifter shafts so it has an even seat on the seal?

BTW, I use viton O-rings on the header of my 2 stroke 300 KTM with excellent results. They will last for years without any deformation in a very high heat environment. I usually just end up pitch breaking them when putting back on the exhaust rahter that actually wearing them out. I'd also suggest them for the vanos if you haven't done it yet.
 

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I should have mentioned to read the pictures from left to right, as a step 1, 2 and 3 essentially.

First place the o-ring over the selector shaft and against the leaking seal on the side of the housing (pic 1). Its hard to see in pic 1 because of the lighting but look closely at the selector shaft and you should be able to see the o-ring. Next, place the copper washer over the o-ring, making sure the ID of washer fits onto selector shaft (pic 2). Then, install the flat and wide shift arm/lever and tighten it down (pic 3). In theory, when you tighten down shift arm it will compress the washer into the o-ring which in turn should seal the leak ... in theory.

I had to top up the transmission fluid last weekend, so I just used whatever I could find at the hardware store as a first iteration. I'm happy with the copper washer, but they didn't have viton o-rings anywhere near the size needed so I had to order those separately.

Never thought I'd say this but, as far as o-rings go, these viton ones look really nice, so hopefully I'll have a chance to install this weekend. For the VANOS rebuild, I used the Beisan kit, which also uses viton for the o-rings.

BTW, post #9 from the thread below is where I got dimensions for the viton o-ring.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpost.php?p=16716698
You will not be able to remove the rest of the seal containing the metal casing without dropping the tranny. Trust me. I did the same thing trying to remove it with the tranny in place. I got about half of it out which was about 4 mm depth. My alternative was to use a Viton oring placed over the old seal. I think it was a 20 mm OD x 12 mm ID and it fit the gap perfectly. You need to use an appropriately sized washer held in place by the metal plate which fits over the shaft.

The washer with the right thickness will apply enough pressure to the oring to seal the gap. This fix has held up for almost 8 months with not even a drip of fluid. If it starts to leak again I will merely replace the oring. I'm not screwing around trying to remove what's left of the old seal. A major PITA.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Makes obvious sense once you point it out. I got fixated on that yellow o-ring on the linkage when looking at the pictures. I forgot it was on the linkage.

Thanks for the tip and clarity on the instructions.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I went to do the "fix" yesterday and this is what I found for the seal replacement the transmission shop did.

From the descriptions I've read on line, it sounds like you need a mirror to see the seal. This does not look correct to me at all.

Can anyone confirm with a picture the correct position of the seal?
 

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I went to do the "fix" yesterday and this is what I found for the seal replacement the transmission shop did.

From the descriptions I've read on line, it sounds like you need a mirror to see the seal. This does not look correct to me at all.

Can anyone confirm with a picture the correct position of the seal?
Good lord ... they didn't seat the new seal all the way in. Yes, that's the right seal but it should be pushed in quite a bit.

Edit: dug through my pictures, below is one of the original shaft seal and how deep it was seated:
E46 5L40e, original selector shaft seal depth.jpg.jpg

Next pic is how I seated the replacement seals:
E46 5L40e, replaced selector shaft seal.jpg.jpg
 

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Viton o-ring 4mm by 12 mm by 20mm fits perfect

So, before all else you need to fully seat the "replacement" seal. It might even work correctly if properly installed but it is a very, VERY, tight fit though and easy to damage new seal on the way in ... see what I mentioned in the e46fanatics thread above in post 5 for details.

A 14mm 12 point socket is too big, while a 13mm 12 point socket works but is likely to damage the inner lip of the seal unless centered very well. The old seal would be ideal but you probably don't have it. Having said that, once you get it seated, a 4x12x20 Viton o-ring should fit very nicely in that area if it still leaks.

I installed the new o-ring today and will check again next weekend. Here's how new o-ring looks before reattaching the shift arm:
E46 5L40e selector shaft, 4x12x20 Viton o-ring.jpg.jpg

Hopefully, this one works.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Once I saw the seal, I suspected it was not all the way in. Your picture is very helpful as I wanted to know how far the seal needs to go in to be properly seated.

I'm taking it back to the shop for them to do again as I'm concerned they didn't get the original seal out and, therefore, couldn't get it seated all the way in. Secondly, they should have the proper size tool to push the seal into place.

I'm serious about this automatic transmission shop being the best around in our parts. Not only that, I got a recommendation from a BMW mechanic to send it there as that's where they sent all their vehicles. Hopefully, they will be embarrassed enough to do the job correctly this time for free.

