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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(As you know I am most likely going to get an E36 M3 to run about in for about a year until I know exactly whats happening with the prices of the supersaloons. Whilst looking on autotrader i saw the attached picture. I thought the SMG was a stick you had to consistently shift to change gear without the clutch, however its now evident that its a pukka semi-atuomatic, which should suit me fine in everyday traffic.)

We all know that the SMG boxes in E36 M3's have a reputation for being problematic ...... without having mindless posts just stating 'crap', which is of no use to anyone, lets try and discuss the SMG issue. This is probably one for the experts, owners and mechanics.

1. What are the common problems that SMG boxes suffer from?

2. Is there a design flaw that causes the issues? if so are there any steps one can take to help prevent the probelms?

3. How much would typical steps to prevent issues and repairs for general faults cost?

Recently adverts show that the cars with the semi-auto SMG box have what I'm looking for, few owners, harmon kardon hi-fi upgrade, ASC, low-sensible miles, FBMSH, heated seats etc, all signs that they are less likely to have fallen into the wrong hands and be properly equipped! So really for me personally an SMG may well be the best option (even if it may mean spending some £££ on having the box serviced etc upon purchase etc).
 

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Im sure that ive read somewhere that there is hardly anyone who can rebuild the smg box.:confused
Not sure how true this is but personally it puts me off.
I like the idea of the semi-auto box but the horror stories of faliures and costs put me off. Least a manual box is easy to find and repair, but im sure i read somewhere that the E36 6 speed manual m3 box cannot be rebuilt either. My choice would be a 5 speed manual for ease of maintenance and repair. :D
 

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I used the have an M3 Evo but manual and all the M3 boys had this talk about the SMG Box. Basically If the box was regularly checked and not abused then it worked well.
It is old technology so there is a time delay unlike the new ones but the drive is smooth as silk.
Downside was MPG the M3 was gutsy enough as it was but the SMG took off 2-3mpg on average, so was producing from 15-22mpg. The Evo even though it was stated its 321 is only around the 305bhp mark in the UK not sure why but its a fact most Evo's didn’t hit the targets on most RR's.
I did had a go in a mates SMG and he bought the E46 CSL steering wheel with the paddle shift and connected it up. From what I was told this was very easy to do and very affective. He used his as a track car and thrashed it all the time and the SMG worked fine.
On all cars you can get abused models from previous owners.
Sadly I'm not sure of what the signs are for one that’s on its way out but if you do find a good one I’m sure you'll be happy enough.
 

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The 5 speed is the same box as the 6 speed with different ratio's and one extra gear, the box is easily repaired by a good mechanic. Its just they see M3 and see £££ and they always try and rob you. If you know of someone good then dont stress about it - I do and I didnt have a days problem. The 5 and 6 speed are the same quality and build.
Some Evo's for tracks put the 5 speed on due to the longer 2nd 3rd and 4th gears you had to play with. Some prefered the 6 speed as it had a better top end speed and was better on fuel.
 

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I used the have an M3 Evo but manual and all the M3 boys had this talk about the SMG Box. Basically If the box was regularly checked and not abused then it worked well.
It is old technology so there is a time delay unlike the new ones but the drive is smooth as silk.
Downside was MPG the M3 was gutsy enough as it was but the SMG took off 2-3mpg on average, so was producing from 15-22mpg. The Evo even though it was stated its 321 is only around the 305bhp mark in the UK not sure why but its a fact most Evo's didn’t hit the targets on most RR's.
I did had a go in a mates SMG and he bought the E46 CSL steering wheel with the paddle shift and connected it up. From what I was told this was very easy to do and very affective. He used his as a track car and thrashed it all the time and the SMG worked fine.
On all cars you can get abused models from previous owners.
Sadly I'm not sure of what the signs are for one that’s on its way out but if you do find a good one I’m sure you'll be happy enough.
Thats a good point. As long as the car has had a really careful owner and fsh.
I just dont like the thought of someone else cutting costs with something like this and abusing the car.
Mind you, we only ever read about the negatives and the horror stories. It would be good to hear the owners views and comments about how they got on with the Smg. :thumbsup
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Im sure that ive read somewhere that there is hardly anyone who can rebuild the smg box.:confused
Not sure how true this is but personally it puts me off.
I like the idea of the semi-auto box but the horror stories of faliures and costs put me off. Least a manual box is easy to find and repair, but im sure i read somewhere that the E36 6 speed manual m3 box cannot be rebuilt either. My choice would be a 5 speed manual for ease of maintenance and repair. :D
You are right that the 6 speed boxes on teh Evo's are regarded as not being as strong as the 5 speed boxes on the 3.0ltr cars.

