Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
5/10/19 2:54 p.m.

So I'm bored and doing some low-priced searching on CL, thinking that we're likely to be into the summer when the Dancer won't need to haul around all the crap she does during the school year so (if the Rampage sells soon) we could potentially pick something else up that she'd actually drive and try selling the current Mariner ourselves to get more than pocket change on it in a trade.

In doing so, I came across something that I actually like as more than just a temporary solution and that I would potentially like having as the longer-term '4th slot' vehicle:  1999 M3 Convertible, $1500

The catch? The auto transmission is in limp mode (only uses 3rd in any drive setting, R works normally). Some Googling shows that it does this anytime it detects a potential fault in the transmission- so it could be something as simple (relatively speaking) as a solenoid going bad.

The question is- is the transmission on these things remotely easily serviceable? I've spent a modest amount of time under a few auto transmissions swapping out valve bodies/solenoids/etc, but those weren't BMWs by a long shot. Also- does anything other than BMW's own scan tools read the codes from the transmission to have a shot at figuring out exactly what it needs?


lnlogauge Reader
5/10/19 2:56 p.m.

I have nothing to add, other than grm has ruined any reference to E36 M3. 

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
5/10/19 3:16 p.m.
lnlogauge said:

I have nothing to add, other than grm has ruined any reference to E36 M3. 

Good point... I should have titled this thread 'Can I fix this E36 M3 trans?'

Vigo UltimaDork
5/10/19 9:09 p.m.

At that price and condition i'd probably buy it before even doing research. 

Robbie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/10/19 10:16 p.m.

Should be lotsa near free auto transmissions from people manual swapping.

Worst case you replace the whole trans, right?

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
5/11/19 12:11 a.m.

Contacted the seller to see if they had any interest in a trade (the Rampage for the M3). Not likely to go for it, but figure it's worth a shot. Unfortunately I can't really seriously consider buying it without selling the Rampage first with how things are with our finances (thank you, cabin build...).

A BMW convertible is pretty high up on the list of drop-tops that fit the criteria that the Dancer and I have for convertibles, and while most would probably balk at the slushbox it's actually what we'd need since the Dancer has no interest in learning to drive a manual.

TJL Reader
5/11/19 6:26 a.m.

If thats real and not a scam, thats a no brainer. Grab that thing! A m3 for challenge $. That would be a real profitable part out. 

Of swap a manual trans in. Those e36 convertibles look great with the hardtop on them. 

z31maniac MegaDork
5/11/19 8:11 a.m.

Buy it. It's a GM transmission and won't be hard to find another. 


Or just swap it for a manual. :)

Brake_L8 Reader
5/11/19 9:22 a.m.

They can go into limp mode for a lot of electric-related things. Low battery voltage, even. I would bet the transmission itself is fine and it's some sensor or voltage fault.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
5/11/19 10:55 a.m.

If it's a scam, they're pretty good at localizing since it's wearing KY Bourbon county plates which is where it's showing as being located (in Paris, KY). Haven't heard back from my email about the trade, which doesn't wholly surprise me (a 'sorry, not interested' would have been nice though, but it has been only about 14 hours). Will probably try calling/texting later when we're done with the photo shoot for the Dancer's next show.

Vigo UltimaDork
5/11/19 1:52 p.m.

I really think it could be a 'keeper' type of car. I'd bet the auto is swappable with pretty much any auto from 325/328 etc (again, haven't researched) and if you love the car you could even find a hardtop for it. The e36 looks shockingly good with a hardtop compared to many other convertibles.

TJL Reader
5/11/19 5:12 p.m.

Im gonna guess that thing was sold in the first 15 minutes of listing it. 

Hopefully its still available and someone on GRM gets it. 

CLNSC3 HalfDork
6/18/19 6:31 a.m.

e36 m3 had a five speed zf auto that was actually a much better trans than the GM 4 speed found in non m models. Although the "lifetime fluid" BS still kills these as well they were much more rewarding to drive than the GM trans. IDK where you are located but I have two m3 autos, one recently rebuilt the other with plenty of miles, I'd happily sell either. 

Trans failsafe could be anything from very minor to catastrophic. Best thing to do is pull the fault codes for the trans and go from there if possible.  My e38 would go into transfailsafe in heavy rain, water got into wiring connector. Dielectric grease was a cheap cure. Last week a customer of mine has his 530i go into trans failsafe, I cleared the 5 codes and reset trans adaptions and he has been driving since with no repeat. Often its something electrical....but they grenade all the time too. lol 

Used replacement trannies arent usually more than a couple hundo though, good luck!

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