When putting back together the shifter linkage, I assume the shifter shaft has to be pushed all the way forward (which should be in the 'Park' position) before tightening the linkage? I lost track of the position of shifter shaft when attempting to take off the nut. The most forward position on the shifter shaft 'appears' to me to be too far forward from when I started the job. Not sure I'm missing something here or it's just my imagination. I can't imagine it would anything but full forward position considering it is an automatic in a sequential back movement to put it from Park to Drive.
 

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Glad the pictures helped. Hopefully the transmission shop will finish what they started. Let us know how that works out. One would think a specialized transmission shop could figure this out, one would think ... frankly I'm starting not to be surprised anymore by this kind of thing.

As far as them leaving the original seal in, of course anything is possible, but at least part of the original seal must have been removed, otherwise I don't think the new one would have gone in as far as it did - the seal is over 8mm deep. They may have tried to remove the original with a pick tool or screw driver and destroyed the top half while leaving the bottom/deeper half of the seal in - that essentially is what happened in the thread I linked to above in post #8.

Btw, there is no clearance to use the proper removal tool unless the tranny is lowered, which requires dropping the exhaust and detaching the driveshaft, among other things. Based on how much they charged to replace the seal, one might extrapolate as to whether they used the proper tool or took a shortcut and just went at the seal with a pick...

Yeah, the shifter (in the car) and the selector shaft (at the tranny) need to be in the same position. Even without moving things, though, it can be difficult to get the shift arm back on the shaft and I've always had to loosen the little plastic bracket (two 10mm bolts) holding the linkage to the tranny. That gives enough slack in the linkage to get the shift arm back in place, then attach the bracket.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, the saga continues....

The shop was very surprised by the seal being unseated. They apologized and took the car back in and replaced the seal for free. The seal started leaking again right away. They said it sounds like a breather issue with a blockage creating excessive pressure in the transmission which is pushing the seal out of it's seat or fluid past the shifter shaft at the seal.

I questioned them on how you can get a blockage on a sealed transmission? They said it happens, but is not something they see on this transmission. So, I questioned...maybe parts of the original seal ended up in the transmission which is causing the blockage? They were doubtful (no surprise!) it could be parts of the original seal given it is pulled out from the outside of the transmission.

So short of the long, back to the shop for an exploratory diagnostic. Don't believe I have any other options at this time and, again, they are a BMW recommended shop.

After they get it sorted next week, I'll report back on the conclusion.
 

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That sucks. I don't know about a breather issue (seems like a stretch), but I do agree it is doubtful that part of old seal went into trans. Breather vent is on top of transmission btw, so they'ld have to drop the exhaust and remove the driveshaft, and then tilt down or drop the trany to work on that. I suspect they aren't sure and are buying time.
 

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Update: Viton o-ring & copper washer has fixed the selector shaft leak

BMWcanman, I hope you've made progress on the selector shaft seal & the transmission shop.

It's been almost 2 months since I put in the 12mm x 4mm Viton o-ring and the copper washer, and I can find no evidence of a leak anymore.

Unfortunately, the atf level was slightly low (it was dripping out, not a small stream) and the car has been shifting funny again recently, but without obvious evidence of an external leak anywhere... I topped off and will check again in a month or two.
 

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I wish I had simply done the o-ring and washer solution from the start. I couldn't remove the existing seal with the transmission in place. I'm sure I totally mangled the seal. So, I went to Plan B and installed the 12mm x 4mm o-ring with the 1/2" ID x 3/4" OD bronze thrust bearing keeping the mangled old seal in place, and voila - no leak. At least for now.

LeverThis - thanks for all the details and photos. I think for me, the hardest part (other than struggling to get the old seal out) was I removed the cable bracket completely and access is tight to get those two 10mm bolts back in. Had I planned on the o-ring/washer solution from the start, I would have simply loosened those bolts as suggested. Picture is after topping off the fluid and after a test drive and the area is completely dry.
 

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I wish I had simply done the o-ring and washer solution from the start.
Same here, I completely agree. Glad I could help.

For anyone else dealing with this, Plan A should be o-ring & washer over the original seal, unless you have the trans out of the car for some reason.

Mine shows no sign of leaking yet.
 

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I have my 330i up on the quick jack changing out a number of items which included the oil pain gasket and control arms and noticed a leak coming from the linkage. Man I'm sick of the leaks. :ben: Anyway, I'm glad I came across this post. Seems like an easy way to take care of a major issue/job. One question I have is about the thrust bearing you used. Where did you pick your's up and would this work?
https://www.motionindustries.com/productDetail.jsp?sku=00009149

The viton o-rings I should be able to get at number of places. I'm going to be ordering the parts ASAP... I'm waiting on steering rack boots to get here before I drop the car off the lift.

Thanks!!!
 
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