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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone, just bought my first BMW a month ago and have really loved driving it. The PPI revealed 4 leaks. I fixed two (PS pressure hose and oil filter housing gasket), and the VCG is waiting until I decide if I need to do the VANOS seals. But now I need some advice on the shift selector rod seal. This is a 2003 330i ZHP with the 6-spd MT.

I bought the seal for $11 from Pelican Parts along with a new roll pin but am unsure if I can drop the exhaust and disconnect the driveshaft by myself using 4 jackstands and no lift. I got under the car and looked for it but couldn't see the selector rod, probably because the driveshaft and transmission reinforcement plate were in the way. Indie shop in Glendale (Los Angeles) quoted me $400 to replace it. Can anyone who's done this advise me how hard it is? Specifically...

  • Is it easy for one person to drop the exhaust?
  • When removing tranny reinforcement plate, do I have to support the tranny with a jack?
  • Do I disconnect driveshaft from guibo or guibo from tranny or both? Meaning if I leave the guibo in there will it block access to selector rod?
  • When reattaching driveshaft, do I need to use new nuts? new bolts?
  • Can I just let the driveshaft front end rest on the floor, or do I need to tie it to something?
  • After disconnecting shifter linkage from selector rod, how do I get the old seal out?
  • Any special tools needed like a puller? I think I have one 18mm combo wrench and one 18mm socket for disconnecting driveshaft/guibo from tranny.
I am reasonably okay at car DIYs but have never worked on driveshafts or shifter linkages before.

<edit>Forgot to say I did search the forums for this info first but couldn't find anything under "selector rod seal" or "transmission leak" or "selector rod seal replacement". One of the threads covered replacing mentioned replacing it along with the output shaft seal, but simply said it was easy to do the selector seal and hard to do the output shaft seal.

--John
 

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A lot of cars have this leak but its not an issue. Its not really a leak but just gets damp. Its certainly not something to worry about
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I live in Dana Point, the Southern end of Orange County. About 45 minutes to La Jolla if there's no traffic. Or if you meant jneumann, I assume he's somewhere in Wisconsin!

I called the indie shop in Sacramento that inspected my car before I bought it and they were nice enough to give me general guidelines on this. They said drop the exhast, disconnect driveshaft from tranny and lay it aside, disconnect selector rod linkage, then use small flat-blade screwdriver to pry out the old seal. They didn't get into details like whether to remove the guibo or part of the heat shield, but I was happy just to have them call me back with some free advice. I also read a different thread here from someone who was installing a Short-Shift kit. He removed the transmission support brace and supported the tranny on a jack so he could lower and raise it as he installed the new shifter.

My Chilton's guide explains how to disconnect the shifter linkage from the selector rod and the RealOEM diagram is helpful. Wondering if the Bentley manual has more detail on doing this. I'm going to have a go at this sometime in the next 3 weeks and will try to take some pictures to make it a DIY guide.

Diagram showing selector seal location (6MT, part 8)
Diagram showing shifter linkage for 6MT
Diagram showing different linkage (5spd?)
 

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It's a bit of a pain but the hardest part is actually removing the seal without scratching the metal. The seal tends to get a bit hard and it can be tough to pry out.
 

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Honestly if its just weeping oil a little bit then I wouldn't bother. Dropping the exhaust and removing the driveshaft isn't hard, but for such a silly part I personally would spend that time doing preventative maintenance on the cooling system or replacing the oil filter housing gasket (which I'm sure is actually leaking oil everywhere right now), etc.

If its actually leaking bad as in leaving drops on the garage floor then I take that back. Probably a huge pain to do with the tranny still in the car though, space up in there near the tranny is pretty tight.

EDIT: just noticed you not only had the oil filter housing gasket leak but already fixed it ;) I love how all our cars have the same exact issues, makes trouble shooting so much easier, especially with this forum to help.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hey everyone thanks for the advice. I think the tranny selector seal is leaking pretty slowly, not dripping on the floor but did make the back of the transmission case dark with oily gunk. Yeah did the oil filter housing gasket last week, but didn't use enough torque on the 6 bolts the first time (200 inch lbs, which is only 16.7 foot-lbs). It kept leaking so I took out the alternator again, went to 24 foot lbs, and the leak seems fixed.

Following all your advice, I will put this at the bottom of my maint. list. Next is the valve cover gasket, which is giving me occasional burning oil smells by dripping onto the exhaust. Then the motor mounts, which I just discovered yesterday were broken. Two years ago the cooling system was refreshed at 75,000 miles, so I figure I have at least another 2 years or 15K miles (whichever comes first) before I have to do it again.
 

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The guy I took my car to for the PPI said that he'd charge four hours of labor to do the seal, otherwise he'd throw it in with a clutch job. If it's not leaving oil on the ground, I'd wait until you need a clutch to worry.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah 3.5 to 4 hours sounds like what most shops would charge for this. The last owner just had a new clutch kit put in before I bought the car. Unfortunately his mechanic didn't spot this leak or it would have been really easy to R&R the seal while the tranny was out of the car. But on the other hand he did replace the release fork and clutch slave cylinder at the time, so I am not complaining. One obstacle to doing it myself is I lack 18mm wrenches, and you need at least one (maybe 2) to disconnect the driveshaft. Somehow my larger metric wrenches run 14,15,17,19,21,22mm and skips 18. I have one 18mm socket but would still need a combo wrench to hold the bolt.

For 16mm I use a 5/8" wrench/socket but for 18mm? An 11/16" is just under 17.5mm while a 3/4" is just a hair bigger than 19mm. Kragen/O'reilly is having a 50% off sale on PowerBuilt and Alltrade tools... maybe they sell 18mm wrenches individually. Or just wait, since you guys have convinced me this is not that so urgent. I know how to check/fill the tranny fluid level.
 

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My E46 is also leaking trasmission oil from the Selector Shaft Seal. No leak when parked just a little moist around the shaft. With engine running, shifting through the gears, right away I noticed oil collecting around the shaft after couple of minutes. I've noticed the big some what dry spot of transmission oil stain on my garage floor, I estimated may be a drop over the weekend after a drive from work. I can't account for how much leak on the road. Oil does drain out from refill plug when I inspected the level. I have about 120k miles. From what I was able to find on the web, special tools required to remove the seal. Can anyone provide any advice how to use the special tool and what they are?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Cocolee: Mine was never dripping on the ground but the leaking fluid was making the rear part of my transmission moist. I bought an 18mm combo wrench (and already had an 18mm 1/2" socket) but in the end paid an indie mechanic to do this.

They showed me the old seal and I am fairly sure the "special tool" they used to remove the old seal was a small flat-bladed screwdriver. Obviously I can't speak from personal experience, but I think a small hook and pick set (with the right-angle and curved picks) might help for removal. What stopped me from doing it myself was that you have to remove the exhaust, disconnect and suspend the driveshaft (or maybe let it lay on the ground if you're using jackstands), then reach around the back of the transmission to disconnect the shifter linkage and replace the seal.

It's a good time to inspect your guibo and replace it if needed.
 
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