Whils I'm aware of this and believe that a well cared for 3.0ltr will probably always be a wise buy, I'm going for a late (99 model, low-sensible miles, 1-2 owners with FBMSH with high spec) simply as I will need to ensure I retain as much value and desireability as possible when I pass it on, whether it be a private buyer or if I give it as p/ex.
 

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You are right that the 6 speed boxes on teh Evo's are regarded as not being as strong as the 5 speed boxes on the 3.0ltr cars.

Whils I'm aware of this and believe that a well cared for 3.0ltr will probably always be a wise buy, I'm going for a late (99 model, low-sensible miles, 1-2 owners with FBMSH with high spec) simply as I will need to ensure I retain as much value and desireability as possible when I pass it on, whether it be a private buyer or if I give it as p/ex.

The E36 Evo really doesnt matter about the age. If It was me i'd buy an Estoril Blue, low mileage, well looked after model and that will sell far faster than another one which is newer. The Evo was from 1997-2000 and a 50k 97 model wil be worth pretty much the same as a 50k 2000 model.

Most of my friends are traders and they go through these cars daily, all they ask is the condition and mileage everything else doesnt matter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The E36 Evo really doesnt matter about the age. If It was me i'd buy an Estoril Blue, low mileage, well looked after model and that will sell far faster than another one which is newer. The Evo was from 1997-2000 and a 50k 97 model wil be worth pretty much the same as a 50k 2000 model.

Most of my friends are traders and they go through these cars daily, all they ask is the condition and mileage everything else doesnt matter.
Whilst I can appreciate that and agree with the estoril blue colour, just flicking through the ads put me off many M3s. Most seem like they are being used as quick thrills beteen changing hands every year etc, the service history in a few cases is just the oil service at BMW, not the inspections etc. Hence why I personally believe a car thats had few onwers, will have been cherised and the history is better too with the inspections being done at BMW as well .......
 

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They're Crap.




























Basically mate, everyone that I have ever known to have an E36 SMG have had serious issues with them - and all have never been simple fixes- If they can be fixed at all!

The problem is that there is really no one out there that knows the SMG's and I'm talking about the "stealers" and all- I know several SMG owners who had thie motor sitting at a dealership for weeks beacuse they can't find anything wrong with it- despite the SMG losing pressure and jumping out gears after 80 miles or so when reset.:confused

Eventually I master Technician will be called out to give his diagnosis: " its Fckd, need a new box":eek

I also know of customers and a certain friend who have veiwed, test driven and then bought, what appears to be, mint EVO SMG's, low miles full fistory only having to find out that the SMG box is faulty after 80 miles or so of perfect driving. What the cheeky Gimps do is have the SMG and ECU reset, which then will clear all fault codes and then the car appears A1 and then get rid of it.

There are no know preventative measures, these things will fail full stop, just a matter of time.

Stay away from the SMG if you can mate...........they are not worth the hassle.
 

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Whilst I can appreciate that and agree with the estoril blue colour, just flicking through the ads put me off many M3s. Most seem like they are being used as quick thrills beteen changing hands every year etc, the service history in a few cases is just the oil service at BMW, not the inspections etc. Hence why I personally believe a car thats had few onwers, will have been cherised and the history is better too with the inspections being done at BMW as well .......
I agree.
Some good info on the SMG boxes above.

Weak points as stated are old technology...

Accumulator failure/SMG pump failure- or becoming worn out. You need to check the time(In seconds) that the hydraulic pump, pumps oil into the accumulator when you first open the drivers door when first entering the car with the engine cold. When the drivers door is opened, the hydraulic pump should start pumping oil into the accumulator to allow gears to be selected. With the engine cold from being stood overnight, the pump should run for no longer than about 10 seconds. ...

and I think the electronics gubbins has been known to play up from time to time.

I agree with buying a low mile, low owner example...

Almost always a better buy than an impulse 'got to get this one NOW' purchase (of which I made several in the past :rofl)
 

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They're Crap.




























Basically mate, everyone that I have ever known to have an E36 SMG have had serious issues with them - and all have never been simple fixes- If they can be fixed at all!

The problem is that there is really no one out there that knows the SMG's and I'm talking about the "stealers" and all- I know several SMG owners who had thie motor sitting at a dealership for weeks beacuse they can't find anything wrong with it- despite the SMG losing pressure and jumping out gears after 80 miles or so when reset.:confused

Eventually I master Technician will be called out to give his diagnosis: " its Fckd, need a new box":eek

I also know of customers and a certain friend who have veiwed, test driven and then bought, what appears to be, mint EVO SMG's, low miles full fistory only having to find out that the SMG box is faulty after 80 miles or so of perfect driving. What the cheeky Gimps do is have the SMG and ECU reset, which then will clear all fault codes and then the car appears A1 and then get rid of it.

