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boby34

520D Msport F11 Auto Gearbox

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Hi my 63 plate 520d Msport Auto has recently without warning gone into limp mode/shut down. I have tried resetting it but after a few miles the engine management system kicks in and shuts it down again. After a lot of diagnostics the BMW dealer has told me that the computer says I need a new gearbox/transmission. Apparently the oil level within the box was low and they had to add 2 litres. The car has only done 45,000 miles so very surprised at this issue!! Has anyone else experienced this?

 

I am considering my next move. I've ruled out the BMW franchise because they have quoted over £7k+VAT. I live in Cheshire so can somebody recommend a specialist. Not sure whether I should go to a BMW specialist or a transmission specialist.

I'm struggling to find a reconditioned gearbox, I have identified suitable salvaged boxes online for about £500 is it worth buying one of these or am i just wasting my time and money?

 

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I would most definitely go to a gearbox Specialst not Bmw or a Bmw specialist. If you can find a zf gearbox Specialst local to you that would be the best option.

 

That is very low mileage to have box problems that I will say but it’s not unheard of.

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45k and less than 5 years old I'd be on the phone to BMW UK customer services to see what they can do. Supposedly fill for life so no topping up. Could have been leaking for years.

 

Assuming it is the box and not something else. BMW dealers in my experience are universally useless so I'd be getting codes read and take it from there.

 

 

 

 

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Guys thanks for both your comments. Yes I'm trying to get the diagnostics report from the BMW dealer which should provide the codes but its like pulling teeth. 

I have found a local Auto Gearbox specialist so will speak to them in the morning.

 

The not so funny thing is, it happened within 24 hours of me hitting a rabbit which damaged the front bumper. However the insurer and their 'Independent' engineer Hoopers say it was not due to the accident but due to the low levels of hydraulic fluid. How the levels got low I don't know... Would there be a sensor that would indicate low levels of transmission fluid, certainly nothing showed on the dash?

 

I didn't mention this before as it distracts from the how to fix it question and points more to fight the insurers which I have tried. Potentially if the specialist reported back to say there was accident damage I could go back to the insurer.

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I thought the same thing about the transmission oil cooler but it is not at the front of the car but part of the cooler matrix along with the engine oil cooler which is just to the left of and beneath the oil filter housing. Still a worthwhile exercise to look at that area to see if there is a transmission fluid leak where the 2 pipes join the heat exchanger.

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Give these guys a call: http://drivertransmissions.co.uk/

 

Based in Birmingham so only an hour or so from Cheshire.

 

BMW once told me I needed a new box at £4K. These guys repaired it for £380!

 

They also do reconditioned exchange gearboxes.

 

A recovery to a decent specialist will still be cheaper than a dealer.....

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I feel your pain.  I have suffered autobox failures that have crippled two of my BMWs.

 

I would take it to a transmission specialist, preferably a ZF agent.  Let them diagnose it properly and quote for fixing it.  There is a very good specialist in Preston (a forum sponsor I believe) which isn't that many miles away from Cheshire.

 

With a loss of 2 litres of oil I would expect to see some form of evidence of that on the underside or atleast on the surface below where you normally park the car.

 

I wouldn't source a box yourself for £500 as you have no way of knowing its history and condition.  

 

BMW can and will only swap in and out complete transmissions as they are under the sealed for life (which is 120,000 miles), throw away philosophy.  I learned the hard way not to take my car to BMW when my E39 threw a transmission warning light.  BMW gave me the fault codes (after paying them a diagnostic fee) and they told me to go to a local ZF agent who then replaced the solenoids and rebuilt by valvebody in my 5HP E39 transmission.  £700 to fix 6 weeks into ownership when the car was a smudge over 6 years old and had only done ~47,000 miles.

 

So when my E60 threw up a transmission fault (@ 90,000 miles), I went straight to the same transmission specialist who eventually diagnosed a worn Eclutch which to cure was to refurb the gearbox.

 

I have an F10 with 45,000 miles on the clock but on a 62 plate, so I am very interested to hear how you get on.

 

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Although no help to you I had my gearbox oil changed by Autokraft a few weeks ago and while they had the sump pan off they changed the seal were the shifter goes into the box apparently a known leak point.

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I think Andrew makes a good point.  There would be evidence of the oil leak. Oil is like blood. It can leak small amounts seemingly forever. Large amounts are catastrophic. But either way.. regardless of small or large leaks they always leave evidence!

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, 535i Andrew said:

BMW gave me the fault codes (after paying them a diagnostic fee) and they told me to go to a local ZF agent who then replaced the solenoids and rebuilt by valvebody in my 5HP E39 transmission.  £700 to fix 6 weeks into ownership when the car was a smudge over 6 years old and had only done ~47,000 miles.

