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Manual trannie first gear problem?

Discussion in 'E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006-2011)' started by walkingman, Feb 23, 2011.

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    walkingman

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    I have a '06 E90 with a 6 speed manual and 30K miles. Ever since I bought it last May, I've noticed it is sometimes (about 1 in 10 or so tries) reluctant to go into first gear when totally stopped. Doesn't seem to matter if the car is cold or warm. No other shifting problems so far. I can get it to go into first by selecting second and then going forward into first or depressing the clutch again. The dealer has driven it and claims they can't duplicate the problem and that it may be "normal". I'm skeptical about how normal this is as I've never had a manual equipped car exhibit this, no matter what mileage or brand. Also, my warranty is about to expire, so please let me know if I should take it in again or if it is indeed a common and "normal" thing for this year and model's transmission. Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks!
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    floydarogers

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    If the tranny fluid has never been changed (likely), drain and re-fill with Redline MTL. Can't hurt and probably will help.
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    CSBM5

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    MTL is not recommended for the E90 6MT by Redline. The E90 uses BMW LT-3 tranny fluid, and Redline recommends using their D6 ATF for this transmission. (i.e. BMW LT-2 ==> Redline MTL).

    Changing the fluid may help a bit, and it is an easy DIY job. The hardest part is just dealing with the bulky underpanel you need to take off, but it only takes a couple of minutes to remove it. It may slightly improve your shifting to change the fluid. Note your dealer will loudly proclaim it is "lifetime" fluid (which of course means the transmission will have a shortened life if you don't change the fluid every 30k or so ;) ).
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    walkingman

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    Manual trannie first gear problem

    Thanks for your answers guys! I guess part of my question goes to whether this is "normal" for this transmission and "to be expected" or perhaps a service issue (adjustment? replacement of?), especially since my warranty is going away soon, and trannie problems can be (needless to say) pricey! If everyone notices this with this car, then fine-- I'll live with it. BUT, if it can be adjusted out or fixed, then I need to know so I can take it in and let the dealer deal with it while under warranty.
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    CSBM5

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    Unless it is shift linkage related, there is no adjustment or fix external to the transmission. I've noticed the E90 at times being tough to get into first gear, but it is rare, and I've never thought much about it. The fact that if you touch 2nd and then try first, and it is easy now is perhaps symptomatic of a 1st gear synchro being a bit balky. I have it ingrained in me to do the 2nd first then into 1st gear if I ever fell 1st is balky (my M5 and S4 sometimes have me doing that).

    Don't know what to say other than change the fluid and see what happens?
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    floydarogers

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    Thanks for the correction - I used MTL in my E46... :eek:
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    mrglock

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    I have experienced the same issue on occasion with my '06 e90 as well. I replaced the stock shifter with a BMW short shifter and noticed that issue does not happen near as much if ever. I get a more positive shift now.
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    granthr

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    All three of my MT BMWs have the same problem. I think this is pretty normal for BMWs. My 325ix has a short shift kit and sometimes it doesn't want to go into any gear. BTW I am running Red Line MTL in all of them.

    cwbiii guest

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    Syncro...

    Yes it sounds like a (tight) syncro issue... the good news is that it is not likely to get worse with age and use but instead better. You can help it along if you know how to double-clutch and give it a good workout (1st --> 2nd and 2nd --> 1st) in an abandoned parking lot. It can be a lot of fun if you put out a few cones to make it interesting.

    Chuck
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    walkingman

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    Manual trannie first gear problem

    Thanks for everyone's help and suggestions. Sounds like it's a common thing that many manuals have. I just didn't want it to develop into an expensive problem down the road! On the other hand, if anyone knows if it can be corrected somehow, please let me know!

    cwbiii guest

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    sure, its just that its expensive.

    It can be easily fixed if:
    You know how to remove the transmission,
    You know how to disassemble the transmission,
    You know how to adjust or replace the tight syncro,
    and then reverse the above steps.
    Or pay someone whom does to do the same. $$$

    Hardly worth it if you work it a bit on a closed track for a lot less money and a lot more fun and get essentially the same results.

    If it was a track car and had to work flawlessly then it might be worth the time and effort to adjust it on the bench... otherwise make the adjustment by wearing it in and enjoy the experience. Just be forewarned: it may be addictive.

    Chuck
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    BMRDRVR

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    06 E46, same issue, not every shift and more often when cold, I go from 2nd to 1st. Also, when it's cold, I have to play in 2nd and 1st to find reverse. My dealer tweaked something last summer and it was a little better for a month or so, then back to normal, such as it is.
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    walkingman

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    Manual trannie first gear problem

    An update to all who offered their helpful suggestions with my problem:
    The following week I took my E90 into the Seattle BMW dealer and went on a test drive with one of their Service Managers. Of course, it didn't exhibit the problem when he was in the car, so he offered to check the trannie fluid to see if it was abnormal in some way or contained signs of wear or abuse, like metal shavings. No problems with the fluid was found, but they put new fluid in it anyway and I was told to "keep an eye on it" to see if it was better or the same.
    Much to my amazement, just changing the fluid seemed to help my car out a good deal. I would say that in the 9 days or so and at least 12-15 short and long trips, the reluctance of the first gear has been dramatically reduced. It has gone into first every time, only once or twice exhibiting a little bit of reluctance when cold mostly. I've never had to double clutch it or put it in second first since the fluid change. I didn't expect this, but there it is!
    I think I'll keep this trannie, even tho the manager said he would pursue a "reman" trannie if it didn't improve. I'll just change the fluid every 30K or so, I guess!
    A happy ending so far! Thanks again to all who had many great suggestions!

    Michgndr89 guest

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    Same tranny, no issues. Good luck with yours.

    ....and congrats on having a car with a "proper" drive train.
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    walkingman

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    Follow up update: It is now almost a year since I had the fluid in the trannie changed and can report the reluctance to go into first is still almost non-existant. I guess the fluid change was the ticket! Don't know why BMW just doesn't specify a fluid change. Seems like cheap preventative maintainance for an expensive part of the car!
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    Zahnarzt

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    Don't sweat first gear too much. It's common to be a bit rough to hit now and then. I'm at 98,000mi with my 2006 E90 330xi manual sport, and I've used RedLine MTL for the past 80,000mi and don't plan to change. Works great for me!

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