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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I'm buying a 2003 530i with a failed automatic trans, with the intention of swapping it.

Some questions, if you don't mind:
1) any good AT --> MT DIY guides with non broken photobucket pics out there? Ideally with a parts list, wiring changes, coding changes
2) Drive shaft-- will I need a different one?
3) Differential-- is the gearing going to be a problem? Or is it the same for both?
4) Is the 5mt from the e46 the same 5mt used in the e39? Bellhousing included? Can I use one of them without additional complications?
5) Assuming yes to (2), any reason I can't use a 6mt from a post facelift e46?

Thanks!
 

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I looked into doing auto->manual swaps in E31, and a quick google search confirms that the E39 is roughly the same deal: it's generally not worth it to do an auto->manual in an E39, there's just too many other non-suspect electronic parts in the car that depend on the auto transmission. You're going to spend 10k doing this. Please don't spend 10k swapping transmissions in a car that you can buy with a manual already in it for 5k. It's very involved and requires a lot of parts, and even then your dashboard is probably going to look like christmas.

You can get E39 530's and 540's for sub 5k, and 7k fetches some really nice ones with 5 inch binders of service records. Why not sell what you have and go that route? I have a 540 and I can honestly say that even with the timing guide fear, it's worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I looked into doing auto->manual swaps in E31, and a quick google search confirms that the E39 is roughly the same deal: it's generally not worth it to do an auto->manual in an E39, there's just too many other non-suspect electronic parts in the car that depend on the auto transmission. You're going to spend 10k doing this. Please don't spend 10k swapping transmissions in a car that you can buy with a manual already in it for 5k. It's very involved and requires a lot of parts, and even then your dashboard is probably going to look like christmas.

You can get E39 530's and 540's for sub 5k, and 7k fetches some really nice ones with 5 inch binders of service records. Why not sell what you have and go that route? I have a 540 and I can honestly say that even with the timing guide fear, it's worth it.
I got some pretty useful responses on bimmerforums.
https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?2363479-Buying-a-530i-with-a-failed-automatic-trans-and-going-to-MT-convert-it-Questions&p=29901935#post29901935

Looks like I can do the conversion for ~$400 in parts, including the trans.

I got this car for $450, and it's a nice example with a nice thick binder (including all new OE bushings and Koni yellows) other than the failed trans. Putting a new slush box in it will cost me $100, so I'm looking at an extra $300 and a couple hours to do the manual conversion. At the end, I'll have a car that's worth significantly more should I choose to sell.

Seems like an easy decision to me!
 

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Show your work. Where you're going to even get a high mileage used automatic transmission for an E39 for $100 is beyond me.

If I'm not mistaken, a manual swap requires at the very least the clutch/transmission assembly, the gauge cluster, and a canbus unit to spoof readings from the AT to make the ECU happy.

Hey man it's your money and your car, you can do whatever you want. Best case scenario you prove me wrong. I personally would not bother, if you want my personal opinion, I think that you're going to go into this thinking it's going to cost 400 dollars and be in for a not so nice surprise when it ends up costing way more, or even better it works, but every light on the dashboard is telling you the world is ending, even with some coding. I know E31 auto->manual swaps are a nightmare, and a quick google search makes it look like the E34 is the last 5 series that you would want to even attempt this on. I'm not sure I believe your $400 of parts figure for what it's going to take to put a manual in, so again show your work.

Again, maybe you'll prove me wrong, maybe you won't, but I don't see the point because IMO your best bet is to pick up a used working automatic transmission on ebay, install it, and flip the thing for a profit. If you really bought the car for like 450, you could probably sell it for 3k or more, and the money you make from that is enough to buy one with a manual unit in it. Your call. Dollar for dollar it makes more sense to not bother doing the swap unless it's for bragging rights.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Show your work. Where you're going to even get a high mileage used automatic transmission for an E39 for $100 is beyond me.

If I'm not mistaken, a manual swap requires at the very least the clutch/transmission assembly, the gauge cluster, and a canbus unit to spoof readings from the AT to make the ECU happy.

Hey man it's your money and your car, you can do whatever you want. Best case scenario you prove me wrong. I personally would not bother, if you want my personal opinion, I think that you're going to go into this thinking it's going to cost 400 dollars and be in for a not so nice surprise when it ends up costing way more, or even better it works, but every light on the dashboard is telling you the world is ending, even with some coding. I know E31 auto->manual swaps are a nightmare, and a quick google search makes it look like the E34 is the last 5 series that you would want to even attempt this on. I'm not sure I believe your $400 of parts figure for what it's going to take to put a manual in, so again show your work.

Again, maybe you'll prove me wrong, maybe you won't, but I don't see the point because IMO your best bet is to pick up a used working automatic transmission on ebay, install it, and flip the thing for a profit. If you really bought the car for like 450, you could probably sell it for 3k or more, and the money you make from that is enough to buy one with a manual unit in it. Your call. Dollar for dollar it makes more sense to not bother doing the swap unless it's for bragging rights.
Lol, didn't mean to rile you up.

I would be getting parts here (all 3 locations are within driving distance of me), parts list with prices:
Price List | Harry's U-Pull It

There is no shortage of manual transmissions there any time I've gone (since I can use e46 5 or 6 speed manuals).

