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3-Series (E21, E30) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1975-1983 and 1984-1991 line. Specific models: BMW 315, BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 318i, BMW 320/4, BMW 320i, BMW 320/6, BMW 323i, BMW 320i. E30 Family models include: BMW 325e, BMW 325i, BMW 325is, BMW 325ix.

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Old 02-16-2006, 06:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Balky Transmission

I have a 1989 325i with an unusual automatic transmission problem. When the car is cold, over 6 hours, the transmission hangs in first gear for over a mile. Once it warms up, it shifts smoothly except that there is no kick-down function.

It is definately cold related, however letting the car sit and idle to warm up doesn't do it. I have to drive a little way to get that first shift. Any ideas?
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Old 02-16-2006, 09:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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First off, see what trans you have, the 4-HP-22-H or the 4-HP-22-EH, you'll find this on the drivers side of the trans on a plate just behind the shifter lever. The "EH" is an electronic shift trans and could mean you have faulty servos or ECU.

Next is, do you have the sport switch for your trans? These are normaly in the "is" models, but you may have it. It'll look like a dail near the shifter.

Other than that have the transmission flushed and see if the problem persists. The flush should take care of the sticking valve body and/or servos. Other than that, there is a good chance you are looking down the barrel of a rebuild or another trans.

P.S. If you have a local AAMCO you can have them do an "check up" and give you a list of what your options are, but NEVER let them rebuild your trans, or you'll spend alot of time thumbing it along the road before they get it right, give up or you sue them. Seen it happen way too many times before.
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Old 02-17-2006, 06:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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i have one similar on a 528i 1st gear hangs till redline after that its fine. notice the service light still on . looking at engine diag very soon tune and parameter settings should be interesting if trans picks up 1985 528i 2.8l.
i have a switch near the selector arhh thats a sports mode ? interesting but i still think my bands need tentioning.... keep posted...
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Old 02-17-2006, 07:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's round like, I've seen only 3 cars that had it, it's not the rectulangar one. Thats the window kill switch.
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Old 02-18-2006, 05:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Kill switch, ok thats located below the instrument panel (speedo, tachometer etc) on a removable inspection panel below the steering colum..
Next to the trans selector i have power windows by 4 and another switch between front drivers window and rear right hand side window. Could that be a trans selector? 1985 528i
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Old 02-18-2006, 07:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Kill switch, ok thats located below the instrument panel (speedo, tachometer etc) on a removable inspection panel below the steering colum..
Not sure what you mean there. The kill switch is found above the radio by the hazard and rear defog switch or next to the shifter.

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Next to the trans selector i have power windows by 4 and another switch between front drivers window and rear right hand side window. Could that be a trans selector? 1985 528i
That could be the Sport, Normal and Comfort slector for the shocks, but that was for M3 cars only if I remember correctly.
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Old 02-19-2006, 03:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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opps i found in my users manual that the switch beside the shifter is for the isolation off the rear windows as a child lock. The main kill switch for the windows is located below the speedo..

Its my first bimmer and wasn't sure of the use of this switch, Windows only that`ll help the transmission Not
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have the 4-HP-22H not the electonic transmission. Kick down cable is still connected at the throttle end on the top of the engine. Very odd problem.

I also have problems with the guages that I am trying to sort out. I believe those are unrelated.

The car is a 1989 and I just bought it. The previous owner put 470 miles on it in the 26 months before I bought it. (I spoke with his mechanic and have copies of the receipts with mileage on it so I know he isn't foolin') I have sorted out the other issues from lack of use but the transmission has me perplexed. I put in fresh fluid and even a can of slick shift... no joy.

The behavior is consistent. After sitting about 5 hours it hangs in 1st for a while, then when it shifts its fine except for no kick down function. used:
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Old 02-25-2006, 02:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Take the kick down cable off and pull on it, it should feel springy with no real effort moving it, the only other thing is valve body is sticking. A flush may help. I don't mean the stuff in a can, I mean a flush by way of a fluid exchanger at a garage. They'll put a can of cleaner in run it for 5-10 min, then do a total system fluid exchange. Works wonders.
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Old 03-09-2006, 08:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The kick-down cable was loose. An inspection revealed that the cable pivot mount on the transmission case was broken. The transmission shop,(which rebuilt the transmission just before I bought the car), claims to have replaced the case. It took two weeks while they awaited parts and now the kick-down works fine. However, the car still sticks in first for the first few blocks when cold. I'll try to be nice when I take it back the third time for the same problem. It's still under warranty, you'd think they'd fix it so they don't have to see me anymore.
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Old 03-13-2006, 11:13 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I can completly agree with Starmavin when he sias dont let them rebuild your transmission. I spent 2800 bucks at A&A Transmission to rebuild my tranny 3 times and still not work right and have then blame it on me. I ended up buying a used tranny and putting it in myself to fix my problem. Thats a pretty common problem to have first gear hang when its cold. I've had 2 bimmers that always did that.

And the Kill Switch is located under the intrument cluster in 5 series cars and above the radio on 3 series cars, just to clear that up.
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:08 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks Joe,
You say it's a common problem, is there a common cure? The shop I bought it from (not the tranny shop) says they'll do a flush and fill at no charge to try to get it right. These folks have been working on all german makes for over 20 years, yet this has them baffled. I'll let you all know what happens.

The ambient overnight low temp here in North Florida has reached the 50 farenheit range so the problem doesn't exhibit itself now.
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