1987 BMW 325e Transmission issues!! Please Help


Asked by Aug 12, 2009 at 01:54 PM about the 1987 BMW 3 Series 325e Sedan RWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

well I willmake it quik, all gears are forward and reverse only works off idle, if i gas it in reverse the tranny locks up.  Even Park is in a forward gear.  I have already checked the linkage and that is fine also the gear selector is working properly, my assumption is that itsthat fork inside the transmission that changes it from P to R to N to D.  I cant find neutral and it suck when I start it cause as soon as I do andit idles it jumps into gear.  It has to be something Easy but complicated cause it drive forward perfectly just doesnt find P,Rand N. Pleas help this is my daily driver, thanks for all your help

6 Answers


Sir, your sentence structure makes your problem difficult to understand. I will assume that this is an automatic transmission since you are referring to P and D. There is no fork inside the transmission that changes it from P to R to N to D, only a selector which actuates the throttle valve in the valve body. Gear changes in an automatic transmission are done by actuating a set of belts by use of fluid-driven hydraulic servo pistons. Check your automatic transmission fluid. It sounds like you have several sticking servos which is not uncommon in such an old car. You will have to flush and refill your transmission with clean fluid. If this does not help you should consider replacing the transmission (with a manual one preferably, since they last MUCH longer), or getting rid of the car, perhaps Cash 4 Clunkers?

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Thanks for your help but the transmission was just rebuilt about a year and a half ago. I have only put 5k miles in the car since and everything is well maitained. My worry is that I was just driving on this bumpy road and thats when it did it, it over revved and the problem started. This car is almost completely restored since and I almost never drive it, its frustrating to see something you put so much effort into just go out like this. My experience with these cars is that if something is really wrong its obvious but things like these can be confusing for, for example; I noticed that the dash light for the e-brake does not come on since this happened and when I play with I t enough with the shifter off, I can sort of find Neutral and Reverse. The deal here that when something is wrong or has a problem, I think u can notice the changes little by little before something just bust like that, hence that my frustration from one second to the other. Another assumption I have is, can something have fallen of on that bumpy road that might have caused this? Is there such part that can fall off? Thanks for your help


I can understand your frustration. I just recently sold my 1986 325e and I am a Level 2 certified BMW technician. The thing is, the automatic transmissions on those cars were really not good when compared to the getrag 460 5-speed manual transmission. As far as the dash light, those clusters are also notorious for strange failures due to toasted circuit boards and loosening connections. You should check out www.e30tech.com if you want to take it out and check it out for yourself, maybe you simply need to tighten a few screws and change a bulb. My car needed a new circuit board as the speedometer completely stopped working. If you plan on keeping your E30 for a long time, you're going to need a manual gearbox that will last, unlike the automatic...

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Well I guess we just solved it, I have that tranny u mentioned so I am just going to pull the engine out, rebuild both the tranny and engine, put a new clutch and go from there. Do you think the conversion will be easy as far as swapping out pedal assemblies. Oh and is there any lines you need to run for the clutch fluid if any? I assume the cost will be around 800 to 1000 just in parts, for my dad and I will do the work, thanks for ur help and do u have any suggestions or things u think we might oversee or to look out for?


I agree with Roman on the electrical circuit board, which I also had to replace when my parents had the BMW. I also agree with converting a manual transmission on this car. This car is probably among the easiest to convert to manual transmission, since it is not a fully electronic transmission. I think the only thing electrically would the starter switch on the clutch pedal. In terms of the hydraulics, I think you would need a fluid reservoir to clutch master cylinder and hose that goes to the actuator cylinder on the bellhousing to operate the clutch. Though this is not complete information, it should help you out a little bit. Yeah back when my parents did not drive the car often, I thought about converting to a manual as well.

The e30tech.com site has a detailed set of instructions on the automatic to manual conversion. A question though. I have an 1985 325e two door with the automatic, I've had it since new. I have almost 500K miles, and the car is a daily driver and went on many long distance high speed drives (a thousand miles or more from San Francisco to Arizona), and have never had a problem with the transmission. The car has regular professional service meeting the BMW recommendations. This is not to say that the car has been fool proof, but anything that has broken has been minor, and hasn't required very much professional help. So what problems are common to the automatic?

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