You may not think about your BMW’s transmission every day, but if something goes wrong, it will certainly capture your attention. From a lit “check engine” light to trouble switching gears, there are several tell-tale signs of BMW transmission problems.
Understanding what to look for and the underlying causes may help you catch smaller issues before they become a major problem. Here’s a look at some of the most common transmission issues we see on popular BMW models like the 3-, 5- and 7-series, SUVs. and performance M models.
1. Low Transmission Fluid
You might be surprised to learn that a problem with your transmission fluid is the number one cause of BMW transmission issues. Your transmission fluid levels may drop if there’s a leak in the system or the fluid has come to the end of its lifespan. Checking your fluid levels every six months will help you quickly notice if there’s a problem.
Transmission fluid leaks are often the result of wear and tear on the seals, which are more likely to fail as your vehicle ages. While the leak is sometimes internal, you’ll often also see drops of fluid under your vehicle. If you notice a sweet-smelling dark red or pink liquid under the front of your BMW, you’ll want to have a certified BMW mechanic take a look at it right away.
Low transmission fluid levels can cause slow or inconsistent shifting or gear slipping. Typically, a leak can be fixed by changing out the gaskets. However, in some cases, you may need to have your transmission fluid flushed out and replaced.
2. Blocked Transmission Fluid Filter
Your BMW’s transmission fluid picks up dirt and debris as it circulates through the transmission system. However, if the filter isn’t changed out as needed, it can clog, preventing the transmission fluid from flowing through. When this happens, your vehicle will behave as if the transmission fluid is low, despite having the appropriate amount of fluid inside the system.
To avoid this problem, make sure you follow BMW’s recommendation to replace your transmission filter every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. In addition, you’ll want to regularly check your transmission fluid for signs of contamination. If you notice that it’s discolored or has particles floating in it, ask your mechanic to flush your system and make sure the filter is clear of clogs.
3. Worn or Damaged Torque Converter
A damaged, worn, or malfunctioning torque converter can create symptoms that are very similar to that of a failing transmission. This vehicle part is responsible for transferring energy (“torque”) from the engine to the transmission. To isolate and diagnose this problem, it’s often necessary to take the transmission/drivetrain apart.
Some of the signs of torque converter problems include contaminated transmission fluid, strange sounds such as whirring and clicking, shuddering, slipping, overheating, and having gears change at high RPMs.
4. Vanos Solenoid Problems
The BMW Vanos solenoid system controls the flow of fluid through the transmission. Routinely driving with low transmission fluid levels can damage the solenoid. This part also sometimes experiences electronic problems. If you’ve noticed that your transmission is slipping and have confirmed that you don’t have any leaks, the solenoid may be the cause.
Other common symptoms of solenoid problems include loss of horsepower and torque, limp mode or problems with your BMW’s computer after acceleration, rattling noises or rough idling, and poor fuel economy.
5. Jammed Clutch
If your BMW’s clutch jams, it can cause the solenoid to lock which results in a lack of control over the amount of transmission fluid that flows into the torque converter. This will cause problems similar to those created by low or leaking fluid. A BMW with clutch problems may also experience excessive heat build-up in the transmission and/or shaking underneath the vehicle. It’s also common to notice decreased power and a drop in engine performance.
Since the clutch is an integral part of your BMW, it’s critical not to ignore potential problems. Otherwise, you could find yourself dealing with a costly repair. Taking care of clutch issues right away will save you time and money and can help keep you from having an accident or breaking down on the side of the road.
Trust The Haus for Your BMW Transmission Repair & Maintenance
While your transmission is designed to last for the entire lifespan of your vehicle, it’s not uncommon to run into BMW transmission problems. Whether you need a simple repair or one that’s more complex, you can count on the certified BMW technicians at The Haus to quickly diagnose and fix the problem.
We’ll also help you keep up with your preventative maintenance, so you can avoid many common issues in the first place. We have two convenient locations to serve you, so schedule a VIP appointment at either our Santa Monica or Sherman Oaks location today