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Thread: Death of a 4L30E automatic

  1. #1

    Default Death of a 4L30E automatic

    This picture might be interesting, or maybe unpleasant, if you have a 4L30E automatic transmission. Drove the car (1994 525i) one day, no problems. Next morning, first shift into 3rd, the transmission made a groaning/slipping noise, which it did every shift into 3rd after that, and sometimes when shifting into 2nd. Drove my wife to work, then took the car to an independent auto trans shop that specializes in BMW and Mercedes. The guy told me these transmissions die in 2 ways: either a plastic thrush washer falls apart, allowing things to contact each other that aren't supposed to; or the 3rd gear drum "blows apart". In both cases, the transmission continues to work, but the more it's driven, the more it mulches itself. He said he sees a lot of them that have failed in one of these ways.

    In this case it was the 3rd gear drum, the pic shows what he meant by "blows apart". I was lucky, the end of the curl came within 1 mm of getting into a planetary gear set, which would have blown the gear set apart, too. As it was, the box was rebuildable. There is an upgrade metal thrust washer to replace the plastic thing, but no upgrade 3rd gear drums, unfortunately.

    Turned out to be a junkyard transmission, so no idea how many miles were actually on it. The car had just under 100,000 miles when I bought it, so the original tranny failed either at or before those miles.

    Suggestion: if your 4L30E suddenly starts groaning/slipping in 3rd, stop driving now and get it fixed before it rips itself apart further.
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    Last edited by George Davis; 08-02-2004 at 11:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Coastal North Carolina
    Posts
    92

    Default

    That is pretty graphic. In my case, the 4L30E began slipping badly when cold, pendulum shifting at highway speed and leaking ATF. The results were not nearly as horrific as yours. Mine too was rebuildable but NONE of the hard parts needed replacement.

    See here for some pics of my 4L30E repair: http://www.bimmer.info/bmw/sbcncsu/index.html
    Scott
    Wilmington, NC

    01 525iA For Sale
    Coming Soon: 2005 X3 3.0i
    05 Jeep GCL HEMI
    85 318iA SOLD
    96 Jeep GCL SOLD

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    755

    Default ...or...

    Quote Originally Posted by George Davis

    Suggestion: if your 4L30E suddenly starts groaning/slipping in 3rd, stop driving now and get it fixed before it rips itself apart further.

    ...or start saving up for the 5-speed conversion!

    That's what I'm planning to do to our fiver when the tranny lets go. The rest of the car appears bulletproof (knock wood).

    Bill B.
    '95 525ia (119k and counting)
    '91 318iS
    '29 Model A
    '00 Exploder
    Bill B.
    95 525i


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