2006 BMW 325 automatic transmission problem?

Greetings, Car Talk Forumites!

While on a fairly low speed road (35 or 40mph) I accelerated from a stop to about 40 mph fairly quickly and experienced what seemed to be a couple of rough, jerky shifts and then the transmission warning indicator light popped on and i was dropped down to one gear.

I limped all the way back to to my mechanic’s shop at 15-20mph. He took a look and said he thinks it’s a problem inside the transmission, but that he didn’t want to take it apart yet. He said a car this new with this few miles on it shouldn’t be having transmission problems and I should call BMW and get them to take care of it (even though it’s out of warranty). I’m prepping for this unpleasant phone call, but meanwhile, when i drove the car home from the shop (a very short trip) the indicator light wasn’t on anymore, and had use of at least 2 gears (the ride home is low speed, so i never went more than 30mph).

Obviously, there’s still a problem that needs to be checked out, but now I’m (perhaps naively) hoping it might not be a transmission problem. Anyone out there have any advice or ideas?

Many thanks!

The car is a 2006 BMW 325i automatic with less than 40,000 miles. I hit all the maintenance checks while it was under warranty, and a few months ago I had our family mechanic do a more thorough, 30,000 mile service (its first servicing since the warranty expired). There’s never been any problems, and the only significant change to the factory specs is that i replaced the original run-flats with Michelin all weather tires (not run flats) at a little more than 25,000 miles. The car is mostly used for long trips and some short trips with only a few months of commuting.

You need to get the transmission trouble code(s) read before even a guess can be made. This will likely require a BMW specific scanner (not something they have at the auto stores).
It might be a small problem now, but it could grow to a very large one if you keep driving it without getting it diagnosed and repaired.

Thanks for the quick reply! I’m definitely not driving it anymore. I should be able to just take my key down to the dealership though, right? There’s no way I can afford to have the dealership do any work on the car right now…

One of the problems with cars that are expensive to buy is that they are expensive to maintain.

That’s very helpful, thanks. Car was inherited. Transmissions are always expensive and dealerships are always more expensive than your neighborhood mechanic. Glad you weathered the recession with your folksy wisdom intact.

That was a 4 yr 50k warranty. How far out by time is it exactly? It’s in limp home mode most likely. The dealer may be able to extend warranty by 2 years 50k. It was around $1700 when I was at BMW. May be cheaper than a trans if it is a catastrophic failure. Which I doubt it is. The key won’t give codes. A local shop may have GT1 factory tool if they work on BMW. Dealers can be more expensive - not always. If dealer finds problem because they are familiar you save on diagnosis time. If other shop isn’t familiar they could bill you hours. Have a set diag time in mind and get the shop to stick to it. If your lucky they will figure it out>If not they may require more cash. Same with dealer.

It was a new model year, so the car was actually purchased in June 2005. Four years came up first, so warranty expired in June 2009.