Hello there and welcome to the BMW Car Club of America.

If you are a BMW CCA member, please log in and introduce yourself in our Member Introductions section.

E32 Stuck in 2nd Gear

Discussion in 'E32 (1988-1994)' started by jagman212000, Aug 20, 2010.

    jagman212000 guest

    Post Count: 32
    Likes Received:1
    Hello everyone, I have a 94 740il and the trans is stuck in 2nd gear.When I take off the car will stay in 1st until I play with the winter/regular mode switch, then it will shift into second. That's it though, I cannot get the thing to do anymore. It ran fine earlier I drove it about 80 miles one way then this issue arised when it was time to come home. I have tried moving the selector, Switching the ignition on and off several times, nothing. Any ideas or similar experiences? Any help is appreciated. Also, anyone know of experienced BMW techs in the Columbia S.C. area, that's where my baby is stuck :eek:
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    Chances are your 2nd to 3rd gear clutches are on their last leg

    Just a guess here, because this is a similar (and normal) wear and tear item on the ZF 4HP-EH transmissions found under the 750. Typically, you can extend the life of these transmissions by changing out the fluid regularly (ignore BMW's "lifetime fill" claims -- EVERY transmission needs maintenance, and this one is no exception).

    Get lazy with the fluid changes and the dirt, metal particles, and clutch abrasive residue, along with other crud in the fluid accelerates the wear.

    ZF sells rebuild kits for these transmissions, but if you're not particularly skilled at rebuilding ZF transmissions, there's a guy named Kirt Koeller who specializes in rebuilding ZF automatic transmissions. He can be contacted at Autoports Unlimited, 1-800-624-3876 EXT. 5735 or call him directly at 616-748-5735 ( He will answer at this number) Check out the website at http://www.autosportsunlimited.com/

    I haven't dealt with him personally, and I am not connected with him by any means, but he has a reputation for being extremely knowledgeable and skilled at rebuilding these transmissions. I know him only by his reputation, but many E32 owners at bimmerboard.com consider him to be one of the best in the business when it comes to E32 automatics.

    and his email contact is: kirtkoellertransmission(at)gmail(dot)com.

    In defense of your car (as if any were needed), I wouldn't be surprised if that car was still wearing its original, unrebuilt and untouched factory transmission. Nearly 17 years is a pretty impressive record for a transmission that may be looking at its first or even second rebuild.

    Kirt is 1st rate but he's not cheap, and that's to be expected. You'd have to talk to him to get a ballpark figure on a repair or rebuild, but $2,500 to $4,000 is not unreasonable for his caliber of work.

    jagman212000 guest

    Post Count: 32
    Likes Received:1
    Thanks

    I appreciate the quick reply. Im gonna have to get someone to check it out as I simply do not have the time. I also don't know if I want to spend that kind of money on the car as it is a extra car that sits mostly. Seesh I just don't know but I will keep you all posted as to what I find out. I really do like my old E32 so we'll see. Thanks again for the info.:confused:
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    Again sorry to hear about your E32 -- these cars really are the best, IMHO

    However, I would like to point out that even if it comes down to a worst case scenario of $4,000 (admittedly, that does amount to the cost of getting yet another E32) to rebuild the transmission (those ZF five speed automatics were pretty sophisticated back in their day), you're still FAR ahead of other people who are having to make car payments and the required comprehensive, full collision insurance (I paid $58 a month for liability only insurance on my 750iL when I first got it).

    You don't specify how long you have had this car, but I would estimate you probably got your money's worth out of it. Also in defense of your existing car, at least your car is a known quantity, in the regard you're probably familiar enough with it to know all of its issues. Buying another used car for that same amount of money is always a gamble.

    Perhaps you could also find another E32 or E34 with same drivetrain and swap transmissions. You'd have to make extra sure that the second car doesn't have transmission issues before you buy, but I hope this gives you some options.

    Good luck!

    jagman212000 guest

    Post Count: 32
    Likes Received:1
    Thanks again

    I hadnt thought about a drivetrain swap but this could well be an option. I havent even had time to look at the car anymore since it broke. Thankfully it's at my sisters place. I need to get her back home so I can figure out whats goin on with my baby. :D
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    If you're going to go this route, do two very important things

    Make sure you test drive the vehicle on the highway, not just on residential streets.

    Also, when you do the transmission swap, change the fluid and filter ASAP. Use only a BMW approved filter and fluid.

    ASAP = As Soon As Possible

    jagman212000 guest

    Post Count: 32
    Likes Received:1
    6 speed

    I was thinking about a 6 speed swap. Maybe find a 540i donor car and pluck all the stuff I need to make it work. Wishful thinking anyways :rolleyes:
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    On Bimmerboard.com, in the E32 forum, there's a guy named paulmer...

    ...doing exactly that.

    the downside is that this is going to require a donor car, specifically a manual transmissioned 840 or a 540i/6 (V8 six speed manual equipped E34 5-series). You could also land a transmission off Ebay, but the transmission alone could equal what you would pay for a replacement automatic transmission. Then you also have to pay for the clutch, pilot bearing, etc.

    You'll have better luck finding a 540i/6 than an 840.

    Paulmer is doing the swap on his 740i from a 540i/6 he snatched the transmission from.

    It's not a project for the faint-hearted or for mechanical novices.

    jagman212000 guest

    Post Count: 32
    Likes Received:1
    I know thats right

    I can imagine how in depth that is but since im not at all faint hearted I might just make that a project. Do you know if he had to swap DME's? I am going to see if I can find his info when I get off work tonight. :D
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    I don't think he did, but you'd do better asking Paulmer

    The 740 has only one DME (rather than two, like on the 750) and has no EML (the EML is a module that coordinates communication between the two DME's on a 750 - again, not present on a 740). The DME is primarily engine control, and you certainly want to keep that.

    The DME modules between the E34 5 series and E32 7 series are interchangeable between the same engine classes.

    I do remember that he had to jumper something in the electronics so that the check control wouldn't go nuts not being able to talk to the TCU (transmission control unit - computer that runs the automatic transmission). That's detailed in Bimmerboard as well.

    As I said before, it's not a recommended "first project" for a novice DIYer.

Share This Page