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M3 SMG stuck in neutral not shifiting

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  • M3 SMG stuck in neutral not shifiting

    Have a 2006 BMW M3 SMG with 78k miles. So had to tow car to shop last week after car refused to shift out of neutral and yellow cog wheel of death came on along with brake light. Mechanic says it is either a bad gear position switch or gear actuator. Is it worth repairing knowing that other SMG stuff can break or should I swap to a manual 6 speed conversion? Also need subframe work done. Is car worth keeping in the long run? I've owned it 10 years and only this year started having these major issues!

  • #2
    Well the very first thing you always do is read out the fault memory. As your mechanic says, it could be something as silly as a position sensor error and all it needs is a fault memory delete.

    In 2013 I had my one and only (knock on wood) SMG problem (I have an EU E36 M3 with SMG) which suddenly refused 3rd gear. From 2 it skipped straight to 4. Fault memory showed a GPS error. Delete the errpr and the problem was gone instantly and has never repeated itself since.

    It can me much more, but this is so easy to check, it's SMG fault finding 101 to check the fault memory.


    • #3
      6spd swap? Sure, if it fits your budget to do so, why not. Is 6spd what you ultimately want? Or enjoy a working smg and worth spending for.

      as for 2006 with 78k miles, markets clearly rising. It’s a car worth holding onto but to no ones offense, color combo’s matter. Transmission can be changed or repaired/replaced. Exterior cannot (without killing all value haha)

      is yours a color worth holding onto?
      Mine is also 2006, 77k miles, but zcp package with m texture interior. Very sought after combination, worth keeping and doing the subframe, vanos, smg, all the things.


      • hredlus
        Junior Member
        hredlus commented
        Editing a comment
        same, had same issue that happened on an insanely hot day, and apparently there is a cooling issue with the smg pump. I let mine cool down and it did not repeat, but it's frustrating because i think about it when i drive. Mine is an 04 with 74k miles, but a convertible in titanium with silver intererior, pretty perfect and bone stock, no leaks and uses no oil, and have had it for about 12 years and 55k miles, and (knock on wood) never had a single issue with it till this summer when i had a small fender bender, someone rear ended me at a light... insurance valued it at 23k, i almost fell over. probably a combination of used cars going up and these cars in good shape, even the bad spec examples like mine, are going up in value. But that said too, a car is just a car in a lot of ways, the value of it is what it is to you. lots of other cars out their to try out. I had a cayman s for a while, couldnt afford a 911 at the time, but loved that car. had to sell that or the m3 last year, and sold the porsche... if you're concerned about the m3, sell it. you can always buy another if you miss it. try something else for a while. As for transmission swap, save the energy, sell yours and buy a stock one. Even though it's a pretty simple swap since the transmission is same and all you're doing is replacing the SMG pump with manual linkage and some wiring/programming, but why bother when there are so many for sale that are stock?

    • #4
      Hey Did you get this resolved? The transmission will essentially go into safe limp mode like this if it senses anything wrong. Start as mentioned by doing a search on all the common issues. Ie: salmon relay (cheap & easy), pump & accumulator check. If not those then could be other things. Often the error codes can steer you in the wrong direction. I had this issue a long time ago. The error codes indicated by the position sensor (36, 37 IIRC). Every stealer at the time said I needed a new transmission because that's what the computer said. Me being old school, I found a mechanic who would just drop the tranny for me & the problem was obvious & simple. The clutch pivot pin in these things is made of cheap plastic. It broke, and so the actuator was hitting against the clutch pivot, preventing the clutch from actually actuating properly. So, sensors were all confused due to mechanical issue. I would do all those things before assuming you need a new transmission. Note in my case it also developed a knocking sound which was the clutch actuator hitting the actual clutch as it poked all the way through the pivot arm.

      Good luck.


      • #5
        Hi I have a similar nightmare. Just bought a 2005 645ci SMG and the fourth time I drove it, it wouldn’t shift out of neutral. The transmission shop isn’t comfortable working on it, they suggest switching two sensors: gear positioning and salmon relays.

        the car keeps having this knocking sound from the pump

        I have a photo of the leaking that they are near the gear box, but this forum is erroring out the file photo upload.