 

So when my E60 threw up a transmission fault (@ 90,000 miles), I went straight to the same transmission specialist who eventually diagnosed a worn Eclutch which to cure was to refurb the gearbox.

Who are whereabouts are the specialists if you don't mind me asking?  I'm sure my auto box still isn't right after a £500 gearbox service and software update.

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A leak, which is serious, your is if you have lost 2 litres, would be obvious.    2 litres of oil would have made a huge mess somewhere.

 

From what I can gather the transmission cooler on your car is mounted on the passengers side of the engine block behind the alternator and beneath the oil filter.  It might be the source of the leak or the oil lines between the 'box and the cooler.  This should leave an obvious sign which would have been apparent to BMW if they took the underbellies off.  Similar if its on the lines back to the 'box or as above around the selector lever.

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17 minutes ago, Big A said:

Who are whereabouts are the specialists if you don't mind me asking?  I'm sure my auto box still isn't right after a £500 gearbox service and software update.

 

I used Mackies Transmissions in Tollcross in Glasgow's salubrious east end.

 

I posted a link earlier to the ZF specialists in the UK.  Mackies are a ZF agent but they don't appear in the link above.

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7 minutes ago, 535i Andrew said:

 

I used Mackies Transmissions in Tollcross in Glasgow's salubrious east end.

 

I posted a link earlier to the ZF specialists in the UK.  Mackies are a ZF agent but they don't appear in the link above.

Fantastic!  Thanks very much.  Might pay them a visit, and only a 15 min blast along the M74.

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17 hours ago, boby34 said:

 if the specialist reported back to say there was accident damage I could go back to the insurer.

Seems a bit of a coincidence doesn't it, but as stated you'd probably notice 2 litres of fluid on the floor? 

Either way http://www.transcentre.co.uk in Deeside has a great reputation if you need another specialist on the  Cheshire border. 

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This all seems a bit strange. Would low oil in the gearbox throw up an warning on the dashboard of some type relating to oil level? Also, did they prove to you the gearbox was low? If all this still checks out then surely the rabbit impact must have had something to do with it?  

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Thanks very much for all your advice. There certainly wasn't any oil on the driveway either before or after the accident so its all a bit strange. I had the  for several months with no issues so it is surprising for it to suddenly break down with no warning.

The car has been shipped to a gearbox specialist and will talk to them next week. I'll let you know their findings. 

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Sealed for life gearboxes are just another indication of our throwaway culture. How ridiculous you cannot easily flush out the old oil to preserve and extend the life of your gearbox. A service life of 120,000 miles is insufficient these days. No wonder secondhand values are dropping on 5 series like a stone,  if older cars may need a gearbox overhaul.

 

My 2001 Mercedes CLK has over 100,000 miles on the clock. In the last six years it has had two gearbox and torque converter flushes, plus the filter changed. It changes like new, better even than my 518d which is jerky at lower speeds. Five speeds is fine on my CLK, why do you need eight? It just makes the gearboxes so much more complicated and expensive. It is as if ZF are clinging onto this old technology when in fact a constantly variable transmission is the future.

 

It used to be said that a Mercedes automatic gearbox should outlast the engine, but that doesn't sound the case with these BMW ZF boxes.

Edited by Ram Rod

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You need 8 speeds on the engines that have a very short useful power range. So to allow them to get off the traffic lights without being beaten by the three cylinder Fiesta in the lane next to them, they have more gears which allows the engine to stay in its very short useful power band as it goes up the gears. If you have ever driven a manual 520d you will know what I mean. If you aren't in the engines sweet point you are now looking at that Fiestas back end.

 

I don't need 8 gears in mine.

 

8 gears will improve your mpg, but you don't buy a 300 bhp car and worry about mpg.

 

CVT, no way. Alot work of the work is done by the torque converter which makes it less efficient, thus higher emissions which is what car manufacturers are shying away from as it makes the road tax more (I know it's not a tax but it feels like it) which puts people off from buying it. And it makes the car sound like the theme tune to Bonanza.

 

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That's a good point. But would BMW or someone else be able to tell that it had a new sump and oil? BMW can only ex change complete transmissions and not take them apart. 

 

Although if if you had it serviced at   say 40,000 miles, it's unlikely to fail and therefore need any warranty claim in the remaining warranty period. He says fingers crossed.

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1 hour ago, 535i Andrew said:

That's a good point. But would BMW or someone else be able to tell that it had a new sump and oil? BMW can only ex change complete transmissions and not take them apart. 

 

Although if if you had it serviced at   say 40,000 miles, it's unlikely to fail and therefore need any warranty claim in the remaining warranty period. He says fingers crossed.

 

You would need to transfer the 'lifetime' sticker over to the new pan. I think 8HP are green and 6HP are yellow.

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