There are no know preventative measures, these things will fail full stop, just a matter of time.

Stay away from the SMG if you can mate...........they are not worth the hassle.

What? So your saying all they need is a ecu refresh and they work perfect for 80 miles then it reappears with the same fault.

Well after seeing a million and one diagnostics on the VAG's one press of a button and all faults are gone even while driving. If the SMG only needed a flash every 80 miles then its the ECU itself that is the problem.

So without being funny you cant be right.
The ECU software can be updated and modified to refresh itself over and over as it has the capability to learn, so i'm sure and technical expert could write another gearbox map and refresh it.

If the SMG box was the be faulty then its mechanical and not electrical.
 

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:confused
What? So your saying all they need is a ecu refresh and they work perfect for 80 miles then it reappears with the same fault.

Well after seeing a million and one diagnostics on the VAG's one press of a button and all faults are gone even while driving. If the SMG only needed a flash every 80 miles then its the ECU itself that is the problem.

So without being funny you cant be right.
The ECU software can be updated and modified to refresh itself over and over as it has the capability to learn, so i'm sure and technical expert could write another gearbox map and refresh it.

If the SMG box was the be faulty then its mechanical and not electrical.


No mate.........Not all SMG faults can be cleared by resetting the system, that is not what I said. As Boostist said, there are many issues that cause failure on the SMG's.

The example I gave is the one we have come across a few times:

We have found that with this type of fault- the dealers are not able to pin point what actually is causing the loss of pressure as all tests they conduct come up clean- I know on some of our customers, they have suggested changing the possible culprits and seeing if that will solve it.........not want you want to hear as this runs into thousands- I know a few people who have had the actuator, pump and control unit changed at a cost of 2k+.....and then a few weeks later same prob where they lose pressure again:confused

but what they find is, when they reset the system- all is fine, able to select gears once again.

Owners do not want to spend 1000's on this problem.......so they reset and get shot of the car to an unsuspecting customer. This is not a simple fix- we are seeing this kind of scam over and over- as I said there is no real SMG experts out there that you can turn to and trial and error can get expensive.

It is not an ECU problem, I never said it was. what ever it is, it is more likely a mechanical issue with the box, as I know customers have had ECU and control units changed by the dealer to try and rememdy this and some others have had the pump and actuators changed but no joy.

Truth is, customers are not willing to plough potentially 1000's into trying to find what's causing this - easier and cheaper to let it be someone else's problem.

We did fix this kind of fault once but that involved a replacement box, actuator and pump:D
 

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How much are the 5 speed boxes these days as I was offered a Evo Engine and 6 speed box for £800 all in - Wouldn't a 5 speed box be £500 max and having that installed in its place.
When looking a few years back there were lots of M3's now manuals that was SMG's.

Either way if it was me, i'd get a manual as this problem if it scares you will scare someone else and it will be much harder to sell then.
 

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I agree with paul. 5 speed manual would be the way to go. I would think they would be more desirable because people know about the Smg faults and six speed manual box re-build problems.:)
 

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How much are the 5 speed boxes these days as I was offered a Evo Engine and 6 speed box for £800 all in - Wouldn't a 5 speed box be £500 max and having that installed in its place.
When looking a few years back there were lots of M3's now manuals that was SMG's.

Either way if it was me, i'd get a manual as this problem if it scares you will scare someone else and it will be much harder to sell then.
we usually pay around 200 for a 2nd hand 5-speed.-, sometimes 150.
 

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So after buying all the linkages and the gear lever this should be a £700 job to change over from SMG??
£700 easy.........but some customers insist on a new clutch AND Flywheel and all and that aint cheap.

Some get a 2nd hand Flywheel to reduce total cost and they always turn out ok.


£800 for an evo engine and box??...........tha'ts cheap dude, I would have snapped it up.:thumbsup
 

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SMG...........e36 M3..........:eek













Run away!



I wouldn't risk it, while they are good when working properly they are a nightmare when they do start playing up. Unless you can find someone who is a expert on them that will have no problems working on the box/system for you then I wouldn't get one
 

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dont bother with an smg model. a few mates of mine are bmw technicians and they told me they would string me up if i bought 1:hihi. if the box goes completely bang u are looking at around 2500 to have it sorted at a dealership. the smg pump which seems to be the most common fault with them is around 1000 for a genuine part and fitting. they said even if the car is a minter with low miles it is not exempt from failing, so if i was u i would steer well clear of 1, thats why i bought an evo 3.2 manual, absolutely faultless:thumbsup
 
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