ECU I can flash for free, though you don't have to do anything on the e39
stock cluster is fine with a free flash
^neither is difficult-- just remove the autotrans from the VO, add the manual trans, reflash all modules.
trans is $100 post core return for either manual or automatic. They don't care if the core is manual or auto, as they just want it for the scrap metal

If I'm doing a manual conversion I also need
drive shaft ($20)
diff ($50) (not technically a need, but I dislike aggressive gearing)
slave cylinder ($10)
master cylinder ($13)
shifter ($10)
shift boot ($5)
Pedals: $15
clutch/pressure plate: $16
Flywheel: $18

Total: $247 for used parts

While I'm in there I'd also do rear main seal ($27), selector rod seal ($15), input shaft seal ($27), pilot bearing ($20), and throw out bearing ($55) with new parts.
^all new part prices from husker BMW parts if you want to check them: https://www.bmwdirectparts.com

Total: $144 for new parts

Total for project, used and new parts: $391

Hopefully I have sufficiently shown my work. :confused3
 

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Lol, didn't mean to rile you up.

I would be getting parts here (all 3 locations are within driving distance of me), parts list with prices:
Price List | Harry's U-Pull It

There is no shortage of manual transmissions there any time I've gone (since I can use e46 5 or 6 speed manuals).

ECU I can flash for free, though you don't have to do anything on the e39
stock cluster is fine with a free flash
^neither is difficult-- just remove the autotrans from the VO, add the manual trans, reflash all modules.
trans is $100 post core return for either manual or automatic. They don't care if the core is manual or auto, as they just want it for the scrap metal

If I'm doing a manual conversion I also need
drive shaft ($20)
diff ($50) (not technically a need, but I dislike aggressive gearing)
slave cylinder ($10)
master cylinder ($13)
shifter ($10)
shift boot ($5)
Pedals: $15
clutch/pressure plate: $16
Flywheel: $18

Total: $247 for used parts

While I'm in there I'd also do rear main seal ($27), selector rod seal ($15), input shaft seal ($27), pilot bearing ($20), and throw out bearing ($55) with new parts.
^all new part prices from husker BMW parts if you want to check them: https://www.bmwdirectparts.com

Total: $144 for new parts

Total for project, used and new parts: $391

Hopefully I have sufficiently shown my work. :confused3
No rifling.

Well again your car your money so I wish you the best of luck. But just saying, after the number of times I've done transmission/engine swaps, history is not on your side. You always spend way more than you think you're going to when you set out to do it, and it takes more time and effort than most people think when they set out to do it.

If you could do it for that much, I would be very impressed though.

Just consider how much better you are able to do if you were to repair the car /with an auto trans/ sell it and then use that money to buy one with a manual. Chances are you will come out on top in terms of $$$ and time. I'd be shocked if this was actually the economical option at the end of the day. You also don't have to worry about any jankiness since it's a fully factory setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
No rifling.

Well again your car your money so I wish you the best of luck. But just saying, after the number of times I've done transmission/engine swaps, history is not on your side. You always spend way more than you think you're going to when you set out to do it, and it takes more time and effort than most people think when they set out to do it.

If you could do it for that much, I would be very impressed though.

Just consider how much better you are able to do if you were to repair the car /with an auto trans/ sell it and then use that money to buy one with a manual. Chances are you will come out on top in terms of $$$ and time. I'd be shocked if this was actually the economical option at the end of the day. You also don't have to worry about any jankiness since it's a fully factory setup.
No jankiness in my e46 M3 converted wagon daily driver-- drives/functions 100% identically to my brothers stock e46 M3 (or my M3 coupe, back when it was stock).
 

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No jankiness in my e46 M3 converted wagon daily driver-- drives/functions 100% identically to my brothers stock e46 M3 (or my M3 coupe, back when it was stock).
Respect... still dubious that it's worth it but post back when you're done how much it ended up costing and we'll see if you could have done better selling it as a working auto and buying a manual with the money.
 

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DO IT!!! The only difficult part is the pedal assembly and wrestling the clutch line under the carpet. Other than those 2 things, it's just swapping parts and getting the manual reflash right.

Did a manual swap on my 540 4years ago and when the auto went out in my '98 528, it was at least $500 cheaper to convert it to manual than source another auto.:grin
BTW, here's a link to the auto pin-out that will allow you to trick the auto computer to let the EWS to send a start signal to the DME.
https://www.justanswer.com/bmw/3qo4p-just-performed-automatic-gs6-37-transmission-sw.html
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Any updates on this brother? How'd it go?
It’s been too cold to lay on the ground in the junk yard :p

I took my car apart. Waiting for a warmer day for part collection.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Spend $151 yesterday and got cluster, shifter, shift linkages, shifter sound deadening pad, shift knob/boot, driveshaft, slave cylinder, and differential.

Got pedals from Clemster already.

We had a mid day blizzard and I got cold, so I stopped before pulling the trans— will go back next week for that.

I believe I have every other part required for the swap, now :)
 

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Hello. So here am I. I have done that allready. Manual conversion is not a problem at all but when you start driving it gets bad. So I have problem aboit rev hang when I lift from the gas and press cluth rpm jumps about 200 when I do that. Also cruise control stopped working in 1 week. Everything beside that is okay.
Also about conversion. Bmw e46 trans is the same. Manual driveshaft is different also the diff is different auto driveshaft doesnot connect to it and manual driveshaft dowsnot connect to auto diff. You can change the linkage from manual 2.93 diff to automatic 3.46. I have video on my youtube channel how 3.46 drives if you want check it out. Bola Films. Center bearing is the same and guibo is same. You have to do some changes in wires underneath the steering wheel in EWS because it wont start without that. Then you will need programing work to let it know that it is manual. You have to turn off on dash that PRND light you dont have to change cluster. I think that is all. Also you wont have reverse lights but you can wire it with relay.
 

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Great. Do you have instagram or something where I can contact you ? Or if you can answer here. Does your rpm jumps when you shift gears ?
 
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