Our future: swap SMG for 6-speed manual? - BMW M5 Forum and M6 Forums
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post #1 of 139 Old 30th September 2010, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Our future: swap SMG for 6-speed manual?

So let's say you want to keep your amazing M5 for a long time ... like 10 or more years. At some time you will be long out of warranty and may face a SMG transmission failure. At that point do you think you might consider swapping out the SMG for a 6-speed manual? Considering that parts for the 6-speed cost something like $4,500 versus $8,900 for the SMG?

I enjoy reading about the classic BMWs from 20 to 25 years ago such as the E24 6 series and the E28 5 series ... and to keep those machines on the road they are always swapping out for parts from other BMWs, especially converting from automatic transmissions to manuals.

So I started to wonder ... what steps are we going to need to take to keep these beasts on the road long-term? Your thoughts?
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post #2 of 139 Old 30th September 2010, 11:44 PM
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Thats one of the reasons I bought a six speed in the first place, I may want to keep it for a long time.
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post #3 of 139 Old 1st October 2010, 12:54 AM
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Ditto. I bought a 6 speed for this very reason. Plan to keep it 10 or so years. Loved the SMG but worried about it holding up long term. Lots of folks will tell you SMG is the only way to go but for me durability was a consideration as I don't turn over cars ever 2-5 yrs like a lot of people do.

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post #4 of 139 Old 1st October 2010, 04:25 AM
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6speed in an M5..is embarrassing the worst idea BMW ever had...imagine such a heavy car with a stick?? it reminds me of a Chrysler New Yorker with a 392 Hemi and a four speed, it's exciting as getting a kiss from your grandmother and she slips you the tongue !!!!!

"The SMG is for stick users who understand the difference"

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post #5 of 139 Old 1st October 2010, 07:20 AM
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Since there are many exotic and sports cars with single clutch sequential gearboxes (similar to the M5's SMG), I think that down the line there will always be mechanics that will know how to maintain/fix/replace them. While it may be harder to find people to do so, and while the SMG may not be completely reliable in the long term, I would say it is still safe to keep an SMG M5 around for many years. Plus, with most performance cars going the dual clutch route, owning a car with SMG may be very rare/desired in the future.

Regarding the 6 speed transmission, while it is easier to maintain manual transmissions in the long term in most cases, I don't necessarily think this will be true with the M5. The M5's manual transmission was not designed for this engine, and that is evident with transmission and clutch heat issues when driven enthusiastically. Who knows if the M5's 6MT is really designed for the long run, and if it does break many years from now, parts may be hard to come by.

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post #6 of 139 Old 1st October 2010, 04:26 PM
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post #7 of 139 Old 2nd October 2010, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by rat3d m View Post
well isnt the e39 m5 six speed gear box the one used for the e60 M5 manual 6 ?
I believe so. I think the clutch was slightly modified to take the extra 100 horsepower, but very little was done.


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post #8 of 139 Old 2nd October 2010, 12:57 AM
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Isn't the SMG just a manual transmission with a hydraulically activated clutch? So the only essential difference in basic components is the hydraulic system which surely doesn't necessitate a completely new tranny when it fails? How much does an SMG hydraulic pump cost?

Just an everyday family sedan... (2006 Black Saphire M5 with 20" Hartge wheels riding on H&R springs)
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post #9 of 139 Old 2nd October 2010, 01:30 AM
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That's is one of the questions I've asked myself a few times, and I think the only way to solve this problem is to buy a 6 speed MT M5 in the states and ship it to Europe. That's defintitely the easiest and cheapest way, and the prices will drop pretty soon

It would be nice to see a video of the M5 with SMG vs. a M5 with the manual transmission, it's clear that the SMG is faster, but it would be nice to see if it really makes such a difference.

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Last edited by m5-forever; 2nd October 2010 at 01:32 AM.
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post #10 of 139 Old 21st November 2010, 05:42 PM
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Interesting subject.. I always wanted to do the swap.

To answer some question in this thread, the e60 m5 uses the 545 manual trans with some different components like a different face where it attaches to the engine and a different clutch.

Dealerships are known to just replace the whole SMG unit which costs a lot. Famous problems in the E60 m5 and the m6 are:

- clutch release bearing which is not an SMG problem at all. It's purley a clutch bearing going bad some say due to the bearing not being greased properly!

- failure to fire the engine up due to the car being in gear = the car can't engage 1st gear due to:

1) not enough hydraulic fluid in the sys. There might be a leak. Must find where the leak is coming from.
2) SMG bump might not be working. It's not that hard to replace and part costs around $400!
3) relay goes bad that activates the bump. Never came across it! Known problem in the E46 m3 though, $20 dollar fix!
4) sensors like: clutch position sensor (reads the position of the clutch), pressure sensor (reads the pressure of the SMG fluid).

One good thing about SMG III is that you can buy almost everything separately unlike SMG II $ I. I read that someone had a leak coming from the pressure sensor that goes in the hydraulic unit and had to replace the whole unit cuz it's not available that was an E46 m3! Thank god BMW did something about it.

In short, the smg is not rocket science! It just needs someone who understands it and has the right tools to work on it.

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