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BMW 2000 3 series - Reverse has stopped working suddenly


I have had a sudden and usual issue. MY car suddenly would not reverse when I put it in reverse. What was interesting is that there is no weird noises, even the passenger rear mirror moving when we put the shiftier in reverse but the car would not reverse.

I was told by a mechanic that it needs new transmission. With the cost being as much or more than the cost of the car :slight_smile: I did not find it worthwhile. I am still able to use the car, Just can’t park without being able to go forward or needs to be on a slope. IF its on even a bit slope it can reverse when I put it in reverse.

After a few days of this happening even the power on the side mirror has gone and moving it to reverse does not trigger the mirror tilting down. I have read about solenoid issues and someone mentioning that it could be that not enough power goes to t he solenoid. How can we test this ??

Any help can save my car and be used by my kid.

Looking to hear from great minds !

Merci !

Automatic transmission, or manual?

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Automatic Transmission., Thanks for asking George.

Also, from what I heard have read on same models, this issue tends to be common. Some reported that the “lip” on the reverse drum in the transmission tends to break off and so the transmission does not lock the reverse gear. My though is if that were the case, we would hear some kinds of rattling.

The other complaint some mentioned was the Solenoid. I am hoping its the solenoid but how to I confirm this. Is there some kind of advanced diagnostics…would Advanced Auto have something more than a OBD diagnostics to show the power going to the solenoid?

Yes, it is possible that this is something as simple as replacing an electronic component, but trying to rely on the very basic OBD diagnostic tools at the typical auto parts store is not likely to point you in that direction. (translation=Advance Auto is not that advanced…)

My advice is to take the car to a well-reputed INDEPENDENT trans shop, where they will have the equipment to diagnose this correctly. Ask friends, co-workers, neighbors and relatives for the names of indy trans shops that they know to have a good reputation.

Whatever you do, do NOT take the car to a chain-run trans shop like Cottman, Lee Myles, Mr. Transmission, or–God forbid–AAMCO. Those places will sell you a new/rebuilt transmission, even if the real fix is simply to replace a solenoid or other electronic component.


Thanks …for the advice!

I think I need to try a different independent shop as I was told to replace the transmission without any major diagnostics.
What about the dealerships. One had mentioend they have a $90 diagnostics to determine all the issues?.

Yes, the dealership undoubtedly has the equipment to diagnose this properly, but…do they actually perform transmission repair on out-of-warranty vehicles?.
Many dealerships outsource those trans repairs to nearby indy facilities, and you wind up paying more because you are paying the dealership’s “marked-up” price for the amount that the trans shop billed to the dealership.

I would still recommend a good indy shop, since your car is out of warranty.
If it was still under warranty, then–of course–the dealership would be the place to go.

Concur w/advice above, you need an experienced w/BMW transmission expert to sort this out for you. It doesn’t need to be a dealership, but a inde shop w/ BMW transmission expertise. Ask other BMW owners in your are who they go to for problems like this. You may have to go to an inde BMW specialist, who’ll then recommend a transmission specialist.

Unless you want to secure the factory service manual and learn how to do it yourself, – not something I"d recommend unless you have plenty of time on your hands – you really have no choice but to trust the shop’s diagnosis. There’s usually no way an inexperienced person can confirm or disprove whatever they tell you. It’s not like if they told you the oil level was low, you cold confirm that yourself by looking at the dipstick.

It’s entirely possible this might prove to be a relatively simple fix. Selenoid, micro-switch, or transmission selector is out of alignment, or even just a proper service, drop the pan and replace the filter, something like that. But I wouldn’t count on it. I expect you’re looking at something quite expensive to fix here. Even if it happened on a Toyota Corolla it would likely be expensive. On a BMW, well you’ll probably be required to pay the BMW repair premium in addition. It isn’t BMW per se, but automatic transmission problems with performance cars tend to be pricey. So suggest to be practical on your discretionary spending until you know what this is going to cost. Choose for lunch a tuna sandwich and cup of coffee made at home (total cost $1.50) vs the same at the local deli (total cost $7 plus tax and tip), that kind of thing.

If you want to increase your chances of avoiding this kind of problem in the future, on your next car suggest to consider a manual transmission instead. Manual transmissions are much more robust.

A BMW dealer is likely to recommend replacing the transmission, as any brand dealer would. I would avoid the dealer. If there is a used car dealer newr you that deals in upscale European vehicles like BMW, you might ask the for recommendations. Maybe they have a decent shop, or for specialized work like the transmission, a favorite transmission shop that they use.

I have a 2000 bmw 323i that the reverse was out when i bought the car and i took it to a shop in dallas texas when i lived there and they told me that it was the reverse solenoid it us a 80 dollar fix all you have to is jack ur car up and drop the pan on the transmission and it will be right up in there that all it is i still have not fixed it because i am broke but that is all it is

What i would do if i was playing around with this… and i had a lack of BMW specific dealer style diag equipment… is to focus on the switch on the trans that tells the dash and your side mirrors that reverse has been selected. That switch may have an internal failure and mite be the cause of the trans not actually engaging reverse gear and or energizing this or that solenoid.

Its the switch that basically help runs the show in tranny land.

Thats where i would be looking…

Earlier in this thread, Echeetah mentioned the lip on the reverse drum snapping off. On a 2000 323, that is what I would expect to find. On a 20 year old transmission, I doubt that any shop will want to touch this without a complete rebuild, which will be worthwhile only if the rest of the car is in really good shape.

That is what you were told but you don’t actually know if that is a fix for your vehicle or the person who asked this question 4 years ago . I would suspect that they have a rebuilt transmission now.

The BMW 3 series had a notorious problem of the reverse drum inside the transmission failing. Google it and you’ll see many results. There was even a website started by some folks trying to do a class action suit. The only fix is a rebuilt or used transmission. Sorry.

I wish there was a feature to auto-lock threads older than XXX number of days, for everyone except the OP…I hate reading through one of these, only to realize after 10 minutes or so that the original issue is being resurrected some years later.

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