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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I'm new to the workings of an e46. I've owned this car about a month and a half and I'm still figuring out its 'quirks.'

Two days ago I powered into a turn on a cold engine (just leaving work). Everything was fine until about the end of 3rd gear when the transmission hesitated, the RPMs climbed like it slipped into neutral for a second then dropped heavy into 4th. After that, I got a warning light (exclamation point inside gear on instrument panel) and the car never seemed to drop out of 3rd even at a complete stop. This obviously made accelerating from a stop super weak and the car sounded like crap. My commute is about 10 minutes and once home, I shut it down, started it back up and everything was back to normal. No lights, no problems shifting. I've been careful to the let the engine get to operating temp before getting on it and so far I've had no issues. I have no warning light to check for codes, just concerned for problems down the road. Any thoughts?

It's a 2003 330i ZHP automatic with 124k. Only engine mods to my knowledge are ZHP cam and cone filter intake. Low coolant light comes on when the heat is running but I have to believe that's unrelated, just thought I'd mention it. Any help is appreciated!
 

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The shifting you described there is called "Shift Flare." It is very common on Volvos and is your gears slipping between gear changes. I would suggest changing out your fluid and filter and seeing if that helps. I did that 5 times on my 2003 325i with a ZF 5HP19 transmission and have had no issues since. I'm also pretty sure that limp mode defaults the car into fifth gear rather than third. Did you get a check engine light when this happened? It would be helpful if you could get your TCM scanned for error codes with INPA. A code like 53 or 54 on INPA would mean 3rd or 4th gear slippage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the suggestion! The check engine light never came on when this happened but it very well could have been 5th gear in limp mode. I'm still used to my e30 manual transmission lol. Did you change the fluid 5 times in a row to essentially flush the system? Also, will the TCM throw any codes even if the warning light is off?

Thanks again!
 

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I got the cog light when I had multiple vacuum leaks with no check engine light, it could be something simple but also something more. If you read enough you will find the majority of posts say your tranny is dead but don't give up yet. The cog can only be cleared by a bmw specific scanner or a shop. But a scanner like INPA or car soft.
 

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I changed the fluid 5 times because I kept getting error codes. At first it was every two days, but that was because it was underfilled. Then it was every other week. After changing again, it was every two weeks. Then after changing two more times, I have not gotten any error codes for months. The car did not have any noticeable level of slippage even with the old fluid.
 

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Try isaddle.com for P A Soft. Have you checked out all your vacuum lines, valve cover gasket, intake boots etc., since you are new to the car? Also get an OBDfusion app for your phone and the plug in adapter before anything else starts happening. Lots of info on this site if you search.
 

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2001 E46 330Ci, LSD diff, Dinan performance, Facelifted Mpackage
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey djnekkon, so far it's only happened one time and it was after I got on it with a cold engine. Since then I've been careful to let it get to operating temp before pouring the coals. I may take a look at one of these scanners to get to the heart of it.
 
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